What to do When Receiving Life Insurance Money

Life Insurance Money

Recently, I contributed to an article about receiving life insurance money. The Q&A is below followed by a link to Melanie’s full article on the website Meet Fabric.

So do you have an order of things/checklist that people should go through when getting a life insurance payout? 

Receiving a life insurance payout is no different than a financial plan without life insurance proceeds. People have current needs to address. These vary from paying-off debt, building an emergency fund, saving for retirement, replacing the income of the deceased, paying for the final expenses of the deceased, etc. As a financial advisor providing comprehensive planning, I look at everything for my clients. So upon receiving a life insurance payout, the families needs are addressed first. Next, a go-forward plan is built upon their current situation.

For example, the proceeds going to a family who is debt free and the surviving spouse is still able to work. The priority may be to fund a college education account and increase retirement savings. In another example, the surviving spouse is a stay-at-home parent, and carrying mortgage and credit card debt. For this family, it may be in their best interest to pay-off the debt and use the remaining funds to support day-to-day living expenses. 

Also, one of the stories included someone who received a life insurance payout and kept the money in the interest-bearing account from the company and not get a check into her account. Do experts typically advise leaving it in the interest-bearing account, or taking it out and investing it instead?

Upon the death of a loved one, we encourage the beneficiary to receive the proceeds directly. This allows the beneficiary to pay final expenses and evaluate where the remaining proceeds should be allocated. If the beneficiary already has a comfortable savings account balance, and has a long-term investment plan, than yes, investing is a better option for long-term growth than an interest bearing account. Albeit, taking on more risk.

Do you have any tips for someone that is really emotional and maybe not in the best mental space to make financial decisions? How long should they wait to make a decision? How can they do what’s “best” for their money while dealing with grief? 

There is always emotional grievance. That is why hiring a financial professional to guide you through this period is essential. Your advisor will make decisions that exclude the emotions. Part of the planning I do for clients is to run updated scenarios, with the top industry software, of their financial position including the proceeds. This removes the emotions of planning and allows the family to make the best decisions, taking into account multiple options with their proceeds. As a fiduciary, I always serve with my clients best interests, whether a death in the family has occurred or not. It is important to work with a financial advisor who operates under the fiduciary standard of care. 

Follow this link to read the entire article: https://meetfabric.com/blog/what-should-you-do-with-a-life-insurance-benefit

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, retirement, and insurance planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Market Brief – 2020 Mid-Year Review

Market Brief 2020 Mid-Year Review

Dog days of summer have arrived. For 2020, it feels like the dog days arrived in March. From the moment the pandemic began to spread, to stay-at-home orders, to lock-downs, to protest rallies, to reopening phases, and back to more restrictions… what a year, and we are only halfway home. Didn’t even mentions the murder hornets! Let’s take a minute to catch our breath and see where we have been, where we are, and where we will go. Currently, we are in the midst of earnings season. Big name stocks will report second quarter earnings this week. Last week the main indexes finished mixed. The Dow up 2.3%, S&P up 1.25%, and Nasdaq down 1.1%. The S&P 500 outperformed the Nasdaq index by the widest margin since February 2016. The markets were mainly buoyed by progress of a virus vaccine.

What Happened?

The year started off strong through mid-February. Early cases and the fast spread of the coronavirus took hold in Asia and quickly jumped country borders to become a worldwide pandemic. Just about a month from the market peak in February came the market lows in March, a 33.9% drop for the S&P index. In just a few weeks, the U.S. economy erased 7 years of employment gains. 30 million Americans lost jobs, driving unemployment as high as 22% in April. By June, the unemployment rate hovered around 14%. Still extremely high, but significantly lower from 2 months prior.

In March, the Fed stepped in and provided a backstop to the equity markets. Stabilizing and possibly adding turbo to the economy via stimulus for individuals and businesses. The pandemic accelerated tech disruption. It changed how companies reach consumers, how supply chains work, how to deal with remote employees, and still build their brands.

Where Are We Today?

Year-to-date index performance; Dow down 6.54%, S&P down 0.2%, and Nasdaq up 17.0% through the close on Friday. Last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the Trump administration and Senate leadership are discussing a new stimulus bill. The end of July is the target time frame as the previous stimulus benefits are ending. The housing market reports are exceeding expectation. Current metrics show a shortage of existing home inventory, limited housing labor to build new homes, and a shortage of entry level homes for the first time home buyer. Historically low mortgage rates help boost the housing demand. Labor income across the board is surging and consumer spending is rebounding.

The markets are in fairly good position today. Much of the strength is attributed to the Fed and swift implementation of monetary policy. With interest rates near zero, investors are willing to pay for future earnings. Growth stocks have done well, value stocks have lagged. When the economy improves and interest rates rise, growth stocks will be challenged by high valuations. Communities have begun to re-open. The U.S. seems to have chosen independence over lock-down. This has led to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases. Deaths due to the virus have decreased as health care has gotten smarter about how to handle symptomatic cases. The resurgence of hiring and end of mass layoffs indicate the job market is recovering. While the decreasing layoffs and increasing hires offer hope, the reopening process has been trending in the wrong direction.

Where Are We Going?

It’s election season. From here on out, politics will headline media reports. Snippets and quotes from leadership on both sides will sway the markets. Bigger than the election is the Fed’s actions. Interest rates are low and likely to remain low for a very long time. This creates a scenario of easy lending and the opportunity for trillions of dollars to remain invested in the market. The future months will measured by the resurgence of the coronavirus, how quickly a vaccine can be developed, another round of monetary stimulus, and the upcoming election. If you thought the first half of 2020 was a roller coaster, the second half might be just as wild! Take care and be safe.

Market Brief’s are taking a summer hiatus, see you at the end of August!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Coronavirus and Panic for Life Insurance

Life insurance and the panic for life insurance

The events of the last two months have brought plenty of craze to the insurance world, specifically life insurance. I am using this post to outline and provide clarity around life insurance planning during this time time of a virus outbreak.

People are looking for life insurance due to the coronavirus.
Should people panic and buy life insurance?

The best practice for whether to buy insurance depends on your individual needs. Despite coronavirus, you either need a policy to protect family, business, estate, etc., or you do not. The coronavirus certainly can cause you to think about your plan, as there is no cure at the moment, which draws concern to folks without a plan in place. However, the virus is no different from any other health scare or accident – cancer, heart attack, car crash – all these events will prompt you to rethink your plan and get coverage in place.

Follow this link to learn more about the different types of life insurance.

What should people know and look for that are interested in
buying a policy right away due to the pandemic?

Complete an application while you are healthy. If you wait and contract illness, the insurance companies will review your medical records and may have hesitation to approve your policy at the preferred rating. Worse yet, hospitalization or death could seriously impact your chances of an approved policy.

Are there any exclusions people should be aware of? 

If you are healthy and need coverage get it. Do not wait. The younger and healthier you are, the more favorable the cost. It is uncertain how the underwriters at the insurance companies will consider an illness, such as the coronavirus, when reviewing insurance applications. 

What could keep someone from being able to get a life
insurance immediately?
How long should they expect it to take
for the policy to start?

Insurance policies are largely based on your health and age. If you are old and have poor medical history, chances of getting a policy approved would be difficult. Previous medical history with life threatening illnesses, such as cancer, can also impact your ability to obtain coverage. Having bad habits, such as using tobacco, or a bad driving record, such as multiple DUI’s, also impact your ability to get an approved policy at the best rate. Policies can start at the time of application with what is referred to as “Temporary Life Insurance Coverage”. This coverage begins at the time of application, so the applicant has coverage while waiting for the full underwriting process to be complete. Applications can take a week to as long as a couple of months, depending on the applicant’s medical and lifestyle background. Also worth noting, if the applicant has recently traveled abroad to the virus hotspots, this too could cause a postponed application. Ultimately, the insurance companies are looking at the applicant and asking the question, how big of a risk is this person?

Click here if you would like to learn more about your life insurance options and planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Portfolio Management Perspective

Portfolio Management Perspective

Review of Benchmarks, Strategy, Risk, and Performance – Perspective from one of our Portfolio Manager’s – March 13, 2020

Whenever the topic of investing is discussed we are conditioned to think first of the New York Stock Exchange opening bell and Wall St. bankers in Brioni suits. And why shouldn’t we? Over the past 200 years, stocks have arguably been the most powerful generator of wealth.
That rosy conventional wisdom has the benefit of a perpetual time-horizon and an ambivalence towards risk. As we all know, stocks might be notorious for rising over time, but they also can produce nasty results if improperly managed. Very few of us are fortunate enough to be ambivalent towards risk or the trajectory of our investments – if we were, being 100% invested in the DOW or S&P 500 would be a fine strategy. That is where financial planning and asset management comes in.
As a conservative asset manager, we are tasked with two main objectives a) produce a rate of return that achieves an objective (generally retirement/self-sufficiency) and b) protect against downside and volatility.  Our definition of success in both goals is directly related to the specifics of your financial situation. 
Since the inception of our Total Return strategy in 2004, we’ve employed a mix of equities (stocks), commodities, fixed income, and cash to achieve the objectives stated above for clients. At any given point, we may be more dependent on one asset class or another to provide upside thrust or downside support for our clients’ portfolios. As you might expect, this asset mix is largely dependent on (among other things) the outlook for the economy, interest rates, and the inclination for risk in the markets.
In some environments, such as 2017, the stock market and high-quality individual equities genuinely are the best option for capital appreciation.  In other periods such as late 2018 and 2019, a choppy market and unclear fundamental prospects warranted a higher concentration in traditionally less economically sensitive asset classes like bonds, gold, and cash. No matter the environment, we are continually assessing our outlook and corresponding exposures.

In the client updates over the past week, we noted how our conservative positioning at the outset of this decline was yielding promising results. That remains the case, and when we evaluate client performance relative to equity benchmarks (DOW, S&P 500, NASDAQ), we are heartened by the fact that client accounts have a) declined substantially less than the benchmarks and b) exceeded the results previously experienced in similar periods of stress.
Since our inception, having a trained eye on risk management has allowed clients to generally experience asymmetric rates of upside and downside participation vs. equity benchmarks. In other words, we’ve consistently achieved more upside than downside through the course of market trends. 
Finally, we understand that the personal nature of the virus and the corresponding downside reaction in markets can be especially anxiety provoking.  And while this is everybody’s first time managing through a true pandemic, it is far from our first time managing through a panicked market.  We will get through this turbulent time and be prepared to deploy the capital we’ve preserved throughout the episode.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Life Insurance – How to Make Sure You Have Enough

Life insurance - How to make sure you have enough

It is often recommended to get life insurance when you are younger, but what if you do not buy enough coverage early on and later become wealthier or have a bigger family than you imagined? What options should you consider and when should you start planning? 

If you need more life insurance coverage as your family grows, buying an additional policy is often the solution. Most people will have life events occur which prompt the need for more life insurance, such as a growing family. And there is no reason not to apply for another life insurance policy to make up for the coverage your family needs. I often find couples I work with who have small starter policies in place. After evaluating their needs, it is often determined they are under-insured, and they want more coverage. Term insurance is a great option for families looking for the lowest cost coverage that provides protection for a certain amount of years. If the couple is looking for a permanent life insurance plan, there are options such as universal life and whole life insurance products to explore. As for the timing of the life insurance purchase, the younger and healthier you are, the lower the premium because you are less of a health risk to the insurance company. That is why if you need the coverage, the best time is right now.

Why is group life insurance not necessarily the best way to go? What are the downsides with group life insurance? 

Group life insurance is a great benefit to have from an employer. However, group life insurance has a couple disadvantages, such as, amount and portability. In terms of amount, group life insurance coverage often equates to 1-2 times annual salary, and most people need much more coverage than that for their family and/or estate. If you leave your current job to go to a new company or start a new career, the coverage does not necessarily go with you. Group plans also have rising premium cost. Whether it is annually or every 5 years, the cost of insurance goes up and it is not always covered by the employer. I recently helped a couple lower their insurance cost by applying for individual policies because over the policy term, it would be cheaper to have an individual policy.

What approach should people take to avoid being under-insured when it comes to life insurance coverage? How often should they review and how should they determine an ideal amount of life insurance coverage?

The approach people should take to avoid being under-insured when it comes to life insurance coverage is to have their plan reviewed at least annually. Life events and changes happen over the years and if you stay on top of your coverage needs, you will always have adequate coverage. There is no ideal amount of life insurance, nor rule of thumb. Everyone has a different need and desire for coverage. Working with an experienced financial advisor or insurance professional who can provide a life coverage analysis is the best way to know if you have the right amount of coverage for your family and estate.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your life insurance planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.