It’s often said that “no matter how carefully something is planned, things may still go awry”. The saying is adapted from a well-known line in the Poem “To a Mouse” by Robert Burns. Perhaps Mr. Burns was in the process of retirement planning when crafting this poem? Regardless, its cautionary tone can be applied. As we work with clients helping them articulate and achieve financial goals, there are a number of areas that can be underestimated relative to actual spending.
Did you ever write and share your “family love letter?” It’s probably safe to say that each of us is aware of tragic situations where a loved one died at too young an age, maybe suddenly and unexpectedly. These experiences are shocking, and it is natural to catch yourself wondering how those closest to the deceased will be cared for or work through the situation. Loved ones often find they are ill-prepared to attend to many aspects of another’s life.
On the topic of estate planning, we are regularly encouraged to plan properly for a sudden incapacitation and/or death. Unfortunately, the focus begins and ends with the execution of proper documents, titling of assets, and naming beneficiaries to various financial accounts. Often overlooked however, is ensuring that appropriate family members and decision makers can access adequate information about their loved one’s assets, liabilities, and intentions. And, even if deliberate thought was given to these matters, is information available and quickly accessible?
If you are at the doorsteps to retirement, you might regularly receive invitations to enjoy a free lunch/dinner as part of an “educational” seminar on various retirement, estate planning, or trust topics. Often these invitations are made extra enticing by featuring a fancy restaurant for the presentation. Yet as the saying goes, few of us believe these meals/events are without any strings attached; we know there will be some “catch” or pitch of a product or service.
One topic we regularly encounter with new clients approaching us for help is in the area of annuities. While there are advantages and disadvantages to these complex products, in our experience, they are often sold without full and adequate explanation. While we prefer and advocate the use of more customizable, and traditional investment structures (wherein you retain full control of your time horizon, investment options, and access to money), we would stop short of saying or suggesting that annuities are never appropriate. So let’s objectively review one of the most misunderstood financial products available.