Baron Financial Group Principals recognized as “Five Star Wealth Managers” for 2017

The Five Star award, administered by Five Star Professional,  recognizes service professionals who provide quality services to their clients.

Baron Financial Group is proud to announce that Principals, Victor Cannillo and Anthony Benante, are recognized as 2017 Five Star Wealth Managers in New Jersey.  They are proud to be multi-year award recipients. The list of recipients appears in the January 2017 issue of New Jersey Monthly magazine. 

Sarasota-based Principal, Anthony Benante,  also received the 2016 Five Star Wealth Manager award in Sarasota, as seen in Sarasota Magazine, in the November 2016 issue.  This is the 3rd year in a row Anthony received this honor. 

The Five Star Professional research team applies a vigorous research and evaluation process to identify service professionals who provide quality services to their clients. Professionals do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star award winners. Five Star Professional follows standard survey practices used by other professional research organizations. The research also includes a regulatory review to provide necessary checks and balances.

Click here for a list of selection criteria and research methodology.

Baron Financial Group is committed to putting clients’ interests first, providing independent and transparent advice, by using a true team approach.  

Do You Have a Will? 3 Basic Estate Planning Documents You Should Have

A 60-second read by Victor Cannillo:  If you haven’t completed your estate planning documents yet, consider making it one of your goals for the New Year.

The beginning of a new year is a great time to start crossing off tasks on your list. Having your estate planning documents in place can help to prevent issues down the road and ensures that your specific wants and wishes will be carried out. For example, did you know that technically, everyone has a will? The question is do you have a personalized will or the standard state version?

Here are the 3 most basic estate documents you should have:

  1. A Last Will and Testament
    A document dictating how you would like your assets to be dispersed after death; to whom do you want your assets to pass? Having a Will safeguards your wishes. If you die without having a Will in place, the State will decide who is to inherit from your estate. The Will can also be useful to save estate taxes, create trusts for children and establish guardians for minor children.

  2. A Durable Power of Attorney
    A document in which you give another person the authority to act on your behalf. If you were ever to become incapacitated, who would you feel comfortable standing-in on your behalf when it comes to your finances, signing your checks, etc.?

  3. A Living Will (also known as an Advanced Medical Directive)
    A document outlining your end-of-life medical wishes if you are not conscious to make those decisions for yourself. What medical actions do you want to take place? It may also allow you to appoint a Health Care Representative to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.

For more specific information on these documents and to start the process of completing them, contact an estate attorney. Make sure he or she specializes in estate law. If you would like assistance finding an estate attorney that fits your specific profile, feel free to reach out to your Baron team.

5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End

A 90-second read by Anthony Benante:  What 5 things should you be thinking about at the end of the year when it comes to your finances?

1. Review your personal budget and commit to a savings plan for 2017

a. On January 1, write down the balance in your checking account. Do this on the first of the month for the next three months. After you incorporate your income for the period, as well as take note of any cash withdrawals from other accounts, you can get a general sense of what your monthly spending is.

b. We work directly with our clients at Baron to help understand how their budget and all of their financial assets work together.  If you would like a budget sheet (either electronic or hard-copy), let us know. 

2. Review your long-term investment strategy

a. Is the long-term strategy in place for you still right for your specific circumstance? Are you going to be making any large purchases coming up in the New Year? Are you thinking about revisiting your risk tolerance – becoming more aggressive or conservative?

b. At Baron, we use a customized approach to design client portfolios.  We not only consider potential return, but also risk, as well as how the investments complement each other.  Having a long-term investment strategy is critical for investing success and provides a guide for when markets act unexpectedly or make a major directional move.

Continue reading 5 Financial Actions to Consider at Year-End

Good Cheer and the Spirit of the Season!

In the spirit of the season, a donation was made in honor of Baron Financial Group clients and friends to the Fair Lawn Food Pantry, to help those in need in the community.

Our clients completed our recent survey, giving us invaluable information to help us enhance the service that we provide. Baron was pleased to donate to the following charities, chosen by and in honor of the winner of the survey drawing.

  • Oasis: A Haven for Women and Children, Paterson, NJ
    Oasis currently serves those fighting poverty by meeting numerous basic needs. Read more at oasisnj.org.
  • Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
    Catherine’s life was taken at the age of six at Sandy Hook Elementary but her legacy of kindness will live on. Read more at cvhfoundation.org.

We are committed to making the community a better place. Wishing  everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

10 Long-Term Care Terms You Should Know

A 60-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: As people are living longer, paying for health care costs is becoming a top concern.  Many people are beginning to consider if a Long-Term Care Insurance policy is best for them. 

Before you look at purchasing a policy, here are ten terms that you should know:

  1. Elimination Period: Most Long-Term Care policies require you to “pay your own way” for a specified number of days (generally ranging between zero and 120 days) before an insurance company will begin to pay benefits.
  2. Waiver of Premium – When you begin receiving coverage, the premium will be waived. For a shared policy, if one person goes on claim (begins receiving coverage), the premium would be waived only for that person.
  3. Joint Waiver of Premium – If one person goes on claim, all premiums stop.
  4. Survivor Waiver of Premium – If one passes away, the survivor’s premium would be waived.
  5. Flex Credit – If the company does well on their investments, they may pay down your premium or you can save the extra for waiver of premium.
  6. Activities of Daily Living – Assistance with 2 of the 6 activities of Daily Living is required for most Long-Term Care policies to become active: Dressing, Eating, Transferring, Toileting, Bathing, Continence.
  7. Inflation Protection: Since costs inevitably increase each year due to inflation, most policies will offer a provision that will allow your daily benefits to increase annually by a certain percentage.
  8. Portability: The policies should be portable between states. Some will cover worldwide.
  9. Home Care: Does the policy offer home-care coverage? Some companies offer it as a rider to the policy for an additional premium.
  10. Pooled/Shared Policy: This is a policy that can be used between couples.  The benefit can apply to either one or both spouses.

Please lean on us when considering a long-term care policy.  We can help you go through the pros and cons of the decision.  We can also help you determine how much you can afford in yearly premiums.

College and Financial Aid When Parents are Divorced

A 30-second read by the Baron Team: For students with divorced parents who live separately, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) asks that you fill out financial information in regards to the custodial parent. For FAFSA, the custodial parent is the parent who the child has lived with the most over the last twelve months.

Provided that the ex-spouse is the non-custodial parent:

  • Many private colleges assume that the non-custodial parent could be a possible source of funding, and therefore require that they fill out a supplemental financial aid document.
  • In that case, any financial support the non-custodial parent may give would only affect financial aid provided by the school, not the student’s federal and/or state aid benefits.

For more information, you can go to FinAid.org and StudentAid.gov

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

We are thankful for …

At Baron Financial Group, we are thankful for you, our clients, family and friends!

As is the firm’s practice at Thanksgiving, a donation is made to our local food pantry, to help those in need in the community. We recognize that there are members of the community who are not as fortunate as others, who need help to meet the most basic of needs. Our purpose is to help our clients reach their financial goals and to secure a better future for them and their families. In keeping with our philosophy, we are committed to making the community a better place.

If you would like to join Baron and contribute to the Fair Lawn Food Pantry, you can send a check, payable to “Fair Lawn Human Services Trust”, or send a food or personal product donation to:

Fair Lawn Health and Human Services
8-01 Fair Lawn Ave.
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410

It is our hope that together, we can look forward to a future of promise for all!

Are Appreciated Investments a Part of Your Philanthropic Strategy?

A 45-second read by the Baron Team: Did you know that your appreciated investments could be among the best items to give to your favorite charity to get maximum tax benefits? Donating an appreciated investment instead of cash can qualify you for two tax breaks; you will get a charitable deduction for the current value of the investment and you will avoid having to pay capital gains taxes on the increased value of the investments.

So the next time you plan on donating cash or checks to an organization, you may want to consider some other options:

1) Does the charity of your choice have the resources or capabilities to accept gifts of appreciated investments directly?

 2) For Federal Income Taxes, if you are older than 70 ½, consider a qualified charitable distribution (QCD).

A QCD “is generally a nontaxable distribution made directly by the trustee of your IRA (other than a SEP or SIMPLE IRA) to an organization eligible to receive tax deductible contributions” (IRS pub. 590b). For more information on QCD’s, refer to page 13 of IRS Publication 590b.

Any further questions regarding charitable donations, feel free to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

Where is the Best Place to Put My Emergency Funds? How Much is Enough?

A 60-second read by Anthony Benante:  You want to put your emergency funds in an account where the funds are easily accessible and not exposed to risk.  Examples include traditional bank accounts that carry FDIC insurance (savings, checking, etc.).  The current FDIC insurance limit is $250,000 (as of October 2016), so you should structure your accounts appropriately to ensure your emergency funds are protected.  You don’t want your emergency funds exposed to volatility, because it is possible you may need access to the funds when markets are experiencing volatility. If you put emergency funds in a risk asset (an investment that can change in value, such as a stock), it could wind-up causing you two financial problems, as opposed to having one financial solution.

How much you put in your emergency fund really depends on your specific situation, the stability of your job, your monthly budget and the consideration of all financial resources available. Typically, you want to put 6 to12 months of your salary away. If you are in a risky job or the majority of your income is from commissions or bonuses, the emergency fund may need to be more. Please contact us at Baron if you would like help in determining an appropriate amount for an emergency fund that would be best for your specific circumstance.

Medicare & Retirement Planning Webinar

Baron Financial Group’s Investment Committee provides an educational webinar on financial planning and investment management.  Medicare Consultant and guest presenter Mary Jean Cullen (MedicareAssist, LLC) discusses how Medicare works.  It is important to keep in mind that annual enrollment is open now through December 7th.

This presentation was first held at the September 13, 2016 Wine & Wealth event for our clients.

The webinar includes the following topics:

  • Beware of Market Doomsayers (0:00 -7:28) – Victor Cannillo
  • Asset Allocation and Diversification (7:30-15:53)   – Anthony Benante
  • Customized Financial Planning  (15:56-19:12) –  Nicholas Scheibner
  • What Role Does Life Expectancy Play in Retirement Planning? (19:13-23:15) – James Shagawat
  • Choosing A Medicare Plan: Learn What You Need To Know Prior and During Your Medicare Years    (23:30-51:44)  – Mary Jeanne Cullen

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Baron Financial Group team.

High Stability Wealth Management