Your Summer Checklist

A checklist helps to ensure there are no gaps in your health care, financial, insurance, or estate plan documents.

Power of Attorney Checklist

  • Are your agents outdated because of age, disability, or residence?
  • Is a minor now old enough to be your agent?
  • Update your Health Care Power of Attorney to include authority for your agent to access health care workers remotely and to visit you via Zoom or Facetime.

Health Care

Whether a trip to the hospital is sudden or planned, you will need a current Health Care Power of Attorney document. You will be asked for this legal document, and if you do not have one, you are required to sign something you do not understand while in the hospital, under stress, and with plenty of other things on your mind.

A Health Care POA appoints a person to make all health care decisions for you if you cannot do so. This person can access your medical records to accept or withdraw treatment, admit or discharge you from the hospital, and make decisions on life support. If you have arrived at the hospital unconscious, it is chaos with your family and medical personnel. This isn’t a situation you want to be in or one you want for your family.

Take a minute to review your existing Health Care POA and ensure your agent is correct and that the document is current.  If you do not have one, now is the time to get one.

Financial

The law holds that no one, not even a spouse, can legally sign your name unless you have a valid Financial Power of Attorney that designates an agent to do so.

Your Financial POA agent has the legal authority to manage your financial affairs if you can no longer make these decisions yourself. A Financial POA is an important document to ensure that your financial matters are handled efficiently in an unfortunate occurrence.

Now is the time to review or obtain a Financial Power of Attorney document.

Beneficiary Designations Checklist

  • Were any children born after you opened your insurance policies or tax-deferred accounts?
  • Have any beneficiaries died?
  • Has your marriage ended, or are you separated from your spouse?
  • Do any beneficiaries have a legal disability? Name your Living Trust to avoid government reimbursement from your estate.
  • Are any beneficiaries minors under the age of 18? Name your Living Trust to avoid Probate.

Living Trust or other Estate Plan Checklist                        

  • What has changed in your family? Have you moved?
  • In the event something happens to you, does your estate plan reflect your current wishes?
  • Are your beneficiaries the same? Do you need to remove a beneficiary or add a new one?
  • Are any changes needed on the timing of the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries?
  • Do your beneficiaries require asset protection because of disability, legal trouble, or a failing marriage?
  • Is your Trustee or Executor still appropriate?
  • Are all your assets titled in the name of your Living Trusts?

Real Estate Deeds Checklist

  • Did you remember to retitle your property deed into the name of your Living Trust after the refinance closing?  
  • Have you moved your residence? Did you take the title of your new property in the name of your Living Trust?
  • Are you still working?  If so, as the active police and married, the title to the deed of your principal place of residence should be in Tenants by Entirety for maximum asset protection.
  • Have you gotten married?

Living Trusts, if Not Now, When?

We all know that we need an estate plan, and we should take care of it sooner rather than later. However, almost everyone procrastinates when it comes to this essential task.

At the end of your life or incapacitation, they risk Probate if you have property, investments, or bank accounts in your name.

Advantages of a Living Trust

  • A Will is Probate. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the Probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as the beneficiary. This is subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.
  • A Living Trust contains a No Contest provision and beneficiary Asset Protection clauses.
Tom Tuohy
Tom Tuohy

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

312-559-8444
17W220 22nd Street  
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, 60181

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

POD and TOD Account Disadvantages

Probate Court

POD and TOD Accounts

What are POD and TODs? They are an increasingly popular method of providing for the distribution of financial accounts at your death. They are helpful in certain situations; however, there are critical limitations and risks associated with using them.

Payable of Death (POD)

A Payable on Death (POD) designation is commonly available at banks and used for checking and savings accounts and CDs. Other financial institutions usually use a Transfer on Death (TOD) designation. A POD and TOD are both used to name a beneficiary for which the account balance transfers on death.

  • Advantages
    • Useful for transfer on death in smaller estates of less than $100,000 in total assets with no particular circumstances. (see below)
    • Appropriate for many checking accounts, particularly those held at Chase Bank, to avoid inconveniences.
    • Avoids Probate, but comes with risks.
  • Disadvantages
    • Disinheriting: Regardless of the size of your estate, you might unintentionally disinherit a child or other intended beneficiary. Or the beneficiary might not share the funds with your other children as you had hoped. The account ownership automatically transfers to the only person(s) named on TOD or POD. These funds now become part of the named beneficiaries’ family estate if that person dies simultaneously with you or shortly after your death.
    • Creditors: Since the funds are owned by your beneficiary immediately, they are also subject to any creditor claims, lawsuits, or divorce filed against the beneficiary.
    • Minors: The same as with life insurance policies and deferred compensation accounts and IRAs or other beneficiary designations. If the beneficiary is under 18 at the time of your death, the proceeds or funds go to Probate.
    • Disability: If your beneficiary has a disability now or acquires one from an accident or illness before your death. In that case, the POD and TOD funds could end up with the government or jeopardize their Medicaid and SSI.
    • Predeceased Beneficiary: If your beneficiary dies with you or before your death, the funds are subject to Probate. There are no alternate beneficiaries on TOD/POD accounts.
    • Squandering Inheritance: Statistics show that most inheritance is spent within18 to 36 months. I am confident the time shortens, the younger the beneficiary.

POD vs Living Trusts

I write about Living Trusts frequently because they are much more than an estate plan. Living Trusts organize your assets now and safeguard them after your death. They also can avoid all of the above disadvantages of POD/TOD designations.

Living Trusts also protect your assets from Guardianship Court if you acquire a disability. Additionally, if you are contemplating a second marriage, a Living Trust is essential to segregate your assets from future marital funds acting as prenuptial protection.   

Living Trusts, if Not Now, When?

We all know that we need an estate plan, and we should take care of it sooner rather than later. However, almost everyone procrastinates when it comes to this essential task.

At the end of your life or incapacitation, they risk Probate if you have property, investments, or bank accounts in your name.

Advantages of a Living Trust

  • A Will is Probate. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the Probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as the beneficiary. This is subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.
  • A Living Trust contains a No Contest provision and beneficiary Asset Protection clauses.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

312-559-8444
17W220 22nd Street  
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, 60181

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

George Halas Prince, and a Chicago Cop

alt="judges gavel and scales of justice ruling in Probate on estate plan"
Probate Court

What could those three people possibly have in common?

Horrendous estate planning.

Not Having an Estate Plan

Prince

Let's dispense with Prince first and then find out why George Halas and a Chicago police officer have unofficially ranked #1 and # 2 as the two worst estates the decades-long Chief Judge of Cook County Probate ever heard.

The musician Prince died on April 21, 2016. He had no estate plan. Six years later, his estate, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, is still in the predictable mess of the Probate Court system. Because Prince left no estate plan, the state is left to determine how much his estate is worth and who will receive it.  

Having a Plan, but not a Good Plan   

If it sounds unimaginable that someone with assets, royalties, and a legacy eventually worth billions didn't plan for the inevitable day he wouldn't be here, the list of well-known people who did the same can fill a book. The court ordered Jackie Onnasis's personal property sold to pay otherwise avoidable estate taxes. James Gandolfini, "Tony Soprano," had a Will, but not a Marital Trust, and because of that mistake, his estate paid the IRS $30 million, and his 13-year-old son ended up in the center of, you guessed it, a Probate battle. 

Aretha Franklin, Elvis, Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos (that estate may never settle), Kobe Bryant; the list goes on.  

George Halas

On October 31, 1983, George Halas died without a Living Trust or a workable succession plan for the Chicago Bears. He wanted his son, Mugsy Halas to take over the Bears, but Mugsy died suddenly in 1979 and George never created an alternate plan. For over a dozen years the children of Mugsy and the children of his daughter Virginia McCaskey battled in Cook County Probate Court to the extent ownership shares of the Bears had to be sold to pay for the legal fees. The Halas kids weren't even invited to the Super Bowl. Today many fans wish the McCaskeys sold all their shares.

Most importantly, this mess is not what George Halas wanted, for his family and for the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Cop

A Chicago Police Officer died leaving a Will as his estate plan to provide for his seven children. His kids fought each other in Probate Court for 18 years until there was nothing left in their father's estate. One day I stood before the chief judge who told me he hated this case as much as he did George Halas' case. 

Whether it was the grandchildren of George Halas and the future of the Chicago Bears or the children of a Chicago Police Officer and a family's entire savings and legacy, none of it should have happened, and all of it avoided.

Having a Will or no Will as an Estate Plan = Probate 

If there's a Will, there's relatives. And if there isn't a Will, there are even more relatives.

A Will is merely your wishes that a Probate Court follows to distribute your assets. A Last Will and Testament must be probated. This rule comes from the law that no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, if you die with assets in your name, a Probate Court judge must appoint an Executor to sign your name for the asset transfers to your named beneficiaries. If you do not have a Will, the court determines who receives your assets.

The system cannot handle everyone's estate. Therefore, it can take years to get through the process. And that is if no one contests, which is very easy to do. It doesn't matter if you are a celebrity or not, Probate is not the way to go.

The police officer's kids fought with each other because they could. Every example I gave above was easily avoidable.  

Living Trust Estate Plan Avoids Probate

I have spent more time in Probate Court than I ever want to remember. So, I dedicated my career to helping people avoid the system, keep their affairs private, and their families at peace with each other, and grateful for you and your memory. No matter who you are, that is a legacy you deserve.

The first hurdle of planning is just getting it done. Estate planning is not high on anyone's list. But we all know how uncertain life is, and none of us are getting out of this thing alive. And none of us know when we will go. 

To avoid massive headaches and expenses for your family, and give yourself peace of mind now, what you need today is a Living Trust estate plan. 

How does a Living Trust Work?

Your real estate titles (in all states) transfer from your name to your Trust name. Life insurance policies and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations. 

A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate. 

And finally, a Living Trust contains a No Contest provision, as well as beneficiary asset protection clauses.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

312-559-8444
17W220 22nd Street  
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, 60181

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Know Your Health Care Rights

We have all experienced the health care system. Honestly, can you say you are looking forward to your next experience? Part of it is the uncertainty of what we will find out. However, most of our anxiety and frustration is about the feeling we are not in control. Well, you can be, and you have the right to be in total control of your health and your care.

HIPPA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is an often abused federally protected patient health care protection.  Unfortunately, most of us roll our eyes at the mention of those letters, because typically the process brings bureaucratic delivery, endless seemingly unnecessary paperwork, and lack of ease. Consequently, HIPPA is often a sword against us rather than a shield protecting us.

Essential Health Care Rights        

HIPPA guarantees your fundamental health care rights:

  • You have the right to request and receive copies of all of your health care records.  Don't let any medical provider tell you differently or delay producing your health care records. I know from legal experience that with medical errors or less than ideal treatment, the production of records slows down. If you are ever on the receiving end of improper care or malpractice, immediately demand to see every single one of your records, including all nurse's notes, lab testing, x-rays, act. This information is essential even if your care was excellent. It is your health care history, and it can be critical to successful and timely treatment in the future.
  • You have the right to share this information with others and request that your provider do so.
  • Your must receive your medical records within 30 days.
  • Medical record production cannot be denied if your bill is not paid in full.
  • You can request delivery of records on paper, digitally, or viewed online. Today, having a digital health care dashboard is a feature that should be common for health care providers. It allows you to have all your records in an easily viewed and indexed digital platform. Your entire health care history can be available to you and, importantly, be available for your subsequent health care treatment and discussion of options.

Informed Consent

This notion that we are in the dark about our health care history and options for treatment and hand over our health and welfare to medical providers is what we grew up expecting.

Most hospitals have patient advocates available to help you fully understand your condition and treatment options. Use them.

Always insist on a thorough and understandable explanation of your treatment, options, expected outcomes, and access to second or third opinions. It is your health and your future.

Health Care Power of Attorney

You have the right to appoint an agent to act on your behalf to make all health care decisions for you if you are unable or unwilling to do so. Therefore, please do not risk leaving that power in the hands of medical providers instead of your family or trusted friend.

Importantly, this essential document also includes your comprehensive instructions on life support, access to your medical records, and whether you wish to avoid prolonged suffering or extend your life for as long as possible. You can also choose to spend your last days at home and provide for your final plans and wishes.

Power of Attorney documents are readily available and customized to your specific wishes. In the POA's I prepare, I include the insistence that your family has access to be with you in your hospital room or to see you electronically via Facetime, Zoom, or other digital means. This recent practice of allowing people to suffer alone and even die alone is unconscionable.

All your health care directives are included in your preferred Living Trust estate plan.

Docubank

Unfortunately, when we seek medical treatment we almost certainly do not have our Health Care POA with us. Today there is a service, Docubank, that will provide you with a wallet card that allows any medical provider to access your POA 24/7 365 anywhere in the world.

Docubank gives clients a 65% discount – only $25 a year for this card that also can include your emergency contact person, family members, and a medical snapshot.  Call our office and we will make sure you are given the discount.  

Living Trusts

At the end of your life, or at incapacitation, if you have property or bank accounts in your name, they risk Probate.

  • A Will must be Probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the Probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Have Your Beneficiaries Been Updated Lately?

<img src="clients.jpg" alt="Young couple with beneficiaries Tuohy Law Offices">
Family Planning

You may have heard the horror stories of officers who divorced and never changed their insurance policies, deferred comp beneficiaries, or estate plan, and the ex-spouse got it all. It is easy when hearing dramatic stories to assume you are safe. But are you?

There are various reasons why your listed beneficiaries might not fit your current intentions. It can also prove costly because of circumstances beyond your control.

Outdated Beneficiaries

It is very common to have beneficiary names listed on policies and accounts that are not current to your wishes. The chances are you have beneficiaries listed right now that include a person you no longer wish to receive the benefit or it excludes someone.

Here are some examples:

  • Previous marriages: That is an easy one. However, please know that when you die the beneficiary on any legal document will receive the proceeds of that policy, account, or estate plan. I have had those phone calls from surviving spouses who discovered the ex on policies after their spouse died.
  • Not listing all your children:  You took out the insurance policy years ago before having that second or third child. 
  • Intentionally listing only one child: You figure that child will take care of their siblings. That mistake is widespread. However, the child you list has legal ownership. What if the child's spouse has different ideas? Or before making distributions to siblings, the beneficiary child dies. All the funds are now part of that child's estate. The funds could end up in the beneficiary child's divorce, lawsuit or creditors claim. Then there are possible gift taxes when making distributions depending on the tax code at the time.
  • Countless clients were in one of those or other situations as we reviewed their assets and policies during their Living Trust signing. Fortunately, they were still around to fix it.

Minor Children Beneficiaries

Suppose you have listed a minor as a primary or successor beneficiary on a policy or account. Unfortunately, you die before the minor reaches 18 years of age. If so:

  • If you die before the minor reaches age 18, all of the proceeds will go to Probate. The assets stay under the court's control until the minor is 18. 
  • Secondly, not many people want their children to receive large sums of money at 18; when Probate will release it all. 18 may be the age of majority; however it is rarely the age of maturity.

One of my favorite truths is that the human brain does not fully form until age 25. Everything is there except the frontal cortex, which governs reason. And that explains a lot! That fact should also inform your decision about the final distribution age of all funds. A Living Trust best accomplishes a sensible distribution strategy.

A Trust protects the funds outside of Probate. The minor can receive distributions before age 18 for health, education, and welfare at the discretion of your chosen Trustee. You chose the final distribution age.

Beneficiary Financial Troubles

No matter what age you feel is appropriate for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance, there is no way of knowing whether they are going through a divorce, bankruptcy, or lawsuit at the time of your death.

If you name your Living Trust as beneficiary, the Trust protects against all of those risks. A Trust's Spendthrift Provision prevents any creditor or spouse from claiming the gift of your estate.

Benficiary Disability Issues

Suppose one of your beneficiaries acquires a disability through accident or illness before your death. In that case, your estate funds will go to the government for reimbursement of public benefits. Or your beneficiary will lose their SSI or Medicaid benefits.

You can prevent this from happening with a Living Trust that has precautionary Supplemental Needs provisions.

Living Trusts

At the end of your life, or at incapacitation if you have property or bank accounts in your name, they risk Probate.

  • A Will must be Probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

A Financial Planner Is Important Now

After a pandemic rattles the economy, professional advice can be crucial for investors.
Female accountant or banker making calculations on her laptop

Investors must navigate a global pandemic that resulted in unemployment, market volatility, and crushing economic losses.(GETTY IMAGES)

ON A COLD DAY IN Chicago in December 1969, 13 people met to discuss a better way to provide financial advice. They recognized that Americans would benefit from the counsel of a financial planning professional who integrates the knowledge and best practices of an often fragmented financial services industry.

Financial planning has evolved since then and will continue to change, but one constant remains – the need for competent and ethical financial planning advice.

Fifty years after that fateful night, those 13 individuals never could have imagined that the country would face a global pandemic that resulted in unemployment, market volatility and crushing economic losses.[ 

SEE: Is Your Portfolio Too Complex? ]

No matter your net worth, seeking the advice of a financial planning professional will help you navigate COVID-19 fallout and today's mercurial markets, taking into account the dynamic financial planning process.

Financial planning services are more accessible than ever before. A financial planner will take a holistic view and help you feel confident in your financial future, even during times of uncertainty and evolving goals, from paying down student loans, to raising children to funding retirement.

Working with a financial planner is very personal. Knowing how to identify the right person who will be the best fit for you and your financial needs can feel overwhelming. But don't let your search for professional advice intimidate you. As you talk to advisors in your area virtually, here are five areas to focus on to guide your pursuit of a prospective financial planner:

  • Personal financial goals.
  • Financial planner experience and credentials.
  • Commitment to a fiduciary standard.
  • Establishing a relationship.
  • Long-term success.

Personal Financial Goals

Before connecting with prospective financial planners, you need to identify your own personal goals and financial milestones.

Speak with the Right Financial Advisor For You

Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with top fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is legally bound to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

While a focus on holistic financial planning is key, financial planners often have specialties. Identifying your own goals will help you narrow your search and work with someone that can help turn your goals into a reality. It will also strengthen your relationship early on as one of your first conversations will focus on your top short- and long-term goals.

Financial Planner Experience and Credentials

There are many credentials that financial professionals can hold, and it often seems like an alphabet soup of designations.

It's important to confirm that the professional you're considering has the verifiable expertise you need and is operating in your best interest. A certified financial planner professional is an individual who has been rigorously trained, has accrued significant experience and is committed to putting clients' interests first under a fiduciary standard.[ 

SEE: 5 Economic Factors That Influence Stocks. ]

You can confirm someone's CFP certification through the CFP Board website's "Verify a CFP Professional" tool. You can also learn more and verify other designations through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority BrokerCheck website or the Securities and Exchange Commission Investment Advisor search feature on its website.

Commitment to a Fiduciary Standard

fiduciary is someone that works in the best interest of their client. When searching for financial planners, working with someone who is a fiduciary is critical, as nonfiduciaries only need to offer advice that is suitable even if it is not the best option for you.

CFP professionals are held to the CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct, a higher standard of competency and ethics. They are required to act in a client's best interest to benefit and protect the public. They are subject to discipline if they do not uphold the Code and Standards.

Establishing a Relationship

The relationship you have with your financial planner is one of the most important relationships in your life. Because their guidance impacts your money, you need to understand what that might look like in practice.https://fe216110efed31ec72551108d888335e.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

For example, how often will they communicate with you? Will they communicate mostly through email or phone calls? Or will you work directly with that individual or other members of their team?

Ask for client testimonials or examples of a similar client relationship during your vetting process. Understanding how the financial planner works with other clients will help you better understand what a potential relationship will entail.

Long-Term Success

While it is important to look for a financial planner that will help you navigate COVID-19, also look for financial planners that are focused on holistic financial plans. The creation of a holistic financial plan will take your financial goals and milestones into consideration, creating a long-term road map that looks beyond the coronavirus.

Measuring success through the achievement of your long-term goals will be a stronger indicator of accomplishment than other investment benchmarks.[ 

SEE: 6 Things to Consider Before Investing in IPOs. ]

Financial planning is a relatively new practice. In fact, the first video game "Tennis for Two" is older than the financial planning profession. In your search for financial advice, focus on the above areas to help you narrow your search for a financial planner that exhibits key traits of a good advisor and is also the right match for you.

Kevin Keller, Contributor

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

COVID-19 Stimulus Payments Round 2: What You Need to Know

Congress has finally reached a bipartisan deal on a $900 billion Coronavirus Relief stimulus package, and the President has signed it into law. This one also includes a stimulus payment, but there are big differences between this one and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March.

focus on money

Who qualifies for this round of stimulus payments?

The requirements are similar to the last round of payments with the upper income limits reduced.

To qualify for the economic impact payments you’ll need to meet each of the following requirements:

  • Have a social security number
  • You are a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident Alien
  • Make less than $87,000 filing single or $174,000 as a couple on your most recent tax return
  • You weren’t claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return

How much is the stimulus payment?

This COVID relief bill includes only up to $600 for qualifying adults, which is half of the amount offered by the CARES Act in March. 

If you made under $75,000 on your most recent tax return, you will be eligible for the full $600. Couples that filed together and made under $150,000 on their last return will be eligible for $1,200 combined. 

If you made over the income limit but less than $87,000 filing single or $174,000 as a couple and meet the other requirements, you’re eligible for a reduced payment.

You are also eligible for a flat amount of $600 per child dependent 16 or under.

How will I get my payment?

You will receive your payment through either check or direct deposit using the same method you requested filing your 2019 tax return. 

When will I get my stimulus payment?

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CNBC that the first payments will go out before the end of the year.

While it will be a bit longer before everybody receives payments, they will probably be available much faster than last time since the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) already issued similar payments earlier this year.

How can I get my stimulus payment with Varo?

If you requested your 2019 tax refund as a direct deposit to your Varo Money bank account, you’ll receive your payment as soon as it’s issued by the IRS.

What can I do with my stimulus payment?

There is no limitation on how you can spend the money. These stimulus payments were issued by the federal government to help working class and middle class Americans who’ve been impacted negatively by the pandemic. If you need to spend it to cover basic expenses, you should.

If you don’t have immediate expenses to cover, it’s a good idea to save it. Sign up for Varo’s high APY Bank Account here

Will I get another stimulus payment?

Currently, the bill the President signed only allows for the $600 payments, but there is a move in Congress to raise these payments to $2,000.    While this raise in the stimulus payment passed the House, it has not yet come to a vote in the Senate.   Joe Biden has also said he’ll push for another round of checks when he’s in office.  There is no guarantee that the stimulus payment will be raised to $2,000 or that there will be another round of payments.

This COVID relief bill did extend the enhanced $300 a week unemployment benefits for up to 11 weeks, so if you qualify for  unemployment you will likely keep this benefit. Restarting unemployment benefits under the new law may take states 3 weeks or more according to experts. Be patient as states get in gear to provide these benefits. 

Apply for a Varo Bank Account today. No monthly fees or minimum balances.
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By Editors at Varo

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC (“Bank”) or Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, (CBA). The bank and CBA are not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

Links to external websites are not managed by Varo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC, or by Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC.

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Cambridge and CBA are not affiliated.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

2020 Cyber Security Predictions from a CISO

2020 is here and hopefully, all security teams have resolutions of improving the cybersecurity of their business in the new year. But what new challenges and developments will 2020 bring that you need to be prepared for?

How cybersecurity will change in the next 10 years

Fewer passwords: In the next few years we will see the adoption of more non-password-based consumer authentication technologies (e.g. FIDO). Consumers and tech companies are increasing the pressure to move to systems that require fewer passwords. Technologies like single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA) can help users authenticate users without requiring them to remember passwords.

Biometrics: There’s going to be more movement towards leveraging rich biometrics for convenience (e.g. Iris scans). These rich biometrics will leverage significantly more and better sensors (iris scanning, body posture, etc.) in consumer/end user-facing devices. 

Machine learning: Advanced machine learning models will allow for better context-based authentication assessments and improve the authentication process, like geofencing and device biometric sensors. Some of those models and technologies are already available. For example, MFA solutions can do geofencing based on GPS. Advanced sensors on mobile devices will also be usable over the next several years.

The key to implementation is back-office instrumentation – there’s machine learning that needs to take place to understand normal vs. anomalous behavior and that takes time.

Security breaches and passwords

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 80% of breaches are still caused or enabled by weak and reused passwords. So the question remains: when will consumers and end-users improve their password behavior?

This really comes down to two questions: 1) When will it be harder for breaches to occur so fewer passwords are exposed?  and 2) When will users use better and stronger passwords? 

In terms of reducing breaches, this will be a long journey that requires enterprises to incentivize good security practices such as secure development over glitzy features. Over time, insecure services will have a higher likelihood of failing due to falling customer trust. This has started (e.g. scrutiny over Facebook’s data losses) but will still take more time to become considered a top tier risk for enterprises.

In terms of better passwords, this is all driven by consumer awareness. Newer authentication technologies will continue to whittle away at password-based systems, which may alleviate parts of this problem. But companies dealing with sensitive data (fintech, healthcare, etc.), they will also start enforcing more complex password policies to lower their risk. 

Biggest identity and access management challenges/ trends in 2020

All companies will face different challenges depending on their size and their sector. However, all companies face the challenge of security awareness among employees, contractors, and customers. And without the support from all users, technological efforts will not be fully effective.

To help with this effort, here are a few recommendations:

Multi-directional communication is extremely important in a security program, meaning working from the top-down, bottom-up, and side-to-side to get your message across. Reinforcement of best security practices should come from an employee’s manager, peers, c-suite and more. And yes, it’s true. Security is everyone’s responsibility.

People learn differently – some are more receptive to visual guides or written instructions while others may want a hands-on lesson. Also, the content can vary depending on your audience. Some may like content that is funny, serious or provides historical background. Whatever you choose, providing consistent communication is the key to a strong awareness program. Part of our focus is to make sure we are delivering our security training and materials in a variety of channels. We’ve also included employees in everything from video creations and contests – and it gets them involved and excited about it too.

When it comes to high-tech industries like those in the finance or healthcare industries, the key is to establish and maintain control over BYOD and Bring-Your-Own-App policies and mentality without impacting employee productivity.

I’m excited to see where this new decade takes us. Leave a comment below with your predictions for 2020.

By Gerald Beuchelt LastPass blogs

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Owning Your Digital Profile by Setting Up LastPass

October is the perfect time to take stock of your cyber security. Every year, worldwide efforts like NCSAM in the USECSM in the EU, and Stay Smart Online in Australia aim to raise awareness of important cybersecurity topics. Throughout the month, there are many resources available to help you better protect yourself online. 

Whether you’re new to LastPass or a long-time user, this month is also an ideal time to review your LastPass account. The first step to staying safe online is understanding the devices and applications you use every day. When it comes to LastPass, that means understanding how best to use the service and the security features that are available to you, to both protect your account and to use LastPass to its full potential in keeping you safe online. 

Start Using a Password Manager 

If you aren’t using a password manager yet, you can sign up for LastPass here. Getting started only takes a few steps, and you’ll be on your way to protecting your passwords and replacing every account with a strong, generated password.  

With LastPass, your passwords and other vault data is encrypted with a key that only you know. It’s more secure and accessible than your browser password manager and gives you on safe place to store not only your account logins, but all other important pieces of information you want to keep protected but convenient. 

Use the LastPass Browser Extension 

The LastPass browser extension is key to using LastPass to its full potential. The browser extension is what allows LastPass to securely detect whether to save a new password or fill one you’ve already stored. If you’re signing up for a new account, LastPass can offer to generate a new password (and then remember it for you, of course). 

If you haven’t already, be sure to download the extension to all browsers that you use on a regular basis, including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge. The extension will give you quick access to all LastPass features, including your vault, and puts your password manager to work for you. 

Create a Strong Master Password 

Your master password is not only required to access your LastPass account, it also forms part of your encryption key. Your encryption key is used to encrypt the sensitive data in your LastPass vault, before it’s synced to LastPass servers. Of course, that means that keeping your data secure partially depends on choosing a strong master password.  

Be sure to follow good habits when it comes to your master password – never reuse your master password, or share it with others, or use something easily guessable. If you think your current master password could be stronger, simply update it in your account settings. It’s a good idea to update it regularly anyway, such as once a year. 

Download the Mobile App(s) 

LastPass isn’t just for your desktop or laptop. Our apps for iOS and Android ensure you always have your passwords and other stored data with you, no matter where you are or when you need them. You might be surprised how often you might need to use LastPass when you’re on the go. The apps are free – and sync your data for free – so there’s no reason not to go download them from the app stores today! 

Investigate LastPass Features 

Of course, the tips we’ve provided above are just the beginning. LastPass has a lot of features and settings to help you better protect your data online, and to better secure your LastPass account. Be sure to familiarize yourself with how the main features work. Take a few moments to explore the menus and settings available in your browser extension, mobile apps, and the vault.  

As you become more familiar with LastPass, you’ll feel more confident in using it! And with that confidence will come the peace of mind of knowing you’re following the advice of top cybersecurity experts and better protecting yourself – your data, your money, your identity – with a password manager. 

By: Amber Steel, LastPass Blogs

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

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