The Wealth Counselor

 

A monthly newsletter for wealth planning professionals
Prepared by The Advisors Forum

Edited and distributed by

 

 Carrell Blanton Ferris & Associates, PLC  
Attorneys-at-Law

 

 
April 2014
In This Issue
These Four Tips for Childless Prospects Will Grow Your Business
Three Key Strategies for Helping Baby Boomer Clients Navigate Aging Plans
                        Continuing Education Workshops                       
Don't Forget to Register for our Upcoming three-hour Continuing Education Workshops
 (Click on location to register online)
 
April 24, 2014 at 8:30 am - Newport News
April 24, 2014 at 2:00 pm - Virginia Beach
May 1, 2014 at 8:30 am - Fredericksburg
(Sponsored by NAIFA of Fredericksburg)
May 1, 2014 at 2:00 pm - Richmond
(Sponsored by SFSP of Richmond)
 
 
For course syllabus click here 

 
Upcoming Public Seminars 
Wills vs Trusts Seminars 
 
Please let your clients know about our educational seminars   
There is no charge, but seating is limited
 
Contact us if you would like a speaker for your firm or a private seminar for your clients.  
  

For printable copy of this article 

 

These Four Tips for Childless Prospects Will Grow Your Business - And They're Not What You Think

(Content provided by The Advisors Forum; 

reviewed and edited by James W. Garrett, Esq.)

 

Childless individuals and couples often face choices, decisions, and questions, which you are uniquely qualified to address.  Like many allied financial professionals, you may focus on helping clients pass the maximum amount of wealth to their beloved children. 
 
Along with buying a house and doing better than your parents, handing down your accumulated wealth to your children is a long-held tradition that many consider the cornerstone of the American dream.  But what about those individuals who do not have direct descendants?
 
For a myriad of reasons, childless individuals and couples are a steadily growing percentage of those seeking planning and financial services today.  You may assume that counseling and guiding childless clients has less opportunity or is more difficult than working with clients who are parents.  If so, you're not alone.
 
However, in actuality childless clients are not so different than your parenting clients.  And the fact that most professionals think they're different creates your opportunity.  The opportunity is to market directly to your ideal childless client, make the client feel important, and demonstrate that you are uniquely qualified to empower the client.
 
Four Key Takeaways

 

Childless individuals and couples are often left out of marketing conversations and made to feel as if they're second rate.  By ignoring them and focusing solely on parent clients, you send a marketing message that something is wrong with being childless. 
 
To grow your business, keep in mind:
 
1.      Being childless is not second best.  There is nothing wrong with not having children, and it's none of your business why a client doesn't have children.  Don't ask.
 
2.      Childless clients may have had children who have predeceased them.  Be sensitive to that possibility.
 
3.      Childless clients likely have someone they love and would like to benefit, such as grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings, friends, partners, and pets.
 
4.      Childless clients have many of the same goals and fears that your parent clients have.  Those goals and fears may or may not have the same emphasis and priority and, thus, create your opportunity to distinguish yourself through counseling and service.   
 
Interacting with childless clients is more about positioning than substance.  Unless your client cares about no one and doesn't want to stay in control of his or her finances, health care, and life, the client needs an estate plan, financial plan, insurance, and tax advice just as parent clients do.
 
 
What You Need to Know:


Childless clients may need all of the services their parenting counterparts need, and when you acknowledge them as valuable, worthwhile, and important, you, your planning team, and your clients all win.
 
Actions to Consider:


1.      Add a marketing message, speaking directly to childless prospects.
 
2.      Don't assume that your childless client isn't interested in planning traditionally sought by parent clients, such as educational planning, educational trusts, 529 plans, life insurance, and beneficiary trusts. 
 
3.      Show your client how you, along with your allied professional team, can help to ensure that the client can:
 
o   Create and build an ideal business
o   Create, equalize, or liquidize an estate
o   Avoid running out of money, even if confronting an illness
o   Obtain necessary health care
o   Appoint trusted helpers, empowered to make good decisions
o   Reduce the risk of an audit
o   Minimize or eliminate assets lost to taxation and lawsuits
o   Fund a buy-sell agreement for a business
o   Donate to selected charities
o   Protect assets both during life and after they pass to beneficiaries
o   Care for loved ones
o   Live with peace of mind, while praising you and your team to friends and family.

 

4.   Recognize that childless clients may be in greater need of a financial and estate plan since they may not have as many family members to whom to turn in the event they need assistance due to illness and incapacity. Further, if the people they would turn to are not family members, it's especially important that they put documents in place empowering their friends to act on their behalf.
 
In closing, there is no shortage of insurance, financial, tax, charitable, asset protection, disability, long-term care, pet, and estate planning for childless clients.  Your business will grow when you pull your team together and let childless individuals and couples know they are important to you, while showing how you can empower them with smart planning.     
  
To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person; and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from a tax adviser based on the taxpayer's particular circumstances. 

                   For printable copy of this article 

 

Three Key Strategies for Helping Baby Boomer Clients Navigate Aging Plans    

(Content provided by The Advisors Forum;

reviewed and edited by James W. Garrett, Esq.)

   

 

Many of your clients are baby boomers (now ages 50-68) moving into retirement and dealing with all the issues related to aging: elderly parents, kids in college, saving enough to last a lifetime, and protecting what they have. This generation is often referred to as the "sandwich" generation for good reason. With a dizzying array of financial instruments to choose from, complex federal and state laws governing estates, and the crisis in health and long-term care, your baby boomer clients need your help more than ever to develop an effective plan for their senior years.
 
By 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts there will be 86.7 million citizens age 65 and older living in the U.S., and they will constitute 21% of the total population. It predicts the number of people in the 65 and older age group will grow by 147% between 2000 and 2050, compared to 49% growth in the population as whole.
 
Waiting to plan for the "golden years" is no longer a viable option. Your baby boomer clients need to look far into the future and develop an estate plan that will help them maintain their desired lifestyle and protect assets from a variety of risks, including the rising costs of care. To this end, we have identified three key strategies that can help your clients navigate the minefield of aging, and focus on a successful retirement.
 
Establishing Future Cash Flow and Determining Adequate Resources


The number one long-term concern of most clients is running out of cash as they age. No one wants to outlive one's assets, but without pre-planning that could easily happen, especially if there is a medical crisis or chronic illness. Clients need to take care of themselves first, ensuring their income throughout retirement before worrying about the distribution of their estate. On an airliner, passengers are instructed that if the yellow oxygen masks drop, they must first put on their own masks and only then assist others. Only after your clients have established a plan to pay for their retirement years should they think about transitioning wealth to their children. 
 
Having a list of questions to ask your clients at the beginning of a discussion about their estate plan will help establish the outline and direction of the plan. Some of the basic questions to ask are:


         What are your sources of income in retirement, and if married, will they continue for your spouse?
         Do you plan to stay in your current home?
         If so, do you have enough funds to do that?
         If not, where do you plan/want to live?
         Will you have any dependents living with you (parents, special needs children)?
         What would put your plan at risk?
         What about a medical crisis?
         Who will take care of you?  
         How will you pay for it? 
 
Answering these questions gives both you and your client a starting place to discuss creating the right estate plan. It is also an excellent place for financial advisors and estate planning attorneys to work together to ensure that income and assets are properly structured and protected.
 
Regular Planning for Tax Liabilities and Protecting Assets


With the increased focus on income tax issues, CPAs are integral in capturing business opportunities to help clients protect their assets, smoothly transition estates and reduce tax liabilities. It used to be that tax laws didn't change very often, and established estate plans didn't need to change year after year. Since 2000, however, the federal estate and gift tax exemptions have changed almost yearly. Other federal and state laws governing income, estate taxes, and gift taxes have changed as well, with increased income and capital gains tax rates imposed on January 1, 2013.

While it appears that we have entered a period of stability regarding federal estate and gift taxes, it seems likely that other tax laws are only going to get more complicated, burdensome and complex. As a diligent advisor, you ought to offer guidance and educate clients regularly about any changes to the laws that could impact their estate plans and tax liabilities. Because keeping up with all of the changes and advising clients on these issues is a not an easy task, we recommend a team approach.
 
What clients might need in an estate plan when they are in their 50s and 60s can be very different from what they need in their 80s and 90s. Although accountants and financial advisors meet regularly with clients, most attorneys do not.  Just as laws governing Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts, taxes, Medicaid, VA benefits, and health care change over time, so do personal changes to your clients' health, wealth and other circumstances that could seriously jeopardize their estate plans. Accordingly, ongoing counseling is required.  For estate planners, setting up an annual maintenance program with your clients, and working with an interdisciplinary team that includes a financial planner, CPA and attorney, keeps you up to date on best practices and ensures that your clients' estate plans are current. At Carrell Blanton Ferris, we offer an annual maintenance program we call "LifeCounsel." In addition, we send letters to clients about every three years encouraging them to consider having their estate plan reviewed.
 
Planning for Medical Crises and Long-Term Care


No one plans to have a medical crisis, but without a solid estate plan in place before a crisis happens, a medical issue can destroy financial security in short order. The need for long-term care is a looming concern that gets ever harder to deal with as clients age, with uncovered long-term care exposure creating an insolvency risk for many seniors. With Medicare all but out of the long-term care (LTC) arena, and LTC costs escalating, for 95% of the retiring population the greatest risk to financial security is uncovered medical expenses. People are living longer, and often those added years are unhealthy. Consequently, a huge need for retirees is paying for medical care without exhausting assets.
 
A Long-Term Care insurance policy is still the best weapon against a financial disaster caused by a chronic illness or aging. Such policies are not accessible to everyone, however, due to cost, pre-existing conditions and other circumstances. LTC coverage is not guaranteed available by the Affordable Care Act or any other legislation. Moreover, although premiums are "level" they are not fixed, and careful planning is required to tailor coverage and premium to fit the client's plan. Those able to afford the premiums are well advised to purchase a policy for needed coverage. The cost of assisted living and nursing home care is skyrocketing, and without an LTC plan a client can be faced with losing all assets acquired through his or her lifetime. Often, for those uninsured, the burden of care falls on a loved one, and because of the complexities and pitfalls of Medicaid, such as the five-year look-back and penalty provisions, paying privately can result in complete impoverishment.

There are many LTC products and options to choose from, like traditional LTC insurance, LTC/life insurance hybrids or life insurance with an LTC rider. You can help your clients find one that fits their needs and enhance your position as one of their trusted advisors - one who helps plan effectively without a focus on selling products, but rather on implementing a plan.  With increased volatility in the LTCI markets, carrier issues and rising premiums, it is imperative that LTC policies be reviewed regularly and that the policy fine print is understood. When your client is most vulnerable or unable to manage his or her affairs is not the time to find out that an LTC policy has a problem!
 
What if your client can't afford the LTC premiums or has been denied coverage? Without an LTC insurance plan, it is even more important to consult with an attorney on other ways to protect assets from the poverty requirements of Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. An attorney can construct a plan to create a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust or Veterans Asset Protection Trust, as well as make plans to protect the estate, even if home care, assisted living or nursing home care becomes necessary.  Several of the attorneys at our firm focus on these and other elder law concerns, so please encourage your clients to attend one of our seminars and make an appointment. Collaboration between LTC insurance agents and attorneys is crucial, and the opportunities for mutual referral and joint marketing are abundant.
 
Summary: Identifying the Need to Plan Now Rather than Later


As our clients grow older, their medical, financial and legal needs change. For many, instead of worrying about growing their net worth, the new worry is the risk of running out of money before they die. Working in tandem with an interdisciplinary team of professionals - financial planner, accountant and attorney - provides the expertise needed to create strategic estate plans for your clients. 
 
In spite of deep experience in their fields, no member of the advisor team, whether CPA or financial advisor or attorney, can know all the nuances of estate planning. Each brings specialized expertise to the table.
 
By working together on behalf of the client, the combined knowledge of this interdisciplinary team provides the best possible planning options to protect the client's estate into the future. And, team members have the added benefit of gaining referral opportunities to continue to build their own businesses. Our attorneys follow the collaborative model, and we look forward to working with you as a part of the client's team. 
  
Acknowledgement goes to Louis Pierro, Esq., founder and principal of Pierro Law Group, LLC, Albany, New York, for the content of this newsletter. 

To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person; and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from a tax adviser based on the taxpayer's particular circumstances.

 

            

 

 

Archived Articles

 

Four Simple Ways to Sell Complex Solutions 

 

Building Creative and Flexible Wealth and Estate Planning Solutions for Your Clients in 2014  

 

Income Tax Options Run out December 31 

 

Identifying Hidden Financial Risks Creates Sales Demand 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrell Blanton Ferris & Associates, PLC

www.carrellblanton.com

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