By David Thatcher, CFP®, Vice President & Senior Financial Advisor
Chances are your morning routine involved checking the news for the weather and traffic report to plan your morning commute. You probably looked at your inbox and calendar to think through the workflow of meetings and tasks that are on your plate for the day. It’s likely that you will coordinate plans for this weekend, getting dinner with some friends or catching a game of your favorite sports team.
Technology and routine have helped us become experts at planning for the daily events in our lives. But how about the bigger picture things? Do you have an updated, strategic, and well-thought-out plan for your finances? A 2013 US Trust survey revealed that over 70% of investors don’t.
Far too many people get blindsided by the urgent details of their daily lives and neglect to put their financial house in order, should something happen. As an advisor, I see the tragic effects of this negligence often.
This predicament was brought to light with the recent untimely death of Prince. This pop star left his family and loved ones at the age of 57 without a will or plan for how to handle his fortune. It is likely they will be dealing with this in courts for years to come. He wasn’t the only one without his financial house in order. When famous businessman Howard Hughes died on an airplane in 1976, it was unclear whether or not he had a will. Scandal broke out as several versions of wills emerged, many of them ultimately deemed as forgeries. Even Abraham Lincoln, one of the most famous lawyers of his time, did not have a will. This left his widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, to sort out his assets with a judge after he was assassinated.
Not having your finances in order can leave family members with a tangle of legal battles and uncertainties. In the wake of their grief, spouses may have to deal with unspeakable stress as they wade into the legal red tape. Unfortunately, there have been cases where widows were swindled out of large percentages of their husband’s wealth with advisors suggesting unsuitable investments and unnecessary taxes. These issues can and should be avoided with some foresight and intentional organization.
While taking the time out of a chaotic schedule to plan for a seemingly unlikely event may feel like a low priority, the benefits of creating a comprehensive plan for your finances are undeniable. Thinking through a big-picture blueprint for all of your assets is a way of protecting you if you should need long-term care, your investments, your legacy, and most importantly, your loved ones. This can also provide continuity for your current financial situation, aligning all aspects of your estate to work efficiently and effectively together.
I am passionate about helping individuals and families create an effective strategy to help establish stability and growth, regardless of any life circumstances. Here are some ways to start thinking about how to get your house in order today.
Access a Team of Experts
Navigating all of the components that go into estate planning can be complex, to say the least. It’s likely that you have a variety of experts weighing in on how to manage your wealth. Your CPA brings extensive knowledge about how to navigate taxes while your financial advisor is savvy in investment strategies and retirement planning. An estate attorney, on the other hand, is able to guide you through the legal aspects of creating a will and establishing a plan for your comprehensive wealth management.
Each of these experts is working to help you achieve your financial goals. With their specific niches in the process, they can provide necessary checks and balances to your approach. It is crucial to select advisors and accountants that are willing to collaborate and take all the aspects of your financial planning into consideration.
It can be overwhelming to coordinate the efforts of so many professionals. We at the Cypress Group believe that someone should take the lead on your behalf; a financial advisor can help ensure that your CPA, attorney and you are all communicating effectively and on the same page.
Organize Your Paperwork
Between wills and deeds, bank account information and online passwords, insurance policies and bills there are a lot of important details in the paperwork we accumulate. Periodically, take the time to sort through the important information and ensure that the right people will know how and where to access these documents. Put secure measures in place to protect this information, with fireproof safes and electronic backups of these documents online.
Communicate Your Plan
Many people avoid conversations about how to handle worst-case scenarios such as an untimely death. However, living in denial of this possibility can be costly, both emotionally and financially. This becomes even more important for individuals who are business owners, with families relying on those companies as a primary source of income. Talking through end-of-life care and strategies for handling a tragedy can be difficult, but it’s a conversation that can bring peace of mind as well. Set your spouse up for success by letting them in on financial goals, current ways of management, and how to access important information, if that should become necessary.
Whether you’re building a house, planning for your retirement, or looking at the weather before heading out, a little planning can go a long way. Take the time now to make sure you and your loved ones are prepared for the future.
About The Cypress Group
The Cypress Group is the one of the newest members of the Parkinson’s Resource Organization’s Wellness Village and is a division of Integrated Wealth Management, an independent RIA firm providing financial planning and investment management to individuals, families, business owners, and institutions. With an 11-person team of professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience and qualifications, The Cypress Group is uniquely qualified to serve a broad range of client needs. Their experience and expertise act as a foundation for their client service process, The Second Growth, which focuses on efficiently protecting, growing, and transferring to your loved ones or charity of choice the wealth and legacy a person has already built. With offices in Palm Desert, Newport Beach, and Anchorage, the firm serves clients across the country. Learn more by visiting ParkinsonsResource.org/estate-planning-financial-advisers/