Tag Archives: Get Organized

Estate Mistakes from 4 stars that died too young

Estate planning is for everyone – avoid Estate Mistakes

The goal of estate planning is to leave what you have to whom you want to.at the least possible cost in terms of administration and taxes. But, no one can successfully predict how long they will live; illness and accidents can happen at any age & when least expected. That’s why estate planning is important no matter the age (or stage). Too many families are caught off-guard and found unprepared when an incapacity or death happens and proper estate plans are not in place.

Estate planning is also not just for the wealthy; it’s important that proper estate planning & instructions be discussed and documented no matter the state of wealth. Indeed, estate planning can often mean more to families with modest wealth, because they can afford to lose the least.

I think there are profound lessons worth passing along from the estates of 4 very famous young stars who did not leave complete estate plans in place. Hopefully, others young or old, rich or not so rich can learn from these mistakes.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (1967 – 2014)

A much-loved, versatile & celebrated actor, director, and producer of film and theater who won a best actor Oscar for his role in “Capote” in 2006. He died of combined drug intoxication. He was 47 years young.

Estate Mistakes:

  • His entire estate was left to his partner who was the mother of his 3 children,but he failed to create trusts for his children.
  • Because his partner was not his wife, the estate did not transfer on a tax-free basis.
  • By not setting up a revocable trust, his estate was subject to probate which caused further delays and costs and made his family financial situation, very public.
  • Estimated cost of estate mistake: $15 Million of an estimated $35 Million estate

Amy Winehouse (1983 – 2011)

The controversial yet undeniably talented British singer and songwriter known for her deep vocals and eclectic musical taste, died of accidental alcohol poisoning . She was 27 years young.

Estate Mistakes

  • She died “intestate” meaning that she did not leave a valid will.
  • Her estate passed by law to her “natural heirs” being her divorced parents. Her ex-husband who she remained very close to until her death; received nothing.
  • Her father was appointed as administrator and incurred considerable personal and financial burden in settling Amy’s complicated estate which included 6 music companies. The resulting cost to settle bills, debts and taxes ate up the majority of the estate estimated at $7 Million.

Heath Ledger (1979 – 2008)

The brilliant Australian actor and director died of accidental overdose of prescription drugs. He had just finished filming his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight for which he won many awards after his death including an Academy award. He was 28 years young.

Estate Mistakes:

  • He did not update his will following the birth of his daughter, Matilda
  • The beneficiaries in his will were his parents & 3 sisters with no mention of his daughter or his daughter’s mother
  • A filing of probate by his daughter’s guardians in Australia sought part of the estate held in Australian trusts worth approximately $20 Million. Much publicity around family infighting ensued until Leger’s father agreed to financially support his granddaughter

Paul Walker (1973 – 2013)

This young “heart throb” was best known as the star of the Fast & Furious movies and tragically (and ironically) died in a high-speed car accident that lead to a fiery car crash. He left a 15-year-old daughter and a tangled mess of finances & questions. He was 40 years young.

Estate Mistakes:

  • He established a revocable living trust for his 15-year-old daughter many years earlier, but he was noted as the only trustee with no successor trustee named. This has led to much debate between his own family and the mother of his daughter as to who will oversee the trust given that his daughter is a minor.
  • He had not updated his will in 12 years, a period over which his net worth grew significantly. Given the fact that his will had not been updated, there were no provisions made for his girlfriend of 7 years, who he intended on marrying.
  • While he established a revocable living trust for his daughter it was not funded fully during his lifetime so there has been considerable expense and publicity incurred that could have been avoided. It’s a common mistake to set up a trust but not do the actual transfer
  • Estimated cost of estate mistake: $5 Million of an estimated $25 Million estate

Better and more complete estate planning would have saved the estates of these young stars, millions in estate taxes. Better financial organization would have saved the families additional grief that comes with tracking down details and settling final accounts.

Better financial organization and peace of mind are goals behind LegacyTracker. When better organization is in place; better and more complete planning can take place.

64 Billion reasons to get your ducks in a row

Are your ducks in a row?

We think $58 Billion in unclaimed or misplaced financial assets in the US + $4-$6 Billion in Canada are pretty good reasons to get financially organized. These financial assets were no doubt hard-earned. A good majority of these assets may also be tax paid. $64 Billion or so waiting to be claimed by the individual that lost track or the legal beneficiaries of those assets; It’s a lot of money that could make a really BIG difference to many families and loved ones.

Unclaimed financial assets come in a variety of forms:

  • Bank or Credit Union accounts
  • Stocks/Bonds
  • Uncashed dividends
  • Utility deposits or refunds
  • Other prepaids, deposits or refunds
  • Trust distributions
  • Inheritances
  • Annuities/Pensions
  • Education funds
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Mineral royalties such as oil, gas, or mining
  • Insurance policy claims/refunds
  • Contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes

Unclaimed financial assets reside in a variety of places:

  • Banks, Credit Unions and Trust Companies
  • Insurance Companies
  • Share Transfer Agents
  • Pension Funds
  • Trust monies held by lawyers or real estate companies
  • Utilities
  • Funeral Homes
  • Investment management companies
  • Retailers (Gift Cards/Credits)
  • Government treasuries or agencies

While held initially by a variety of ‘holder’ organizations or institutions, unclaimed assets residing in the US or 3 of the Provinces in Canada with Unclaimed Property legislation in place will, after a set period of time, be forwarded to the State/Provincial or Federal treasury. Those assets will be safeguarded and reported into an online search base where hopefully the legal owners or heirs will find those assets and make a claim. Many US jurisdictions are very proactive about looking for owners.For example, many State treasury departments will engage in outreach activities at baseball games, summer fairs and shopping malls with the specific purpose being to find unclaimed money for visitors. It is common place in most US states to publish the entire database in the local paper, once or twice a year.

The US estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed funds belonging to them

The US knows a lot about Unclaimed or lost financial assets because they have kept really good records over the 50+ years or so that they have had such legislation in place.The same can not be said for Canada despite how socially progressive Canada might be in many other areas.

Only 2 provinces in Canada (Alberta and Quebec) have comprehensive unclaimed property legislation in place and provide searchable databases. BC has a voluntary, less comprehensive system in place

The Bank of Canada has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed Money

The Bank of Canada on its own has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets in the form of Unclaimed bank accounts and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. While there is a searchable database available online for unclaimed bank accounts which total over $532 Million, there is no such database for Unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds which total over $500 Million. No one from the Bank of Canada s looking for those legal owners. We know because we asked.

Bank of CanadaThe amount of unclaimed financial assets is a staggering amount and so too is the rate of increase of financial assets becoming lost or unclaimed. The Unclaimed Bank account balance with the Bank of Canada increased by a net amount of $36 Million in 2013 or 7.3% making for a 5 year (net) increase of $181 Million. The value of unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds increased $105 Million in the year ending April 2013.

 

Please get your ducks in a row

These alarming increases in unclaimed financial assets in combination with in Canada, a lack of comprehensive unclaimed property legislation for a majority of hard-working Canadians and their families should be sufficient evidence of the need to safeguard and protect information relating to financial assets appropriately. No one will safeguard your information as well as You can.

Helping with that challenge, is one of the core missions behind LegacyTracker.

 

Get organized and reduce Personal Financial stress

Reduce personal financial stress by getting organized

A little organization can go a long way to reducing personal financial stress

A recent national survey conducted for the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) found that money is the leading source of stress among Canadians. Money and financial matters are a bigger stressor than work, personal health or relationships. 51% of women and 40% of men are losing sleep over financial worries and almost half or 45% are embarrassed about their lack of control over finances.   Highlights of the survey on financial stress can be found here 

Unlike other kinds of stress that can make your adrenaline go into overdrive and raise your energy level which can lead to a fight or flight response, financial stress is different. Financial stress often leads to a debilitating form of mental burden that is hard to shake and can have other long-term consequences of the very unfavorable kind.

What’s the answer?  How can you reduce personal financial stress?

  1. Breathe
  2. Organize
  3. Embrace Technology
  4. Review
  5. Simplify

Answer: All of the above and keep them going

Dealing with “cluttered” finances & personal financial stress can be debilitating

Organization is a key and positive first step to successful personal financial management & reducing stress that can help you achieve future success.  Organization & simplifying are both BIG stress reducers. Organization goes beyond where things are. Organization is about knowing what you have which is way better than not knowing and imaging the worst.

Knowing what you have is the first step in moving forward towards what you want to achieve and where you want to be down the road. Knowing what you have on an ongoing basis will help you monitor your progress and keep you motivated towards your goals.

Our web-based LegacyTracker personal financial organizer helps you reduce personal financial stress by helping you to organize and:

  1. Safeguard important documents by scanning/saving them inside LegacyTracker
  2. Enhance your peace of mind by sharing important information you wish to share with your loved ones or professional advisors
  3. Receive reminders and alerts about what you still need to do in terms of being organized around your personal financial affairs

Organization can also help you Assimilate, Eliminate, or Consolidate helping you to Simplify

The process of becoming more organized can better highlight the fact that you might have multiple accounts or providers that can be consolidated or eliminated which will mean less paperwork management and maybe reduced costs over the longer term. You might also find while you are organizing, that you have gaps or opportunities that you had not taken care of previously because they were missed in some of the clutter

Getting organized is a Gift to you AND your family in the short and longer term. Disorganized personal financial/estate information can cause additional grief, expense & stress inadvertently for a loved one that you care about. Helping a spouse or family member or friend organize their own affairs is also a gift worth offering.

Our LegacyTracker financial organizing tool provides the ability to share what you want to share with loved ones or advisors for that specific reason. LegacyTracker can help you and your family members reduce personal financial stress

 

$63 Billion in Unclaimed Funds – pretty good reasons to get your ducks in a row

Are your ducks in a row? 

$58 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets in the US plus another $4-$6 Billion in Canada should be enough of a reason to get organized. These financial assets were no doubt hard-earned. A good majority of these assets are also for the most part, tax paid. $63 Billion or so waiting to be claimed by the individual that lost track or the legal beneficiaries of those assets; It’s a lot of money that could make a really BIG difference to many families and loved ones.

Unclaimed financial assets come in a variety of forms:

  • Bank or Credit Union accounts
  • Stocks/Bonds
  • Uncashed dividends
  • Utility deposits or refunds
  • Other prepaids, deposits or refunds
  • Trust distributions
  • Inheritances
  • Annuities/Pensions
  • Education funds
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Mineral royalties such as oil, gas, or mining
  • Insurance policy claims/refunds
  • Contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes
  • Etc.

Unclaimed financial assets also reside in a variety of places:

While held initially by a variety of different financial organizations or institutions, if you live in the US, after a set period of time, unclaimed financial assets will be gathered up by each State Treasury for safeguarding while at the same time, entered into an online search base where hopefully the legal owners or heirs will find those assets and make a claim.

Unclaimed Property legislation in the US is a win/win for the State and for the legal owners of those assets as the State is able to use those funds until they are claimed.

Check out MissingMoney.com

The US estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed funds belonging to them. Unfortunately, only 2 provinces in Canada (Alberta and Quebec) have comprehensive unclaimed property legislation in place and provide searchable databases. BC has a voluntary system in place.

Check out some links that can help you locate unclaimed financial assets in Canada           Where to look in Canada

The staggering amount of unclaimed financial assets and the alarming rate at which unclaimed assets are increasing should be sufficient evidence of why all individuals and families need to properly safeguard their financial assets and the information about those assets appropriately. Helping with that challenge, is one of the core missions behind LegacyTracker.

Getting organized means centralizing information about your assets and sharing that information in case of an emergency or what we call a “What if” situation.

LegacyTracker enables you to keep track of your assets on an ongoing basis and share that information with loved ones (or advisors) as you wish when you wish. 

Worries of the Wealthy (HNW) in 2014

 

US Trust 2014

The 2014 version of the U.S Trust Annual Insights on Wealth and Worth was recently released. The annual survey provides insight on the wealth management challenges confronting high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals in the US.

High Net worth is defined for the purposes of this survey as being $3 Million or more in investable assets. The 2014 survey sheds light particularly on the growing challenges and needs that come with more complex family dynamics including multi-generational and extended family situations. Worries of the Wealthy.

Some highlights that we found particularly interesting and some of the challenges that LegacyTracker can help with….

The Top 5 risks to family wealth

Divorce, Addictions, Untimely death or disability of a primary income earner, medical problems  and disagreements over inheritance or distribution of family assets

Family circumstances US Trust 2014

“The modern American family is more diverse than it once was, adding to the challenges of wealth management for high-net worth investors and their advisors. Changing family structures and roles among multiple generations of immediate and extended family members affect the way family members interact, communicate  and manage their wealth”

Ranking the most important reasons for having an estate plan

US Trust 2014 Reasons for Estate Planning

How important are Financial Legacies ?

While 60% of those surveyed thought it was important that they leave a financial legacy, 96% of wealthy parents are concerned that their children will be mature enough to receive an inheritance until at least age 25 and 37% think the ideal age is between 30-34. That might explain why only 38% of wealthy parents have fully disclosed their financial status to adult children over age 25.

Executor choices

Perhaps some troubling challenges on the horizon?

  • More than 3/4 of those surveyed have named a family member or friend as executor
  • Most often, individuals name their spouse as an executor but…
  • Nearly a quarter of those surveyed had not yet chosen an executor or trustee
  • 22% have not named a trustee because they have not established a trust

Families and Friends as Executors US Trust 2014

Few consider capacity of executors

Executor challenges

There were many challenges noted by those that have served as an executor or trustee. The 2nd biggest challenge cited was…having access or knowledge relating to where the records and important information was kept.  We would suggest that this issue adds to the biggest challenge noted being, the time commitment of time require to execute a will. Time is money and time can also add to the grief already being experienced in the case of a loved one who has been named as executor which happens a majority of the time even in high net worth families.

 

US Trust 2014 Survey on Executors

Yes. LegacyTracker can help with some of these challenges; important documents & information is critical & so is the sharing of that information as required. Our built in alerts & reminders are all about ensuring that the proper documentation & information is safeguarded.

 

Read the full US Trust Survey US Trust 2014 survey on High Net worth individuals

 

 

LegacyTracker

Personal Financial Management tools offer big benefits

Banks already know:

Personal Financial Management tools offer BIG benefits …

Other financial service providers can benefit as well

An article recently from Finextra notes that the number of banks adopting Personal Financial Management (PFM) tools to their clients has doubled in the last 3 years.  Why are banks adopting personal financial management tools and what kind of justifications are there in choosing a particular PFM ? A study of a large number of banks highlighted the following 3 benefits for offering personal financial management tools to clients:

  1. Banks want to defend their market position. Banks see PFM as a tool to differentiate their brand & create a new valuable service for their customers
  2. Banks want to increase customer satisfaction, to create loyalty and retention-Banks see the convenience, control & simplicity & organization that benefits their customers. PFM can help customers succeed in achieving their goals (that’s good for everyone)
  3. Banks see PFM as a strategic tool for revenue generation-PFM creates cross-and-up-sell opportunities and provides the marketing staff with better insight into customer needs

The author of the study sums up PFM as being a lucrative revenue generator.. We agree. But it’s a Win/Win offering with a lot to offer users & providers.

Read more from the Finextra article by Artak Vardanyan of Misys  here 

LegacyTracker helps consumers and clients simplify, safeguard & share their important financial/legal and estate information & documents. LegacyTracker helps provide a 360 degree view of finances with reminders & alerts for what needs to be worked on next. In this way, LegacyTracker is a personal financial management tool & can deliver the benefits noted in the article (plus some others).

PFM Offerings should not just be exclusive to Banks 

The benefits of offering a PFM to clients or account holders is not restricted to banks. Wealth Management firms, Credit Unions, Asset managers, Professional service providers like lawyers/Accountants or Estate executors or Member Based organizations have much to gain when clients are better organized, less stressed and more engaged with their financial/estate information.

Connect with us to learn more

 

Sharing is caring

Family Finances – Sharing is Caring

They say Sharing is Caring in life..& we think that’s particularly true with regards to your Family Finances …

Money management & communication is key when thinking about your family; your family’s emotional & physical survival often hinges on financial stability. Shared & effective communication about money matters is critical to money management but in many families defined roles are established where one spouse takes on the role CFO/Administrator and the other becomes reliant on their spouse to manage the family finances and keep it all ‘together’. It might work; but it’s a risk. It can increase the pressure & responsibility that one spouse feels with managing all that information while the other spouse is left dangerously vulnerable.

It’s not an ideal situation because we all know that life can take unpredictable twists, like a divorce, a death or an incapacity. That’s one of many reasons that we developed LegacyTracker..we think It’s critical that information is at minimum shared if not managed together. Our friend Mark Goodfield who blogs as the Blunt Bean Counter has written extensively on the topic of Stress Testing your finances for a sudden death.  He emphasizes the need for an information checklist for executors/spouses in case of death.

In combination with defining your goals together, we think sharing this information together will enable you to make wiser choices and reach those goals successfully.

LegacyTracker – allows flexible sharing – as little or as much as you wish. Share with your loved ones or your financial advisors or your executor.

Here is a list of some of the details that can be documented & stored inside LegacyTracker:

  1. Assets: including bank accounts, registered/non registered investments, real property, personal property & business assets etc.
  2. Liabilities—including loans, credit card debt, mortgages, lines of credit, business liabilities etc.
  3. Contacts-including medical contacts, professional advisors and family
  4. Digital Assets-including loyalty & reward programs, logons & passwords etc.
  5. Insurance-including disability, property, life, group as well as home & auto
  6. Estate Planning —including Power of Attorneys, Wills, Ethical Wills, Final wishes, Letters etc.
  7. Health & Medical—including immunizations, contacts, history etc.

When you consolidate all of the important information into one secure place in an organized manner we think the benefits are many for you and your loved ones.  LegacyTracker is not just about peace of mind & emergency preparedness in case of a physical or natural disaster or a death or incapacity. It’s about living – simplifying & securing your information which we believe is empowering . Knowing what you have and what you need to work on will help you become more proactive about your financial & estate planning goals.  That’s the mission behind LegacyTracker.

Who`s in charge of your family finances ?

Talking about your family finances makes for a happy marriage

So says a recent survey from Experian Consumer Services about Love & Marriage and Credit Open dialogue about family finances helps avoid conflict and can prevent one spouse feeling that they carry more of a burden over the other. It`s also apparently sexy! 73% of women and 60% of men in the survey said open communication with their spouse or partner about finances makes him/her more attractive.

So…It makes you wonder why on average, only 39% of all married adults are sharing responsibility for their family finances ?

Family Finances

 

Who`s in charge of your household finances

 

LegacyTracker can help you share & communicate information about your family finances. And, since open communication about such matters is key..We think that means that LegacyTracker can help you have a happy marriage.

Being financially aware is… Sexy

Being financially aware is sexy and will make you more attractive ….Forget the Beauty Makeover!

Thanks to a recent survey ( Experian Credit Score Marriage Survey Report 2014 by Edelman Berland) there is now compelling evidence that you can forgo the beauty makeover. It’s all about being financially aware (or mostly)

Married adults value financial responsibility more than physical attractiveness in a long-term romantic partner (spouse)

What makes a spouse attractiveÉ

 

And…financial compatibility is more important in a big way for both married and unmarried adults than Politics, Religion, Career goals & even sex & Intimacy…

Financial compatibility is sexy

 

We think that means that LegacyTracker can make you sexier by helping you become more financially aware. LegacyTracker allows you (and your spouse) to simplify, safeguard and share your important financial information. LegacyTracker comes pre-loaded with a comprehensive set of templates that enables you to become empowered with your own financial information, a net worth tracker and reminders and alerts about outdated or missing information. Yes. Who knew that could make you more sexy right ?

Definitely Good to know.

Here`s more from that survey

Financial awareness makes for a good marriage

Estate Planning for Digital Assets

UFADAA makes estate planning for digital assets a little easier

Thanks to the Uniform Law Commission, (an US National Non profit/Non partisan organization that supplies “ready to go” legislation) comprehensive provisions are now available relating to Digital Assets.  That should help make estate planning for digital assets a little easier going forward if it’s utilized by individuals US states.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) makes legislating digital inheritances easier and can alleviate the burden and the heartbreak that can come when families are unable to access simple things like digital photos or messages from loved ones that have passed away. The purpose of UFADAA is to vest fiduciaries (executors, guardians, agents powers of attorneys etc.) with the authority to access, control, or copy digital assets, while respecting the privacy and intent of the account holder.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.”  If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset.  

The State of Delaware has taken the lead already and became the first US State to enact such legislation by enacting the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act this past week. It gives the account holder the power to decide what happens to his or her digital assets in the same way they do for physical or financial assets. At present, that power lies with the tech and media companies in control of the assets. 

There is hope that all 50 states will adopt the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act so that access to content will be honoured in the way that the user would wish. The Act can be referenced here :  UFADAA-7-17-2014

In the meantime, Google does provide a tool to help users deal with the problem which they have called Inactive Account Manager . You can also keep up to date with any progress or changes by way of a blog we discovered authored by well-known US estate planning lawyer James D. Lamm. His blog is called digitalpassing.com

Unfortunately, it seems there is no such update on What Canada is doing on this subject (Sorry).

Estate Mistake Amy Winehouse

Estate Mistakes – Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was a controversial but talented British singer who died of accidental alcohol poisoning at the “too young” age of 27 in 2011. She also died “intestate,” meaning that she did not leave a valid will.  Her former spouse who she was quite close to at the time of her death received nothing. She might have wished it otherwise, but she left no will so her estate passed by law to her “natural heirs” as determined by law which did not include her ex-husband or her siblings. Instead, her divorced parents were entitled to the bulk of her estate and her Dad was appointed the administrator of her estate shortly after her death. It’s tragic enough to lose a child but being the administrator of your child’s estate adds to the grief.

Adding to the tragedy of her death is the fact that 3 years after Amy’s death her parents are still settling her accounts. They have been forced to use much of Amy’s wealth of some $7 million or so to settle bills and debts and taxes. Amy had 6 music companies to account for and her parents have taken out loans to cover the costs of dealing with her personal and business affairs. Sales of her music after her death should help their financial situation but as her Dad has noted “it’s been “an incredible drain on our resources. We had to have a lot of security and it cost us an absolute fortune”. 

A basic will or a trust, would have ensured that Amy Winehouse’s estate would be passed to the person of her choice which may or may not be the same as those designated by the default rules of the legislature. A basic will or trust might have also saved a lot of estate taxes by allowing assets to pass outside of probate via beneficiary designations and/or trusts. And…some basic organization to her estate might have saved her parents additional grief that comes with trying to track down details and settle final accounts.

 

Inter generational wealth transfers

Preparing for wealth transfers in the trillions – a strategic imperative

It’s a lot to lose

The looming inter generational wealth transfer may receive much attention in the news but how much real preparation is taking place in the financial services market for this transfer? Not reaching out to the spouse, or children & grandchildren (heirs) of existing clients presents a real risk. Bank of America in 2011 noted that assets transferring to a spouse move to another firm 55% of the time while assets transferring to children move as much as 98% of the time.  Bank of America aptly noted the strategic imperative of reducing the risk of inter generational wealth transfers; “a very real risk of long-term erosion to their business

How much ?

Life expectancy, rising health care costs , changing tax legislation and increasing debt levels aside, the estimated value of Inter generational wealth transfers over the next many years is in the Trillions and comes by way of 2 different phases.The so-called “Great Transfer” is an estimated $17 Trillion + that is expected to shift between the “Greatest” generation to Baby boomers. A 2nd shift  (“Greater transfer“) is another $42 Trillion + that is expected to move from Baby Boomers to Generation X.  Added together or alone, these transfers present a high level of risk for financial advisors/firms to lose assets. An estimated $30 Trillion of this total of $59 Trillion is expected to shift in the next 30 years.  During the peak of the wealth transfers taking place (between 2031 to 2045) it’s estimated that 10% of the Country’s wealth will change hands every 5 years.

Where’s the risk?

Estimates vary based a lot on wealth and income but most studies indicate that too few families (less than 35%) have discussed estate planning with their primary financial advisor. Why don’t more families take the time to discuss and prepare? Certainly, the myth of estate planning only being for the wealthy continues to prevail but so does procrastination and the ‘discomfort” of the topic generally.

At the same time, why are financial advisors not more actively engaging with clients & their heirs about estate planning matters? Some evidence suggests that most advisors happen to be Baby boomers themselves and feel that they lack effective ways to both reach out to the children & grandchildren of their clients and engage proactively with clients to establish multi generational wealth transfer plans. That’s not good (!) Estate planning discussions provide great value to clients, their families and financial advisors.

Engage/Do Good/Enhance Value/Retain

Research shows that at least 60% of inter generational wealth loss is caused by poor communication and a lack of trust within the family. Encouraging clients to talk with their family members about their expectations and values before the estate planning process begins is a meaningful way to provide value. We’ve written about the idea of Ethical wills over and above traditional will planning in other posts on this blog. (We provide a place for both in LegacyTracker)

Coordinating family meetings provides a great way for advisors to introduce themselves to the next generation and show that they care. Clients appreciate an advisor that cares and demonstrates customer advocacy on a regular basis & so will the families of those clients.   By offering a technology solution that helps clients simplify, safeguard and share their important financial, legal and estate information, financial advisors and firms can demonstrate customer advocacy to the entire family. Being organized will make a real difference for an entire family in enhancing their level of emergency preparedness.  Our branded solution can ease the potential burden on a family should an emergency arise; reducing the risk of additional grief, delay or cost that often comes when families are unprepared.

LegacyTracker can also help facilitate important discussions between both Advisors & Clients as well as between Clients & their family members about important estate planning matters including final wishes. Such discussions will enable Clients and their families to more proactively prepare for the next generation & and will enable financial advisors and their firms to show additional value.

That’s a core mission behind LegacyTracker –  providing a way for Financial Advisors/Firms to reach out to their Clients/Families which also helps those Financial Advisors/Firms to ultimately hold on to assets that might otherwise move. LegacyTracker is also a technology solution that will have particular appeal to younger clients or family members who are on the look out for a technology to make their lives less complex & more mobile.

Preparing for What If Scenarios

An earlier post from Brighter Life  asked  Can you imagine what would happen if you died and your beneficiaries didn’t know where to find your will?  Or your money?

That’s a much feared.. What If Scenario ..dying unprepared, without your beneficiaries knowing where to find your will or your money…Unfortunately, that kind of scenario  happens far too frequently, leaving loved ones and beneficiaries with additional stress, grief and expense often.

What If?

The article quoted well-known financial advisor Jim Yih, author of the personal finance blog, retirehappyblog.ca 

“You really love your family and friends, so take the time to get your estate organized so you don’t leave them with a big mess to sort through during such an emotional time “

The article pointed out the following 12 key documents which should be safely stored together in a place where they can easily be found:

  1. Your will: Outlining who gets what when you die and appointing guardians for minor children. Dying without a will, may lead to a family disaster with assets being divided according to provincial law & minor children ending up with the guardian that you may not approve of.
  2.  A living will: Outlining treatment should you be unable to make decisions about your own health (like receiving life-sustaining treatments).
  3.  A power of attorney: Providing someone you trust with the power to make financial decisions for you in the event you’re no longer able to do so, as opposed to the Courts deciding upon who that guardian should be.
  4.  Proof of ownership: All of those documents that relate to important assets like your house, land, vehicles, stocks and any other assets.
  5. 6 years of tax returns: Providing your executor a sense of the assets and finances that are part of your estate.
  6. A list of bank accounts and safety deposit boxes: To avoid the risk of your bank accounts being added to the 1.3 million accounts that make up $465 Million in the Bank of Canada,
  7.  Stock certificates and savings bonds: Investment account statements and & any actual stock certificates
  8.  Pension, retirement and annuity documents: Without these documents, your family may be unable to determine what remains of your retirement benefits that they may be eligible to receive.
  9.  Insurance policies: All insurance-related documents are vital for claiming insurance benefits. At this point in time in Canada particularly, no one is going to look for beneficiaries even if the policy owner might be 125 years old
  10.  A list of your debts and loans: Another list that will help ensure family won’t end up with unwanted or nasty surprises down the road
  11.  Marriage licence and/or divorce papers: Legal proof of marriage and divorce can make it easier for the executor of your estate and for your family.
  12.  Your user names and passwords: Digital assets relating to social media and online accounts are now critically important to most estates.

LegacyTracker includes comprehensive but flexible templates to take care of this chore and includes all of the above documents plus quite a few more. Life is Busy. Our mission is to help you better simplify, safeguard & share your important details for the benefit of you and your loved ones.

Learn more by contacting us

Digital Assets – in Life and in Death

In our increasingly digital world, digital assets are adding up…the average digital user (like you) has an estimated $35,000 in digital assets 

Digital assets include purchased movies, music, games, digital photos, communications and social media profiles including blogs like this. Many of these digital accounts can be subject to complicated terms of service agreements, which can make it frustrating or impossible for  loved ones to access. Depending on where you live, such terms of service agreements might even put loved ones in legal trouble related to anti-hacking or privacy statutes, if they try to log on to your accounts after you die.

 

Estate Plans for Digital Assets are becoming more critical 

That’s why it’s important to include detailed directions and information about your digital assets into your estate plan and save those instructions somewhere safe (LegacyTracker provides a spot for that)

An estimated 30M Facebook users died in the first 8 years of Facebook alone 

A good visual guide about what happens to your social media profiles after death comes by way of Dan Shaffer at WebpageFX

The world is changing and this guide is not a definitive answer in all cases. Clearly, Different Sites / Different Rules / Different Data & Different Documentation is accumulated & required after death of you or a loved one.

Here’s some more Facebook Trivia:  with 1 billion users already using Facebook, in the unlikely event that growth stopped on Facebook completely, it’s estimated that the number of deceased users would outnumber those living by 2065. If Facebook continues to grow and memorialized accounts are never removed, then deceased users will exceed living users by 2130.

LegacyTracker can help you organize & safeguard important information about your digital assets -in life and death 

Digital Assets and Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help clients simplify finances

Trusted Advisors help Clients Simplify Finances

Good article from Tessie Sanci of Investment Executive this past month

Be the Key Advisor for your Key Clients 

“Your high net-worth clients are looking to simplify their finances and their lives. Finding a trusted advisor can help to co-ordinate all their financial affairs – and make life easier.”

Life is BUSY. We think ALL clients are looking to simplify their financial affairs.

In this article, Tessie refers to the David Maister, Charles H. Green & Robert M Galford book…”The Truted Advisor” where the authors outline what they see as various levels of Advisors providing professional services. I read this book many years ago when building up my accounting firm & yes it made a difference. The opportunity is there in many professions to become more than simply a vendor who performs the required and needed tasks related to his or her profession. A Trusted Advisor however, is one that becomes a “valuable resource” that can be consulted on strategies not solely related to the advisor’s specialties.

Giving in order to receive (eventually)” helps build client trust. Becoming a resource for your clients helps build their trust and helps them simplify their lives. That’s valuable. Sanci quotes Francis Sabourin who is an advisor with Richardson GMP Ltd. in the article ” It’s a good way to show (clients) that I care…It’s not always about investments” 

LegacyTracker is also a resource for clients as well.  Our online solution helps your clients simplify their busy lives by having one safe place to simplify, safeguard & share their important financial, estate & legal details from.

Read the entire article here  from Tessie Sanci in the Investment Executive