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My Blog


ESTATE ASSET TRANSFERS---Insufficient & Ineffective Planning Prolongs the Process

Posted on December 1, 2016 at 8:32 PM Comments comments (9)
It has started to happen more often.  Folks are passing away and increasingly their loved ones are frustrated with the process of taking care of the financial assets left behind. 
The deceased expected and thought one thing, but in reality the survivors are going through a stressful, drawn out process to get things finalized.

Could the process have been made easier? Yes, in most cases. 
Why didn't they plan for this? They may have but not as efficiently as they expected.
Why does the family have this headache compounded with losing a loved one?  Improper use of tools for the job.

I can clear snow with a paintbrush, but a shovel will likely be more efficient.  The paintbrush will still work though.  It will take longer and be more frustrating.

How we structure our assets can make a smoother transition for our loved ones, or a long drawn out affair over several years......Think i'm exaggerating?  Ask around with folks who've lost a loved one in the last few years.  More often than not, they have some headache stories that may have been avoided or at least minimized by better structuring.

Depending on your province of residence, probate fees can be horrendous.  Alberta is one of the fortunate ones where probate is inexpensive, but the time for the process can be quite drawn out sometimes.

Is there a way to structure your affairs so things can be disbursed in a private, efficient and timely way?  Yes.

We can help you with that.

Strategic Planning

Posted on March 2, 2016 at 10:12 AM Comments comments (3)
During a progress check meeting in January, a client revealed to me how appreciative he and his wife was of my service.  It was very heartwarming to me and confirmed that I am doing the proper job of planning strategically.

On a previous meeting they had revealed that one of their biggest concerns was paying down their mortgage.  I asked some questions around that and discovered that it was more important to be in control as opposed to just paying down that particular debt.  

I introduced them to the Manulife One product and showed them the flexibility that it presented, while allowing them the opportunity at any time to deposit as much as they would like (no up to 25% cap) in order to achieve that goal. I also explained that if things don't go as planned, they have the option to then lower payments back to just the interest and that this was important as the future was uncertain.

After careful consideration, they decided to go with the Manulife One product.  They continued the payments they were used to and when more was available, they put down additional deposits.  They told me they could see a bigger difference in the overall debt by using this product and loved the control to do it at their convenience.

However, the most important part of this decision showed up when he lost his job.  He told me he was so happy they had implemented this product as his old mortgage would have been tougher to make changes.  While they loved all the flexibility, none became more important than the ability to just pay the interest without calling anyone, making any appointments to change or restructuring at the time.  They simply adjusted their payments to match their new reality. They were so happy they had chosen this product and thanked me continually.  It made me feel very proud of the job I did. 

You see; part of our strategic plan includes flexibility for when things go wrong.  In Alberta, a lot of folks have lost jobs.  How much scrambling have they had to do to meet their obligations?  Have you ever tried to apply for a financial product after losing your job?  Is that the easiest time to get a yes?  Do you get the rates you would prefer in a situation like that?  Do you even get the product you need at the time? Most folks think that it won't happen to me.  Access to products at this time is similar to access for new insurance.  The time you really need the product is not the best time to apply.  It will likely result in a no, cost more or come with conditions.

Situations like this reinforce to me that what I and others like myself do for our clients is so important and critical to their and our communities' financial well being.  I look forward to helping many more families and individuals make better financial choices.

We appreciate this family and others who have placed their confidence in us.  I like to remind prospective clients that while it may be easier to stay as you are, it may not be the best situation for your family.  My value shows up more in situations like this.  We do sales and servicing.  The servicing is so much more important to a family as time goes by.  I believe this is where we shine.  We don't just get you products and disappear.  We're here for continual advice and help when needed.  We proactively contact our clients for progress check meetings.  We welcome the opportunity to make you a part of that too.

Contact us for a no obligation consult. 

Online Insurance Purchases--Convenient, But Not Always as Expected

Posted on November 16, 2015 at 8:19 PM Comments comments (4)
As more things are done online, the convenience is undeniable.  If you don't have to schedule an appointment to make a purchase, take time out, drive to a location and sit (sometimes uncomfortably) with a stranger, why bother?  If you're an early riser or a night owl, why try to fit your needs within certain work hours?

I had a client ask me a couple of months back to quote her some permanent insurance for her and her spouse.  They were just looking for funeral coverage.  I did my research and got back to her with some quotes.  She thanked me and said she would discuss with her husband, then let me know. 

After 3 weeks had passed, I contacted her and was told they would leave it for now as the cost was higher than she anticipated.  I followed up today to discover that she had purchased  online for both of them and the price she told me was shockingly low for a permanent solution.   

I look at some of these for comparison from time to time and in my mind there was just no way.  I went to the company site she purchased from, input their info and got higher rates than I had quoted.  I looked at the product and they got less options than what I offered.  They would be paying premiums for an extra 7 and 12 years longer than what I had quoted.  Confused by this, I called her again to tell her the numbers I got.  She had one of the policies handy and looked at the details.  She had purchased 10yr terms for both of them.  I asked her to look at the renewal rates in 10yrs (something I discuss with each client who purchases from me), and she was shocked at how much the increase would be.  Not only that, but the product would run out 3 yrs after renewal for her husband as it could not be carried on past age 80.  This product was not convertible to a permanent solution either so they would be stuck with no insurance if they had longevity past age 80. 

His renewal would be 10 times the premium he's paying now.  While not unusual, this is not something they looked at with an online purchase.  They had conveniently purchased this product that does not address their needs the way they expect. I could have also sold them a 10yr term, but the renewal rates would be discussed in detail. Also, I would have sold them a policy with the option to convert to a permanent solution before age 70. The exercising of this option would have been discussed so they won't possibly outlive their coverage.

Am I saying that online purchases are a bad thing?  Of course not.  I have bought things online myself....T-shirts, hats, cell phone cases, airline and concert tickets etc.  There are some things that I won't buy least not without an expert with whom I have established some trust. Vehicles, houses and life insurance (not without knowing the products well). 

When purchasing a vehicle, I need to sit in it and see how I fit.  I needs to feel the layout and the convenience of reaching accessories and pedals.  When purchasing a house, I want to walk in it (or the show-home if building).  I want to get a better sense of layout and feel.  When i'm buying home and auto insurance (I won't use life insurance since this is my wheelhouse), I want to speak with a broker who can explain the product to me. I do not buy online without consultation because I recognize that even though convenient, there are times I need things explained with more detail than offered or put in everyday terms.  For such things, I prefer to speak with someone who can answer my questions.  Again, this works quite well for some and that's great. 

I recognize that this is a personal decision and many will disagree.  There are many who make these purchases and are quite happy that way. I have family members who purchase shoes online and it works quite well for them.  My point is that depending on what you need, this can work well for some.  I have an odd fit so everything needs to be tried on.  While the online purchase would be convenient, it would not properly suit my longer term need...pain, possible blisters etc could be some convenience side effects.  

With insurance, I let my clients know what they're purchasing.  Will it do for you what you need now and down the road?  While this may make a sale take longer, I feel educating my clients with this process works out better for them and for me.  Is that as convenient as buying online?  Definitely not.  Is the time worth the process for something so important?
Let me be clear.  I have participated in online sales with my clients.  It can be an awesome tool for the busy or inconveniently located person. I explain options and help in the proper product selection and placement.  An online platform in such a situation works very well for us, be it someone in a remote location, different city or just too busy to physically get together.
I help clients make the proper, customized purchase for their situation.  I will place insurance that covers the needs now and offers viable options in the future.  This may be less convenient, but it is quite likely you will get a better fit.
I look forward to helping you take care of your insurance or in person.

Uncertainty....What now?

Posted on April 29, 2015 at 7:43 PM Comments comments (3)
It has been up and down here in our neck of the woods in Alberta.  Low oil prices have had a chain reaction and led to a slowdown.  Projects have been put on hold, or less emphasis to get done soon. This has shown up as loss of bonuses, reduced work and loss of jobs.  Things were humming along so nicely and someone put the brakes on.

Is it time to panic?  I don't think so, but it should be time to reassess.  For those who have felt the sting of layoffs, no or much lower bonuses, there are adjustments that need to be made and some of them are time sensitive. 

Did you have benefits at work?  Did you realize you have a limited time to port these benefits if your current situation leaves you without?  You will not have the exact coverage you were used to but the advantage is you won't have to medically qualify for these continuation programs.  That could mean the difference between having some coverage and not.

Life insurance through your current job can be ported as well (with certain limits).  The plus again is that up to those limits, you don't have to medically qualify and do underwriting which can be huge depending on your health, lifestyle and habits.  This again needs to be done in a timely manner.

Revisiting diversification of investments is also a good idea.  I spoke to some clients last year before lower oil prices and encouraged meeting and setting up a plan including diversification.  This was not just for the investments, but also by asset class.  The general consensus was why waste time doing that when they could just buy company stock and outperform the market.  Having all your eggs in one basket comes to mind.  Lower oil prices have tipped that basket to the side and quite a few eggs have broken. 

While the overall market was positive in 2014, a lot of companies didn't enjoy the same results.  Things do happen in cycles, but better planning can mitigate certain flows. 

Let's say I had all my money invested in my company stock.  I had a few years of great returns.  I was looking forward to my usual sizeable bonus as I had some financial commitments for those funds already earmarked.  Then, oil prices drop, there is no bonus and I get laid off.  Is this a possible scenario?  Now, when I am in need of some funds, my company stock is much lower than I anticipated, I have no bonus and my severance will run out soon.  My likelihood of getting rehired soon is less than a few years ago and if I do get rehired, I probably won't be making the income I was before. I already adjusted my lifestyle to my old income.  I need funds so I may be redeeming investments valued much lower than I would like to but my choices now are limited since the choices I made earlier were not as practical as they should have been.

I think the above scenario comes close to what a few people have experienced.  The good news is that it's not the end of the world.  These situations are where your advisor shows you his/her value. 

Do you have pensions floating around from your last job or even a few jobs ago?  Why not sit down with someone such as myself and get customized advice for your situation.  Let us make a plan of action on how to weather the storm and navigate future waters. 

We offer a no obligation, complimentary assessment of your financial situation.  We look forward to meeting and working with you.  Let us help you navigate the current waters and prepare for the future. 

Will there be uncertain times?  Definitely!  Can you be better prepared?

We can be reached at 587-390-7359 or 403-861-9041. 
Visit our website at  Email us at [email protected]