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Financial Advisor and Consulting Services

Strategies & Planning

Retirement Planning

We combine our abilities, resources and years of experience to provide the most comprehensive and objective analysis. We will work hand-in-hand with your existing advisors to build a synergistic effect, empowering you to pursue greater levels of financial freedom. This way, all of your trusted advisors will see your goals and objectives from the same viewpoint, maximizing your potential for financial security and success.

Tax Planning

Logical analysis of a financial situation or plan from a tax perspective, to align financial goals with tax efficiency planning. The purpose of tax planning is to discover how to accomplish all of the other elements of a financial plan in the most tax-efficient manner possible. Tax planning thus allows the other elements of a financial plan to interact more effectively by minimizing tax liability.

Tax planning encompasses many different aspects, including the timing of both income and purchases and other expenditures, selection of investments and types of retirement plans, as well as filing status and common deductions. However, while tax planning is an important element in any financial plan, it is important to not let the "tax" tail wag the financial "dog." This can ultimately be counterproductive, as virtually all courses of financial action will have some tax consequences, and they should not be avoided solely on this basis.

*Securities America and its representatives do not offer tax advice.

Financial Planning

A comprehensive evaluation of an investor's current and future financial state by using currently known variables to predict future cash flows, asset values and withdrawal plans.

Most individuals work in conjunction with an investment or tax professional and use current net worth, tax liabilities, asset allocation, and future retirement and estate plans in developing the plan. These will be used along with estimates of asset growth to determine if a person's financial goals can be met in the future, or what steps need to be taken to ensure that they are. While there is no specific template for financial plans, most licensed professionals will include knowledge and considerations of the client's future life goals, future wealth transfer plans and future expense levels. Extrapolated asset values will determine whether the client has sufficient funds to meet future needs.

A good financial plan can alert an investor to changes that must be made to ensure a smooth transition through life's financial phases, such as decreasing spending or changing asset allocation. Financial plans should also be fluid, with occasional updates when financial changes occur.

*Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit or protection from losses in a declining market.

Estate Planning

The collection of preparation tasks that serve to manage an individual's asset base in the event of their incapacitation or death, including the bequest of assets to heirs and the settlement of estate taxes. Most estate plans are set up with the help of an attorney experienced in estate law.

Some of the major estate planning tasks include:

  • Creating a will
  • Limiting estate taxes by setting up trust accounts in the name of beneficiaries
  • Establishing a guardian for living dependents
  • Naming an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will
  • Creating/updating beneficiaries on plans such as life insurance, IRAs and 401(k)s
  • Setting up funeral arrangements
  • Establishing annual gifting to reduce the taxable estate
  • Setting up durable power of attorney (POA) to direct other assets and investments

Estate planning is an ongoing process and should be started as soon as one has any measurable asset base. As life progresses and goals shift, the estate plan should move to be in line with new goals. Lack of adequate estate planning can cause undue financial burdens to loved ones (estate taxes can run higher than 40%), so at the very least a will should be set up even if the taxable estate is not large.

*Securities America and its representatives does not provide legal advice.

Life Insurance

Life Insurance

Life insurance is actually an important financial planning tool, used to find the optimal path around the two risks you can never completely avoid - death and taxes. It’s critical to make sure you have the right life insurance in place. Life insurance can be a confusing topic for many people. There are many different options available, made even more complicated by the unique insurance language used to describe them. As an online life insurance broker and life insurance agent, we believe in adding a human touch to the planning and purchasing process. We've been writing policies for decades and understand the importance of insurance in your overall financial plan, so you don't have to worry about sales pressure or fast talk. What we do is determine your personal needs, questions, and let you know the options which will work best for you.

Term Life Insurance

As a term life insurance broker, I can tell you this is by far the most popular type of policy on the market. Let's look at the term life information you need to know to make a smart choice.

Term life insurance is pretty much what the name suggests. You buy life insurance from an insurance company for a specified term. You then pay premiums during that term. If the person the policy is based on dies during that term, the death benefit is paid to the beneficiaries listed on the policy. If the term expires without such a death, then the policy is terminated and the parties go their separate ways.

An example can really help show how this works. Let's say I just got married and have a child on the way. I am now responsible for more than just myself. I decide to buy life insurance, but don't have a lot of money. Term life is the way to go. I buy a $500,000 policy for a monthly payment of $100 [just an example]. The term of the policy is 10 years and I am the person insured. If I get hit by a drunk driver and am killed a year from now, my policy will pay $500,000 to my beneficiary, probably my wife. If I live through the 10 years, the policy will terminate and I will go look for a new policy depending on my life situation at that point.

Term life insurance because it is fairly easy to understand and is very inexpensive. In fact, it is getting cheaper by the year. Individuals who have held a policy for more than 2 years typically are paying much more than they should! Regardless, the term life insurance policy is a good starter policy for most individuals.

Whole Life Insurance

As a whole life insurance broker and agent, I can tell you this venerable form of life insurance has significant merit when it comes to dealing with ultimate risk we all face - death.

Whole life insurance is a rarity in the world of life insurance. How so? The name actually describes exactly how the policy works. It is life insurance that is put in place for the "whole life" of the insured. This is true whether you buy it at age 28 or 68.

How does one rate a whole life insurance policy compared to other products? Well, there is a definite plus, to wit, the policy lasts forever regardless of what happens in your life. If you are diagnosed with cancer five years after getting the policy, you can’t be canceled. The insurance company simply has to take on the risk this or some other event might happen.

Life insurance companies do not like risk. As risk levels go up with an insured, so do the premiums. Since whole life insurance policies last for the entire life of the insured, they encompass a lot of risk for the insurer. This means the policies you will pay are generally pretty high, sometimes shockingly so.

As a whole life insurance broker, I can tell you that this policy is appropriate for some situations, but those situations are generally pretty rare. The insurance industry has evolved dramatically since whole life policies were popular. There are now products that provide similar or better benefits for less expense.

Universal Life Insurance

As a universal life insurance agent, I find the universal life insurance policy to be one of the best tax planning tools available. Let’s dig into some universal life insurance information.

A universal life insurance policy is what is known as a form of permanent insurance. Unlike term policies, it does not end at any set time. The only realistic ways the policy does end is if the person the policy is based on passes away or premium payments are not made. This is why it is known as “permanent”.

So, what exactly is it? This is a policy where you pay premiums in “x” amount. The payment is comprised of two elements. One is an amount equal to what is needed to keep the life insurance in force. The second is an additional amount that accumulated in the policy over time. This is known as the “cash value”. The cash value grows at a prescribed interest rate tax free until it is distributed.

The cash value of policies of this type offer the buyer, you, a lot of flexibility. How so? Well, you can borrow against the cash value tax free. One needs only consider the last few years to understand how valuable this characteristic can be. Let’s assume you lost your job in 2009. Instead of losing your home and so on while looking for another job, you could have borrowed against the cash value of the policy to make the payments. Since you would be borrowing the money as a loan, no tax would be due on the policy. This was a very common move the last few years.

Survivorship Life Insurance

A 2nd to die life insurance policy is unique in that it is designed to deal with the passing of both parties in a relationship. This is why it is euphemistically referred to as a second to die policy.

Survivorship Life Insurance Policy

There is a unique problem when it comes to life insurance. Insiders in the life insurance industry use terminology that makes sense to them, but few others. This leads to the rather confusing situation where the industry calls a policy by one name while consumers call it by something else. It is also the case here. A 2nd to die life insurance policy is known as a survivorship life insurance policy in the industry. Both names are used about equally, so don’t get confused when you hear them both. They refer to the same thing!

Okay, so what is a 2nd to die life insurance policy? It is a policy designed to deal with a tax situation that arises. Tax law is clear. A married person can pass all their assets to their partner upon death with no tax consequence. Problems arise, however, when the second spouse dies. The remaining assets are hit with estate taxes at the federal and state levels, which can quickly consume most of the assets. Total tax rates in the 70 percent range are common. This essentially means that most of your assets go to the government instead of your heirs!

A 2nd to die policy provides for a lump sum insurance distribution upon the death of the second spouse. It is usually paid into an irrevocable life insurance trust, which means it is excluded from the estate when taxes are calculated. These life insurance proceeds are then used to pay the taxes due on the estate, saving your heirs from a nightmarish tax bill.

Survivorship life insurance definitely has its place in our modern society where tax rates are rising and set to go higher thanks to our brutal national debt situation. The good news is these policies are fairly inexpensive, making them a good long term investment for your family.

Variable Life Insurance

As a variable universal life insurance agent, I can tell you these "VUL" policies have become exceeding popular given their investment element.

VUL Insurance

Variable universal life insurance is a mouthful, so most in the industry refer to these policies as “VUL” insurance. Whatever name you call them by, they are very popular choices when it comes to insurance because of their investment flexibility. Let’s take a look.

The variable policy has a cash value element to it. This means that you pay premiums that keep the life insurance in force, but also make an additional deposit to a cash account. This account, however, has an investment option to it. You can invest in a host of areas provided by the insurance company, investments that are more or less like mutual funds.

The benefit of the investment option in VUL insurance cannot be understated. Not only are you seeing your cash hopefully grow, but it is growing at a great rate than your return. How so? The growth within the policy is tax-free. It is akin to the tax situation you see with a 401k or IRA.

What if you need the money at some point in time? Given the Great Recession, this is a question many people are asking and, frankly, one you should as well. The answer is you can take loans against the cash value, giving you easy and tax-free cash on hand to pay whatever expenses you might be facing.

Funeral Insurance

Death is often sudden and dealing with the passing of a loved one is difficult. Funeral insurance, also called burial insurance, can be used to ease the burden on surviving family members.

Burial Insurance

Let’s be completely honest here. None of us like to think about our friends or family passing away. The notion in and of itself is uncomfortable and tends to send a chill up the spine, at least in my case. Having said that, I once saw a comedian remark that we all know how this story of life will end. We will pass away and it is just the natural order of things. This doesn’t mean that those who have to deal with the death of a person have it easy. The pain can be brutal and so can the expense of dealing with it. This is where funeral insurance can be a huge help and is something we highly recommend.

As the name suggests, funeral insurance covers the costs associated with the memorial and funeral process. Many people are surprised to learn the average funeral can cost as much as $10,000 and the price is increasing. Leaving this type of a burden on your heirs is, in the minds of most, the last thing that should be done. Funeral insurance steps in and pays the bills so that you get the funeral you deserve and your heirs don’t suffer financially.

Final Expense Insurance

This burial insurance is often referred to as final expense insurance. This is actually a misnomer. Why? Well, there usually isn’t a specific coverage in the sense of an expense list. Insurers faced a problem wherein they could not predict what people wanted in their funerals. Given this, they decided to go in a different direction. Most funeral insurance is now really just a small life insurance policy. When the death occurs, the policy kicks out the lump sum coverage amount to the listed beneficiaries and this money is then used to pay the funeral expenses.

Guaranteed

The good news is funeral insurance is not like other life insurance where you might be rejected. Nearly all policies are guaranteed issue, which takes the aggravation of applying for them out of the equation.

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