The Dos and Don’ts of Estate Planning
DO Start now, it’s uncomfortable to confront our own mortality or incapacity but that’s not something we can plan for! The world we live in is becoming increasingly characterized by legal action and government intervention, estate planning is something everyone should do and can plan for.
DON’T Worry, if you do nothing the government will take over your estate and look after it for you .They will determine how to distribute your assets and who will look after the kids, heirs and beneficiaries will have to take time and money to regain control of personal or business assets .
DO involve professionals, how simple or complex your situation is will determine how and who you need to involve in the process. Your team may include an advisor, lawyer and tax planner.
DON’T avoid the inventory, a thorough documentation of all personal assets or property is the foundation of a good estate plan. Too overwhelming to start? , hire someone! Such inventories can also be invaluable in case of fire or theft, maximizing your claim and speeding the process.
DO review your insurance needs, Insurance can be a valuable estate tool to pay estate expenses such as income tax and or probate fees, replace income for those left behind or to leave a legacy or charitable gift.
DON’T skimp on a will. If you have no assets or beneficiaries a hand written will may work for you however these are not accepted in all provinces. A formal will is typically drafted by a lawyer, signed by you and witnessed to ensure it is legally valid and meets your needs.
DO include powers of attorney for both property and personal care. At some point in your life you may be unable to make your own financial or personal care decisions. Prearrangement for someone to make these decisions according to your wishes means you are able to control your circumstances .
DON’T forget to review and update. Changes to beneficiaries, marital status, insurance or financial plans, personal and business property or government rules all can impact how an estate is processed and taxed. The benefits of this exercise to your overall financial picture can help you with long and short term financial planning as well.
Your estate plan is as individual as you are. Taking the time to inventory and plan now will give you control over how you provide for those closest to or leave a legacy to. Good planning will avoid unnecessary taxes and administrative delays.
One of many available local companies Intercept Home Watch ( www.intercepthomewatch,ca) can provide a professional, reliable third party home inventory designed to thoroughly document all property. Your personal documentation is then presented in an attractive portfolio and CD ready for use in case of insurance claim for fire , theft or other damage ,prior to move or storage or for use in your estate plan!
Please note this piece is for informational purposes only. Heather Lang/Cedarlane Financial Consulting/ FundEX Investments Inc have no referral arrangement with Intercept Home Watch and are not responsible for any actions beyond this point .
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Investing common sense
Let’s face it, in times like these there are lots of reasons not to invest in the market. Stock markets have been very volatile over the past year and many believe this is now the normal market behavior and the trend will continue for some time yet. It’s no surprise many investors want out and would rather sit on the sidelines than face the roller coaster ride with their retirement or savings plans.
A look back at market history though should provide some comfort. Through each crash or crisis (and there have been several 1974/75, 1982, 1987, 1997, 2001, 2008, 2010) the long run trend has always still been up.
Sticking to a plan and staying invested is important, no matter how much our emotions get in the way. Of course one has to take in to consideration your age and stage, retirement or savings goals and if taking income is a priority at that time. Most years do however provide a positive return. Since inception (roughly 1956) 29% of the time or 16 occurrences of negative returns happen versus 71% or 39 occurrences of positive returns. (Source Morningstar Direct, as of April 30 2012.)
Dollar cost averaging is one strategy you can employ to combat the nervous nellies of investing. By investing equal amounts of money regularly over a specific time period, automatically one can avoid the temptation to try to time the market (virtually impossible any how). This kind of approach can ensure that investors stick to their plan and avoid lapses in self control when the markets fall ( which is actually the best time to buy, its all on sale!)
I hope this strategy can instill more confidence about planning for the future and get financial goals back on track for those who should be building wealth and are sitting on the sidelines.
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Well summer heat is here with a vengeance ! Time to head to cooler venues wherever that may be for you . It’s a great chance to sit back and review all those statements you filed away during January and tax time. Keeping organized is half the battle in financial success. The other half is having a plan !
Here is a short article on how we as women are doing, and the news is not good. I find women can be under serviced and under educated by many financial services groups. The key is to find someone who you are comfortable with and can communicate with. Now not all is bad news women are ahead of men financially in several sectors such as savings and debt ( no one should be comfortable with debt) .
Women tend to be less prepared than men for retirement. A shorter employment span , longer life and a greater chance of disability or illness all add up to fewer opportunities to save for retirement and less pension . That’s why planning especially for younger women is really important. So take some of that summer down time and head to the basement with your lap top and do some research . Educate yourself
Women lag in financial planning
While women are taking charge in the workplace, they continue to lag behind men in financial planning. The gender gap widened in Q1 2012, according to a report by Financial Finesse, an American financial education company.
Key findings include:
- 43% of women have an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, compared to 63% of men;
- 52% of women are comfortable with the amount of non-mortgage debt they have, compared to 71% of men;
- 37% of women have taken a risk-tolerance assessment and are aware of their conservative, moderate, or aggressive investment strategy, compared to 57% of men; and
- 25% of women rebalance their investment accounts, compared to 49% of men.
The gap was narrowest in retirement and estate planning.
According to Liz Davidson, CEO and founder of Financial Finesse, women face more financial challenges than men because they live longer. Also, nine out of 10 will be responsible for their finances at some point due to divorce or death of a spouse, finds the National Center for Women and Retirement Research.
There is some good news, however, because more women are seeking financial education – about 2 to 1 compared to men, finds the report.
“As employers deliver financial education programs that reach women, we should start to see this gap narrowing,” she says.
Reproduced with permission from advisor.ca
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Reilly accompanied her, with his elbow cocked politely that she might drape her hand against his sleeve.
Its debt season! After a fall and winter of indulgence many of us find ourselves behind in our repayments of debt. Before you know it the black hole of red ink is bigger and bigger and a financial crisis ensues. It may not even be over indulgence, an accident, illness, job strike or layoff are all set backs that can cause debt stress. Credit cards, line of credit or mortgage payments it does not matter which , non payment is not healthy.
If you work with an advisor or live in a perfect world you’ve got an emergency fund set aside, that 3 to 6 month cushion of funds you can live on or use to get back on track. Many of us in the real world however live pay check to paycheck or have only a small amount of savings ( usually in the form of an RRSP) . Knowing how to budget , which expenses to cut , how to access any other potential resources and where to get help can make a real difference in your financial survival.
Budgeting only works if you keep it simple and short term. Too often good intentions are derailed by that over whelming long term look at where you want to be in 5 or 10 years . Here are five tips to help you start your budget
Step 1 keep track of all your spending for 2 weeks , especially the non essential spending, the where how and why will help you understand your spending habits
Step 2 Get your money’s worth ! review expenses like telephone, cable, bank fees are you using all the features you pay for? Can you do with less or find it somewhere else for less?
Step 3 Prioritize cover the essentials first rent/mortgage, groceries, travel, saving fund ( yes savings pay your self the sooner you start the better off you will be )
Step 4 Envelope/Jar setting aside money for the week for groceries, gas and entertainment will help you not to overspend research shows using debit and credit cards leads to overspending its just too easy bank once a week and use cash
Step 5 Proactive saving you know when your taxes are due or when the car needs servicing so set aside money on a monthly basis for these periodic expenses
Quite often those in financial stress find it difficult to ask for or find help. Its really important to access the correct service to help you get a handle on your situation. That could be learning better money management skills or having someone help you develop and maintain a repayment plan for your debts. In some cases it could even involve intervention with creditors to reduce interest and schedule repayment. I recently attended a networking event where I was introduced to a group who could help people do just that. We are fortunate in the Eastern Ontarios area to have a great credit counseling group but there are many such groups doing credit counseling across the country.
K3C Credit Counselling is a non-profit, charitable organization established in 1967 dedicated to helping people achieve financial stability. Their mission is to provide credit counseling as a social service in the public interest to the people of the communities they serve. A Debt Management Program and educational Budgeting and Money Management program can help those on that slippery slope of debt.
They can’t perform miracles but have the people to help clients make the most informed decisions about their finances. Here are a few signs you may need their help
You have cash flow difficulties
You are using pay day lenders
You need to pay your Student loans
You are thinking about bankruptcy
You no longer answer the phone due to collection calls
You need help planning a big purchase or budgeting
You are combining incomes/debts with a partner
You want an honest evaluation of your situation
Too often in my practice I hear about people who have too much debt. I cannot help those people plan and save for retirement or even a rainy day until the debt is serviced ! If you find yourself nodding yes to many of the above statements maybe its time to find some credit counseling help.
Please note this is for informational purposes only, Heather Lang/CedarlaneFinancial Consulting/FundEX Investments Inc. have no referral arrangement with K3C and are not responsible for any actions beyond this information piece .
Visit www.k3c.org for a free assessment of your financial picture
Its a LEAP year !!
RRSP deadline for contributions for 2011 is FEB 29 2012
Those that are making monthly contributions at the begining of the month will miss one. So contact your advisor now if you would like your full years contributions to be made !!
Welcome to 2012 !
Well its that time again , the resolution time. How many of us will make and break the same old plans for the coming year ? That’s the trouble with the same old plans we actually set our selves up for failure. Lets try something different this year , lets think differently. Easier said than done right!
It all starts with education or financial literacy as I call it. I am a big fan of reading , anything everything.
One of my latest is The Wealthy Barber Returns. I actually liked this one better than the original Wealthy Barber. The return is more like a conversation with David Chilton. As the front of the book says Significantly older, marginally wiser Chilton’s book covers his insights into saving, spending and borrowing as well as some of his personal reflections on personal finance. The dilemma of pay down mortgage , RRSP versus TFSA, leverage, estate planning and the insurance explanation are all covered from his unique perspective. What I loved best of all were the life lessons contained in the text , yes life lessons. Be greatfull, do not covent, start early ,save and my favorite beware the credit card . For those of us struggling with personal finance ( or even those who don’t) this is a hand book of what to do and why.
Another highly recommended book for finance that more of us will need in the future is 50 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes and how to avoid them by Jean Blacklock and Sarah Kruger. The demographics of today suggest that in the future many of us will be dealing either with our parents estates or thinking about our own. Who do you want your hard earned dollars to go to when you are done with them?
I am a big fan also of David Bach. The Automatic Millionarie and his Finish Rich series are well written and easy read. Simple and doable David’s program can put anyone on the path to financial success.
Soon enough it will be tax time as well. 101 Tax Secrets for Canadians by tax expert Tim Cestnick is updated every two years and is actually a readable text on tax. Your Family’s Money by Jerry White and Tim Cestnick provides advice on budgeting, investment , insurance and tax planning strategies.
One of the books that really changed my thinking on money was by millionaire Robert Kiyosaki. Rich Dad Poor Dad is the story of Robert’s financial upbringing by two very different mentors. His own educated but poor Dad and the father of a friend successful and rich. Definitely from an American perspective Robert’s insights into how money works are a game changer for those looking to control their financial future. He as well is all about improving your financial intelligence as he calls it. His recommended reading list includes The Warren Buffet Way by Robert Hagstrom, Trump.The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump and Beating the Street by Peter Lynch
For more Canadian insights check out these blogs ; Squawkfox.com, CanadianCapitalist.com, WhereDoesAllMyMoneyGo.com , CanadianCapitalist.com/author/larrymacdonald
Funny how leadership is more about changing yourself than the people around you. To help with the thinking part I also read a lot of personal development books . I recently finished Resolved, 13 resolutions for LIFE, by Orrin Woodward. Orrin is one of the top 20 leadership gurus in the world and the author of many leadership or personal development books.
Thats my resolution for the new year even more reading !
Will be back in the New Year with more posts and information
until then enjoy the blessings of the season and wishing you good health, happy heart and fabulous friends and family to share it with .
Welcome to the new and improved Cedarlane Financial Consulting web site!
I hope you find the updated version refreshing and easy to navigate. Life is a journey and depending on the roads we take along the way it can be a highway ride ,smooth and comfortable or a backwoods gravel nightmare ! Its my hope that the information you find here helps you stay on the highway to success whatever your definition of that is .
Identity Theft a question of when not if ??
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in North America . According to a study by the US Federal Trade Commission more that 10 million people were victimized in 2003. By 2009 1 in 4 of us in Canada have been affected. Almost 25% of victims of new account theft or fraud did not discover the misuse of information for at least 6 months after it started. Criminals these days are using increasingly creative methods to gain access to our financial records and resources. Several forms of theft can leave a person’s ID stripped and useless to them, devastate their credit , mortgage ID theft or even commit crimes in their name . Victims of such a crime are often left with an emotional toll as well as a financial cost. It only takes the criminal’s minutes to retrieve the information they need in some cases while it could take the victim years to regain their identity or credit score. Most of the focus has been on the theft of credit cards or bank cards but the are other types of ID theft from drivers license, medical information, social security number, character or criminal identity. How do they do it? Ingenious thieves have many methods and are coming up with new ones every day but here is a short list of a few of the common ones.
Dumpster diving - they simply sort thru a persons trash or recycling , most often retail businesses are prime targets , pre approved credit offers, prescriptions, old checks, receipts, employee records
The solution Shred !
Mail theft - its old fashioned but it works , do not leave mail in your box for any length of time
Phishing and Pharming – a more high tech version of the above , consumers are duped into revealing personal information such as passwords , pin numbers, SIN or account numbers by a bogus email or web site
keep this information safe ! try not to keep it all in one place
Hackers or domain spoofers can steal information on the internet
remember data transferred across the internet can be intercepted and the thieves often don’t need much information to complete their job
Skimming – credit cards run through a skimmer to read the information and create clone cards to use
Sophisticated ones use fake fronts over ATM or bank machines , machines which just swipe cards are the most vunerable to this
Experts estimate the typical identity theft victim will spend on average $ 1500 and spend countless hours to replace stolen ID cards and the many other problems caused by this growing epidemic. Whether you are a victim today or in the future you may need: access to legal counsel, investigators ,ongoing credit monitoring and professional restoration. There is no blue print for dealing with these crimes but there are several companies that specialize in protection ,prevention and remediation .
For more information on ID theft and How to prevent it contact
Sandra Valks 1 888 323 7272 svalks.ppl@gmail .com
check out this link it has a great educational video
CONSUMER PROTECTION This booklet is published by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA). The CLHIA is a national trade association that represents the collective interests of its member life and health insurers, which together account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business. © Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc., 2009 March 2009 Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. Association canadienne des compagnies d’assurances de personnes inc.
Click on link below to download the PDF booklet.
Mutual funds provided through FundEX Investments Inc.
It appears many of us Canadians are not. Many of the experts in the field agree that the lack of financial literacy among most of us is contributing to broader economic issues, such as the current household-debt crisis in this country.
Finance Minister Flaherty in his recent budget apparently listened to the Feb. 9, 2011 Task Force on Financial Literacy presentation and is taking small but forward steps to correct the issue.
The education system teaches little to nothing about practical personal finance. We are constantly faced with real-life decisions requiring at least some degree of financial know how. Sadly, not enough Canadians use professional financial advice to make sound financial decisions—a strategy which can greatly improve one’s overall situation now and in retirement.
We are all familiar with the basics of good physical health: eating right, regular exercise, not smoking, and a good night’s sleep, yet many have forgotten the basics of good financial health such as saving and living within your means. While not everyone is expected to know and understand the complex nature of some financial products like hedge funds, understanding a few key concepts can help one make better financial decisions.
Borrowing—Knowing the difference between good debt and bad
High-limit credit cards or pay-later schemes make it easy to fund those needs and wants, but does the purchase make sense for today and tomorrow—is it truly a need? Or a self-satisfying want that could be delayed or denied, there is a place and time for borrowing where is does make more sense, i.e., car, home education.
Living within a budget does not necessarily mean doing without or having no fun, it is making the most of what you have. A well-defined budget is little more than organizing where money goes to be spent, day-to-day expenses, short-term savings, repayment of debt, and retirement savings.
Retirement—Plan your own future
With more and more companies abandoning pension plans, and more self-employed people than ever, we can no longer rely on government, union or employers to provide for us when our working days are over.
Make your retirement plan automatic and start; start early, it’s amazing how fast a small steady contribution into a RRSP or TFSA can build up.
Investing—risk versus reward
Most real-life financial decisions require an understanding of this concept, many have only a vague notion of how this plays out in the various financial products presented to them.
What are the different financial products available to us? How do they work, what are the fees? What are the trade-offs or pros and cons for each age and stage for investors?
These are important questions that need to be asked so sometimes being literate is more about asking the right questions.
So where to go for good advice? Remember that many financial institutions such as banks or credit unions may have potential conflicts of interest but they are a good starting point for some basics. Most products and services are sold with disclosures but there is a limit to how much these actually help a consumer. Here are a few good resources to get you started down the path to financial literacy and freedom:
Task Force on Financial Literacy www.financialliteracyincanada.com
Practical Money Skills Canada www.practicalmoneyskills.ca
Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy www.theccfl.ca
Advocis Financial Advisors Association of Canada www.advocis.ca
Investment Funds Institute of Canada www.ific.ca