Have Your Beneficiaries Been Updated Lately?

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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Outdated Beneficiaries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.

Contact us today for further information or visit CBAPlan.com now.

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

This blog entry is created for information purposes. Therefore, it is not legal advice. Please do not use this blog as legal advice, which turns on specific facts, as well as laws in specific jurisdictions. No reader of this blog should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the reader’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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

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. 

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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.

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

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

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