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Who Needs Estate Planning? PDF Print
Monday, 05 August 2013
man with boy on shoulderWhy estate planning is so important, and not just for the rich.

You have an estate. It doesn't matter how limited (or unlimited) your means may be, and it doesn't matter if you own a mansion or a motor home.

 

Rich or poor, when you die, you leave behind an estate. For some, this can mean real property, cash, an investment portfolio and more. For others, it could be as straightforward as the $10 bill in their wallet and the clothes on their back. Either way, what you leave behind when you die is considered to be your "estate".

 

"But, I don't need estate planning ... do I?"  Let's think about that. If the estate is small, should you still plan? Well, even if you're just leaving behind the $10 bill in your wallet, who will inherit it? Do you have a spouse? Children? Is it theirs? Should it go to just one of them, or be split between them? If you don't decide, you could potentially be leaving behind a legacy of legal headaches to your survivors. This, quite simply, is what estate planning is all about – deciding how what you have now (money and assets) will be distributed after your lifetime.

 

Do you HAVE to create an estate plan?  While it is absolutely possible to die without planning your estate, I wouldn't say that it is advisable. If you don't leave behind an estate plan, your family could face major legal issues and (possibly) bitter disputes. So in my opinion, everyone should do some form of estate planning. Your estate plan could include wills and trusts, life insurance, disability insurance, a living will, a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, long-term care insurance, power of attorney and more.

 

Why not just a will?  Did you know that your heirs could encounter legal hassles  . . .

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Which Financial Documents Should You Keep On File? PDF Print
Friday, 26 July 2013

Which Financial Docs Should You Keep... and for how long?

 

You might be surprised how many people have financial documents scattered all over the house – on the kitchen table, underneath old newspapers, in the hall closet, in the basement. If this describes your financial "filing system", you may have a tough time keeping tabs on your financial life.

Organization will help you, your advisors ... and even your heirs. If you've got a meeting scheduled with an accountant, financial consultant, mortgage lender or insurance agent, spare yourself a last-minute scavenger hunt. Take an hour or two to put things in good order. If nothing else, do it for your heirs. When you pass, they will be contending with emotions and won't want to search through your house for this or that piece of paper.

One large file cabinet may suffice. You might prefer a few storage boxes, or stackable units sold at your local big-box retailer. Whatever you choose, here is what should go inside:

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Mid-Year Outlook 2013 PDF Print
Friday, 19 July 2013
altConverging on the Paths of Least Resistance

The performance of the markets is likely to converge in the second half of the year on a path that likely holds modest gains*. The return of volatility will also be a key characteristic of the second half as markets follow a path with ups and downs.


In our Outlook 2013: The Path of Least Resistance, published in November of 2012, we laid out three paths the markets could follow in 2013 as the path of least resistance: bull, bear, and base.


On the bull path, obstacles are overcome and investors embrace market opportunities and drive up valuations.


On the bear path, fiscal policy results in a much weaker economic backdrop and markets plunge.


On the base path, the path we deemed most likely to emerge, growth in the economy and earnings remains below average, and the challenged markets produce modest gains with a lot of volatility.

 

Rather than a single path emerging, the paths of least resistance for the economy and markets diverged in the first half of 2013. The different markets took all three paths.

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Rising Interest Rates PDF Print
Friday, 28 June 2013

Rising Rates ImageThe summer solstice in late June ushered in the official start of summer, but in the bond market it seems like the dead of winter. Chilling bond price declines and a sharp rise in yields followed the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) latest meeting, where the Fed indicated it may slow the pace of its bond-buying program earlier than many expected. Despite its best efforts to be clear that the slowing was contingent upon an improving economy, the Fed’s message has roiled bond markets. The recent bond market sell-off ranks among the worst in history for such a short time span.

 

The summer solstice brings the longest day of the year, but there has been little daylight for bond investors. Although we believe the bond market sell-off is an overreaction and some signs of stability have emerged, much more is needed before balance is restored to the bond market. New financial regulation, which has reduced broad risk in financial markets, has had an unintended consequence of reducing financial firms’ willingness to participate in bond markets. As a result, prices may fall farther than justified by intrinsic value due to the lack of support until natural buyers step in to support markets. In the meantime, bond yields may rise further as markets remain volatile and market participants stay on the sidelines.

 

When will the selling stop?

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