Consumers and Financial Advisors Want More Specialized Services

When it comes to planning ahead for your retirement and thinking about your estate plan, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are both general and specific questions that must be answered from a planning perspective.

Taking charge of your finances means addressing issues not just now, but thinking about the best ways to protect your interests now and in the future. Working with outside professionals to establish a plan and to stay in touch as your financial needs change is key. Most people seeking out financial professionals now are looking for more specialized help to ask the right questions and evaluate all the possible strategies and tools that cover their main concerns.

A recent study identified that financial advisors and consumers are on the same page about the need for more specialized services, especially as it relates to the possibility of planning for retirement income. In fact, consumers say that this is the most important service they seek from a financial advisor.

With over 71% of independent advisors currently wanting to advance their own specialized knowledge in light of the growing number of retirees, consumers are also seeking information at the same time. The survey found that consumers want guidance with retirement planning more than any other area, especially when it comes to how much they can safely spend in retirement. Improving the performance of their investments is also a top priority.

When you need to hire someone to help you with tax minimization, asset protection, and other financial strategies, seek out a team that has the right experience and commitment to get you there.

Looking ahead to the future and considering all of your potential risks is extremely important when you find yourself in the position of planning ahead for retirement. It is crucial to identify an experienced estate planning lawyer and any other financial professionals who may help you to accomplish your goals.

Study Shows Lack of Financial Education Expensive For 80% of Americans

A recent study completed by Go Banking Rates found that when asking 1,000 adults in America how they feel about their finances, only 20% of them felt appropriately educated to the point where it has not harmed them financially.

A lack of financial literacy has negative impacts in the short and long term. Some of the potential fallout from a lack of financial literacyincludess overpriced loans, significant debt, and a reluctance for people to save or invest their money. Today, savings accounts yield a minimal 0.07% interest on average, and investing unspent income is critical for wealth generation.

This can help to provide for your own future in retirement, and also leave behind a nest egg for your loved ones if you choose to do so. Not everyone needs to be a financial expert in order to achieve their goals, however. Most people with significant assets under management recognize that being guided by a team of professionals is the best way to leverage time and resources. Knowing someone who understands your situation and works hard to help you adjust your financial strategies gives you peace of mind, but also a place to turn when you have questions or when market conditions change.

The only way to accomplish these goals is to work directly with experienced professionals in the financial industry, and to create a comprehensive estate plan to address many of the most common concerns and questions. Being proactive with your financial planning can pay off in spades down the road by empowering you with the knowledge needed to create and adjust your plans as needed.

Contact our team today to learn more about how to create a plan to protect your interests. We’re here to help and guide you.

Pressing the Reset Button After a Financial Loss

Even when you’ve worked hard to build a diverse portfolio and multiple income streams, it’s still possible to experience the frustration of financial loss. In light of the pandemic and the many future economic uncertainties, now is a good time to step back and think about how you can safeguard your finances, but also set up tactics to know how to bounce back if and when that is necessary.

Some of the most common ways for people to experience financial loss include:

  • A sudden medical diagnosis (that requires out of pocket expenses and missed time at work)
  • Divorce
  • The loss of a job
  • A big downturn in the stock market
  • Waiting too long to start saving

No matter which of these might impact you, the important thing to remember is that with enough awareness, you can bounce back. One of the key things to keep in mind is that without an asset protection strategy, your wealth erodes over time. Whether it’s inflation, the risk of lawsuits, or changing tax laws, you simply can’t “set it and forget it” with your finances. Instead, you need an ongoing strategy that helps you adapt to the challenges in front of you.

Be aware of the need to always set aside emergency savings and to watch for the creep of lifestyle expenses. As people earn more money, they often turn to spending a bigger portion of their income because it feels “extra.” However, savings and investments must be viewed as just as dynamic in order to protect your financial resources for many years to come.

If you’re ready to build a plan that helps protect you from unexpected financial losses, we can help you focus on resilience in your greater financial plan. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

How to Define Your Personal and Financial Legacy Values

Plenty of studies have shown that people believe financial planning needs to be introduced to people much earlier in life. With no formal educational requirements in traditional K-12, many adults are forced to adapt their financial plans seemingly on the fly. It’s a big reason why many of them turn to experienced financial experts to chart a course for the future.

If you’re not sure where to start, but you know that you want to develop financial values that live on beyond you, it’s good to consider your own personal goals around money. What’s most important to you and how is that reflected in your regular spending?

For example, perhaps building a nest egg has been a top priority for you because you’re concerned about having the right assets to support your lifestyle in retirement but also any potential health issues that might arise. Documenting these wishes and talking about them with your family helps everyone get on the same page about what is important to you, but it can also be inspirational for your loved ones to see how you’ve protected your interests and concerns, too.

Here are some questions to get you jumpstarted in thinking about refining your own financial legacy:

  • How has money supported you during your life? How has it supported your family?
  • Have you been able to give to causes that are important to you?
  • What factors go into your decision about how much to save and invest? Have you adapted those strategies over time?
  • What do you want to be remembered for, both in your family and beyond?
  • How has your money been used to help support the goals most important to you, and how have you established plans for that to continue in the future?
  • What do you want your children and other heirs to know about how you view money?

Working with the right financial and asset protection planning professional can be a big step forward in securing your future. Set up a meeting today to learn more about working with us.

What Are the Five Financial Stages of Life?

Many people go through a series of similar financial stages in their life, but unfortunately many of them end up older without having incorporated some of the learning lessons and benefits of previous stages.

Stage 1

Stage one is entering the workforce in early career years. These are the years in which it is hardest for people to save because they may have a lower income amount and may be working towards big goals such as owning a home. However, this is the perfect opportunity to start planning retirement and take advantage of Roth IRA, 403(b), 401(k), and other strategies.

Build your savings and establish a good credit history, obtain disability insurance, and live within your means. And these are the best tips for staying afloat in stage one.

Stage 2

Stage two is your family and career-building years. In this phase, you should focus on purchasing health insurance, buying life insurance, updating your disability insurance as needed, reviewing your estate plan, saving for your child college education, and start growing your career or business further.

Stage 3 

Stage three are the pre-retirement years, which ideally should put you in a position to be soon done with paying off your mortgage and other debts. You also want to approach this phase of your life, hopefully able to help support children’s college expenses without taking out additional loans.

If you haven’t done so to this point, this is a good time for you to start a business, and the phase in which retirement planning becomes much more serious.

Stage 4 

Stage four is in your early retirement years, which is when you should pin down your actual potential expenses during retirement. Look carefully at what you’ll actually be able to spend monthly at a whole different point in your life. You may also consider how you’ll leave other assets behind for your loved ones during this time as well. This is for your later retirement years, which is your opportunity to continue optimizing taxes. You might even be thinking about changes you can make with ownership of your assets, such as selling them to make way for other goals.

Stage 5 

Limiting your overall tax liability in later retirement years is an important strategy to discuss with a financial professional. During this last phase, you should also continue to update your estate plan on a regular basis, and any time that you acquire or get rid of new assets. Following all of these tips can help you to accomplish your top goals as it relates to planning ahead for your own financial future. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your next steps.

How To Make Better Finances More Than Just a Resolution

Approaching the new year gives people plenty of opportunities to set resolutions for the 12 months ahead, but a great financial plan and ongoing financial strategy to support your personal goals and your estate plan is about more than a one-time commitment. It’s an ongoing area of focus.

Designate January as a month that you sit down and review your financial goals and your progress towards them each year. This will help you map out smaller goals to take across the course of the year and to adjust your strategy as necessary.

If you haven’t met with your estate planning lawyer in some time, pull out those documents. Are there any changes you need to make or things that no longer align with your personal plans and goals?

Set aside a monthly meeting with yourself to review finances and to make adjustments. This could include things like budgeting, paying down credit cards, paying all of your bills at once, increasing your retirement contributions or meeting with your financial planner. Having regular engagement with your financial and estate plan can make it much more likely that you will achieve your personal goals. This will give you more peace of mind overall and can help you move more closely towards the process of thinking long term about your financial strategies.

Our estate planning office can help you create or update your custom plan to cover all your needs and give you peace of mind about the future. Contact us today for further information and to get started with the process.

Who Can Be a Beneficiary on My Transfer on Death Bank Account?

A transfer on death bank account is one way to provide assets relatively quickly to your loved ones after you pass away because your passing enables them to get access to these assets immediately.

Most people establish a transfer on death bank account specifically for the purposes of a spouse or a child. However, many beneficiaries of transfer on death accounts can include people beyond a surviving spouse. This can include friends and relatives although there are some states with special rights associated with the surviving spouse.

You need to contact your bank directly to make sure you have the proper form completed with your financial institution. You would also need to return to them if you need to reassign that bank account to someone else. A transfer on death bank account is a better choice than adding someone directly to your bank account since doing the latter would empower that person to do things with your bank account as soon as you add them.

Usually when a transfer on death account agreement directs funds to someone other than the spouse or in addition to the spouse, the spouse might need to give written consent. You will need to read through the specific claim with a transfer on death bank account which you intend to use.

This can be a valuable estate planning tool but certainly should not be the only thing you consider in the process of passing on assets to your loved ones. Make sure that your estate planning lawyer has guided you through the process of considering all possible issues so that you have a comprehensive plan. 



Do Spouses and Creditors Have Rights to a POD Bank Account?

A payable on death bank account is one way to enable someone to receive quick access to a bank account when you pass away. It is easier to do than many other forms of estate planning since it often requires the completion of a simple form with your bank directly, however, there are some potential pitfalls to going this route. Make sure you discuss your options with your NJ estate planning lawyer to ensure that you’ve covered all the most important bases when planning for your future with bank accounts. NJ-payable-on-death-bank account

You are not able to shortchange your family or creditors with a payable on death bank account. You still have legal obligations even if you successfully avoid probate. A payable on death bank account or any other asset passing outside of probate could be used to pay your taxes or to support your spouse or minor children temporarily and can also be subject to the claims of creditors or your family.

If you live in a community property state your spouse is already the legal owner of a half interest in your account even if the account was only in your name. Make sure that you discuss your options directly with an experienced estate planning lawyer since this will give you the best possible way to understand all of the different assets you own and how you can pass them on to loved ones effectively.


New Study Shows That Employees and Workers in America Are Stressed About Their Financial Future

A recent study completed by Greenwalt Research and the Employee Benefit Research Institute determined that employees are facing significant anxiety and stress when it comes to their financial futures.

Over 1,000 workers in the United States between the ages of 21 and 64 were interviewed for this study. 2 out of 3 employees cited concerns about being worried about their household’s financial wellbeing and their own financial futures. Employees also stated that efforts in the workplace are critical to their physical as well as financial wellbeing.

Just over one third of employees who participated in the study said that their employer offers a financial wellness program, which did indicate an increase from previous studies. However, when it came to furloughed workers, the outlook was less positive. Fewer than 1 in 4 furloughed workers said that their employer’s efforts were very good or excellent when it came to improving their financial or emotional wellbeing. The survey specifically dove into topics, such as traditional defined benefit plans, retirement savings and health insurance and how this affects workers in terms of financial security.

Now is a good time to consider the benefits of comprehensive estate planning and financial planning to update your documents and strategies to adapt to changes in your life and in the world at large. The pandemic has prompted many people to think about how to best protect themselves and their future, so you’re not alone if you’re ready to discuss your options.

If you are curious about planning for your own financial future or have questions about the process, schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer to protect your interests.


Do You Really Need a Financial Plan?

You’ve heard about an estate plan and you might have even referenced an elder care plan, but do you know how your financial plan fits in with the rest of these documents and strategies? Your financial plan is somewhat distinct, although it is definitely linked to your overall estate plan. Your financial plan is a document that takes a comprehensive look at your financial picture and helps you to determine how you’ll achieve specific financial goals.

You’ll need to think about your wishes, wants and needs and also understand your overall comfort level with risk when creating your own financial plan. More often than not a person who is confronting their financial plan for the very first time will use financial planning software, such as an analysis showing the impacts of taking money out of your different retirement accounts and how to invest aggressively to save for retirement.

A detailed cash flow analysis or net worth statement can also help you to get a 30,000 ft view of some aspects of your financial life that you should remain focused on immediately. As part of your overall financial plan, this helps you see when you need to make changes to existing strategies and how to adapt when challenges or unexpected windfalls like inheritances come your way.

You’ll also need to document all investible assets that could be used to achieve your individual goals as well as your current and anticipated spending and your detailed liabilities. Once you know where you stand financially, you’ll be able to craft a plan that is in line with your unique goals and priorities.


Have You Discovered Gaps in Your Financial Plans?

If you’ve done any financial planning at all, it’s common to feel like it’s a bit overwhelming to keep track of all the things you need to do or feel like you should be doing. But don’t let that keep you from taking these important steps to protect your interests and even your family in the future. Now is the perfect time to take a deeper look at how you can incorporate holistic estate planning and financial plan into your future.

The pandemic has encouraged many people to take a deeper look at their financial plans and uncover potential problems. Some people might not have even looked at their financial and estate plans over the past ten years because there have not been significant changes in account value. However, since the impact of the pandemic, many account values decreased tremendously. 

The pandemic has brought forward a focus on end of life planning but other reviews of your estate plan can assist you with discovering ways that you need to alter your existing planning. For example, executives should be looking at opportunities to convert their traditional IRAs to Roths as long as they are considering the taxes that a client might have to pay for the conversion. 

A consultation with your estate planning lawyer can be especially valuable right now given the challenges that have been presented by the pandemic and the opportunity to align and update your estate planning materials to ensure that they have your best interests and your intentions for your family members in mind.       

Looking at the big picture financially, it’s good to have someone else review your existing retirement, asset protection, and estate plan. Another person’s insight can help you see some of the gaps where you need to step up your planning efforts. No matter where you’re at now, our lawyers can help you put together a plan that helps protect you into the future. 

Am I Liable for a Spouse’s Debt After Death?

If you recently got remarried and you have joint ownership of your home and a joint bank account, you might suddenly discover that your new spouse is making payments toward unpaid taxes and credit card debt. Understanding how this affects your estate planning, as well as your life after this person, passes away is important. 

You are typically not liable for debts that were incurred by your spouse prior to marriage. After your spouse passes away, the debt becomes the responsibility of that person’s estate. State laws may require you to pay debts out of the spouse’s property if you were named as the administrator or executor of the estate and this can include joint assets such as real estate and bank accounts.

It may be a good idea for you to keep your individual real estate holdings and bank accounts separate from your husband. Discussing estate planning tools and options with a knowledgeable attorney is strongly recommended if you want to outline your own plans for the future. The support of an experienced estate planning lawyer is instrumental in outlining what you intend to accomplish and helping you to understand your various roles and responsibilities. Failing to keep in touch with your estate planning lawyer as your life circumstances change could be a big mistake. For example, increasingly people are experiencing a phenomenon known as grey divorce or getting remarried or divorced in their older years. This can have significant estate planning repercussions if you don’t involve your lawyer in the planning process and the revision of your estate planning documents as needed. An attorney is a vital component of your overall strategy.

What Role Do Financial Advisors Play in Estate Planning?

If you’ve already made an appointment to discuss your estate planning options, it’s possible that your estate planning attorney recommended that you have other professionals in your corner, such as a CPA or accountant or even a financial advisor. 

The truth is, much like estate planning professionals, not everyone thinks the same way about the financial planning process. It’s in your best interests to do appropriate due diligence and research to figure out whether the financial advisor you intend to work with is the right fit for you. 

One of the easiest places to start in your search for financial advising support is to ask your estate planning attorney directly. If he or she is active in the community, they may already have a relationship with a financial advisor they trust.

This can be beneficial to you because since your estate planning professional already has a regular and ongoing relationship with this other party who has the expertise, it will be easy for them to coordinate together as you develop or change your estate and financial plans.

Entrusting your future plans to a team of people who are thoroughly supportive of you and aware of any changes in the laws will be critical for you as you go forward and it can be much easier for you to accomplish your goals knowing that multiple people are looking out for your best interests. Getting a referral from your current estate planning attorney is often the first stage for identification of a financial advisor and you can continue to do research on your own and ask friends and family members who have had a good experience with other financial advisors if you are not able to come up with someone you are interested in working with.

How Can Better Financial Literacy Assist You with Your Estate Planning?

Do you have your finances in order? Do you know where you’d start if you wanted to make this a goal for the future? Most people get confused by the prospect of financial literacy and choose to put it off entirely. Others are not sure what financial literacy encompasses and get overwhelmed when they look into the basics. The good news is that foundational financial literacy doesn’t have to be difficult, but engaging in the process can have positive and far-reaching consequences for you.

Most people put off the process of estate planning to begin with, due to the belief that it doesn’t affect them or that they are not at risk of a sudden incapacitation or death. However, financial literacy development now can benefit you in numerous different ways. In order to be independent financially and to have a long-term plan that considers your retirement, long term care and estate planning needs, you must be financially literate.

Financial Literacy. Closeup Pen, calculator, cash and glasses.

It’s never too late to improve your knowledge about financial issues. Searching the internet, taking a financial literacy class and reading magazines and newspapers can also help you get a better understanding of money matters. Purchasing financial tools will also assist you with determining where in your financial life you are maybe falling short. For example, a financial calculator can help you to determine interest rates, loan payments, cash flow and percentages.

A financial dictionary can give you a better understanding of many of the most common terms used in relation to financial advice. Starting an investment club or asking for expert advice can also be instrumental in giving you a better method of understanding critical financial issues.

When your financial literacy improves, you would better understand not only how to protect yourself now and well into the future with your retirement but also how to support your loved ones and beneficiaries if something were to suddenly happen to you. Most people wrongfully assume that estate planning is only about assisting your loved ones after you have passed away. However, the truth is that estate planning also serves an important purpose in the process of planning for incapacitation. Incapacitation documents should be drafted by an experienced estate planning lawyer.


How Making Better Financial Decisions Can Help You in the Future

Many people are confused about investment basics and this can cause problems when they approach financial or estate planning. Financial planning unfortunately, usually isn’t taught in schools and investing or financial management are not necessarily intuitive, but it is critical to know how to plan for your own financial wellbeing. Many people believe that they should be doing all of these various things related to their investment and retirement planning and often become overwhelmed by so much information. estate planning in NJ about more than money

Learning about the basic types of investments and determining what you would like to achieve in your retirement, is a great way to begin with your end goal and then reflect backwards about the steps that you could take to protect your best interests.

Scheduling a consultation with a knowledgeable financial advisor and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you to understand all of the various assets that make up your current estate and how these should be considered together when you approach the future. The support of an estate planning attorney in particular, is very valuable because many people underestimate the volume of the assets inside their individual estate.

If you fail to include all of the necessary assets, you could expose yourself to unnecessary tax consequences and problems for your loved ones in terms of the state making decisions on your behalf because you chose not to engage in estate planning.

How to Avoid Financial Procrastination

Far too many Americans have put off appropriate financial planning and this means that they find themselves in the midst of a financial planning catastrophe when it is too late to take many steps to protect yourself. Thankfully, there are ways to avoid financial procrastination and these can be greatly assisted along by scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney and financial advisor. A new study by Career Builder found that nearly eight out of ten Americans live paycheck to paycheck. If you want to remove yourself from the common challenges faced by people in this situation, you need to recognize that missed financial opportunities abound. avoid financial stress with the right lawer

You know you need to take action and you may plan on taking action someday, but without putting a plan in place, you’re simply procrastinating. Many people assume that they won’t fall subject to any of the most common issues that could put them in need of immediate financial help. Some of the most common mistakes that you can make that could cause you to become a financial procrastinator include:

  •   Paying only the minimum on your credit card.
  •   Not having emergency savings.
  •   Ignoring estate planning basics such as setting aside time to put together critical documents for while you’re still alive and after you pass away.
  •   Not getting serious about retirement, including ignoring the most beneficial retirement planning opportunities.

Setting aside a time to consult with an experienced estate planning professional and other financial advisors is strongly recommended.

What You Should Know About Vetting a Financial Advisor

So you’ve already got to the point where you recognize you could benefit from a conversation with an experienced financial advisor. Along with a CPA and an estate planning attorney, a financial advisor can become an important component of your team of trusted professionals. You’ll want to interview several different options for a financial advisor and look into their backgrounds and references from other clients before making a final decision. hire a lawyer and a financial pro for estate planning

The initial interview can help you clarify whether or not this person has served as a fiduciary before, their individual certifications, and the types of services they offer. You can also ask more about their specialties and areas of focus.

The advisor’s minimum investable asset requirement is something you should also ask about during the initial interview. Anyone will want to know exactly how they will be charged by a financial advisor, including how much you’ll pay for advisory services and fees associated with underlying holdings if this person manages your portfolio. Advisors charge by different models, including by the hour or as a percentage of assets under management.

You can verify that the appropriate planner has the CFP certification if this is important to you, and it is strongly recommended that you consider working with someone who has done the extra work to achieve this certification. Hiring an experienced financial advisor is just one piece of the puzzle. Make sure you identify a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer so that the documents and strategies you put together can all be reviewed in full and work with one another.

Financial Advisor Stole Nearly $900,000

Finding the right people to help you with your estate and your financial affairs is more than just good advice- it can help protect everything you have worked so hard to build. Make sure you investigate the background of any professional you intend to work with so that you have peace of mind about your future.

It is always important to carefully vet and obtain references and testimonials for individuals that you wish to include in any aspect of your future such as your retirement planning, your financial planner, and your estate planning attorney. A new story has emerged indicating that an individual in New Jersey stole approximately $900,000 that a client had given that person to invest in mutual funds.

Money was given to a financial advisor in March 2011 to be invested in mutual funds overseen by an investment firm. Instead the individual spent the money on business and personal expenses including funds spent in a car dealership, a country club, lending institutions and a private school.

The client requested updates and statements on his investments and fictitious financial statements were provided. It is always important to ensure that you are working with someone who is reputable and committed to carrying out your best interests. But when it comes to your finances you will need to do this for both you as well as any aging parents who may have similar concerns.           

Do you feel lucky? What is a Quick Draw Buy-Sell Agreement?

Many business owners have a buy-sell arrangement set up for the future. It’s helpful to draw out these directions in advance, especially when there is the potential that future owners or part-owners might get gridlocked with one another. In these situations, buy-sell directions can help disputing parties move forward.

Do you feel lucky What is a Quick Draw Buy-Sell Agreement

It’s possible that you’ve already heard about a shotgun buy-sell arrangement, but a quick draw agreement is a bit different. Under a shotgun, the offering individual stipulates a price. The offerree then has the option to buy those shares or to sell their own shares to the offeror. The exact timing isn’t a major issue in this situation, since the offeree retains the option to either buy or sell. In some ways, this can even be seen as a disincentive to pull the trigger.

All that changes under a quick draw arrangement. Under a quick draw, either side can provide a notice to purchase the other’s shares at a price that is determined through an appraisal process. This can happen after a contractually defined “trigger event”, but the timing of the trigger pull is essential in quick draw. Simply put, timing is everything.

Under quick draw, buyer and seller designation is determined simply by who submits their notice to purchase the other’s shares first. A difference of even just minutes can determine who gets to buy and who gets to sell. This complex process was recently held up in Mintz v Pazer, in which the judge supported this out of the box buy-sell arrangement.

If you’d like to learn more about your buy-sell options and put a plan for the future in motion today, reach out to us at 732-521-9455 or email us at