Category Archives: Nicholas Scheibner

Why You Should Review Your “Digital Estate” Plan

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.

Taking a Closer Look at ETFs – the Importance of Liquidity when Investing

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: You may have heard about low- or no-expense-ratio Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), but cost is not the most important factor when investing in an ETF – it’s liquidity. You want to make sure that the ETF you’re investing in has a high daily volume of trading. Everything can seem great with an ETF when markets are going up, but when things are going down, and you want to sell out of your fund, you may take a big loss.

To illustrate this, picture a room with 100 people, and a door that can only fit one person at a time.  Imagine everyone wanting to leave the room at the same time.  As you can imagine, there would be a rush to the door, and it would be difficult for everyone to get out – a similar theory applies to ETFs.  If there are very few people trading an ETF on a daily basis, it can be difficult to sell at the price you would like. You want to invest in an ETF that has a lot of activity, (a large door), so that when you want to exit, you can at a reasonable price. 

For more information on ETFs, you can read our “What are some differences between Exchange-Traded Funds and Index Mutual Funds? ” article.

For any other questions, please reach out to your Baron Team

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week 2018

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The week of January 29th – Feb 2nd has been designated “Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.” The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) will be offering some free webinars and chats on this topic. To learn more about the free webinar offerings, click here.

According to the FTC, tax identity theft occurs when another person uses your social security number for the purpose of getting a job or a tax refund. You will usually know when you receive a letter or notice from the IRS saying that you filed more than one tax return or see on their records that you were paid by an unknown employer. To learn more, click here for the FTC’s article on Tax-Related Identity Theft. If you’re the victim of tax fraud, visit the IRS website.

On a related note – if you are interested to know how long you should be keeping your tax returns, please refer to our “What documents are safe to shred? What must I keep?” blog post.

Feel free to reach out to us for any questions.

Baron Financial Group Attends Autism New Jersey’s 35th Annual Conference

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:

  • Information
  • Education & Training
  • Public Policy
  • Awareness

“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 

 

Please contact the Baron team to learn more about our services for families with special needs.

Converting your IRA to a Roth IRA – What to Know

A 60-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  The main difference between a Traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and a Roth IRA is that with a Roth IRA, you pay taxes upfront, so that when you are in retirement, you can make withdrawals tax-free.

If you are considering converting your IRA to a Roth, here are a few things to consider:

Taxes: If you convert money from a traditional IRA to a Roth, your tax rate for the year you convert could go up.  If you decide to explore the conversion, please review with your accountant when to convert, as ideally, you would want to convert in a year that you expect your taxes to be lower.

RMDs: If you do decide to convert, this does provide a greater tax diversification to your overall portfolio, since you will potentially be reducing the required minimum distribution (RMD) amount from your IRA by converting IRA assets to Roth IRA assets.

The financial breakeven: The financial breakeven for a Roth is different for everyone, however, there are some general principles for the calculation – If tax rates increase in the future, this conversion may be worth more. If tax rates stay the same, or go lower, there may be less of a benefit. You may want to consider the opportunity cost of investing all monies today as opposed to using a portion for taxes.  The longer you live the more you may benefit from having the Roth assets grow tax-free.

Please review this information with your accountant and consult with your financial planner prior to converting.

For any further questions, please reach out to your Baron team.

What is the best way to plan for your assets to remain within your bloodlines?

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.

Continue reading What is the best way to plan for your assets to remain within your bloodlines?

The Pros and Cons of VA Loans

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The federal government has provided qualified veteran home buyers with a few mortgage-buying options to help purchase a home.  Below are some of the Pros and Cons for Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.

An important note VA loans are for primary residences only.

To determine if you are eligible for a VA loan, visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/HOMELOANS/purchaseco_eligibility.asp

The first step in getting a VA loan is to obtain a certificate of eligibility from the VA: http://www.benefits.va.gov/homeloans/purchaseco_certificate.asp

Pros:

  • 0% down payment, if desired
  • No Monthly Mortgage Insurance
  • Can generally qualify for a larger mortgage than a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan

Cons:

  • The only person that can co-sign is a spouse
  • An additional fee is rolled into the loan. Depending on the situation, first time use of a VA loan could be anywhere from 1.5% – 2.4%.  The next home mortgage could be anywhere from 1.25% – 3.3%.

Baron Financial Group consults with independent mortgage professionals in order to explore options available to clients.  If you are thinking of purchasing a new home, refinancing a mortgage, or consolidating a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), lean on us to help you through the process. Please contact your Baron Team if you have any questions.

The Pros and Cons of FHA Loans

A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner: The federal government has provided home buyers with a few mortgage-buying options to help purchase a home.  Below are some of the Pros and Cons for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans.

An important note:  FHA loans are for Primary Residences only.

Pros:

  • Flexible qualification criteria-Minimum down payment is 3.5%. Keep in mind that the less money you put down on a mortgage, the higher the monthly payments will be.
  • Anyone can cosign, if needed, including a friend or parent. However, from a practical perspective, usually the co-signor is a family member.  If a friend co-signs for you, you need to put at least 25% down.  Note: If you are purchasing a multi-family house, even if a family member co-signs, you still need to put at least 25% down. 

Cons:

  • Monthly Mortgage Insurance never goes away for low-down-payment mortgages. If the borrower puts at least 10% down, the mortgage insurance will remain for 11 years. If they put less than 10% down, it will remain for the life of the loan. 
  • An additional fee of 1.75% is required. This can also be paid at closing or rolled into the loan.

Baron Financial Group consults with independent mortgage professionals in order to explore options available to clients.  If you are thinking of purchasing a new home, refinancing a mortgage, or consolidating a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), lean on us to help you through the process. Please contact your Baron Team if you have any questions.

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.

What is the Best IRA for a Young Investor?

 A 30-second read by Nicholas Scheibner:  Before deciding which kind of IRA to open, the first thing you would want to do is check with your employer about 401(k) offerings. If your employer provides any company match into a 401(k) you will want to contribute to that account before you start an IRA. That way, you are able to take advantage of the “Free Money” provided by your employer. A Roth IRA is usually best for someone who is in a lower tax-bracket.  The idea is that you want to pay taxes in the lowest bracket possible.  So if you are making a lower income than you may in the future, you would want to pay taxes now, using a Roth.

Also, if you expect to be making less income now than in the future, a Roth is a good way to “prepay” taxes. You can’t avoid paying taxes, and the decision between a Roth and a Traditional IRA is, “pay taxes now or pay taxes in retirement?” Since a Roth provides tax-free withdrawals in retirement, the account provides for “tax diversification” that compliments your 401(k), traditional IRA, and taxable brokerage accounts.

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