How to Know How Much Life Insurance You Need

How to Know How Much Life Insurance You Need

An important part of responsible financial planning is to protect yourself against risk events that can be financially devastating. One such event is a premature death. When trying to understand how much life insurance you should own, you should take into consideration two things: 1) What lump-sum expenses you might want paid for, for example a mortgage, college tuition costs, other debts, and funeral expenses, and 2) Any income that you and/or a survivor might want replaced, such as a prior salary. Generally you don’t want this salary to be replaced indefinitely, but rather a common practice is to replace it until the survivor reaches retirement age. This calculation is a bit too complex to work out here, but the proper way to calculate this income need is to ensure that it inflates each year and will keep pace with inflation. One very crude way to get a ballpark estimate of how much life insurance it would take to create an income stream is simply to capitalize an income need. For example, if you think that you need $2,000 a month in replaced income ($24k a year), then simply divide $24,000 by an interest rate at which you think you could invest the funds to spin off $2,000 a month in income. So, $24,000 divided by 8% results in a capital need of $300k. To put this differently, if you invested $300,000 at 8%, it could generate $2,000 a month in income. Again, this is very crude and inaccurate, and it shouldn’t be used for anything more than rough estimates (it’s inaccurate because it doesn’t take into account taxes...
Don’t Be Too Quick to Judge Medicaid: You Might Need It in Retirement

Don’t Be Too Quick to Judge Medicaid: You Might Need It in Retirement

Long-term care planning is an important part of retirement planning and something we regularly talk to our clients about. One thing people often don’t realize, as Jordan Rau in this helpful NY Times article points out, is that Medicaid plays a vital role in long-term care planning and currently accounts for 42 percent of Medicaid expenditures. Some also don’t realize, as Rau continues, that many recipients “entered old age solidly middle class but turned to Medicaid, which was once thought of as a government program exclusively for the poor, after exhausting their insurance and assets.” Medicaid, then, isn’t a merely a system for the poor who need food assistance, but rather it’s an important social safety-net for retirees who can’t keep up with the pace of health care costs: A combination of longer life spans and spiraling health care costs has left an estimated 64 percent of the Americans in nursing homes dependent on Medicaid. In Alaska, Mississippi and West Virginia, Medicaid was the primary payer for three-quarters or more of nursing home residents in 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.   “People are simply outliving their relatives and their resources, and fortunately, Medicaid has been there,” said Mark Parkinson, the president of the American Health Care Association, a national nursing home industry group. With all of the proposed changes taking place in congress, the full article in the NY Times is worth reading, and I think it provides a helpful perspective on the need for health care reform and the need for responsible, proactive retirement...
Before You Pay for Financial Advice, Read This Guide via The NY Times

Before You Pay for Financial Advice, Read This Guide via The NY Times

Earlier this year our firm was featured in The New York Times in an article about fees and the fiduciary rule. Our thoughts in that article were cited this week in another NY Times article about what consumers need to know before paying for financial advice. Generally I thought the piece was helpful and accurate. I will say that consumers need to be chary of hiring a robo-adviser, which is something the article points out as an option to investors. Investing is best done in the context of a financial plan, and a robo-adviser simply cannot give the kind of holistic and adaptable advice that is often necessary for financial success (e.g. When was the last time a robo-adviser monitored a portfolio with a keen eye so that an appropriate amount was converted to a Roth IRA?). Additionally, the article cites that one can get a financial plan in New York for $1,200. Perhaps this is true, but I hardly know a competent financial planner who would do a financial plan for $1,200. Financial planning fees often vary by complexity, and a better estimate would be a range beginning with $2,500 for less complex plans and $5,000 and up for more complex advice. Other than these minor points, I thought the article pointed consumers in the right direction, and I appreciated its focus on the need for sound fiduciary advice....
Monday Quick Tip: How to Provide Housing for Aging Parents with a Family Opportunity Mortgage

Monday Quick Tip: How to Provide Housing for Aging Parents with a Family Opportunity Mortgage

Time for another Monday Quick Tip. Did you know you can buy a home for aging parents and avoid having to classify it as an investment property or second home? You can. Sometimes referred to as the Family Opportunity Mortgage, this type of loan allows you to get the lower interest rates associated with an owner occupied home, avoid the distance requirements that lenders require for a second home, and also avoid the high down payment requirements that come along with an investment property. What is more, as a child, you do not have to occupy the home with your parents (you can thank me later!). Parents also do not have to be on the loan, something which can come in handy if one or more of the aging parents do not have good credit. Want to learn more about how this fits into your overall financial plan, reach out to Dunston Financial Group...
Is It Time for a Disability Insurance Checkup?

Is It Time for a Disability Insurance Checkup?

Many people own life insurance but, at our firm, we see fewer people who own disability insurance. Why might one need disability insurance? Often one’s biggest asset is one’s ability to earn an income. Calculate the present value of a future income stream, and the resulting value is usually pretty large. Disability insurance is designed to replace some of this income in the event of a short-term or long-term disability. And, contrary to what one might think, a disability need not be the result of some catastrophic event; one might not be able to work due to a skiing accident, running injury, or some other unexpected event that arises from an activity one enjoys. According to the Council for Disability Awareness, “Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue disorders remain the leading cause of new and ongoing disability claims….” As we all know, however, buying insurance often feels like gambling. What are the odds one might need to file a claim? Listen to some insurance companies and they’ll scare you into buying disability insurance with inaccurate statistics. This helpful article by Ron Lieber over at The New York Times points out some of the fallacious reasoning behind such claims, and it goes on to point out that the odds of a long-term disability that will keep one out of work for more than 90 days are around 30%. These odds, he goes on to explain, could be even lower depending on one’s occupation. If you want to know your odds, here’s a helpful calculator that will take into account your own occupation and circumstances. For short-term disabilities, a good cash reserve can help pay immediate expenses....
Client Success Story: Senior Executive Gets Peace of Mind

Client Success Story: Senior Executive Gets Peace of Mind

One of our clients is a C-level executive for a large international company. He came to our firm with a complex set of needs ranging from restricted stock planning, real estate investment needs, concerns about his investment portfolio, and worries about his overall risk management plan. His primary goals were to build wealth and to protect it. After analyzing his financial situation in great detail, we were able to help him devise a risk management plan that gave him significantly better insurance coverage for his real estate portfolio, and we also rescued him from some very poor whole life insurance products. We also helped him devise a much more robust life insurance, property & casualty insurance, and disability income insurance strategy. When we first sat down, his group disability income insurance was no where near sufficient to protect his family in the event of a long-term disability. After working with his HR department, we were able to build an executive-level supplemental disability insurance strategy that augmented his disability coverage from about 60% of his pay to around 80% of his pay. For someone at his income level, this was a critical risk that needed to be ameliorated. He also completed the financial planning process with an investment strategy, a clear retirement plan, and some advice on what to do with his restricted stock. Most importantly, our client had peace of mind that his family would be taken care of financially in the event something were to happen to him. Every client has different goals, but this was a clear example of a client who was able to greatly benefit from...