Posts Taged estate-planning

How Much Life Insurance Coverage do I Need?

Finding the right fit between a life insurance policy and your lifestyle can be an important part of preparing for your financial future. But trying to sift through policies by type, coverage, and monthly expense can be a challenge.

If you’re in the market for life insurance or are looking to expand your personal coverage, ask yourself the following questions to get a better feel for the coverage may be a good fit for you.

Do I Actually Need Life Insurance?

Without looking at every factor, there is no way to definitively say whether life insurance is something you do or don’t need. But, as with most financial products, there are certain individuals for whom life insurance is more ideal.

If you have dependents and want to ensure their financial protection in the event of your passing, you may wish to consider how a life insurance policy could benefit your financial plans. Life insurance can cover the expenses associated with a funeral and other arrangements, as well as cover family debts and provide a helpful payout for your dependents.

On the other hand, if you don’t have dependents or are otherwise financially prepared to cover expenses in the event of your passing, you may not need to worry about adding life insurance coverage to your financial planning.

What do I Need to Cover?

To determine the value you need from your life insurance policy, you need to know what expenses you need to cover after your death. These may include:

  • Funeral expenses – Funeral expenses and other arrangements can easily top out in the tens of thousands of dollars. You don’t want to leave your family in the lurch with trying to cover these emotional expenses out of pocket.
  • Debt coverage – After your passing, you will want your life insurance coverage to cover your debts in full. Depending on your age and lifestyle, you may have tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to pay off. Take into account factors like your mortgage, auto loans, student loans, and credit card debt when you tally your debt coverage to achieve your minimum life insurance coverage figure.
  • Income replacement – If you are your family’s primary provider and have dependents to care for, it’s important to factor the loss of your income into your life insurance coverage figure. To achieve a ballpark figure for income replacement, multiply your yearly salary by ten years and use this number as a base for your income replacement. For example, if you make $50,000 yearly, you would want a minimum of $500,000 in life insurance coverage as income replacement.

Finally, add these figures together to discover your minimum coverage needs. For the individual with $300,000 in debt, requiring a $500,000 income replacement, and a funeral expense cushion of $20,000, the minimum life insurance coverage they’d need would be $820,000.

How Can I Determine which Plan is a Good Fit?

Finding a life insurance policy, or combination of policies, that meets your future needs and stays within your budget will likely take some careful research. Depending on your age, health, and income, you may have certain limits on the coverage for which you qualify.

Your financial advisor can help you put the pieces together to determine which life insurance policy(ies) make sense for your current lifestyle and future financial goals. To learn more about long-term financial planning, contact Jacob Sturgill for an initial consultation and personalized long-term planning roadmap.

Handling the Hard Stuff: How Your Financial Advisor Can Help After a Loss

Working through loss is draining, both physically and emotionally. And while it’s hard to imagine how you might handle the passing of a loved one or another unexpected loss, it can bring some comfort to have provisions in place that’ll protect you or your loved ones when these hard times come along.

An important aspect for working through troubling times is surrounding yourself with a community that will offer support and a helping hand. Your financial advisor can be an invaluable part of this team.

From helping you work through important paperwork to ensuring that you have all of your ducks in a row when it comes to making adjustments to your own legacy planning, your financial advisor can play a critical role in helping you stay on track in the aftermath of a personal loss. And when you can trust your advisor to help you with the details, you have the confidence to work through everything else that comes along with this life event.

Here are some of the roles that your financial advisor may play after a loss:

A Balancing Voice

Dealing with grief is different for every individual. After a loss, you may not have the desire or expertise to work through some of the necessary paperwork and decisions that now fall to you. Your financial advisor can provide a welcome balance to your internal feelings and can help you work through the required steps without getting mired down in emotion or indecision.

If you’re newly handling joint finances on your own, your advisor can provide professional guidance in working through the decisions that you now face. Your advisor can also help you to prioritize decisions to give you clarity on which issues must be handled immediately and which can wait until a later time.

You may be tempted to jump into making financial decisions by the dozen in the weeks and months following a loss, but if these decisions are emotionally motivated, they could be dangerous for your financial future. When you work with a trusted advisor, they can give you the balanced guidance you need to keep emotional thinking at bay and work through your issues holistically, with your entire lifestyle and values-system in mind.

A Helping Hand

Often after loss, there are mountains of papers to be signed and letters to be sent. Sometimes this work can seem daunting, even to the most ambitious family member.

If you find yourself dealing with more paperwork than you can handle, talk to your financial advisor about whether they can help you sort through some of your financial paperwork to ensure that nothing is missed. With this task off of your plate, you can focus on other details and not worry whether you’re going to overlook an important document to file in the meantime.

A Trusted Guide

After loss, your financial status is likely to change to some degree. Whether you’re dealing with a change in income and expenses or want to adjust your retirement goals, you will want to have an in-depth discussion with your financial advisor regarding your financial status as you move forward.

Your advisor will know the right questions to ask in order to help you sort through which changes you’ll need to make to your financial strategy. They can also help you to determine how your new status will impact your current holdings and provide advice on how to avoid tax penalties and other unwelcome impacts.

Part of your financial advisor’s job is to help you work through life changes as they happen, and your advisor has likely worked with plenty of other clients in a similar situation to yours. They are familiar with the territory and can provide counsel on which steps you need to take in order for you to articulate and work toward your new financial future.

Important Steps to Take Today

Of course, it’s the relationship you build with your financial advisor during the good times that allows them to compassionately help you work through loss and other life events. You want your financial advisor to be someone that you can trust to look out for your best interest in the aftermath of loss.

In order to establish that relationship, you need to have deep conversations with your advisor about concerns regarding your estate planning and long-term wealth goals.

Here are some things to do in the short-term to help you establish confidence and a solid ongoing relationship with your financial advisor:

Work through Estate Planning Documents

When it comes to confidence in the aftermath of loss, you may be motivated to work through through as much of your own estate planning process as possible if you haven’t done so already. Your financial advisor can provide you with the documents you need to prepare your assets and can also provide valuable feedback as you work through the planning process.

The earlier you start your estate planning, the more time you have to ensure that all of your documents are in place and to make adjustments as you go along. Since your future plans tie into your overall financial planning journey, it only makes sense to talk about how they impact one another and to make plans for your asset allocation in the event of you or your spouse’s passing.

Work with an Advisor who Cultivates an Atmosphere of Openness

Ideally, your financial advisor is a person who you trust and who has already helped you work through certain financial planning decisions. But if they’re not, or you don’t have a financial advisor that you feel you can trust, perhaps it’s time to find someone that you feel comfortable working with in both the good times and the bad.

Your advisor should work with you to determine your financial goals and provide helpful, reasonable recommendations that balance your values and ideals. At Puckett & Sturgill Financial Group, we believe that all of our clients deserve personalized service that is built on a relationship of mutual trust.

If you’d like to learn more about how working with a trusted financial advisor can pave the way for your future confidence, contact us to schedule a discovery meeting with one of our Certified Financial Planners!

What Issues are Important to Consider if My Spouse Passes Away

Dealing with death is never easy and always comes too soon for those we love. Putting your estate in order can allow your loved ones to transfer your assets in an orderly, timely, and tax-efficient manner in order to minimize their burden after you pass and allow you disburse your assets as you intend. Here are some other factors to consider if your spouse passes away.

Are Your Cash Flow Needs the Same?

After a loss, your lifestyle needs, including income and spending, will probably change. It’s possible that your sources of income may change and important to consider how these factors might impact your budget and other aspects of your financial situation.

You may need to look into ways to provide a continued cash flow to sustain your lifestyle, as well as issues pertaining to handling your spouse’s IRA, pension, and other benefits. Your income, personal budget, investments, and other financial decisions may all be impacted in the aftermath of a loss.

Was Your Spouse Receiving Social Security Benefits or a Pension?

If your spouse was receiving Social Security benefits or a pension from a previous employer, you may be eligible to collect survivor benefits, have payments that will stop, or payments that could be reduced.

Depending on your spouse’s employer and career history, you may be eligible for certain benefits on their behalf. And if your spouse was a veteran, you may be eligible to receive death and burial benefits, as well as other survivor benefits.

Are You Aware of All of Your Spouse’s Property and Assets?

Your spouse’s employer may offer a life insurance policy that you can collect after your spouse’s passing. You may also be eligible to collect credit card points, airline miles, unclaimed property, safe boxes and other assets your spouse had accumulated throughout their life.

How is Your Tax Situation Impacted?

Taxation on your assets may look a little different after your spouse passes away. You home is one area where you need to research your tax benefit through selling (you can qualify for the $500,000 housing exclusion if you sell within two years of your spouse’s death). For property owned jointly with your spouse, expect to receive a step-up in basis adjustment for each joint property. Additionally, if you filed “married filing jointly”, you may continue to do so for the year your spouse passed away.

Are Your Risk Tolerance and/or Investment Objectives Different?

As a newly single investor, your investment needs may be different than they were when you and your spouse invested jointly. Perhaps your retirement figures require adjustment or your risk tolerance has changed. Regardless of your specific situation, it’s important to look for ways in which your future financial plans may be impacted by the loss and to strategize a plan for moving forward.

Do Other Special Situations Apply?

Sometimes, there are unique situations that further impact your estate planning needs. If your spouse was a business owner, you will need to make accommodation for their business assets and close or transfer accounts to the proper parties.

You will also want to take a second look at assets and make proper accommodations for out-of-state properties and other accounts with unique needs. Lastly, you may wish to reduce the risk of identity theft by closing your spouse’s online accounts, canceling their driver’s license, and notifying official parties of their passing.

We’re Here for You

There is never a convenient time to deal with loss, but you don’t need to navigate these unknown waters alone. Contact Puckett & Sturgill Financial Group today to learn more about our estate planning services and how we can lend a helping hand during challenging times.

Important Disclosures

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

5 Realities You Don’t Want to Face in 2017

David Hemler, CFP®

Another year is quickly coming to a close and with it the opportunity to tackle some financial tasks you may be pretending do not need your immediate attention or you may be ignoring all together. While the New Year signifies the opportune time to tackle the things we don’t want to face, I challenge you NOT to wait. Seize the day so you aren’t faced with any of these realities in 2017, which are often the byproduct of denial and procrastination.

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