The financial stresses that keep me up at night are what I assume keep most women up at night – household expenses, debt and retirement. Thankfully, I’ve taken steps throughout my life to lessen those worries over time.
When I was 17, I bought my first car, a Ford Thunderbird. Growing up in a family of 10 meant money was always tight, however, and my parents couldn’t afford car insurance for a 17-year-old. So, I purchased my first insurance policy, automobile insurance. Oh how I hated paying that premium every month, but loved the freedom a car gave me!
A few years later, I purchased my first life insurance policy. It was a simplified issue policy that only required me to check “no” for a few questions. It wasn’t a big policy at all – a $20,000 benefit with a rider to double the benefit if I died as a result of an accident. But it gave me peace of mind knowing if something happened to me, my parents and younger siblings would not be burdened financially.
Around this same time, I also starting working for a company that offered a retirement savings plan, called a 401(k). I knew if I saved 3 percent of my own money, the company would match that 3percent. Who doesn’t love free money?! As my earning power started to grow, I began contributing additional funds.
Fast forward to getting married … after a five-year engagement, I never thought that day would come, but it did. What was I going to do protect my husband in case something unexpectedly happened to me? What if something happened to both of us? Who was going to take care of our beloved dogs? Did we want everything tied up in our estate to create a court battle between families? No, not at all! We had wills drafted that stated our intentions and named family members as executors of the estate. We also made sure our contingent beneficiaries matched the intentions in the will.
Do I still lay awake in bed worrying about stuff? Yes! But not every dollar and cent because I know I have created a great foundation to continue building my financial dreams.
Put It In Practice: August is #FinancialFinesse month. Take the time to help guide the next generation of women on how to make sensible financial decisions throughout their lives.
The 1950s “Leave it to Beaver” family life isn’t the norm for the 21st century family today. The breadwinner of the family isn’t always the husband … and the caregiver isn’t always the wife. Even though we see this every day, we don’t always remember it when looking at clients’ financial plans for their families.
If June were the breadwinner, how would she keep the Cleaver family running if something happened to her? How would they pay the bills? How would they put food on the table? How would they pay for child care or house cleaning if Ward needed to go back to work?
There are so many things we take for granted today that could be gone tomorrow. While we can never know when an unexpected event will occur, we can be prepared for the potential financial impacts – no matter our gender.
A strong disability policy would be just one of many solutions June would need to consider. If she became hurt or sick, the policy would replace her paycheck and help with any extra medical bills. This alone could create a level of peace and comfort to shift the focus away from her physical distress and help her get back to her good ol’ self in no time.
Put It In Practice: No matter a person’s role or financial contribution to their family, what they provide is invaluable. Help them prepare for an unexpected event and its potential impact.
If your clients had investment income in 2014, there may be something in their recently filed tax return they weren’t expecting – an additional tax. For individual taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of more than $200,000, or joint filing taxpayers with adjusted gross income of more than $250,000, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created an additional tax of 3.8 percent on investment income, effective after Dec. 31, 2012.
The tax is levied on the lesser of:
Investment income specifically includes gross income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties and rents. Investment income does not include distributions from qualified retirement plans, IRAs, gains on the sale of certain business interests, active trade or business income, or any income taken into account for self-employment tax purposes.
Considering this new surtax on investment income and the additional tax burdens placed on high wage earners contained in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, it has become increasingly important to consider taxation when making investment and financial decisions. The sticker shock individuals are experiencing after reviewing their 2013 tax returns has resulted in an increased interest in tax-favorable strategies, such as maximizing qualified plan contributions, implementing non-qualified deferred compensation plans or contributing to charitable remainder trusts. Additionally, there has been an increased interest in taking advantage of the tax-favorable nature of cash value life insurance.
Put it in Practice: The cash values inside life insurance policies grow on a tax-deferred basis and, when designed correctly, may be withdrawn free of income taxes. The new 3.8% surtax discussed above does not apply to life insurance cash values – make sure your clients know about this advantage.
The impact of Sept. 11, 2001, is far-reaching and still being felt by many families today. If you or your clients are looking for ways to support those affected by the wars on terror, the Johnny Michael Spann Patriot Trusts Act created a unique option. Named for a CIA officer who was the first American to give his life for his country in the war on terrorism, the Patriot Trusts Act helps facilitate the flow of private money to the widows and orphans of American servicemen, CIA officers, FBI agents and other federal employees who have given their lives during wars on international terrorism after Sept. 11, 2001.
This is separate from Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which was established by the federal government to provide compensation to any individual (or their family) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of Sept. 11, 2001, or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes.
However, the Sept. 11 Fund doesn’t assist the families of military or government personnel who have been killed while fighting against terrorists in the wars that followed. The Johnny Michael Spann Patriot Trusts Act is unique because it not only created support for a different group of people impacted by Sept. 11, but it also created the option to have multiple funds – not just one – that supports the flow of money to these victims. Any charitable corporation, fund, foundation or trust that meets all applicable requirements under the law concerning charitable entities, and meets the requirements established in the act, is eligible to characterize itself as a Johnny Michael Spann Patriot Trust. Contributions to such a trust will be tax deductible.
Put It In Practice: If you or your clients want to create a lasting legacy of support for our military, specifically those impacted by the war or terror, consider creating or giving to a Johnny Michael Spann Patriot Trust.
When you watch fireworks in July, you can almost be certain you’ll hear, “God Bless the USA,” by Lee Greenwood. Such a powerful song, and a great reminder that we have those brave men and women in our military to thank for our freedom.
Let’s face it: Men and women actively serving in the military carry larger risks than most clients. In the event of a disability, they have benefits to cover their base pay, but that’s pretty much it. The majority of disability income carriers won’t give them any additional coverage.
Peterson International is an exception. They’re able to give active military physicians and dentists additional coverage – 65 percent replacement of bonus income, housing and food allowances, and moonlighting income. They even offer partial benefits, and an “own occupation” definition.
It will never be enough to truly compensate them for their bravery and sacrifice, but the extra protection can help spread your military client’s paycheck a little further, making their family feel more secure.
Put it in Practice: Ask your active military physician and dentist clients if they have their protected their bonus income, housing and food allowances, or moonlighting income in the event of a disability. If not, Peterson International – and Ash Brokerage – can help.
© 2018 Ash Brokerage LLC.