finvisions777
Robert Wicks, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, has been helping clients through Financial Visions of NC for nearly 40 years. Taking time to listen to the needs, wants and desires of his clients, Bob has professionally built long-lasting dynamic plans that give his clients flexibility and peace of mind now and into the futures of their personalized, doubt-free retirement. Safety of retirement assets, a reasonable expectation of growth, no-loss protection, and a guaranteed 'lifetime' income are available. And always ... the goal is guarantees, not guesses!

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Tuesday, June 07, 2016
"CHOICES ... and Time"!!!

Choices...

The fact of the matter is that you're the only one who can decide what to do with your earning power and, by extension, with your life. The two are inextricably linked. Decisions on what you want to do with your earning power come from answering questions such as:

  • Where do I want to live? Do I want to own my own home? Where? What kind of home?
  • What kind of lifestyle do I want to have? Vacations? Entertainment and leisure activities? Automobile choices?
  • Do I want to pay the bill for my kids to attend college? Public or private?
  • Do I want to start my own business some day?
  • Do I want to reach an age by which I can afford to stop working if I want?
  • Do I want to live strictly for today strictly for tomorrow or enjoy today while still providing for tomorrow?

If you think of life as a journey, answers to questions such as these become your destinations on the journey of life.

Remember people don't plan to fail they fail to plan. Taking control of your finances and your financial future can help you reach your desired destinations in life!





Posted at 02:45 pm by finvisions777
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Sunday, September 27, 2015
Trusts . . . and Retirement Planning

A departure from the general 'income' topics of this blog --- because Trusts are available during retirement planning to assure your desires are best met for legacy transfers at death under the most favorable tax conditions or with the best ease-of-transfer for your surviving spouse and family members.

The Living Trust is the most used because during your lifetime you continue to manage and use your assets (including retirement nest egg) as you always have.  This is a revocable trust which means you can start one now and change your mind down the road and cancel it.  Revocable trusts will not offer any special tax considerations (either 'estate' or 'income'), but ease of use and wealth transfer are primary here.

Like the Last Will & Testament which it replaces, the Living Trust allows you to determine (without heirs having to go through the probate process in court) who gets what and in what manner they get it.  For instance, a home or a collectibles collection can be specified as passing to an heir 'intact' rather than having your appointed 'surviving trustee' go through a selling-off process for the heirs.

This trust is drafted by an estate planning attorney at modest cost (generally $900-1500) and usually includes, additionally in an estate planning package, an Asset Power of Attorney and a Health Proxy (in which you predetermine who will be allowed to possibly have to make those tough health decisions on your behalf).

Your spouse would be the primary surviving trustee and would continue to live of the assets just as you both did before.  Then you name additional 'trustees' to step in after the second spousal death and wrap up your affairs.

Remember:  You should always speak to a person, even a family member, before declaring in writing that they are an eventual trustee of your Living Trust --- they may not want the responsibility, and they would later have the right to opt out of your Trust plan.

Remember, also, that an IRA has estate planning considerations because, unlike a Pension plan or a 401(k) / 403(b) plan, the surviving spouse may elect to have the IRA ownership transferred rather than having to take a 'taxable' cash distribution at your death.  That's a nice option to have!

So think about the Living Trust.  Ask your planner or advisor.  Ask an estate planning lawyer.  Or ask me.

Posted at 06:50 am by finvisions777
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Monday, September 14, 2015
Preparing For Questions From Your Retirement Planner . . .
Questions, data queries, fact findings . . . these are the 'building blocks' of a sound and customized financial and retirement plan.  You should be prepared.

The quantitative inquires are easier to prepare for.  Beginning with the personal and family facts, they will include (but not be limited to) present incomes, estimated Social Security benefits, pension and 401(k) funds available at retirement, your investment values, and life / health / long term care portfolios of both spouses.  Finally, do you have any Trusts in place; and what are their purposes?

Where 'the rubber meets the road' is the discussion of the qualitative questions and answers.

Many pieces of information are gathered during this part of the planning process, insights are learned by both the planner and the prospective retiree(s):

What lifestyle are you looking for in retirement? 

Do you plan to 'reinvent' yourselves with new business ventures or part time employment?

What are the estimates of your longevity based on your parents and grandparents lives?

Have you been thinking about legacy options for family members other than your spouse?

How is your health?  And that of your spouse?

Do you lean toward aggressive or conservative investing, or do you see yourself as middle-of-the-road?

Are their other family members, immediate or distant, that you may feel responsible for financially?

Certainly there is a myriad of other query areas and questions, and many of them will come from the frank discussion with your planner.  When a retirement planner can 'get inside your sack of skin', wonderful and meaningful things can happen to your benefit.

Posted at 03:07 pm by finvisions777
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Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Yes .. we all have CHOICES ... and they MATTER!

The slogan for Financial Visions of NC has always been "Time & Choices".  The following is offered from a blog by Brent Meyer, President of Safe Money Resources:

"The fact of the matter is that you're the only one who can decide what to do with your earning power and, by extension, with your life.  The two are inextricably linked.  Decisions on what you want to do with your earning power comes from answering questions such as ---

  1. Where do I want to live?  Do I want to own my own home? Where? What kind of home?
  2. What kind of lifestyle do I want to have? Vacations? Entertainment and leisure activities? Automobile choices?
  3. Do I want to pay the bills for my kids to attend college?
  4. Do I want to start my own business someday?
  5. Do I want to reach an age by which I can afford to stop working if I want?
  6. Do I want to live strictly for today? Strictly for tomorrow? Or, enjoy today while still providing for tomorrow?

"If you think of life as a journey, answers to questions such as these become your destinations on the journey of life."

Remember ... people don't plan to fail ... they just fail to plan!  Taking control of your finances and your financial future can help you reach your desired destinations in life.



Posted at 01:44 pm by finvisions777
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Sunday, August 30, 2015
Some Thoughts About Retirement Planning ...

*  People remain concerned about the Accumulation Phase of retirement planning as well they should, but always remember that as retirees live longer (M85, F88 + 5 years if married) there should be urgent consideration about the Distribution Phase as well.  Whatever is your target amount for the wealth accumulation, how you withdraw it and use it for income, vacations, special buys, and health needs will impact the quality and the duration of your planned 'golden years'.

*  Why do annuities seem to come up when talking to a retirement planning advisor?  Several reasons come to mind.  Advisors, as a rule, do not always recommend that your entire 'nest egg' go into some kind of annuity (fixed, variable, indexed fixed), but placing some of the 'nest egg' into such a plan has its merits.

  •      A guaranteed, reasonable return with gains locked in annually coupled with guaranteed protection against loss can give the retiree a more finite value with which to work when considering income and health cost needs.
  •      Cognitive impairment can occur down the road; having a plan with income and health cost decisions already made and guaranteed in the plan alleviates such decisions when you may not be able to make them (for 'care givers', it means such desires are already spelled out).
  •      Fixed plans remit a predictable, announced interest rate; Variable plans are invested in equity and bond markets normally through mutual funds; Indexed Fixed plans earn interest following the UPs and DOWNs of a stock market index such as the S&P Index (they kind of give the retiree and pre-retiree the best of both worlds --- growth that should diminish the impact of inflation, and the stabilizing effect of guaranteeing zero downside risk).
*  Feel free to comment if you have other ideas about the selection of financial tools to make your retirement accumulation / distribution more dynamic and/or risk-free.

Posted at 11:20 am by finvisions777
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... And Ask Lots of Questions!
"Buy In -- or Not ... just Listen ..... and ask lots of questions"!  That is a key to a client and a financial/retirement advisor mutually discovering an appealing and workable retirement income and savings plan.

I continue to be amazed (couldn't have led such a sheltered life?) at the people that our retirement prospects may choose to listen to in spite of our training, expertise, and time of service to the community of pre-retirees and post-retirees.

Example:  I had a client recently retired '70-something', and his retirement plan sponsoring administrator recommended all of his retirement wealth (less than $300,000) be placed in a variable annuity IRA --- without sharing with him either the listing of fees necessary annually to 'mirror' my selected Indexed Annuity IRA, nor mentioning that his RMDs (which he really did not want any more than anybody else does) would be higher under Y2015 regulations attaching economic value to those chosen 'guarantee riders' on the variable annuity.

I explained that the omission was 'the very reason' that he should be thinking in the indexed annuity direction --- variable annuities are generally suitable for pre-retirees ages 35-55 when talking about RMDs starting at age 70 really do not come up --- and they may not be appropriate for a retiree age 74 with all of his funds.

It is the simple difference between saving and investing for your retirement future.  And with payable fees as well as a potentially higher RMD yearly, and both annuities reflective of the same stock market, one annuity must out-perform the other to match growth or overcome losses.

It seems like a no-brainer for most people for a large percentage of their retirement nest egg built up over years.

Nobody is saying one should not ever consider investing retirement funds for the future growth they may offer.  The variable annuity is a vital and viable financial tool under the right circumstances.  But it should be a percentage of one's funds, not an 'all-in' strategy.  And full disclosure of important items that may affect funds growth / loss / cost should never be omitted.

Pardon me 'getting on the soapbox', but the profession is worth more to the prospect or the client than what they may perceive.  It remains an honored and ethical profession coupled with personal and organizational oversight.

Posted at 11:19 am by finvisions777
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