Financial Wellness @ Work

Three Common Estate Planning Mistakes That You Can Easily Avoid

When I made a mistake once on my taxes, I got a notice from the IRS in the mail asking me to pay what I actually owed and a little extra for interest and penalties.  This was certainly not a pleasant experience, but all it really cost me was money and my pride. However, when you make a mistake in estate planning and don’t catch it, you may not know it until it is too late.  The very people you were trying to take care of may end up muttering your name under their breath in frustration because they have some problems on their hands. Read more

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Why Naming a Successor Trustee Is So Important

Last week I shared with you the story of Joe who, as a named healthcare power of attorney for his aunt and uncle, found himself in the difficult position of having to make healthcare decisions for both of them under less than hospitable circumstances.  As though that were not enough, Joe was also named the successor trustee for his aunt and uncle’s trust, which meant that at the same time he was making difficult healthcare decisions, he would also have to make important financial decisions.  Now, at first glance you might think it makes sense to name the same person in both capacities.  After all, one of the decisions Joe had to make was whether his aunt and uncle should receive care in their home or in a facility, and that would certainly depend on what they could afford.  But there are a number of reasons why it may have been better to name someone else as the successor trustee. Read more

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Choosing the Right Healthcare Power of Attorney

Choosing a person to make healthcare decisions for you when you are physically and/or mentally unable to make them for yourself is difficult, but it’s a choice that should be made with great care and diligence.  This person may be required to make decisions not only about the type of treatment you receive but also about which hospital you go to, where and what type of custodial care you receive, and when it may be time for hospice care.  You may be inclined to simply name a spouse or a child, but as my friend Joe found out, this might put them in a very difficult position.  Here is Joe’s story (and just for the record, all names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved): Read more

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One of the Biggest Challenges Facing Financial Planners

One of the biggest challenges I face in my line of work is deciding when to explain things in more detailed technical terms and when to explain them in more understandable  “practical” terms.  For example, when discussing the income limits for traditional and Roth IRA contributions, most financial professionals will tell you the limits are based on your adjusted gross income (AGI) when technically they are based on your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI).  In many cases, such as this one, the difference between the practical and the technical may be so small that it’s just easier to speak in practical terms. The problem is that if you don’t know the technical stuff, it’s easy to make a financial mistake. Read more

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When Should I Consider Having a Trust?

At Financial Finesse, we are often asked this very basic question.  It seems simple enough.  A trust, by its purest definition, is a form of ownership.  You can own assets in your name alone, you can own assets with someone else (e.g. jointly), you can own assets by contract (e.g. a life insurance policy), or you can own assets in a trust.  There are several benefits to having assets held in trust.  For example, when you have a trust, you can control who receives trust assets, when they receive these assets, and what these assets may be used for.  Consider the following example:

When I was a child, my father was killed in a car accident.  Prior to his death, he provided instructions in his will that basically said if anything ever happened to him, money should be set aside in a trust until each of my two brothers and I turned 18, after which the money would be used to pay for college. Read more

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I’m Thankful for…Estate Planning?

During Thanksgiving, many households (including mine) have a tradition of having each person at the table tell everyone what they are thankful for.  It’s in the spirit of this tradition that I’d like to share with you why I’m thankful for estate planning. Read more

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Estate Planning for the Young, Single, and Not So Rich

When we think of estate planning, we usually think of something that only older, wealthy people do.  After all, how many of us think of ourselves as even having an “estate” to plan?  The fact is that if you own anything at all, you’ll have an estate when you eventually pass away.  The only question is what will happen to it. Read more

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Estate Planning: Governor Brown Has Enough To Do

Around the water cooler at the office yesterday, I was congratulating one of my co-workers on her child’s second birthday.  It seems like yesterday when she was pregnant, went into labor a few weeks early at work and we were all running around like chickens with our heads cut off so she almost needed to drive herself to the hospital!  It was something out of a “Three Stooges” comedy.  She made it to the hospital and everything turned out just fine. Read more

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The Joys of Moving

When was the last time you moved?  Were you amazed at the amount of “stuff” you have?  I am moving this weekend (from a five bedroom three bath home to a condo about half the size) and I am shocked at how much stuff is coming out of my house.  I found that I have not one, not two, but seven cameras!  There is an old Minolta manual 35mm film camera with a bunch of lenses (I’ll keep that one), a Canon 35mm film camera, and a bunch of point and shoot digital cameras (which we don’t really use anymore since we use the cameras on our phones every day). Read more

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Why I Love My Whole Life Policy

Whole life insurance has a bad reputation.  It isn’t perfect but then again it wasn’t ever meant to be.  When used for the right purpose, however, it can fit perfectly into a financial plan when there is a need for life insurance.  You hear a lot of talk about the negative aspects of whole life and what it doesn’t do such as: Read more

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Financial Finesse’s unbiased financial planning blog wins Gold for "Blog of the Year" in the 2014 Best in Biz Awards!

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