A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: When a family member passes away, it is of course an emotional and stressful time. For most, a significant portion of the stress can stem from the financial decisions the deceased made, or did not make, during their life, and what needs to be carried out by the loved ones left behind. In many instances, a will is constructed to help direct some of the financial assets, per the request of the deceased. However, financial accounts are not the only stress inducers. Online and social media accounts are increasingly becoming more important to people. There are things you can do now to help your family put in order your “online life”, often referred to as a “Digital Estate”, when you are no longer around.
We suggest keeping a separate document with your will, containing any usernames and passwords to your online accounts. The most important item will be your list of email accounts. With access to your email accounts, a trusted family member can “reset/forgot password” most of your financial and social media accounts in order to close, or manage the accounts. Also – this can sometimes be a quicker way to stop any recurring payments for online services, instead of calling the company and proving the person has passed away.
If you are uncomfortable writing out all of your usernames and passwords, you can begin to use a “password manager” that will store all of your information in a secure digital vault. The only information your trustee will need is the username and password for the “password manager”.
Keep in mind, it is extremely important to watch over a deceased family member’s financial assets and credit, as a deceased person has a very high risk of becoming a victim of financial fraud and identity theft.
In order to prepare your family for what needs to be done towards end-of-life and once you have passed, we recommend reading some of our other estate planning posts. And again, do remember to consider all of the online, financial, billing, and social media accounts that will continue if you were to pass on.
Please reach out to your Baron Team with any estate planning questions.
We recognize that the financial planning challenges faced by families with special needs members are significant. When it comes to planning for the special needs community, the need for financial professionals who have comprehensive knowledge and experience is essential to meet the specific challenges of these families. We take great pride in helping families address today’s needs and plan for those that are likely to follow.
Nicholas Scheibner, CFP®, of Baron Financial Group, attended Autism New Jersey’s 35th Annual Conference on October 19th and 20th in Atlantic City. Sessions included government benefits, transitioning period for children out of school, and Special Needs trusts.
Autism New Jersey is the state’s leading autism advocacy organization, supporting families and professionals through their four service pillars:
Education & Training
“Autism New Jersey advocates, with a strong and unified voice, for appropriate and effective policies and services that will benefit children and adults with autism living in New Jersey. Autism New Jersey is a nonprofit agency committed to ensuring safe and fulfilling lives for individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals who support them.” -Autism New Jersey
A 60-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: When planning your estate, it is important to divide all of your accounts into two groups: accounts with designated beneficiaries and accounts with no designated beneficiaries. Examples of accounts with designated beneficiaries are 401(k)s, IRAs, transfer of death (TOD) accounts, and other retirement accounts. The designated beneficiary on an account bypasses your will. For example, if your will states that all of your money is to pass on to your child, but your 401(k) primary beneficiary is an ex-spouse, your ex-spouse will inherit the money from your 401(k). It is crucial that you review your beneficiaries on your accounts to make sure they agree with your desires.
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:
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.
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.?
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.
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.
Baron Financial Group is proud to announce that Nicholas Scheibner, a financial planner with the firm, has earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation. Nick assists the Wealth Management Principals at Baron in developing financial plans, retirement forecasts, and cash flow analyses for our clients.Nick is a graduate of William Paterson University where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Cotsakos College of Business Financial Planner program, one of the top schools in the country that offer the program. At William Paterson University, he started the first official student chapter of the Financial Planning Association, and was part of the winning team that took 1st place in the National Financial Planning Competition in Denver, CO.The CFP® certification identifies professionals who have met the high standards of competency and ethics established and enforced by the CFP® Board.CFP® professionals are required to act in their clients’ best interests and have met rigorous professional standards and have agreed to adhere to the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fairness, confidentiality, professionalism and diligence when dealing with clients.CFP® professionals have successfully completed financial planning coursework and have passed the CFP® Certification Examination covering the following areas:the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits, and estate planning.They also agree to meet ongoing continuing education requirements and to uphold CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards.“The CFP® mark truly serves as the gold standard for personal financial planning,” said CFP Board CEO Kevin R. Keller, CAE. “Just about anyone can use the term ‘financial planner.’ But only those individuals who have passed a rigorous set of criteria and meet our strict ethical qualifications can call themselves a CFP® professional.”About Baron Financial Group (www.baron-financial.com)The Baron Financial Group (BFG) is an independent Fee-Only Wealth Management and financial planning firm with offices in Fair Lawn and Morristown, New Jersey, New York, New York, and Sarasota, Florida. The firm is a Registered Investment Advisor offering objective personal financial advice to individuals without the burden of commissions.