Tending to a parent’s long-term care needs is a stressful process. Your parents probably never thought they would have a need of long-term care. You now know how real the need is and that it can happen to anyone. What could your parents have done differently?
Long-term care insurance is an option and a costly one at that. In most cases, if you don’t need long-term care, you will lose all the premiums you’ve paid. Insurers are pulling out fast and those that stayed are having huge premium increases.

Where does that leave you?

Hybrid long-term care policies may just be the answer. These were created to meet the needs of those concerned about the future care costs, but also unable to afford the high premiums of traditional long-term care insurance policies.

Follow the link for the Pre-Planning Brochure that will explain this in more detail.

The high cost of long-term care can quickly deplete a lifetime of savings, and leave nothing to pass on to other generations. To assist in easing this burden an individual or couple can apply for Medicaid.

But, don’t you have to be BROKE to apply for Medicaid? NO!

It is not necessary for you to completely deplete your assets to “zero”. A little-known Medicaid planning technique involves a product you may be very familiar with – an annuity. However, there are certain requirements that must be met for this to be a “Medicaid Compliant Annuity”. This isn’t the same that standard annuity that you get from just any insurance company.

Follow the link for an Annuity Planning Brochure that will explain this in more detail.

In this crime, criminals maneuver innocent drivers into car accidents, then make large claims for damage and faked injuries.

The “accidents” impact them three ways.

  1. Victims can be injured, terrorized, or killed when the “accident” goes wrong.
  2. Their auto insurance rates rise, or their policy will not be renewed.
  3. Victims spend time and money on police reports, car repairs, and lawsuits.

These are three kinds of “accidents:”

* Swoop and Squat. He pulls in front of you, jams on the brakes, and you hit him from the rear.

* Drive Down. As you merge into traffic, he slows down and waves you forward. He rams your car and blames it on you.

* Sideswipe. At an intersection with a dual left-turn lane, he sideswipes you if you drift into the outer lane while turning.

* After the incident, a stranger tries to convince you to use a certain body shop, doctor, or lawyer.

You get overpriced work, poor treatment, and bad legal advice.

Some ways to protect yourself:

  1. Don’t tailgate. Avoid the “swoop and squat” by allowing stopping distance.
  2. Get the driver’s name, address, driver’s license, car license, and insurance information. Take photos of both cars and the passengers. Watch how the people from the other car behave. If they seem OK until police come, then complain about pain, something isn’t right.
  3. Get passenger names, and identification numbers. In a scam, others may say they were in his car and were injured.
  4. Call the police even if the damage is minor. Get a police report that describes damage and gives the police officer’s name.
  5. Only use medical, car repair, and legal professionals you trust.

For more information, visit the Web site insurancefraud.org/protect_your-self_set.html.

Please keep in mind that this tip is designed to be of help for you, but is not to be relied upon as advice. It is merely a reminder that there are many choices you have available to you, and that planning is the only way to find the right answers for your situation!  As with any financial issues, make sure you get the right information before making a decision!  If you have any questions, we’ll be glad to help you!

 

I want you to take a minute to consider whether you have enough liability insurance coverage. Did you know there are 90 million lawsuits outstanding in the US right now? That’s almost one for every three people! It’s incredible! Plus, judgments are normally in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not in the millions!

Mostly everyone has anywhere from $100,000 – $300,000 of liability insurance on their auto and homeowner’s policies. You should normally have a minimum of $250,000 – $500,000 of underlying coverage in our opinion.

And, you should consider buying an “umbrella” policy, which is triggered when your other liability insurance isn’t enough to cover you. (Which is usually a minimum of $1,000,000, and if possible, you should get a $2,000,000!) Let’s say you were in a car accident and owed $500,000 in a liability claim. If you had $100,000 of liability coverage on your auto policy, it would pay the first $100,000…then your umbrella policy would kick in and cover the rest. Without the umbrella policy, you’d have to come up with the other $400,000 on your own.

An umbrella policy is a relatively cheap (you should be able to buy a $1 million policy for around $100-$300) and simple way to make sure you and your family are protected. You should call your agent and ask how much an umbrella policy would cost. If you have your auto and homeowner’s policy with two different companies, call them both and ask what your rates would be if you had all three policies with them. Chances are, you’ll get a package deal if you put all the business with one company.

The best way to afford to pay for the umbrella raise the deductible on your auto and homeowners policies. The money you’ll save by raising your auto deductible to $500 or $1,000 and your homeowners deductible to $1,000 should more than pay for your new umbrella policy. Plus, if you get an umbrella policy for $2,000,000, and it only requires a $300,000 underlying coverage, and you currently have $500,000…you could drop the underlying coverage to $300,000 and save money there as well.

The point of auto and homeowner’s insurance is not to cover a $100 broken window, or a $200 dent…but rather, to pay for BIG DISASTERS! Anyone can afford $200 to fix a windshield…but how many of you could come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay a judgment from a lawsuit?

Please keep in mind that this tip is designed to be of help for you, but is not to be relied upon as advice. It is merely a reminder that there are many choices you have available to you, and that planning is the only way to find the right answers for your situation!  As with any financial issues, make sure you get the right information before making a decision!  If you have any questions, we’ll be glad to help you!

 

 

 

Imagine working hard for over 30 years to prepare for your future, only to have it stolen away in an instant. Sadly, this is a reality for one-in-five older Americans who have experienced financial exploitation and lost an average of $120,303, according to the AARP Banksafe Initiative.

Fortunately, in most cases, financial abuse can be avoidable. By better educating yourself and your loved ones of the risks, you can help curb the tragic practice.

There are three primary types of financial abuse:

  • Exploitation: When businesses, individuals, or charities use pressure tactics or misleading language to force older adults to make financial mistakes.
  • Fraud: When criminals commit identity theft or con older adults into spending money or sharing personal information.
  • Trust abuse: When family, friends, or caregivers take advantage of a trusted relationship to get money or assets from an older adult.

Those most at risk include individuals who are dependent on others for personal needs, experience cognitive impairments, allow family or friends to handle financial needs, or live in a care-based community like a nursing home.

As a valued client, we are dedicated to helping you protect your financial achievements and those of your friends and family. Call our office at 814-536-1040 to schedule an appointment with an older loved one to discuss financial exploitation and strategize ways to keep him or her safe.

Most people are not fully prepared to cope with disasters that damage property, destroy records, and interrupt income. These are the first steps:

  • Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to make sure you are adequately protected.
  • Make a household inventory so you are prepared to file a claim. Take photos or videos, and save receipts for high-priced items. Store a copy in a safe place away from your home.
  • Compile an inventory of credit cards and financial assets with company name, account or policy number, and value. Store it away from home.
  • Have cash available through an easily accessible account for expenses.
  • Always carry your health insurance and photo identification cards.
  • Buy life and disability insurance. If you don’t know if you have the right amounts of coverage, please update your plan right away!

After a disaster:

  • Contact relief organizations for immediate necessities.
  • Contact your insurance agents to file necessary claims.
  • Contact credit card companies to see if balances will be paid off.
  • After receiving a settlement, put the money into a savings or money market account and immediately consult with us to review your new financial situation. That way you can restore your normal lifestyle first, and won’t make big financial mistakes!

So, if you have any questions about how this, or any other financial issue affects you…please call us right away!

If you care about the privacy of your financial information, your credit history, and your charge-card numbers, you can protect yourself from criminals. Identity theft is the fastest growing financial crime in the U.S.

It can be as simple as someone stealing your credit-card number and charging merchandise to your account. Or it can be much more far-reaching. A crook could use your name, birth date, and Social Security number to take over your bank accounts or set up new ones.

Financial institutions are liable for most unauthorized charges. The worst effect could be on your credit history. It could prevent you from getting a mortgage, a job, or good auto insurance rates. Ways to protect your identity include:

* Don’t put bank statements or credit-card offers into the trash where they can be picked up by someone else.

* Use a paper shredder for every piece of junk mail, usable checks from your credit-card company, and bank statements. Destroy records you no longer need: bank statements, credit-card receipts, health-insurance reimbursements. Shredders are cheap and easy to use.

* If mail theft is a problem, get a lockable mailbox. Don’t put letters or payments on your mailbox for

the postman to pick up. Anyone else can too.

* Buy a credit report at least once a year and check it carefully.

* Don’t carry rarely used credit cards, extra identification, or anything that shows your birth date. One authority recommends using your passport for ID. It doesn’t give your address.

To get a credit report, call Equifax at (800) 685-1111; Experian at (888) 397-3742; or TransUnion at (800) 916-8800. Reports cost $8.50, according to Business Week. To stop pre-approved credit card offers, call (888) 567-8688. To get off junk-mail and telemarketing lists, go to www.thedma.org/consumers/privacy.html.

Homeowners should beware of home improvement scams that are out there at this time of year.  Along with the spring and summer weather comes a flood of advertisements and for coupons from home improvement companies with incredible offers.  In order to avoid being taken by any “fly by night” operations out there, use this checklist whenever you are hiring someone.

  • Check the company’s licensing and credentials
  • Be wary of offers that are available for an unrealistically short period of time.
  • Ask for and check references. Companies who rely on repeat business and referrals will welcome your request. Speak directly to the people who have hired them before. Don’t rely solely on signs in front yards. Contractors sometimes pay homeowners to place these sign in their yards.
  • Stay away from companies that demand all cash payment up front a bid cash deposit.
  • Do your homework. Get a minimum of three bids for small jobs and six for big jobs.
  • Ask to see a contractor’s license, proof that the company is bonded, verification of worker’s compensation policies and proof of liability coverage. You don’t want to be left facing huge claims if a worker is injured on your property.
  • Check out the company with the local Better Business Bureau. You want to see that if the company has had complaints that they have been settled satisfactorily.
  • If a company wants payment to buy material and supplies, it could mean that they are financially unstable.

As long as you check this list before you hire someone, you should feel comfortable that you are getting a fair deal for your money.

Sometimes in life things don’t work out as we plan. One of the most trying examples of this is when a couple decides they can’t make their marriage work and, subsequently, file for divorce. Divorce takes a significant financial and emotional toll on both parties, their children, and other family and friends. In the midst of the immediate financial and legal concerns, couples need to look beyond the present to help ensure that their financial futures are secure and that the future needs of children, such as education expenses, will be provided for in the event of an untimely death. Life insurance may offer a solution.

With the majority of care belonging to mothers with relatively modest average incomes, concerns arise regarding the future educational expenses of college-bound children. According to The College Board’s annual report (Trends in College Pricing, 2014) the average sum of tuition, fees, room and board for the 2014–2015 school year was around $42,000 at private colleges.

Because educational expenses are only expected to increase, the need to plan for future financial security during divorce becomes even more paramount. Let’s look at several different scenarios.

After divorce, if the spouse paying alimony and/or child support were to die, then the custodial parent may be hard-pressed to maintain the children’s current lifestyle, let alone be able to afford the potentially significant college fees. On the other hand, if the custodial parent were to die prematurely, the ex-spouse may be at a loss to cover daily childcare expenses. For these reasons, divorcing couples may want to strongly consider making life insurance policies part of the divorce decree. An example of this language would be as follows: “(Name of husband or wife) shall maintain insurance on (his/her) life in the total amount of ($ amount) as long as (he/she) is required to pay child support. The insurance shall be payable to (Name) as trustee for the minor children. If such insurance is not in force at death, the children shall have a claim against the estate for ($ amount).”

A custodial parent may want to look into purchasing a life insurance policy on his or her ex, but if this turns out to be an impossibility, transferring ownership and beneficiary arrangements on an existing policy may be another option. If policy premiums fall outside of the budget, the custodial parent may request alimony or child support increases to cover the costs. If the non-custodial parent remains the policy owner, the divorce decree can include arrangements to ensure the custodial parent is named as the irrevocable beneficiary and receives ongoing proof that the payments continue to be made and the policy remains in effect.

A parent without custody may wish to keep the policies he or she already has to protect the financial interests of other family members, such as children from a new marriage. In this case, the non-custodial parent should consider purchasing a new policy with the ex as the beneficiary. If this is done before or during the divorce proceedings, gift tax will not be owed. Premiums may be tax deductible if policy ownership belongs entirely to the ex.

For existing policies, individuals should remember that the insurance company must be notified of any beneficiary changes: Using a will for this purpose will not be valid. In addition, should the insured remarry and the policy name the “husband” or “wife” of the insured as the beneficiary, the new spouse may receive the proceeds. If the insured does not remarry and this same policy language is in force, then the proceeds may be paid to the secondary beneficiary. If the insured’s estate is named as the new beneficiary, insurance proceeds will likely be held up in the probate process. If minor children are named as the new beneficiaries, additional problems may arise, as insurance companies generally will not pay minors directly. For this reason, it may be a good idea to create a trust for minor children and name the trust as the beneficiary of the policy proceeds.

Laws vary from state to state, so consulting with an insurance professional is very important. Divorce is rarely easy, but with a well-planned strategy, the short- and long-term financial needs of children can be ensured should life take an unexpected turn.

Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. INLLIDV0-AS

Parents often find that once their children are grown and have left home, they may still require financial help. Although adult children may earn their own money, the cost of living and the acquisition of such things as a home may be beyond their means. As a result, many parents may want to provide a “lending” hand. While large loans from parents to offspring are quite common, it is important to pay attention to the tax rules that apply to such transactions.

Liening on Your Child

The best possible way to establish a loan is to make sure that your child can receive a deduction for the interest he or she pays to you. To accomplish this you must prove to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that your loan is a mortgage. Unlike other types of interest, mortgage interest secured by a principal residence is still fully deductible. Have an attorney draw up a mortgage agreement so you can take a lien on your child’s house. This method is generally used for substantial loans over $10,000.

Setting Rates

With that completed, you can set the interest rate you want to charge. If you use a fair market rate, the tax rules are straightforward. You pay income tax on the amount of interest you receive and your child deducts that amount from his or her income. The IRS determines fair market interest rates monthly.

However, if you charge your child a below market rate or no interest at all, the tax accounting becomes more complex. In fact, you may pay tax on more interest than you actually receive—and a gift tax, as well. On the other hand, your child could deduct more than he or she actually pays you.

A Case in Point

Here’s how it works: Suppose you lend your child $150,000 at 5% interest when the market rate is 9%. Your child pays you $7,500 a year in interest instead of a fair market amount of $13,500. Under the IRS rules, you still have to pay income tax on the full $13,500, and your child can deduct all $13,500, even though he or she didn’t actually pay that amount. The IRS then considers the $6,000 difference as a gift from you to your child subject to gift tax rules. As long as that amount—combined with any other gifts to your child that year—remains below the $14,000 annual gift tax exclusion in 2016 ($28,000 for joint married couple gifts), you won’t have to pay gift taxes.

An offer of financial help from a parent can make a big difference in setting a child off on the road to homeownership. However, before making a loan to any of your children, be sure to establish the required payback interest rate and schedule, so the benefits you provide your child do not negatively affect your own personal financial situation.

Copyright © 2016 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved. PFOB0UU-AS