Beneficiaries: What You Need to Know

Naming beneficiaries in your will and on your life insurance policy is an incredibly important decision, not only to ensure that the money and assets go where you want them to but also to ensure that the people you care about will be taken care of in the event of your death. While this might seem like a simple and straightforward process there are a few things you need to be aware of before making this decision:

Decide on Who
When picking your beneficiary (or beneficiaries) think about who most would be financially affected by your death. If you have a spouse or kids then the answer might seem obvious, but if you don’t, you will want to first consider anyone who might currently depend on you financially or who might incur the costs associated with your death. If you want to have multiple beneficiaries consider how you want the money to be split, and if you would want their estate to receive it instead in the event that they die before you. Try to be as specific as you can in your instructions. Additionally, you might want to consider naming a contingent beneficiary should your primary die or not want to accept the money.

Know the Difference between Revocable and Irrevocable
When putting your plan into place think about if you want each beneficiary to be revocable or irrevocable. An irrevocable beneficiary cannot be changed without their consent nor can they be denied pay-out from the plan. A revocable beneficiary gives you much more freedom to change it whenever you wish as you can do so without having to consult your current beneficiaries.

Keep Up to Date
Throughout your life your circumstances are likely to change many times, and it’ll be important to you to make sure your policies are kept up to date in order to reflect those changes. When you update your will make sure you also remember to update your life insurance policy as what’s written in that policy will override any different wishes you might have made in your will. To avoid any confusion, it’ll be much easier for you to update everything at the same time.

Know the Laws Where You Live
Knowing the laws of where you live, both state and federal, is important as it can affect who you will name and what will be paid out. Some states require you to name your spouse as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, so you would need their written consent in order to name someone else. If you plan on naming a minor as your beneficiary from your life insurance there might be laws in your state explicitly stating what a minor is allowed to receive. Additionally, consider if the beneficiaries you wish to name rely on some government benefits. If they do, naming them might affect them negatively financially as it could decrease or eliminate what benefits they are eligible for due to the added income from your estate.

Should You Cut the Cable Cord?

With the multitude of streaming platforms and places to watch shows and movies, is cable really necessary these days? As more and more people continue to cut the cord and get rid of standard cable, it may be time to jump on the bandwagon! Keep reading to learn why.

The cost of traditional pay-tv services is much more expensive than that of a streaming subscription service. In fact, instead of paying over $100 per month for your traditional cable package, today’s streaming services allow you to cut that cost in half (and sometimes even more). However, while the cost may seem low, you need to make sure you are not sacrificing quality for a price that seems cheaper than your current plan.

Now, typically, the newer subscription streaming services have less channels than what you might be used to. But were you really watching all of those channels? The answer is most likely not. With the recent streaming platforms, the available channels were curated based off what people watch the most, such as basic news channels, reality TV channels, HBO, etc. However, even after feedback of unhappy customers, these platforms still lack certain channels that could be an issue for some families and users.

One important detail to contemplate when deciding if cutting the cable cord is right for you is your internet. You need to make sure you are aware of how much your current pay-tv package is and if that includes internet. When cutting the cord, you might end up paying more for your internet service. If you are going to be streaming, you are going to need to pay for high-speed internet. With your current TV package, this is most likely already included in your price per month, so it is important to take note of if you will actually be paying less per month should you decide to cut the cable cord.

Another detail to take note of is that with a subscription streaming service comes a limitation of users. If you have a larger family, this could be an issue. Not only do these services have a cap on the number of people that can watch at a time and the number of TVs it can be set up on, but sometimes streaming TV can be unreliable. If your internet connection is slow, yet still expensive, cutting the cord may not be the best decision for you unless you prefer frozen and pixelated shows and movies.

As the world of streaming can be a bit deceiving, cutting the cable cord has been a game-changer for some, and it has been a bust for others. The decision of cutting the cable cord depends entirely on your family and financial situation. If you do not watch much TV, this could be a great option for you. If you are avid TV watchers, this may not be the best option for you. The best thing you can do is research each platform and compare the pricing and quality to what you currently have.

Is Retiring Abroad Right for You?

Have you ever thought about ditching the states and spending your retirement years abroad? If you haven’t, you may want to consider it—especially if you’re worried about having enough savings accumulated for the length of your retirement. You may even be able to retire sooner if you choose to relocate to a foreign destination.

Why is retiring abroad a great option for retirement? Well, simply because there are numerous cities around the world that offer a much cheaper cost of living than anywhere in the United States. There are more factors to consider, as well. Nearly 700,000 retirees today receive their Social Security benefits abroad, and they’re not sacrificing any comfort to do so. Keep reading to figure out if retiring abroad is right for you!

 

Going Digital

If you’re someone that prefers paper over the internet, then retiring abroad might not be the best choice for you. If you move overseas, you will need to embrace the internet in order to continue easy communication with the states. A big aspect of your life that would transfer to the web is your finances. Instead of corresponding with your bank via letters and physical statements, you will need to convert to online communication and digital statements. Before deciding to retire abroad, make sure you are comfortable with going digital.

Healthcare

Even if you’ve managed to stay out of the doctor’s office the majority of your life, that likely won’t continue as you grow older. It’s simply natural as we age to find ourselves visiting the doctor more often. Therefore, healthcare is a very important factor to consider when choosing to retire abroad. If you have a chronic condition and visit the doctor often, then retiring abroad may not be the smartest option for you. Medicare doesn’t extend outside of the U.S., so if you rely heavily on these benefits, you may want to stay in the states. However, there are foreign countries that offer suitable healthcare options for seniors. Do your research before choosing your destination.

Embracing Change

Are you someone that likes to experience new things, or are you set in your ways? If you lean towards the latter, then retiring abroad may prove difficult for you. Enjoying life in a foreign country requires an open mind that will allow you to embrace change. Depending on where you go, the majority of people may not speak English, which can be a huge adjustment for Americans, of course. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, then living abroad may be miserable for you. No amount of money saved is worth sacrificing your happiness!

These are just a few things to consider when deicing whether or not to retire abroad. Another huge aspect to consider is leaving your family. Bottom line is, there’s a lot to consider when making such a big move. However, many seniors thoroughly enjoy retiring abroad, and you could, too!

 

Do you have more questions about your retirement? We’ve for the answers! Contact Plotkin Financial Advisors today to see how we can make a difference for your financial life!

Getting Started with Estate Planning

It’s never too early to start estate planning. Having a plan in place at an early age is always preferable to finding you don’t have one when you really need it. If you’re a little lost on what you should be doing first start with these few steps:

 

Make a Comprehensive List of All Finances
One of your first steps to estate planning will be to sit down and figure out exactly what it is that you have. Make a list of everything major that you own, including obscure things which you might not think of but that have value, such as a stamp collection or antique furniture. Next make a list of what funds you have, whether it be savings, retirement funds, or investments. Finally make sure you note what debts you currently have as well, so you know the exact value of your assets and how much money you truly have.

 

Make a Plan for Your Inheritance
Deciding who gets what is a tough but important part to your estate planning. Of course, you will want to make sure that your assets and money will go to exactly who you hope to receive it. It’s also important to make note of how and when you want those people to receive things. If you’re leaving a large sum of money to a minor you might want to arrange circumstances where they cannot access that money until a reasonable age. Or if you are intending to leave money specifically for someone’s education look into a 529 plan which you could start using now.

 

Understand what passes through Probate

Generally, any investment account, life insurance or savings and checking accounts may pass directly to your beneficiaries by listing them as such on the accounts.  If you do not list a beneficiary on your accounts, these accounts will be subject to the probate process.  Furthermore, other items like your house, vehicles and personal items are passed through your state and county of residence through probate court.  Having a Will ensures these items are passed to your intended heirs through the probate process.  However, if you would like to avoid probate and bequeath items to your beneficiaries directly, it may be recommended to consider a trust such as a revocable trust.

 

Consider Who Should Be Making Important Decisions for You
Should the time come where you cannot make decisions for yourself regarding your own healthcare you will want to know that the right person is making them for you. Also consider who you would want to be in control of your finances or legal matters and create a power of attorney that can be as limited as you want it to be. These are good ways to maintain some sort of control over what happens to you.

 

Don’t Forget the Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is important if you want to be sure you’ve completed all the paperwork correctly and you haven’t left room for any small mistakes. If your estate is quite sizable checking everything over with a lawyer will ensure your wishes will be fulfilled exactly how you imagine.

These are just the basics to get you started with planning what will happen to your estate after your passing. Be sure to remember to check in on these plans frequently as your circumstances and relationships will probably change which could lead to you needing to make updates.

 

Signature Services Program
Plotkin Financial Advisors’ (PFA) Signature Services program offers complimentary and comprehensive income tax and estate planning services to eligible clients. Our team can help coordinate annual income tax preparation and address estate planning needs. We understand that premium financial planning requires ongoing monitoring of our clients’ entire financial situation. PFA’s Signature Services complements our holistic financial planning approach.  Truly unique, this service speaks to our commitment to meeting the financial planning needs of our clientele. If you would like to learn more about our Signature Services and Plotkin Financial Advisors, LLC, please feel free to contact us today!

Securities offered through Independent Financial Group, LLC (IFG) a registered broker dealer and Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Plotkin Financial Advisors, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Plotkin Financial Advisors, LLC and IFG are unaffiliated entities.

Retirement Travel: A Time to Travel Like Never Before

What do you look forward to the most when you retire? Is it perfecting your golf game, or having the time to take the grandkids to Disney World? Your time opens up when you retire – how do you want to spend it? For those of you who want to travel the world, we couldn’t agree more! What better time to see the world than during your retirement?

Retirement brings about many perks, one of the best being the freedom from a full-time job. Now that you get to decide what to do with your time, traveling sounds like a great way to spend it. You’ve worked hard to build your assets and your nest egg – now it’s time to reward yourself with the trip of a lifetime!

Here are 3 trip ideas we highly recommend putting on your retirement bucket list. Say goodbye to your 9-5 with an incredible adventure!

Live Like Royalty

Celebrate your retirement freedom by spending a week in a privately-owned castle. Drummond Castle in Drogheda, Ireland and Kilcolgan Castle near Galway offer rooms for rent, some with rooftop patios. If you want to rent an entire castle, travel to Tudor Manor House in Somerset, England. You can’t get much more luxurious than that! Thinking about renting a castle? Airbnb makes it easy.

Toast Your Retirement

Toast your retirement with a tour through a breathtaking wine country at home or abroad. Whether you are a wine connoisseur or you’re thinking about taking your first wine tour – there’s a trip out there for everyone. For those of you who are true wine geeks, Georgia is your destination. Known as the “cradle of wine,” Georgia’s winemaking heritage traces way back in time. If you’re really looking to spend the big bucks, travel to Champagne for the wine tour of your dreams. The most luxurious wines are crafted here, and the city offers luxury hotel lodgings close by. If you’re looking for a little history with your wine, Virginia is a great place to start. Jefferson Vineyards is a short drive away from the 48-room Keswick Hall and Golf Club. Sip on wine and history by day and stay in the 1912 Italianate mansion at night. For more information about the world’s best wine tours, click here.

Discover Your Heritage

It’s natural to get a little nostalgic as we grow older. Instead of flipping through old family albums on the couch, embrace your heritage and visit your family’s country of origin! Now that you have the time, why not do a little research and find out where your roots really began? There’s nothing quite as awe-inspiring as walking down the streets where your ancestors grew up. If you’re not sure where to start, you can go to FamilySearch.org and type in your country of origin and family name.

 

Traveling in retirement can be everything you’ve envisioned it to be. Plotkin Financial Advisors is here to help you succeed in all your financial endeavors. Contact us to learn how we can serve you today!

Securities offered through Independent Financial Group, LLC (IFG) a registered broker dealer and Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Plotkin Financial Advisors, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Plotkin Financial Advisors, LLC and IFG are unaffiliated entities.

Real Estate & Your Portfolio

One recognizable allocation in the portfolios of endowments and experienced investors is that they have a percentage of their assets in real estate. Real estate investment may offer several key benefits to your portfolio, and these include:

  1.  Income – dividends, distributions, rent, etc.
  2.  Appreciation – increase in valuation
  3. Inflation Protection – assets like real estate generally move with inflation.

However, with these benefits investors need to also be aware there are also some risks, which include: market risk, illiquidity, and management risk.

Furthermore, you can gain exposure to real estate through some of these general investments:

  1. Publicly Traded REITs
  2. Non-Traded REITs
  3. Direct Real Estate Investment (purchasing a rental property)

The most accessible way to gain exposure to real estate is to invest in a publicly traded REIT listed on an exchange that can be purchased in your investment or retirement account1. Other publicly traded investment vehicles to access REITs include Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and mutual funds that offer investors a diversified mix of publicly traded REITs. Another way certain qualified investors may increase their real estate exposure is to invest directly in a non-traded REIT2. However, it is important to understand the offering and discuss it with your advisor before investing. That said, these programs can be specialized in regions and properties tied to health care, storage facilities, multi-family apartments or retail centers. One may also purchase real estate directly and this may require aligning yourself with a lender, real estate professional as well as an accountant to ensure you are identifying and managing the property and liabilities correctly3. Unique to non-traded REITs and direct real estate investment is they offer investors the ability to purchase an asset that is not valued daily on a stock exchange where you can see the price fluctuate. This may be beneficial in reducing portfolio volatility as well as the emotions that result from intraday volatility.

Regardless of how you invest in real estate, you should make the determination of how it fits into your long-term goals and what investment is most appropriate for your financial situation. The NAREIT Equity REIT Index had an annualized return of 10.8% from 2002 – 20164 and offered one of the best asset class returns in equities and fixed income. That said, if you haven’t considered real estate yet in your investment portfolio, it may be worth exploring. 

Plotkin Financial Advisors, LLC is an independent advisor and we seek to find unique investment instruments in the marketplace and are not restricted to one manager style or company’s products. Thus, we can provide our clients investment diversification and customization to fit their short-term needs and long-term goals. We share a similar investment philosophy as the managers of the Yale and Harvard University Endowment Funds. This investment principle combines an array of alternative investments with traditional investments, such as equities and fixed income. If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us today.

1 Shares and company value are subject to regional, national and stock market influences and risk.

2 Non-traded REITs are illiquid investments. While the market price of publicly traded REIT is readily accessible, it can be difficult to determine the value of a share of a non-traded REIT. Distributions may be paid from offering proceeds and borrowings, but reduces the value of the shares and the cash available to the company to purchase additional assets. Non-traded REITs typically have an external manager instead of their own employees, and this can lead to potential conflicts of interests with shareholders.

3 Understand that risks with direct investing include facing the possibility of bad tenants and other management hassles, making a poor financial choice, losing money on the sale of the property and assuming full liability past insurance coverage.

4 JP Morgan Guide to the Markets, 12/31/16