Your Life Events

 Every family is unique; each has a mixture of individual characteristics, history, and visions of the future. We believe it is important to make educated decisions about making investments that are right for you and choosing insurance plans that fit your needs. Each of us is connected by common milestones, such as first jobs, career changes, births of children, and retirement. These occasions transition us into new phases in our lives. We've outlined these phases into the Life Events below. Each event contains crucial life events, which often coincide with reviewing economic decisions and determining new financial paths.


College Planning

College tuition isn't just another expense – it's an investment in your future. Whether you're looking to fund your own education or are thinking about ways to provide for a child's tuition, it's vital to consider the opportunities an education can offer. A degree is an unparalleled advantage when entering the working world.

Of course, college isn't cheap – and the cost is rising. That includes books, which can be a considerable expense. And campus housing costs are increasing right along with rent and mortgages for the rest of America. The social aspect of college is undeniable. It's a wonderful time to meet and learn from new and diverse people. However, social and entertainment activities also cost money.

Luckily, you can take steps at any time to lessen the impact of college expenses on your budget. If you're years away from sending your children to a university, setting aside money for that day is one of the best gifts you can give them. Graduating free of loans allows them to pursue their dreams unhindered by debt. If you're only able to pay for a portion of their education, you can still take advantage of prepaid state tuition plans, which help lock in expenses and reduce the burden when the time comes.

For all the other situations in between, a combination of state assistance, scholarship funds, and other sources can make the possibility of a college education more real than you may have thought. Never assume a college education is out of reach without exploring the possibilities with an advisor who can explain your options.


Career Changes

A career change can be a positive or negative event in your life. Whether you've been offered an amazing new opportunity or you've experienced downsizing, a career change means new professional challenges. This often translates into opportunity: the start of something better.

There are important issues you'll need to resolve in either situation, such as health-care coverage. Often, there is a period between the end of one job and the beginning of another. If your spouse's job doesn't provide benefits, do you know how to continue your family's protection?

Ask yourself some other questions when making the decision to change careers:

  • Do you fully understand the tradeoffs you may be making?
  • How does your new employer's compensation package compare to what you had before?
  • Does it require you to adjust your thinking or your goals?
  • What about the 401(k) you've been contributing to for the last five years; do you know how to handle it after you leave?

We can make you more aware of these issues and give you suggestions that can help you decide how to manage short-term cash needs or achieve long-term financial goals you may have during this sometimes scary, but often rewarding, time of transition.


Small Business Manager

Starting a business is the dream of many Americans today. And for people with a great product or service in mind, the U.S. is the best place in the world to launch a new company.

It's also a daring and somewhat risky path to take because so much is at stake. Developing an idea, working for yourself, and formulating a business plan – all come with tradeoffs. If you leave full-time employment to start your business, you abandon a steady paycheck, company-sponsored benefits, office supplies, and space. Instead, you need working capital, which could mean borrowing money and spending some of what you may already have saved.

When you start your company, you'll learn that cash flow is crucial. Paying your bills and your employees often comes before paying yourself. It's a daunting proposition, but if you succeed, you'll experience new levels of satisfaction and independence.

Before you start, you'll need to nail down the basics: a realistic business plan and an insurance package that protects both you and your family.


Retirement Dreams

How do you envision your retirement? Retirement means different things to different people. For some people, retirement means moving closer to your grandkids. Others want to move closer to Florida or someplace warm.

Like most major life changes, retirement will involve some rebalancing. Retirement offers you a free and relaxing lifestyle, as well as some important things to consider - such as how to integrate your new personal routine with those of your spouse and other family members. Blending your new life into that of your family will require some adjusting of schedules. But after you've figured things out, time to enjoy what you love doing most awaits you. Whether it's sailing or sewing, bowling or golfing, this is your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

When, where, and how you retire depends on the decisions you make now and in the future. Focusing on your retirement dreams today will enable you to live them out in reality, whenever you decide the time is right for you.

That's why it's important to think ahead and prepare for your retirement as early as possible.


Long-Term Care Planning

It's natural to be concerned about who is going to care for you as you age and how you will pay for this care. Long-term care insurance coverage is key to effective long-term planning. Long-term care coverage helps pay for a portion of those long-term care expenses, keeping some of the financial burden off family members and helping to give you financial peace of mind.

Long-term care refers to medical and social services that support people with chronic health problems that affect their ability to perform everyday activities. Many services are included to help people with these health conditions. The goals of long-term care are much more complicated and considerably more difficult to measure than the goals of traditional medical care. Long-term care helps one live as he or she is now, though it may not help to improve or correct medical problems; the primary goal of traditional medical care is to return an individual to a previous functioning level.

Long-term care includes a broad range of services to help with activities of daily living, home health care, hospice care, adult daycare, care in a nursing home, and care in an assisted-living facility. It may also include care training and planning services for evaluation of needs and coordination and monitoring of long-term care services.


Empty Nest

It's been a long time coming. You've worked hard raising your kids, and now they're officially out of the house and on their own. It's a lot quieter around the house now, but it's kind of peaceful. You miss the kids, but suddenly there's more time for yourself – for you to focus on your needs and interests. You can consider it as sort of pre-retirement, a glimpse at the freedom that lies ahead.

Still, you feel a little lonely. That's the irony of the “empty nest.” Being a parent has become a large part of your identity, and it takes a while to adjust back to life the way it was before you had children. However, that's exactly what you need to do. Your responsibility of raising them is over, for the most part, and it's time to look out for yourself again.

As you enjoy your new empty nest, it's time to review the financial planning you did over the years, like insurance policies you established long ago and retirement plans you've put together since then. Your life has probably changed in ways you could not have predicted. Are you still on target? Maybe you have new visions and dreams or new demands, such as your health, that require attention.

The important thing is that you take stock of your financial preparedness and make the necessary adjustments.


Death of a Loved One

No one wants to think about losing someone close. When that time comes, it's unquestionably difficult and requires time to cope and recover. However, it's also important to consider an issue that's both practical and important: How do you move forward after such a trying time?

If you've lost a spouse or parent, and your family's income has been affected, it may be time to reestablish goals. It's possible that a life insurance policy set up in the past will provide you with the standard of living to which you've become accustomed. A policy payout often comes in a single lump sum and should be handled carefully.

If there is no significant death benefit, you may find it more important than ever to obtain insurance that protects your remaining family members.

In either event, it's fundamental to grieve so that rational decisions can be made later. Don't rush the process, but don't put it off completely. Federal estate taxes, if any, are generally due nine months following a death, and income tax returns are always due as normal.

If you need help balancing the personal side of loss with the practical side of your family's financial necessities, don't hesitate to call us.


Care of Parents

It's not something you've looked forward to, but you knew it might eventually come true. Gradually, through the course of your life, your role has reversed from being cared for by your parents to being their caregiver. You're part of the "sandwich generation" in which you care not only for your children, but also for your aging parents.

Your involvement may be as simple as helping your widowed mother find someone to fix her plumbing or something much more difficult, such as helping move your parents to an assisted-care facility. Your parents may be able to make some of these choices on their own, but don't be surprised if they seek your advice.

When that time comes, be ready to talk about this transition with them honestly and directly. Doing so is easier than trying to guess their needs, resources, and wishes later. It's especially important to understand your parents' financial position so you can steer them in realistic directions.

There will be other new issues to consider: your parents' attachment to their house, for example. As people age, familiar surroundings are important, and most want to stay in their home as long as they can. With proper guidance, it's often possible to redirect funds from various sources to pay for in-home care. If a retirement center is the best option, do they have enough money to make it a realistic one?

In these times, the benefits of long-term planning become more evident. The reality of your parents' situation could be a look into your own future. We can help you direct your parents' investments and savings and then establish plans of your own. A financial professional can also make a big difference during this major life transition.


Family Legacy

Like your parents and grandparents before them, you've worked hard to provide your family with a comfortable, secure lifestyle. Part of that may have started with wealth passed from them to you. Now is the time to think about how you, too, can make sure your financial success is managed and shared with your family the way you want. To do this may require estate planning, or a will.

There's nothing easy about estate planning. It involves the total sum of your wealth and how it should be handled after you're gone. Once these issues are raised, understood, and addressed, most people experience a strong sense of relief knowing they've done the right thing for themselves and their families.

Your estate includes everything you own. It also includes assets, such as cars and jewelry, real estate, bank accounts, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds, and other property. Put simply, estate planning determines who will receive which portions of your estate after you die. Without estate preparation, that decision is left largely up to the state, which usually assesses higher taxes. That fact, along with not knowing what your wishes were, can take a real toll on your family.

A will is a basic part of an estate plan. Wills are something everyone should have in place, if for no other reason than to avoid confusion and frustration after you're gone. Trusts can also be an important part of any smart estate strategy, but people with modest wealth (estates totaling less than $100,000) may not have as great a need for them.

Many believe that the purpose of sitting down and establishing wills, trusts, and other strategies is to reduce taxes after your death. While lessening the tax burden on your survivors is a nice result of good planning, it may not be the only purpose. Estate planning aids your retirement planning and helps you allocate your assets, allowing enough money to live on while also passing along a portion of your estate to your children and other family members.

Don't let tax considerations become too consuming. Some people do such thorough tax planning that they fail to leave themselves enough to live on. Efficient estate plans can do wonders for reducing taxes for years to come, but they can also diminish the quality of your life today.

Finally, because wills and trusts are legal documents, you'll also need the assistance of an attorney.