Letter of Final Wishes (LFW)

Dear Mr. Market:

This entire personal finance blog is about “letters” being written to you (Mr. Market), the fictitious character that exhibits all sorts of emotions due to the gyrations of the stock market. What letter, however, is the most important one YOU could ever write?

A Letter to My Family

It’s called a “Letter of Final Wishes” (LFW), or as we’ve described it to our clients at My Portfolio Guide, LLC, a “Letter to My Family: Things you should know“. On page 6 of the Spring edition newsletter of “the Guide” (click here if you have not seen it yet), we touch on this very important gesture that you can do for your family. Aside from the legalities of estate planning, this exercise is perhaps the single most loving and considerate document you can create for your family that they will forever be grateful for.

Our template (which we share below) is not a legal document and should never replace your will or living trust along with all the other ancillary documents such as a health care proxy or power of attorney.

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Don’t belittle your IRA Beneficiaries

Dear Mr. Market:

download“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Ben Franklin

“When it comes to divide an estate, the politest men quarrel.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

As Mr. Franklin notes, none of us will live forever. And if you have ever been part of a contentious division of estate assets, you surely know Mr. Emerson’s quote to be true. You can’t avoid death, but with some careful planning on your retirement accounts, your heirs can avoid (needlessly large) taxes and the quarreling. The key is setting up beneficiaries, and setting them up correctly. Continue reading

Making Financial Decisions After the Loss of a Spouse

Man's Hand Resting On HeadstoneDear Mr. Market:

Our letters to you typically center around the stock market, the economy, and related investment topics. At the end of the day, however, what is wealth (the accumulation, growth, and preservation of it) all really for? That answer is different for everyone but from our experience in meeting with thousands of investors ….it means nothing without family. Losing a loved one is always painful but when it’s your spouse there are also several financial issues that arise and knowing how to navigate is critical.

The following article is written by a guest contributor, Lucille Rosetti (see credits at the end):  Continue reading

Top 10 Life Insurance Myths

life insurance 4

Dear Mr. Market:

We’ve used many quotes in the 91 letters that we have written to you over the last few years. They’ve covered a variety of topics and issues that investors are faced with as they attempt to navigate through the current economic environment. Today we look at a famous quote from one of our country’s founding fathers…

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain,

except death and taxes.”

          – Benjamin Franklin

Imagine if there was a product that addressed both death and taxes? Not to scare you away from this article … but there is. Individuals will typically avoid discussing it, if at all possible. The product is Life Insurance, owned by many but truly understood by few.

The Life Insurance industry has certainly not done itself any favors over the years. Individuals often experience a pushy sales process that is based on fear tactics and playing on emotions. Who really wants to sit down and discuss what will happen when they die? In an effort to serve individual needs, life insurance companies have created a plethora of products with different bells and whistles often leaving the potential client confused and completely overwhelmed. Rather than dig into the various products we will address 10 of the most common myths that are associated with Life Insurance and discuss their validity.

          1. Everyone needs life insurance

The two most basic needs that life insurance assists individuals with are: providing for dependents and covering estate taxes at death.   If you don’t have dependents or an estate valued over $5.43 million (for tax year 2015), you may not need life insurance. Throughout life your financial picture will change and your life insurance coverage needs to be adjusted as well; policies can be revised and cancelled, if needed. Continue reading