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Coronavirus: Staying the Course, Self-Isolation

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Coronavirus: Staying the Course, Self-Isolation

What a difference a week makes or even a few days make. With everything that is happening in the world, take a step back and think about where we might be going and how to handle daily life.

Where We Are Now

Everyone knows about the virus, social distancing and self-isolation. Although the virus will likely continue to spread before it peaks, with proper restrictions in place, it can be brought under control.

Where We Might Be Going

The economic effect is certainly real. We now need to cycle through this, which may take several quarters. Staying invested through this process is important so you do not miss the quick upswings and best days in the market. Missing the best days of the market can have substantial negative effects on portfolio returns.

Looking After Yourself While Self-Isolating

In these unprecedented times as we self-isolate and shelter in place, we want to share some ideas of things to do.

  • Try to keep as close to your normal schedule as possible. Get up, eat and sleep at the same time. Plan your day in advance and make a list.
  • Exercise, walk around the yard or the house, checkout workout programs on TV or download a free workout app.
  • Spring clean, it’s a great time to clean out those closets, drawers and your garage.
  • Explore, take a virtual tour below are some links for museums and national parks: https://artsandculture.google.com/explore https://artsandculture.google.com/project/national-park-service
  • Take care of yourself. Turn off the 24/7 negative news and surround yourself with positive things. Play your favorite music, read a book, listen to an audio book, try meditation or yoga, call a friend.
  • Learn a new skill checkout www.kahnacademy.com
  • Research future travel. There will be some great sales when this is over!
  • Garden or get a project done in your yard.
  • Try cooking a new recipe.
  • Facetime or video call with friends and family.
  • Make a homemade card for someone you love.
  • Binge watch a program on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
  • Clean up your social media, pictures on your phone and your computer.
  • Do a puzzle or play a game, even an online game you enjoy.
  • Fill out the US Census online. It’s easy and only takes a few minutes.
  • Enjoy your family time, but also take time for yourself in a separate room or the yard when needed.

Try to stay positive and remember, “This too shall pass”.

As always, call us anytime.

Miste & Steve

Steven Cliadakis, MBA, CFP®, AIF®
Miste Cliadakis, CWS®, AIF®

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Death of a Family Member Checklist

book_a1Losing a loved one can be a difficult experience. Yet, during this time, you must complete a variety of tasks and make important financial decisions.

You may need to make final arrangements, notify various businesses and government agencies, settle the individual’s estate, and provide for your own financial security.

These important tasks and decisions can be confusing and overwhelming, and you may not know where to begin.

“If you need assistance with some of these tasks and financial decisions, contact us. We have experience and we can help. We can provide peace of mind that these tasks will be addressed properly so you can focus on other important matters.”

Contact Altum Wealth Advisors ❯

The following checklist may help guide you through some of the matters that must be attended to upon the death of a family member.

Note: Some of the following tasks may have to be completed by the estate’s executor or trustee.

Initial tasks

  • Upon the death of your loved one, call close family members, friends, and clergy first–you’ll need their emotional support.
  • Arrange the funeral, burial or cremation, and memorial service. Hopefully, the decedent will have made arrangements ahead of time.
  • Look among his or her papers for a letter of instruction containing final wishes. Such instructions may also be stated in his or her will or other estate planning documents. Arrange any cultural rituals, and make any anatomical gifts.
  • Notify family and friends of the final arrangements.
  • Alert your loved one’s place of work, union, and professional organizations, and any organizations where he or she may have volunteered.
  • Contact your own employer and arrange for bereavement leave.
  • Place an obituary in the local paper.
  • Obtain certified copies of the death certificate. The family doctor or medical examiner should provide you with the death certificate within 24 hours of the death. The funeral home should complete the form and file it with the state. Get several certified copies (photocopies may not be accepted)–you will need them when applying for benefits and settling the estate.
  • Review your family member’s financial affairs, and look for estate planning documents, such as a will and trusts, and other relevant documents, such as deeds and titles. Also locate any marriage certificate, birth or adoption certificates of children, and military discharge papers, which you may need to apply for benefits. These documents may be found in a safe-deposit box, or the decedent’s attorney may have copies.
  • Report the death to Social Security by calling 1-800-772-1213. If your loved one was receiving benefits via direct deposit, request that the bank return funds received for the month of death and thereafter to Social Security. Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail. Return all checks to Social Security as soon as possible. Surviving spouses and other family members may be eligible for a $255 lump-sum death benefit and/or survivor’s benefits. Go to www.ssa.gov for more information.
  • Make a list of the decedent’s assets. Put safeguards in place to protect any property. Make sure mortgage and insurance payments continue to be made while the estate is being settled.
  • Arrange to retrieve your loved one’s belongings from his or her workplace. Collect any salary, vacation, or sick pay owed to your loved one, and be sure to ask about continuing health insurance coverage and potential survivor’s benefits for a spouse or children. Unions and professional organizations may also offer death benefits. If the death was work-related, the decedent’s estate or beneficiaries may be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.
  • Contact past employers regarding pension plans, and contact any IRA custodians or trustees. Review designated beneficiaries and post-death distribution options.
  • Locate insurance policies. The policies could include individual and group life insurance, mortgage insurance, auto credit life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, credit card insurance, and annuities. Contact all insurance companies to file claims.
  • Contact all credit card companies and let them know of the death. Cancel all cards unless you’re named on the account and wish to retain the card.
  • Retitle jointly held assets, such as bank accounts, automobiles, stocks and bonds, and real estate.
  • If the decedent owned, controlled, or was a principal in a business, check to see if there are any buy-sell agreements under which his or her interest must be sold.

If your loved one was a veteran, you may be eligible for burial and memorial benefits. Call 1-800-827-1000 to find the nearest VA regional office.

Duplicate copies of marriage and birth certificates are available at the county clerk’s office where the marriage and births occurred. Veterans and the next of kin of deceased veterans can submit an online request for separation documents and other service personnel records via eVetRecs, a service available through the National Archives at www.archives.gov.

If there is no one authorized to open the decedent’s safe-deposit box, petition the probate court for an order to open.

Do not be hasty when settling your loved one’s estate. Important decisions need to be made regarding distributions, which must be made in compliance with the will and applicable laws. Seek an experienced estate planning attorney for advice.

If your family member didn’t already make final arrangements or leave final instructions, go to www.funerals.org for some helpful information about funerals, burials, and memorial services.


If you need assistance in handling some of the important tasks related to the death of a family member, Contact Altum Wealth Advisors


IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

Altum Wealth Advisors does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice via this website. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, this notice is to inform you that any tax advice included in this communication, including any attachments, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalty or promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2018.

Prepared for Altum Wealth Advisors
Miste Cliadakis, CWS®, AIF®, Managing Director, Financial Planner
Steven Cliadakis, MBA, CFP®, AIF®, Managing Director, Financial Planner

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Financial Planning: Helping You See the Big Picture

Do you picture yourself owning a new home, starting a business, or retiring comfortably? These are a few of the financial goals that may be important to you, and each comes with a price tag attached.

That’s where financial planning comes in. Financial planning is a process that can help you target your goals by evaluating your whole financial picture, then outlining strategies that are tailored to your individual needs and available resources.

Why is financial planning important?

A comprehensive financial plan serves as a framework for organizing the pieces of your financial picture. With a financial plan in place, you’ll be better able to focus on your goals and understand what it will take to reach them.

FinancialPlanningPieChart_Figure

One of the main benefits of having a financial plan is that it can help you balance competing financial priorities. A financial plan will clearly show you how your financial goals are related–for example, how saving for your children’s college education might impact your ability to save for retirement. Then you can use the information you’ve gleaned to decide how to prioritize your goals, implement specific strategies, and choose suitable products or services. Best of all, you’ll know that your financial life is headed in the right direction.

*There is no assurance that working with a financial professional will improve investment results.

  • Common financial goals
  • Saving and investing for retirement
  • Saving and investing for college
  • Establishing an emergency fund
  • Providing for your family in the event of your death
  • Minimizing income or estate taxes

The financial planning process

Creating and implementing a comprehensive financial plan generally involves working with financial professionals to:

  • Develop a clear picture of your current financial situation by reviewing your income, assets, and liabilities, and evaluating your insurance coverage, your investment portfolio, your tax exposure, and your estate plan
  • Establish and prioritize financial goals and time frames for achieving these goals
  • Implement strategies that address your current financial weaknesses and build on your financial strengths
  • Choose specific products and services that are tailored to help meet your financial objectives*
  • Monitor your plan, making adjustments as your goals, time frames, or circumstances change

Some members of the team

family_framedThe financial planning process can involve a number of professionals.

Financial planners typically play a central role in the process, focusing on your overall financial plan, and often coordinating the activities of other professionals who have expertise in specific areas.

Accountants or tax attorneys provide advice on federal and state tax issues.

Estate planning attorneys help you plan your estate and give advice on transferring and managing your assets before and after your death.

Insurance professionals evaluate insurance needs and recommend appropriate products and strategies.

Investment advisors provide advice about investment options and asset allocation, and can help you plan a strategy to manage your investment portfolio.

The most important member of the team, however, is you. Your needs and objectives drive the team, and once you’ve carefully considered any recommendations, all decisions lie in your hands.

Why can’t I do it myself?

You can, if you have enough time and knowledge, but developing a comprehensive financial plan may require expertise in several areas. A financial professional can give you objective information and help you weigh your alternatives, saving you time and ensuring that all angles of your financial picture are covered.

Staying on track

The financial planning process doesn’t end once your initial plan has been created. Your plan should generally be reviewed at least once a year to make sure that it’s up-to-date. It’s also possible that you’ll need to modify your plan due to changes in your personal circumstances or the economy. Here are some of the events that might trigger a review of your financial plan:

  • Your goals or time horizons change
  • You experience a life-changing event such as marriage, the birth of a child, health problems, or a job loss
  • You have a specific or immediate financial planning need (e.g., drafting a will, managing a distribution from a retirement account, paying long-term care expenses)
  • Your income or expenses substantially increase or decrease
  • Your portfolio hasn’t performed as expected
  • You’re affected by changes to the economy or tax laws

Common questions about financial planning

What if I’m too busy?

Don’t wait until you’re in the midst of a financial crisis before beginning the planning process. The sooner you start, the more options you may have.

Is the financial planning process complicated?

Each financial plan is tailored to the needs of the individual, so how complicated the process will be depends on your individual circumstances. But no matter what type of help you need, a financial professional will work hard to make the process as easy as possible, and will gladly answer all of your questions.

What if my spouse and I disagree?

A financial professional is trained to listen to your concerns, identify any underlying issues, and help you find common ground.

Can I still control my own finances?

Financial planning professionals make recommendations, not decisions. You retain control over your finances. Recommendations will be based on your needs, values, goals, and time frames. You decide which recommendations to follow, then work with a financial professional to implement them.


IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES
Altum Wealth Advisors does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice via this website. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.

CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, this notice is to inform you that any tax advice included in this communication, including any attachments, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalty or promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2014.

Prepared for Altum Wealth Advisors.

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Estate Planning–An Introduction

EstatePlanning_AnIntroduction_02By definition, estate planning is a process designed to help you manage and preserve your assets while you are alive, and to conserve and control their distribution after your death according to your goals and objectives. But what estate planning means to you specifically depends on who you are. Your age, health, wealth, lifestyle, life stage, goals, and many other factors determine your particular estate planning needs. For example, you may have a small estate and may be concerned only that certain people receive particular things. A simple will is probably all you’ll need. Or, you may have a large estate, and minimizing any potential estate tax impact is your foremost goal. Here, you’ll need to use more sophisticated techniques in your estate plan, such as a trust. To help you understand what estate planning means to you, the following sections address some estate planning needs that are common among some very broad groups of individuals. Think of these suggestions as simply a point in the right direction, and then seek professional advice to implement the right plan for you. By definition, estate planning is a process designed to help you manage and preserve your assets while you are alive, and to conserve and control their distribution after your death according to your goals and objectives.

Over 18

Since incapacity can strike anyone at anytime, all adults over 18 should consider having: A durable power of attorney: This document lets you name someone to manage your property for you in case you become incapacitated and cannot do so. An advanced medical directive: The three main types of advanced medical directives are (1) a living will, (2) a durable power of attorney for health care (also known as a health-care proxy), and (3) a Do Not Resuscitate order. Be aware that not all states allow each kind of medical directive, so make sure you execute one that will be effective for you. Young and single If you’re young and single, you may not need much estate planning. But if you have some material possessions, you should at least write a will. If you don’t, the wealth you leave behind if you die will likely go to your parents, and that might not be what you would want. A will lets you leave your possessions to anyone you choose (e.g., your significant other, siblings, other relatives, or favorite charity). EstatePlanning_AnIntroduction_03

Unmarried couples

You’ve committed to a life partner but aren’t legally married. For you, a will is essential if you want your property to pass to your partner at your death. Without a will, state law directs that only your closest relatives will inherit your property, and your partner may get nothing. If you share certain property, such as a house or car, you might consider owning the property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. That way, when one of you dies, the jointly held property will pass to the surviving partner automatically.

Married couples

For many years, married couples had to do careful estate planning, such as the creation of a credit shelter trust, in order to take advantage of their combined federal estate tax exclusions. A new law passed in 2010 allows the executor of a deceased spouse’s estate to transfer any unused estate tax exclusion amount to the surviving spouse without such planning. This provision is effective for estates of decedents dying in 2011 and later years. You may be inclined to rely on these portability rules for estate tax avoidance, using outright bequests to your spouse instead of traditional trust planning. However, portability should not be relied upon solely for utilization of the first to die’s estate tax exemption, and a credit shelter trust created at the first spouse’s death may still be advantageous for several reasons:

  • Portability may be lost if the surviving spouse remarries and is later widowed again
  • The trust can protect any appreciation of assets from estate tax at the second spouse’s death
  • The trust can provide protection of assets from the reach of the surviving spouse’s creditors

Portability does not apply to the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, so the trust may be needed to fully leverage the GST exemptions of both spouses Married couples where one spouse is not a U.S. citizen have special planning concerns. The marital deduction is not allowed if the recipient spouse is a non-citizen spouse, but a $145,000 (in 2014, $143,000 in 2013) annual exclusion is allowed. If certain requirements are met, however, a transfer to a qualified domestic trust (QDOT) will qualify for the marital deduction.

Married with children

If you’re married and have children, you and your spouse should each have your own will. For you, wills are vital because you can name a guardian for your minor children in case both of you die simultaneously. If you fail to name a guardian in your will, a court may appoint someone you might not have chosen. Furthermore, without a will, some states dictate that at your death some of your property goes to your children and not to your spouse. If minor children inherit directly, the surviving parent will need court permission to manage the money for them. You may also want to consult an attorney about establishing a trust to manage your children’s assets. You may also need life insurance. Your surviving spouse may not be able to support the family on his or her own and may need to replace your earnings to maintain the family.

Comfortable and looking forward to retirement

You’ve accumulated some wealth and you’re thinking about retirement. Here’s where estate planning overlaps with retirement planning. It’s just as important to plan to care for yourself during your retirement as it is to plan to provide for your beneficiaries after your death. You should keep in mind that even though Social Security may be around when you retire, those benefits alone may not provide enough income for your retirement years. Consider saving some of your accumulated wealth using other retirement and deferred vehicles, such as an individual retirement account (IRA).

Wealthy and worried

Depending on the size of your estate, you may need to be concerned about estate taxes. Estates of $5,340,000 (in 2014, $5,250,000 in 2013) are effectively exempt from the federal gift and estate tax. Estates over that amount may be subject to the tax at a top rate of 40 percent. Similarly, there is another tax, called the generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax, that is imposed on transfers of wealth that are made to grandchildren (and lower generations). The GST tax exemption is $5,340,000 (in 2014, $5,250,000 in 2013) and the GST tax rate is 40 percent. Whether your estate will be subject to state death taxes depends on the size of your estate and the tax laws in effect in the state in which you are domiciled.

Elderly or ill

If you’re elderly or ill, you’ll want to write a will or update your existing one, consider a revocable living trust, and make sure you have a durable power of attorney and a health-care directive. Talk with your family about your wishes, and make sure they have copies of your important papers or know where to locate them.


IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Altum Wealth Advisors does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice via this website. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice. CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, this notice is to inform you that any tax advice included in this communication, including any attachments, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalty or promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter. Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2014. Prepared for Altum Wealth Advisors.

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