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Life Expectancy and Plan Duration

The duration of a client’s modeled financial plan – or of the client’s life for purposes of that planning – is a factor that often receives little thought or consideration when we are putting together a financial plan. After all, the software automatically calculates a life expectancy based on the client’s date of birth and gender or, if married, based on the dates of birth and gender of both primary persons. That life expectancy is set at or near the eightieth percentile of the mortality tables, meaning that using the default would mean that the client would be expected to outlive eighty percent of his or her peers.

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Planning with Client Debt

Debt takes many forms and is present in most client financial situations. This tells us that finding the best way to address that debt in our planning is an important part of our task. As a first step, it is useful to understand that debt is a tool and so there really is not good or bad debt, just debt that may have a variety of impacts, both positive and negative, on our clients.

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Updating Plan Cash Flows

While a great deal of attention may be given to setting client goals and cash flows in the initial planning process, we often find clients and advisors alike taking only a cursory look at those items when it comes time for a plan update. When the advisor thinks the client’s goals and life have not really changed much over a few years, the plan may not be altered significantly beyond updating the account values and checking the results. If the plan remains in the comfort zone, everyone is satisfied and little remains to be done. If this describes your typical process, then both you and the client may be in for some surprises down the road.

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Plan Models and Asset Allocation Issues

One of the five major levers in a client’s Wealthcare plan is the client’s asset allocation. When we put together a plan with its cash flows and the dates and amounts specific to each of the major and minor goals it is critical to not overlook the role asset allocation plays in the calculation of the plan results and determination of the reasonably expected confidence level for our clients.

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Including Adult Children In Your Plan

Family dynamics are an important influence in the process of discovering a client’s goals and objectives and creating a wealth plan designed to support those goals. What clients want for their adult children, as well as what those children need, is an important subject for discussion and planning attention with your advisor. There are the children who are successful professionals, artists and athletes and those who are gamblers, criminals or simply lacking ambition and drive. There are special needs children and children who have suffered a disabling disease or injury. In short, there is no “normal” or typical child but a variety of children and circumstances an advisor can help a client address in their planning.

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When Should I Retire?

For those of us still working, choosing a retirement age is likely to be an issue we think is important but equally likely to be something we have not really decided. Probably the most important thing to know about this decision is that it will be – or should be – unique to you and your life. Usually, though the conversation about retirement starts with…

…What everyone else is doing

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A Primer On Section 529 Plans

The section 529 plan – named after a section of the Internal Revenue Code enacted less tha n twenty years ago – provides an effective way to save for college expenses. Today over ten million investors participate in these plans with more than $200 billion invested. If you have children or grandchildren with college plans for their future, it might be beneficial to look into the section 529 plan as a part of your funding strategy. Of course, you can contribute to a section 529 plan for your own higher education, too.

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What Financial Issues Do You Worry About?

One reason people seek financial advice is to become more comfortable with a variety of issues related to their finances. “I want to be able to sleep at night” is how one client described her focus on getting a solid wealth plan in place. Another client approach to financial issues has been to ask “what things should I be worrying about and what things do I not need to be concerned with in my finances?”

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Always Put the Oxygen Mask on Yourself First

If you’ve ever flown anywhere, you’re familiar with the pre-flight ritual where a cheery flight attendant explains how to use a seat belt and where the exits are located. They also explain that in the event of an emergency, you should put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping your children or others.

With that in mind, let me ask you a question:

Would you take money from your 401(k) to pay for your child’s college education?

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