Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

Notary Public

 

We want to congratulate Melani for receiving her Notary Public. We now have three Notary Publics in the office. As a courtesy we offer notary services free of charge to our clients. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment please give us a call.

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Labor Day

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Our office will be closed on Monday, September 5th in observance of Labor Day.
We will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, September 6th.
From all of us at API, we wish you a safe and happy holiday!
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Mobile Banking Security Tips

 

Mobile Banking Security Tips     

Whether using your phone or a tablet, mobile banking is a wonderful tool that gives you access to your financial world with a touch of a button. Almost all banks and credit cards now have apps that allow you to access your account information, make deposits, complete transfers and make payments directly from your smartphone. While we love the convenience of mobile banking it can also be a way for a thief to obtain your personal information if you are not careful. Here are a few tips to keep you secure while enjoying all of the convenience that mobile banking offers.

  1. Always download banking apps directly from the banks website or the app store.
  2. Never download banking apps on “jailbroken” phones. Phones that have been “jailbroken” or modified no longer have the operating system’s security in effect and are more likely to be hacked.
  3. Always secure your phone with a strong passcode and enable the auto-lock feature in case your phone is lost or stolen.
  4. Never use public Wi-Fi when logging into the app. That is a common way for hackers to get your personal information.
  5. Never respond to a text or email requesting your banking/login information. A real bank will never send a request for this info.
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The Importance of Choosing the Right Trustee

 

More and more people are realizing the importance of setting up a trust for their estate. Having a trust in place insures that your wishes for your estate are carried out on your terms if you become unable to care for yourself or pass away. It also prevents your assets from going into probate after your death and saves a huge headache for your heirs. While having a trust in place is very important it is also very important who you name as the trustee.

There are a few different options when selecting a trustee. The most common scenario is that a married couple sets up a living trust where they are both listed as trustees and they list a child or family member to become the successor trustee. In the case that one spouse passes before the other the living spouse will become the sole trustee until they are incapable of caring for themselves or they pass away. At that point the successor trustee in charge of handling the estate duties.

The responsibilities of managing an estate are many and can be daunting to someone who lacks experience in these types of situations. When choosing your trustee you should choose someone who is (a) willing to dedicate the time and energy to run the estate (b) responsible and possesses good judgement and (c) someone who can be objective when following the instructions set up in the trust. It may seem like the natural choice to choose your child or a family member to act in this role but it may not be the best choice depending on the complexity of your estate and their abilities.

In the case where a person is unsure of who to name as a trustee an estate attorney will usually suggest that a bank be set up as the trustee to carry out the responsibilities of the trust. This is called a corporate trustee. This seems like a good idea because a bank has experience with handling trusts and wealth management. But this is not always the best choice either. When the duties of a trustee are needed the bank will take over the trust, move your assets from whatever accounts you have them set up in now to investments of their choosing and will take over the estate. They will follow the instructions in the estate as wished but it may leave your family without the feeling of a personal connection since they may not have worked with that bank before or know the person handling the assets.

Did you know that you have another option that will help ease the burden on your loved ones by running the estate themselves? There is something called an administrative trustee. In a lot of cases we see a child take over the duties of the estate and get overwhelmed with the process. They may be doing it free of charge but in the long run trying to take care of everything on their own ends up costing more financially and emotionally. An administrative trustee is a company that is set up to handle all of the time consuming paperwork and filing responsibilities of the estate. They do not make any decisions as far as wealth management is concerned. That is still the responsibility of the trustee and their financial advisor. Yes, there is a fee to have an administrative trustee but it can outweigh the stress and headaches that come along with trying to do everything yourself.

The best thing to do is have an open discussion with your family, estate attorney and financial advisor. Make your goals and wishes for the estate clear and set up the trustee that you think will be the best fit for your personal situation. By doing this you will have the peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed and that your family will be taken care of in the way that you want.

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Top Reasons to Set Up a Living Trust

 

Even if you are not super wealthy there are many benefits to setting up a living trust. A living trust is a document set up by an estate attorney to help you manage your assets, including property while you are alive and names a trustee to act on your behalf to carry out your instructions, if you become incapable of caring for yourself or pass away. Here are a few of the top reasons why you should set up a trust.

Avoids Probate- A trust allows your heirs to bypass probate which can be a lengthy process and your estate can be charged up to 5% in probate fees. This can mean a substantial savings in time, legal fees and paperwork.

Protection Against Disputes- Unfortunately there may be someone who is unhappy with the way you have instructed to have your assets distributed. A trust is harder to contest than a will is because they have to be able to prove that you were under undue pressure or influence in setting up the trust which is nearly impossible.

Flexibility- Trusts offer more flexibility in how you can distribute the funds. In the case where you may have minor children you can specify how the money is spent and when they would have full rights to the funds.

Avoids Estate Taxes- A trust can provide a way to avoid or reduce estate taxes because assets and property placed into a trust are not subject to these taxes.

Minimizes Family Conflicts- You can specifically detail exact items and monetary distributions to be given to each beneficiary. This helps to curtail any of the “who gets what” problems that may arise with family members.

Privacy- Trusts, unlike wills, are private because they do not go through probate. This means your assets and who you leave them to are kept private.

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Tips to Avoiding Credit Card Fraud While Traveling Abroad

 

We came across an article this morning on Marketwatch.com by Maria Lamagna that had some great tips on preventing credit card fraud while you are traveling abroad. We thought we would pass them on to you…

Bring some cash with you on your trip. Make a visit to your local bank before your trip to convert your cash into the foreign currency or you can convert it at the airport upon your arrival.

If you must use an ATM, it is better to use one at a bank than on the street or another non-financial institution. Examine the ATM before using it for any abnormalities. If the card reader appears not to fit, has glue on it or it is chipped it may be a “skimmer”.

Use credit cards instead of debit cards. Credit cards usually have built in protection for fraud and the credit card company can dispute the charges for you. With a debit card, cash is immediately withdrawn from your account and it can take longer for the funds to be returned to you.

Use mobile payments when you can. Transactions with services like Apple Pay use a tokenization method when making payments. This means that a new token is issued for each transaction instead of transmitting the actual credit card number making the payment more secure.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi as much as possible. Although it may be tempting to log in at the local café to save on data use it is very dangerous and an easy way for hackers to get your personal information. You should also change your password before and after traveling.

Check your account activity often. Look out for any transactions that look out of the norm so you can catch any fraudulent activity quickly. Many banks and credit cards now offer monitoring alerts that you can customize and be notified when an unusual transaction occurs.

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Understanding Medicare

 

Medicare seems like a simple concept but just like social security, there are many rules and details that you should understand. First of all, the best place to go for answer is: https://www.medicare.gov  The website is very informative and where I go to if I need to research a Medicare question.

The major components of Medicare are Part A, B, C and D. Parts A, B and D combined are comparable to a PPO insurance plan while Part C is comparable to a HMO plan. You must sign up at age 65 to avoid a penalty but if you can prove that you were covered elsewhere the penalty is waived.

Part A is Hospital Insurance. It is designed to help cover the cost of your care in a hospital, rehab facility, and home health care for a limited period of 100 days per benefit period. There is no premium cost for Part A but there is a $1,288 deductible per year.

Part B is Medical Insurance. It covers doctor services, preventive and outpatient care. The premium cost for new enrollees is $121.80/month and your co-payment is normally 20% of the expenses incurred. The premium is deducted from your social security check but if you delay starting social security you must pay the premium directly to Medicare.

Part D is Prescription Drug coverage. This covers prescription drugs. This coverage is provided by an insurer that is approved by Medicare. To avoid a late penalty you should also sign up for this at the same time as part A & B. You can change the coverage in later years if the coverage is not enough.

Part C is medical insurance offered by private insurers. It is also known as Medicare Advantage. This is offered by HMO type insurers like Kaiser. Medicare deducts the cost of the insurance from your social security check and pays the insurer (e.g., Kaiser) for your benefit. Prescription drug coverage is normally covered as part of this plan too.

Next time, I will discuss medi-gap policies and Medicare premium amounts and what causes them to increase or decrease.

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719 Hits

API Open House

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API held an Open House in our office on June 29th and were delighted to host 75 clients.  We introduced our new full time office administrator, Melani, to our clients that had not yet met her. As we continue to grow in assets and clients, we needed someone dedicated to the running of the office and client contact. These duties have been removed from Samantha as she only deals with client accounts, trading and financial planning now.  API continues to expand and now has clients in 10 states and manages over 220 million dollars.  We thank you for your continued loyalty and referrals that allow us to grow.

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4th of July Holiday

4th of July

Our office will be closed on Monday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day.

We will resume normal business hours on Tuesday, July 5th.

From all of us at API, we wish you a safe and happy holiday!

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717 Hits

Brexit

 

It’s been a hectic day, but we wanted to give you a few notes on the Brexit vote and its impact:

  • The UK makes up only 4% of the overall global economy
  • Nothing will change overnight; the process of the UK leaving the Eurozone will take approximately 2 years based on current estimates.
  • The economic impact will be felt like a ripple or earthquake, those closest to the epicenter will feel the effects more than those farther away.
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