Estate planning entails making the right financial decisions, like choosing beneficiaries.

“It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.”― Joseph ConradAn Outcast of the Islands

What a fitting quote from a literary giant of the twentieth century, a writer whose stories often pitted man against nature…an indifferent and relentless nature quick to penalize one’s mistakes.

And what an appropriate analogy to use when depicting the stripe of our stock market. Indeed, savvy investors remain hopeful at best that their astute selections will help them achieve their retirement goals. At the same time, the markets care less, of course, that we need money for retirement, or to pay medical bills. It rocks-and-rolls on a fevered pitch because it’s influenced, for the most part, by factors beyond our control.

‘Contributing’ to our retirement is only part of the formula…

However, we remain optimistic that by simply making contributions to our retirement funds and other savings accounts, that somehow our financial goals will be met.

But the heft and consistency of our contributions may not be enough if we don’t know how to make those funds grow over the years, making the mistake of not following the advice of a financial professional; making the mistake of not protecting our assets from nursing home costs through long-term care insurance, or leaving our heirs vulnerable to huge tax bills if we fail to make a Last Will as part of our overall estate planning.

Survey shows financial optimism…

Yes, we are a confident lot, and a recent survey published in Forbes attests to glimmers of hope we have about our financial futures. A National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) survey taken in December 2014 found that 49% of those responding expected their finances would improve by December 2015. Only 17% expected their situation to worsen while 23% were confident things stay about the same.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, consumers have held back on their spending, but the survey indicated that respondents were “experiencing the seven-year itch with a desire to spend again,” noted Gail Cunningham from the NFCC.

Will our new spending lead to more risk-taking?

But, as Cunningham notes,  and in our rush to start spending again, we can also “invite a personal financial disaster.” Even more reason to seek reliable financial and legal guidance.

TIAA-CREF: study indicates some can’t find the time to seek advice.

A lot of us, though, push back on the idea of spending money to get advice on how we should invest. TIAA-CREF study reveals that 44% of us think that financial advice costs more than they can afford to pay.

More striking, perhaps, is that 35% of those asked said that it’s “too hard to find the time to look for financial advice.” Interestingly enough, often the push back comes because we don’t know what questions to ask (32%).

Kudos to those who do get financial advice because a list of ‘positives’ generally begin to surface with 86% of those surveyed saying they actually “took action” to influence their financial outcomes, including changing their spending habits (62%) to making changes to their retirement and savings accounts (53%).

Sitting down with an experienced estate planner can bring a litany of insights to investment decisions that might be headed in the wrong direction. For example, the simple act of naming beneficiaries in both TOD and POD categories can avoid these transfer of assets from the public eye via probate courts.

Treat investor checkups like an annual ‘physical.’

If we are a people steeped in self-reliance, then that very fact can often set our financial goals back; this, because we reach for an over-the-counter solution (online ‘wills’) when we need a measured and steady hand on the tiller.

Much like that annual physical checkup, investors need to an experienced eye to give us the big picture, and provide us with a detailed strategy that includes retirement, insurance (disability…long-term care??) in a well-executed estate plan.

Contact us to link your financial strategy to your estate plan.

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