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From new births to retirement, being prepared for major life events can change your future in dramatic ways. With Naples Wealth Planning you can benefit from our loyal commitment to execute on your needs

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Long-term planning for major life events

Each phase of life has its unique challenges, and some of those are financial. Circumstances and needs change over time, each different and complicated in its own way. Whether you’re trying to decide on a critical retirement decision, planning on becoming a Florida resident or caring for your parents in their later years, you’ll be able to make better choices for life events if you’re well-informed. Let us help you to build an understanding of the various challenges and opportunities you’re likely to face in the years to come.

People relocating from high-tax states seek information on establishing Florida residency. We’re here to help with these life events. Although we are not attorneys, we are an experienced resource for the many advantages of Florida residency. For new Floridians who wish to update their wills, trusts, or other estate documents according to Florida law, we refer them to a board-certified Florida lawyer. Importantly, once our client’s new legal documents are drawn up, our team will assist directly in re-titling applicable investment accounts, annuities, or other investments, as needed to ensure your plan is properly in place.

When you first consider a new job, you’ll likely focus on your salary, but your total benefits package can make a huge impact on your financial life. Understanding your available benefits during these life events is essential, and we can help you evaluate each one in full detail.

RETIREMENT

Pensions
Otherwise known as defined benefit plans, these define the financial benefit you would receive in retirement upfront. Be sure you understand the details of your plan, including eligibility requirements, vesting period and how the length of service affects benefits.

These plans are growing rare, so if you’re offered one, count yourself lucky. Instead, workplace retirement plans (or defined contribution plans) are more common today. These plans define how much will be contributed to your savings and usually come with tax advantages. They are named after the parts of the tax code that define them, such as 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans.

Generally, the type you are offered depends on the type of organization you work for, as defined by the tax code. Take the time to understand how they work to ensure that you make the most of it.

Traditional 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans
These tax-deferred options allow you to make contributions before you pay taxes. The money you contribute does not count toward your taxable income and decreases the net impact of taxes on your take-home pay.

Your workplace savings plan can be a significant source of retirement income, but only if you participate. The sooner you begin making contributions, the more time your money has to grow.

Roth 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plans
Contributions come out of your paycheck after you pay taxes, but your withdrawals will be tax-free when you retire – as long as you meet the requirements.

OTHER BENEFITS

Company match or profit sharing
Many employee retirement plans are directly matched up to a percentage of their contribution, or through a profit-sharing plan contribution. These valuable benefits can give your retirement savings a nice boost to your potential wealth in the future. Here are some more things you should consider…

Bonuses
Does your offer include any kind of bonus? If so, it’s best to think ahead on how you can best apply that extra money to retirement savings, a child’s education fund, or other major investments.

Insurance
Insurance offered through your company often provides lower groups rates and employer subsidies.

Health insurance
As healthcare costs continue to rise, an employer’s health insurance benefits only grow more valuable. When examining your insurance plan options, there are a few things to consider: how much would each plan cost you? How much of each plan would your employer subsidize?

Life insurance
If your new employer offers life insurance, see if it provides a cash value that can be borrowed against future needs, such as retirement income. Supplemental insurance may also available through your employer to better serve your financial needs.
No matter what life insurance plan(s) your employer may provide, it should not replace your own permanent insurance. After all, if you leave your job, you probably won’t be able to take their policy with you.

Disability insurance
Short-term or long-term disability insurance can be indispensable since they provide you with an income if you can’t work due to injury or illness. If your employer doesn’t offer it, you may want to buy a policy yourself.

Company stock
Whether as a stock option or an employee stock purchase plan, acquiring company stock can become a considerable investment opportunity. As is true with any stock, be careful to avoid investing too heavily and make sure you keep a well-diversified portfolio.

Before the wedding bells ring, you and your partner should establish your financial needs, and how you can achieve them together.

An important first step to these life events is to have an open discussion about your short- and long-term financial goals. Understanding each other’s vision for the future can help ensure that both of you are joining efforts to bring these goals into fruition. It may not seem romantic, but a shared outlook and plan for your future together can spare you heavy financial conversations later, so you can focus on more enjoyable pursuits.

Remember, everyone has their own style of managing money. Knowing your partner’s financial mindset will help you leverage your individual strengths and work together more effectively. Here are some questions you and your partner should discuss together:

Should we have joint bank accounts, separate accounts, or both?

A joint account can be easier to manage, you will likely pay fewer fees. On the other hand, it takes both of you to properly maintain a budget, and for some couples, this can be a challenge.

For many couples, a combination of joint and separate accounts works provides a good balance.

Should we apply jointly for credit cards and loans?

The answer to this question depends on each of your credit ratings. Your joint account is only as credit-worthy as your weakest score, so if one of you has a poor credit history, it may affect your eligibility and interest rates.

Of course, if one of you applies for an individual credit card or loan, only his or her score will be considered, but also has sole liability for the balance.

Will both of you buy a house in the next few years?

It takes time to restore a weak credit score, so check both of yours regularly with the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. With shared resources, you can work together to pay off debt, improve the lower of your two scores, and use your combined credit strategically.

Does either of us have a large amount of debt?

You are not legally liable for each other’s pre-marriage debt unless you jointly refinance with a new loan together or consolidate credit card debt together. Either way, it’s best to make a plan now rather than be surprised by unexpected bills.

Who will be in charge of budgeting and paying bills?

Will this task fall to one of you, or will you take on this responsibility together? Be sure that you establish a reliable system that works to avoid missed or double payments.

Do you want to have children?

If you intend to have children, what kind of education do you want to provide, and how will you fund it? Establishing a 529 College Savings Plan is a tax-advantaged way to save for future education, and the sooner you start, the better.

How will we save for retirement?

Are you both participating in your employers’ retirement savings plans? Will either of you receive a pension? Clarify your combined retirement income sources early to fill any income gaps.

The bottom line…

A sound financial foundation for your future can be the best wedding gift you give each other. So don’t wait – talk about your financial plans today so you can make them a reality tomorrow.

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Home sweet home. For something so symbolic of everyday security, the complexities of homeownership can make anyone feel uncomfortable. Here are a few things to consider ahead of time.

MORTGAGE RATES

People typically think in terms of how much they can afford, but that number depends on several other questions based on your individual situation. The short answer: 21/2 times your annual income is a comfortable amount for many people

Another rule of thumb people use is to buy as much house as you can afford, even if it means bag lunches and reduced vacations for a few years.  The reason? Typically, your income will grow as fast as (or faster than) inflation, making what’s a stretch today a more comfortable amount tomorrow. Obviously, there is no guarantee to this approach, and a growing family will also add to your expenses, so it comes down to your confidence level about the future. You will want to be prepared to weather the unexpected.

Once you’ve decided how much house you can afford, it’s time to think about financing. There are two main types of mortgages:

  • Fixed rate

You pay a set interest rate for a set number of years.

  • Adjustable rate (ARM)

Your interest rate will be set for a fixed amount of time (such as five or seven years) then will adjust annually according to benchmark rates.

NOTE: Interest rates can rise. Think carefully about an ARM unless you’re sure you won’t be staying in your house for long.

When you’re ready to apply, your lender will likely need the following:

  • Your credit report – check this and correct any inaccuracies before you apply.
  • The name and address of your bank as well as account numbers and statements for the past three months
  • Pay stubs, W-2 withholding forms or other proof of employment and income
  • Balance sheets and tax returns if you’re self-employed
  • Investment statements for the past three months
  • Information on consumer debt (account numbers and amounts due)

PREQUALIFICATION VS. PREAPPROVAL VS. COMMITMENT

What’s the difference between getting a prequalification letter, a preapproval letter, and a loan commitment letter? A lot, actually.

  • Prequalification does not guarantee that you’ll get the mortgage you’re looking for; it’s simply an estimate of how much you might be qualified to borrow.
  • Preapproval, on the other hand, is a much more involved process that only happens after you apply for the mortgage. It is essentially conditional approval for a specific dollar amount – but still not 100% guaranteed.
  • A commitment is when your lender is certain it will give you the mortgage. These days, many sellers will not consider offers unless the buyer has a commitment letter in hand.

CLOSING COSTS

Closing costs are the fees incurred when finalizing a mortgage agreement. Some are known beforehand, and some are not. Many first-time buyers are surprised by the size and number of checks to be written, even when they have an estimate from the lender beforehand. Common closing costs include:

  • Attorney’s fees that pay for preparing and reviewing all the documents needed to close the loan
  • Points which are equal to 1% of the loan amount borrowed. Buying points can help reduce your mortgage rate and your monthly payment amount.
  • A recording fee that your town/county charges for reporting a real estate purchase or sale into the public record.
  • A title search fee to make sure the buyer is purchasing the house from the legal owner and there are no liens, overdue special assessments or other outstanding claims on the property.
  • An appraisal fee since the lender needs to determine if the selling price is justified by recent sales of comparable properties.
  • Lender’s fees for loan or document preparation and processing by the lender.

These closing costs can vary quite a bit, and many mortgage brokers will offer to pay closing costs in exchange for a higher rate. In these cases, you’ll want to find a good balance between the interest rate and closing costs since the wrong move can add up to thousands of dollars.

INSURANCE

There are three types of insurance to seriously consider when buying a home. Together, they can help protect you, your family and your real estate investment from detrimental life events.

  • Homeowners insurance

Most mortgage lenders require homeowner’s insurance, but even if you buy the house outright, homeowners’ insurance can help protect you against loss due to fire, burglary, lawsuits, and other unforeseen events.

  • Life insurance

Think of life insurance as a homeowner’s safety net: it can help your family make mortgage payments and keep the home should the unthinkable occur. Even in a single-income household, all adults should be insured. Replacing the work of a stay-at-home caregiver can have a significant impact on your family’s finances.

  • Disability income insurance

In the event you are unable to work and lose your income, disability income insurance may provide the funds you need to remain in your home.

Begin insurance planning 

Helping your parents manage their finances can be a sensitive topic. After all, it’s not easy to give control of your finances to someone else. Having the discussion well before the need arises can lay the groundwork for future life events and provide you the information you may need later.

Work with your parents to establish a budget designed to make their assets last as long as possible. Remember to include:

  • Income sources

Retirement accounts, Social Security and disability benefits

  • Financial assets

Bank accounts, investments, life insurance, and cash

  • Bills

Utilities, services, and subscriptions

  • Real estate

Homes, investment properties, and vacation properties

  • Other assets

Automobiles, boats, and inheritances

  • Liabilities

Mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and car loans

LEGAL ISSUES

To protect your parents’ interests (as well as your own), you should take the following legal preparations in case they are needed:

  • Joint bank account ownership

This allows you to act on your parents’ behalf and access funds for their care in an emergency.

  • A Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) for Finances

This allows your parents to give you the legal authority and make all financial decisions on their behalf.

  • A Health Care Power of Attorney

This allows your parents to give you the legal right to make decisions regarding their medical treatment when they are temporarily or permanently unable to make their own.

  • A living will

This directs medical professionals to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment if, for example, your parents are diagnosed with a terminal condition and no longer able to state their preferences.

PAYING FOR HEALTHCARE AND LONG-TERM LIFE EVENTS

You and your parents should plan on where funds will come from when you need to pay for health expenses and long-term care down the road. Try and have a conversation early and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

If your parents 65 or older, Medicare can be a big help. Private supplemental insurance – known as Medigap – may cover many things Medicare won’t. Together, Medicare and Medigap can provide fairly comprehensive coverage.

For seniors who are disabled or qualify as low-income, Medicaid is also an option for funding medical care. Eligibility requirements are intricate, so you should speak with a Medicaid planning specialist before applying. Typically, there are three ways to pay for long-term care:

From savings

Before paying out of pocket, check to see if you or your parents qualify for assistance – as a rule, only turn to your savings only if you have to.

Government Benefits

If your parents have little income and few assets, Medicaid may pay for their nursing home care. Medicare can help cover short-term nursing home stays for the purpose of rehabilitation after a period of hospitalization. Parents who are veterans may be eligible for care in a VA facility.

Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI)

The peace of mind offered by LTCI may well be worth the premiums. Since premiums may rise with age, try and purchase one as early as possible. Among other provisions, pay close attention to the daily benefit – be sure it covers as much of the nursing home care costs as possible.

If you provide more than half of a parent’s support, you may qualify for a tax exemption by claiming them as your dependents. You may also be able to claim a federal tax credit for a portion of the cost of an in-home daycare.

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