Knowing where your information is coming from is crucial to your consumption of knowledge. Deciphering among the credible and non-credible can be a challenging feat, but there are some basic questions you can ask yourself before forming a conclusion or deciding an outcome based off the data obtained from the media. It’s obvious that the way we collect information has changed dramatically, and the amount of material available to us is insurmountable and only continuing to grow. Consequently; as a direct reflection of the growth of good information, the growth of false or misleading content has developed itself as well. Leading us to ask the question, how do you navigate the bad to ensure you are consuming only desired, factual information? Here’s where I can help. Some questions to ask yourself: Is it credible? Flash back to your college days for a moment. When writing a paper, a requirement to...
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Well it is finally over. No more political advertisements interrupting my enjoyment of the World Series. My Facebook feed has finally started to get back to cat pictures, fake news, and 12 people I need to wish a Happy Birthday. The question on everyone’s mind now is, “what does this mean?”. The reality is for some time we may not know exactly and uncertainty is not fun for anyone. A few things are certain and those are what we need to concentrate on right now, especially when it comes to our retirement planning. Have you planned for the possibility of a market sell off? Many thought this would happen immediately if Trump won the Presidency but as we have seen the opposite was the immediate reaction as the most indexes roared for 7 straight days higher. That’s not to say the danger is over or likewise that a collapse is...
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If you're anything like me then you dread going to the doctor, you dread going to the dentist, you dread shots, medical checkups, exams and tests that you can't pronounce the name of.  Just like most people when I hear the phrase "checkup", my "I don't want to do that" sensors immediately start to go off.  The term checkup is innocent enough but it can be associated with varying levels of pain, discomfort and scariest of all: the unknown!  Of course for me anyways these feelings and associations all happen in the blink of an eye, subconsciously. As a parent of two it certainly is my job to help my children understand the benefits of getting a checkup and to help them overcome the fear, the uncomfortableness and the potential pain of the dreaded exam.  So, in that parental spirit and without further ado, here are my six reasons why doing...
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  I recently returned from a trip to North Carolina. The reason for the trip was simple. We wanted to spend a few days with some friends who do not live near us, and we wanted to enjoy the beautiful countryside without the interruption of all of the news and noise that populates our life. Our main physical activity was our daily hikes in the mountains. On day 2 we woke to a soaked earth and wet leaves. During the night, the wind and the rain combined to create a slick surface. In addition the trail we were taking featured exposed roots, rocks, and a steep drop off to one side, causing us to make adjustments to how we hike this trail. We made sure to wear clothes that would keep us dry. We wore shoes that gave us the best grip, and slowed our pace to avoid slipping or falling....
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If you die without an estate plan, your loved ones may have to go through the probate court process, wasting time and money. In probate, you run the risk that the court’s decisions may not be consistent with your goals; rather, intestate succession (the process automatically applied when there is no trust or will) determines how your assets are distributed. Estate planning does not have to be expensive; however, even the most basic plans will offer you the following benefits: Designate Beneficiaries. Who would you like to leave your assets to? A will outlines these intentions; however, improperly titled assets can quickly undo the intentions of your will. Titling assets and designating beneficiaries with the advice of an attorney can avoid unintended consequences. Appoint a Guardian for Your Minor Children. The decision of whom you choose as a guardian for your children is perhaps the single best reason for creating a...
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We often hear from our friends and family, various tips on money and saving for retirement, but are they the ones that should really be giving us the advice? The generations that pre-ceded the millennials typically have a different way of thinking when it comes to money. Does this mean that we shouldn’t take their advice and follow in their footsteps? Not exactly, but take the advice with a grain of salt. The financial world is ever changing and the one that previous generations grew up in is vastly different than the world we live in today. Here are a few of the topics that advice is commonly given on: 1. We hear “Don’t get a credit card.” – You should actually get a credit card to build up your credit. Just because your parents or grandparents paid for everything in cash, doesn’t mean that you can’t use this tool to...
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The first few days after getting engaged are a complete whirlwind.  Your days are filled with phone calls, texts, an incredible amount of love expressed from friends and family, and a billion questions that you probably don’t have the answer to.  Once it settles down, reality sets in, and planning begins.  The average cost of a wedding in the United States is over $32,000.  Like Wut?  Now for some brides, that’s totally reasonable, and if you have the money HEY, why not?  “It’s the most important day of your life!”  However, for my fiancé’ and I, $30,000 could go towards so many other things.  It’s $30,000 you could have for retirement, multiple vacations and so much more.  We just aren’t willing to drop that much money for one, single, day.  Nor are we willing to ask our parents (and neither should you), who are all in retirement to sacrifice their income...
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By the time you are in your 30’s you should be on the road to building a solid financial future. Whether you think you don’t have the means to save or continue putting it off and will “save later” keep this in mind; more than one-third of American’s don’t have anything saved for retirement. (US Department of Labor) Many of you that are younger may find investing interesting, but not sure where to begin. Below are six great ideas of what you should be doing to prepare for retirement as young as 30.    1. Paychecks Save at least 15% of your income on an annual basis. You can even automate it, so saving is systematic.    2. Guard against lifestyle inflation. As your career grows, your salary is likely to grow. Yet, just because you have more money in the bank, doesn’t mean you should spend it all. Each time you...
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The student debt crisis is completely out of hand.  It has become one of America’s biggest financial mistakes not only topping $1.3 trillion, but growing more than $2,000 every second.  This is leaving millions with crippling debt that will follow them for decades to come.  How did we get here?  We all have financial goals, and one of the most common goals for parents is paying for their son or daughter’s college education.  Although admirable, when someone wants to help foot the bill you can’t, and shouldn’t if you are putting aside your own retirement plans. CollegeCalc, says the average public university in Michigan will cost between $8,000-$12,000 dollars per year which is just for tuition. That doesn’t include the high interest rates backed by the government or any of the extra costs that come with higher education. If you are considering taking out a loan for a college degree, what...
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Both, Clients and Financial Advisors, need to be on the same page in order to work together effectively. The start of the New Year is a good time to discover whether your resolutions are compatible. So, whether you are looking for a financial advisor for the first time, reassessing the one you’re working with or looking to work with someone new, be sure to ask to speak with current and past clients of the advisor you are considering working with.  Get as much information about the successes, experience, education and ongoing training of the advisor that you can. If you are reassessing, be honest and tell your current advisor why you are reconsidering the relationship if appropriate. It’s your life and your money, so be committed to understanding everything your advisor suggests before diving in to a specific course of action. If you don’t understand something, keep asking questions until you...
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The beginning of a New Year is the best time to establish your investment strategy for the year. If you work with a financial advisor, it’s important that you are both on the same page, so this is a great time to see if your resolutions are aligned. If you are the client of a Financial Planner or are looking to hire one, the first and most important step is to set a resolution to Get a Plan. That means establishing your financial objectives, deciding where you want to end up and how much you can comfortably contribute to your plan on a regular basis along the way. If you are a financial advisor, it’s integral that your resolution includes putting together workable plans for your clients based on their plans and objectives. You’ll want to remind your clients that as their income increases they may want to contribute more in...
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For the first time in its history, changes being made to Social Security law will actually eliminate benefits currently being received by spouses, divorced spouses or children on the work record of a spouse, ex-spouse or parent who has taken advantage of the long used File and Suspend strategy. Those Social Security benefits will only continue when the worker restarts his/her retirement benefit. This one change alone will cost millions of households tens of thousands of dollars by forcing those who have suspended their benefits in order to collect higher benefits at age 70 to restart their benefits at permanently lower levels. Most will have to do this in order to maintain their family’s living standards. With more households needing to take their retirement benefits earlier a domino effect sets in which further hurts these families.  They now lose most or all of their spousal benefits.  The reason for this is...
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Some married and divorced couples may face retirement feeling a little less secure in light of some pending changes to Social Security. Congress is fiddling with eliminating two strategies that have been employed for decades that will have a significant effect on couples at or nearing retirement age. File and Suspend File and Suspend is a strategy that allowed a married retiree to file for benefits at his or her full retirement age, immediately suspend them, then begin collecting when the benefits reached their highest value at age 70. This allowed the other spouse to collect a spousal benefit. In a single-income household, this was particularly beneficial. The breadwinner could file and suspend, which enabled the stay-at-home spouse to collect spousal benefits while the earner’s social security check continued to grow. What happens when the proposed changes go into effect? Whichever spouse wants to pursue the file and suspend strategy must be 66 before next May. The spouse...
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December 15th is right around the corner. Time to make your healthcare coverage selection is running out fast. If you haven’t selected your health coverage yet, don’t put it off a moment longer. Review the checklist of items below that I’ve adapted from a list on Forbes.com. I’ve included the most important points for your consideration in order to help break down the process for you and make your decision making process faster and easier. Print it out, take it to the office and go over each point carefully and completely. 1.Evaluate Your Medical Coverage Offerings This is the most important and most complicated decision you have to make. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing a plan. Ask yourself the following questions: How often do you tend to visit the doctor? Do you anticipate a change in your health care needs? Will you soon have more dependents...
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The government deadline for picking health care coverage falls right smack in the middle of the holiday season; December 15th. If your company offers benefits, the election deadline could be even sooner. With the distraction of the holidays it is easy to miss deadlines or miss opportunities by not spending the necessary time to consider the best options. Rushing through the election process could end up costing you more money and could have an impact on your health. The results of a 2014 Aflac study reveal that a whopping 46% of people spend just a half hour or less reviewing their health-plan offerings.  Keep in mind that your health care expenses include more than your monthly premium. You must also consider and factor in your deductible, co-pay, co-insurance, total out-of-pocket limits as well as out-of-network coverage. Set aside a couple of quiet hours and weigh all the factors to discover what...
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It’s probably the last thing you want to be doing as we head into the last quarter of the year. However, if you spend some time now reviewing the year and how you might take advantage of some opportunities that are available now, you could be very happy come the time to file your taxes during the first quarter of the 2016. USA Today provided a great overview of items to consider at the end of 2014. Many of those same opportunities are still viable as we move into the end of 2015. The article provides year-end tax strategies to use before December 31st. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/12/16/taxes-w-2-strategies-tips/19903397/) If you are self-employed: Consider deferring income. If you are self-employed and have had a particularly good year, it may make sense to defer some of that income until 2016 to reduce 2015's tax burden. If you're self-employed, simply wait until late December to issue invoices...
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We are just three months shy of the New Year and this is a great time to get a jumpstart on coming out ahead at tax time. A little strategic thinking, planning and taking action now could give you a reduction in your tax bill come April, perhaps boost your retirement savings and college fund savings. You might even see a significant reduction in any debt you might owe.   A great place to start is to take a close look at your investments. Your portfolio may benefit from a rebalance, especially if it’s been awhile since you’ve made any changes. With the recent volatility in the market you might discover that your allocations may not match your risk tolerance.    If you have a 401(k) look into maxing out your contributions before the end of the year. If you’re under 50 years old, you can contribute a total of $18,000....
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Greece, China, Puerto Rico, the sudden long drops, followed by the upside down turns of the global marketplace is not thrilling. In fact as an investor it is a time when many people scream, “Stop the ride I want to get off!”Before you get off the ride, though, you might want to review your asset allocation along with your risk tolerance. Getting off the ride when the market is down means you’d be selling low.This might be the time to sit down with your financial advisor and rebalance your portfolio. If you haven’t done that in awhile, or never, it is that counterintuitive process where you sell winners and buy losers in order to achieve and/or maintain the desired asset mix. Do you have enough cash on hand? Are you properly allocated between stocks, bonds and alternative assets?Even if your gut is telling you that you want off the roller coaster,...
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When the DOW opened down 1,100 points on August 24th, did your heart take a nosedive into your stomach?  And if you’re one of those investors who have decided to save a few bucks and trust your investments to a robo-advisor, what kind of guidance or reassurance did you get from that advisor? Did you panic and sell out of the stock market fearing it would continue to plummet? If so, you weren’t alone. If you had a real financial advisor to talk you back from the ledge, you may have rallied later in the day just like the stock did. You could have saved a lot more than you lost. Nothing could more poignantly emphasize the value of a real, live human financial advisor better than this most recent event. Only a real advisor will keep you from selling at the worst possible moment. So much focus has been on...
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We’ve entered an age where yet another industry is slowly beginning to give way to robots. It makes sense when you’re dealing with repetitive actions that can be accomplished precisely and without damage to human muscles. However, when you consider the volatile and personal nature of finances, it’s difficult to reconcile a world where “robo-advisers” will be handling investments. Yet, robo-advisers are here and robo-adviser companies are growing by leaps and bounds.  The very phrase “robo-adviser” conjures up images of the Star Wars character, R2D2, but that’s not exactly the correct image. Just what is a robo-advisor and can they really serve investors better than a trained, experienced and educated living human being? Robo-advisers are online wealth management sites that provide automated investment services. Currently they represent a small, but fast growing segment of the market. No human interaction is required. They use computerized algorithms to manage mutual funds, exchange-traded funds...
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A quiet revolution is happening in the financial world and it’s starting to get a lot of buzz. The role of the investment adviser may be in danger of being taken over as young investors turn their money-management over to robo-advisers. Robo-advisers present prospective clients with a series of online questions to determine risk tolerance. Then, based on the answers, they select investments that are supposed to meet a individual clients’ specific temperaments and goals.  The question is, are robo-advisers going to be able to generate the stable wealth for clients that can see them through the unpredictable ups and downs of life events and prepare them for retirement? According to the Wall Street Journal, just in the past six years alone more than 200 companies have made it clear that they believe robo-advisers are the future, at least for some investors. These companies have taken the dive into the business...
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Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age in record numbers. The question many have is, when is the best time to claim Social Security benefits? Several things must be taken into consideration when making this decision. The most important is one of life expectancy. Do you take your retirement benefits at the earliest possible age of 62 or at the very latest possible age of 70? Many of the wealthiest people are using a delaying tactic called File and Suspend to manipulate the system and receive the highest benefits. The President is moving to put an end to this so I won’t go into the details. The truth is that every person has unique circumstances when it comes to retirement. However, there are factors that can lead you to make smarter decisions about when to claim your Social Security benefits. The following five areas of consideration are intended to help you make...
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The Social Security Administration has made an assumption about what retirees should want that could reduce your Social Security benefits by 4% annually. On top of that you’ll also lose out on an entire half-year of Social Security income. How this happens is as follows. Say you come in to the Social Security office to apply for your benefits just a few months shy of your 70th birthday as you are directed to do by the SSA. You’ve decided to delay your retirement benefits until the latest possible date in order to get the most Social Security. You fill out the application. Then you go home thinking your full benefits are going to kick in when you turn 70. Much to your surprise, you receive a lump sum check for six months of what they refer to as “retroactive benefits.” You may think nothing of it or you may pick up...
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Even if you have millions of dollars set aside to see you through life, the toll of long-term healthcare can derail even the best financial plans. Establishing a solid plan for long-term healthcare is essential no matter your income level. Recent polls indicate that nearly half of wealthy individuals have not done much, if any planning for the potential need for long-term care. They do however feel secure about being able to meet their medical costs now and in retirement, while the less wealthy are more concerned about how they’ll meet their medical costs. Not planning for long-term care is like playing Russian roulette. It’s a big gamble and could put the financial assets of many at risk. No matter where you are financially, the importance of putting a long-term care plan in place is integral especially if you want to leave assets to heirs. A variety of options are available...
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A vast majority of Americans don’t give much thought at all to long-term healthcare.  Across the board, the wealthy are like most other Americans when it comes to this subject. They just don’t think about it. One reason many do not consider provisions for long-term care is because it can come with a hefty price tag. However, the cost of not considering it can be financially devastating. We’re Living Longer. With one of the largest segments of the population approaching retirement age and the leading edge of the Baby Boom generation already retired, the need for long-term healthcare costs is becoming more and more apparent. According to a 2010 study, “The fact is that the average American will need adequate assets for 25-30 years – or longer than previous generations. On average, one in five 65-year-old males will survive to age 90. A 65-year-old woman has a three in 10 chance....
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Retirement age sneaks up on us before we know it! And it’s happening to as many as 10,000 Americans every day. Prepared or not, many employees are often forced to take early retirement due to economic setbacks and other corporately conceived reasons.  While some people start planning for retirement with their very first jobs, many don’t think about planning till the eleventh hour. Some don’t plan at all. Hopefully you’re somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. No matter what, unless tragedy strikes and you become disabled or die, retirement will become a reality for everyone at some age. How you meet retirement says a lot about how you’ll spend your retirement years.  I have prepared a list of steps to address before you retire that will help you meet this stage of life with dignity and grace. Hopefully you will also arrive with a portfolio that will keep you financially...
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In the U.S., 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age everyday. These statistics beg the question: If you are nearing retirement age, how ready are you, psychologically and even more importantly, financially for this life event? Every individual will have different needs and desires for their retirement years. No matter what those are and how they differ, the more clearly you envision your future during retirement and plan before hand to be as prepared as possible, the more you’ll enjoy this phase of your life. Some of the topics that need to be visited as you get closer to retirement include deciding how you’re going to spend your time and how much money you’ll spend each month. You want to take into consideration gifts, vacations, taxes, and emergencies among others. The cost of health care is a biggie to consider, without an employer no longer paying part or all of your medical...
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You may think that breaking up with your financial advisor is a crazy idea, but believe me it’s not as off-kilter as you think. Especially, if you’re like many people who hire a financial advisor then never revisit the decision you made until it’s time to retire. Or maybe you inherited your financial advisor due to a death or other life situation and have just left the investments in their care. Inertia is one of the most difficult forces to overcome.  While your financial advisor may have had your best interest in mind when you first hired them, they may not actively monitor your account to keep pace with the economy and with investment vehicles that may serve you better as your life and circumstances change. If you inherited the advisor, you may find that the person you inherited them from had not looked into their investments in some time.  In...
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While breaking up with your financial advisor may not have all the legal complications of ending a marriage, it can be an agonizing decision to make. Especially if you’ve been in a long-term relationship with your financial advisor and you’ve discovered he or she has not really had your best interests at heart. According to a recent survey by Spectrem Group, 4 to 6% of U.S. investors change financial advisors in any given year. A variety of reasons are attributed to the ending of these relationships. High on the list are major life events such as death, divorce or inheritance, as well as lack of communication and frustration with complex or hidden fees. If you inherited your financial advisor, the good news is you can now shop around for your very own. Finding a financial advisor you trust may take more time than you’d like and there is a lot of...
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Are you aware of how 401k plans came into existence? Most people are not. The fact is they came about by accident when a benefits consultant read a sentence in the government’s Revenue Act of 1978 regarding deferred compensation. This astute consultant took it upon himself to inquire whether the statement would apply to all compensation. When the answer was in the affirmative, the 401k Retirement Savings Plan was born. In 1985, there were a mere 30,000 401k plans. By 2013 that number had soared to 638,000 plans with 89 million plan participants. The 401k Plan is without question the most popular vehicle for retirement savings. Recently a wave of 401k related lawsuits have been filed against companies for a variety of issues, which may mean the 401k may not be the best place for your money. These suits have made their way all the way to the Supreme Court. Mismanagement,...
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401K Plans have traditionally been used as incentives to lure and keep employees. They have become increasingly popular with large corporations as well as small, to mid-size businesses. However, the Supreme Court is looking more closely at corporate 401K plans. The end result could be more profitable for the participating employees and a potential sticking point for employers. The reason the Supreme Court is looking into two separate cases regarding 401K plans is to determine the responsibility employers have to provide good plans. For instance, there are many different share classes, some of which are far too expensive and may not offer employees the most beneficial return on their investment. Most employers, once they’ve signed off on a company 401k plan, will rarely, if ever review that plan again. Even though the economy goes through its ups and downs, no one is monitoring the 401k to determine whether or not it...
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In 2013 I decided to start looking for ways that Forest Hills Financial could be more involved in a local organization.  One that could speak to all of my advisors, employees, and clients.  I knew that we were all individually working with and supporting, both financially and through volunteerism, multiple charities.  I wondered...how much of an impact could we make if we started to change our focus and commit to collectively supporting one charity? By late 2013, we decided that for 2014 and beyond that charity would be Kids’ Food Basket.  Kids’ Food Basket has the accessibility I envisioned for my advisors, employees, and clients. They can all be hands on. Kids' Food Basket offers numerous outlets to get involved in, from volunteering time, packing Sack Suppers, bringing a Wish List food item to a client event, or giving a monetary amount if they choose.  The involvement with Kids' Food Basket...
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As people prepare for retirement, social security is one component of the equation that will be used to determine the amount of retirement income one will have to live on. If saving and planning has come natural, social security can be viewed as a supplement for your retirement.  If you have struggled in saving and properly planning, your dependency on Social Security retirement income will likely be greater. For many of us, retirement will be a substantial time in our life, and planning on how we are going to pay for it is increasingly difficult. With that being said, this is just one of many factors to consider when planning for retirement and more importantly to address your own situation with a professional independent advisor.                                                                          To receive a report on your estimated social security retirement benefits, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount . Once you have created your account you can then download...
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Chances are if you have been investing for any amount of time you have learned that a proper asset allocation has a percentage of Bonds and a percentage of stocks.  It may also include something loosely called Alternatives.  When people hear the words “Alternative Investments”, they have a knee jerk reaction based on a dated idea of what they entail.  You may think of the commercials on Satellite radio or late night TV promoting metals or owning your own gas well and think to yourself, “No thanks”.  Recent research shows that by doing so you may be selling yourself and your portfolio short. The 2013 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments found when they gathered info from 835 US colleges and Universities that many of these stalwarts of investment conservatism were heavily invested in Alternatives.  With an average return of 11.7% in 2013 no one would accuse them of being overly aggressive as...
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Estate Planning and Probate: Is it possible to contest a Will or a Trust?
  Why would I contest a Will or a Trust?   If your loved one’s Will or Trust is not what he or she really intended, there are corrective actions you can take so that your loved one’s wishes are properly carried out. Who can contest a Will or a Trust? A beneficiary of a Trust, a devisee of a Will, or someone who would have inherited if the deceased died Intestate (without a Will/Trust) has standing to contest a Will or a Trust. Under Michigan Law, spouses, children, grandchildren, parents and in certain circumstances, siblings, are considered interested persons, if the deceased died Intestate. What consequences should I be concerned with if I contest a Will or a Trust? Most Wills and Trusts have clauses in them stating that any interested person or beneficiary who contests the Will or the Trust will forgo their rights in the same – commonly referred to as a “no contest” clause; however, under Michigan Law, a “no contest” clause is only given effect if there is no probable cause for challenging the Trust/Will. MCL § 700.2518. In other words, the consequences of a “no contest” clause will only kick in when there was no reasonable basis (probable cause) to challenge the Trust/Will. What facts give you probable cause to challenge a Trust/Will? The most common reasons for challenging a Trust/Will are: The deceased lacked capacity when the Trust/Will was made; Undue influence by another (oftentimes, a close family member); Fraud; The existence of a more recent Trust/Will; or The Trust/Will was not executed properly (not witnessed or signed properly). The Take Away. If your loved one’s wishes are not carried out as they intended, and you have a reasonable basis for that belief, per the common reasons above, you can challenge the Will/Trust.
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If You’re Listing Your House This Spring, First Get Your Equity Out
  By Jonathan Arnold Manager, Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids http://www.MichiganHomeLoanSolutions.com You've heard the Grand Rapids Real Estate market is on fire. You've been scheming and dreaming to trade up to your dream home. Or maybe you're going the other direction, selling the empty nest at peak profitability for a more carefree condo lifestyle. Either way, spring 2017 is a great time to list your house in Michigan. But before you start staging, cleaning out closets, or calling your real estate agent, have you thought about what's likely to happen the minute your house hits the market in this climate? The good news is, it will likely sell. The bad news is, it will likely sell -- immediately. Which means that finding -- and securing -- your dream home in a hot market becomes an exercise in stress-seeking behavior as you try to juggle finding just the right house, selling your existing house, and having somewhere to live in the middle. It Doesn't Have To Be This Way Savvy homeowners can save themselves time, trouble and possibly grief if they make just one call before listing their homes. That call is to the Inlanta Grand Rapids Mortgage Team to be connected with a lender partner to open a home equity loan before it's listed. Note: It must be before the house is listed! Traditionally, people facing the financial juggling involved in selling and buying a home have chosen among bridge financing, borrowing against their 401Ks, or proactively getting a home equity loan before listing their homes on the market. While the best option will depend on your individual financial standing, the team at Inlanta feels that in the current market, the HELOC offers more advantages and flexibility than other solutions, allowing the homeowner to get the jump on the home they want before putting their existing home on the market. Interest-Only HELOC - Home Equity Line of Credit If the house is not yet listed you can probably get a home equity line of credit (HELOC). With a HELOC, you can draw the amount you need for the new house, subject to a maximum draw.   The advantages include typically competitive rates, flexible terms and even Interest-Only products. The key advantage to the HELOC is that it allows a homeowner to access the equity locked up in the existing home before it's on the market. Bridge Financing - Too Reactive vs. Pro-Active In the old days, "bridge financing" was the instrument commonly used to help homeowners buy another home while selling their existing home. However, in the current mortgage climate, a bridge loan isn't usually available unless you have a binding contract of sale on the old house. This also means that you can't start looking until conditions are met. The sale agreement is the lender's security. Bridge loans differ from traditional real estate financing. Interest rates are higher than a fixed-rate mortgage loan, and closing costs can be as high as mortgage loans. At the end of the day, if you rely on a bridge loan secured on a sale, you may miss opportunities when the right house comes along. Do The Math on the 401K Some pundits recommend borrowing against your 401K as a low-risk way to finance a new home before closing on your existing home. But this makes no sense when the stock market is giving stronger returns than the interest charged on home equity loans. Money pulled from the market creates exponential losses over time. So if you're getting ready to enter the spring market, get a jump with a call to Inlanta for a referral to our partners who specialize in smart products like the interest-only HELOC. We'll help you map out the right amount to keep in reserve for commissions and closing, and get you started started on the happy trail to your dream home. Contact us for information on our HELOC partners. ===================================================== Jonathan Arnold has been working in the mortgage industry since 2003. He prides himself on taking the time with each and every client to evaluate not only what is best for them today, but also what will be best for their future. As the Grand Rapids Branch Manager at Inlanta Mortgage, Jonathan ensures that each client is confident in making their homeownership dreams a reality. Contact Jonathan at jonathanarnold@inlanta.com or follow him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanarnold1 ) Visit the Grand Rapids Inlanta website at: www.MichiganHomeLoanSolutions.com Forest Hill Financial, Inlanta Mortgage and Securities America are separate entities
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Can a Trust own and manage my business?
Can a Trust own and manage my business? The short answer – yes, it can; however, there is more to it. Trusts can own businesses and manage them for the benefit of your heirs, but there are nuances to consider. S-Corp thoughts/considerations. For example, if your business is an S-Corp, you avoid corporate taxation, double taxation, because the shareholders receive the income and losses from the business (S-Corps are “pass through” tax entities). In other words, the business income gets treated like personal income for the shareholders, although certain exceptions apply. An S-Corp: Has fewer than 100 shareholders (family members and estates are treated as one shareholder); Does NOT have a shareholder that is not an individual (except for certain types of Trusts, and certain exempt organizations, such as a 501c3); Does NOT have nonresident aliens as shareholders; and Has only one class of stock. The take away. A Trust can own and manage a business for the benefit of your heirs; however, there are specific nuances to consider, such as limiting S-Corp status to certain types of Trusts. If you would like to consider Trust based ownership-management, meet with your Estate Planning lawyer to discuss the specifics.  
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What benefits should you be looking for out of your job? | A Millennials Perspective
Maybe you just graduated college and landed your absolute dream job. Or maybe you have been working with the same company for ten years now and are considering a change of career. Regardless of what your situation is, one main source of focus should remain a constant; your workplace benefits. Having benefits in your workplace, and better yet; understanding what those benefits are is a very important aspect you should keep in mind as you are looking to start your career or perhaps exploring the idea of changing jobs. After all, millennials are the “job-hopping generation.” There are numerous staples to your financial future that a workplace can offer, many of these unfortunately tend to slip the mind throughout the application process. Beyond the seemingly bare minimum 401k match, keeping in mind benefits such as healthcare coverage, flexible schedules & vacation time, student loan repayment, and career & personal development should all be taken into consideration! Your future is much more complex than the dollar figure of your paycheck every week.   In today’s world, having healthcare coverage through your employer is one of the most important benefits to consider, and a huge factor for deciding if you’ll take on a new role at a new company. The future of the current healthcare system remains uncertain, so having guaranteed coverage provided by your employer is beneficial in more ways than you may think. For starters, you get to keep more money in your own pocket; which can be huge for young families that are just starting out. Not worrying about finding coverage on the healthcare exchange and having deal with that headache can really save you stress in the event something was to ever happen. Finally, many employers want to keep their employees healthy and will often throw in gym memberships and health classes as an added bonus, brownie points for getting fit!   Another point to consider when looking into a new job, is work-life balance. In today’s day and age, it seems to be more and more difficult to manage the roles and responsibilities of being an exceptional employee, along with the health and wellness of your home and social life. There is a never-ending stream of “things to get done and places to be,” whether it’s with your spouse, work colleagues, children, family, or even just downtime with friends. If you find yourself constantly exhausted from a the seemingly never ending pull of your time and energy, a flexible schedule should be taken into careful consideration before signing the dotted line on your new job offer. Now that being said; most of us won’t get a “work when you can” type of job, but this thought process also pertains to vacation time. Two weeks’ vacation may sound great at first, but as you soon find out, that grandma’s birthday and your best friend’s Bachelor party have single handedly eaten through all your time off...you may find yourself reconsidering. Moral of the story here, understand the demands of your life and ensure before you sign that offer, that your personal life and emotional wellbeing won’t suffer as a result.   A sore subject among many millennials...student loans. Student loan debt is, and seems to continue to be a significant burden to the millennial budget. There are now more than 44 million college graduates who have amounted more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, yes you read that right...trillion. After making payments for months and even years, it seems like that loan burden will always be present. It is tough for millennials just starting out to balance finances when you hit the ground running backwards entering the workforce already owing, for some, tens of thousands of dollars. Working an entry level job because you don’t have experience all the while trying to make it on your own with high rent costs, student loan debt, credit card debt, and all the other bills you’re responsible for can make the future can look pretty glum. For many millennials, the reality of this has left them with very little (if any) money left over for anything else. Now, how does this fit into what to look for when applying for a job other than how big the salary is? One of the trending employee benefits for 2017 is student loan repayment, hallelujah! There is a light at the end of this tunnel! This benefit is monumental in helping young employees move forward in their early stages of life and is making jobs that much more competitive. Keep an eye for this up and coming benefit in the job market, it’s definitely one of the rising stars to making a company attractive to work for.   Your job is much more than just your salary or your paycheck. The people you work with become sort of like your second family, and your office your “home away from home.” You spend most your time with colleagues during the week, and most of the time they end up knowing you better than your best friends. You will grow close with your bosses and their desire to ensure you do well will increase as your relationship grows; after all...if you do well, the company does well too. You want to ensure that you will be setup to succeed and the people and environment you’re working in will be one that you can prosper. When your company invests time and money into you to help develop you as an employee, they have an incentive to keep you around and keep you happy. It is important to be challenged each day, so work to find a job you love, stick to it, and develop your skills to work your way up the corporate ladder! The people and the environment are a key component to your success!   Like I said in the beginning, we are the generation of job hoppers. With more and more college educated millennials entering the workplace, companies have had to get creative with their benefit packages to keep millennials from continuing the job to job trend. When looking for a new role or when negotiating your offer, it is ok to play hard to get! You are an asset to them...remember that. There are a lot of great benefit packages out there and it is well worth holding out for the one that best suits you. Understand your options and be selective in your decision, the choices you make today have a serious impact on your career and future.
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Let's Get Uncomfortable: The Dealings of Divorce, Separation and the Fear of the Unknown from a Banker's Perspective.
I suppose there are a lot of lighter topics that one could talk about on the dawn of a new year, however in my line of work every year around this time I find myself providing counsel to individuals and couples that have decided to go their separate ways. Generally, it's not the holidays or the new year that actually done the relationship in. Although the stress of the holidays coupled with unwanted conversations over politics with in-laws that may have over stayed their welcome certainly doesn't help a struggling couple find their way. Typically, the relationship has been broken or been breaking for a long time leading up to these conversations. It's never easy for someone to open up about personal matters such as this and quite frankly especially when there are children involved, it can be a very emotional conversation. I decided to lay out some of the biggest takeaways and advice that I could give to someone facing the breakdown of a relationship and the prospect of a divorce or separation. 1. Do not let the fear of the unknown prevent you from finding out what the state of your credit, finances and potential future options are. Knowledge is powerful, just knowing where things stand and what your options are will help alleviate some of your stress and fear. 2. If you are still in an amicable relationship and have yet to file a divorce, prior to filing it is highly, and I can't stress enough HIGHLY, recommended that you seek out a banker such as myself to lay out your potential paths. Once the divorce is filed there are a number of options that will no longer be available to you as far as home financing is concerned. 3. There is such a thing as a "win-win" when dealing with a divorce or separation. I know it can sound unlikely or seem impossible, but I've worked with numerous couples who as a result of an earnest effort on both sides, were able to find housing solutions that provided stability for the children and peace of mind for themselves. 4. Find a compassionate banker who is objective and excels at communication. This is such a touchy subject and charged with so many emotions. The last thing many people want to deal with when going through a separation is their finances. It takes a patient ear, an open heart and a lot of experience to be able to successfully guide someone through this tough time in their life. Choose your mortgage banker wisely! 5. The solution may surprise you and be something that you did not expect. Throughout the years ofworking with couples going through separations and divorces I have witnessed, structured and been a part of some very unconventional outside of the box solutions. The biggest thing that I can recommend is just having the conversation with someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with these types of situations.
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