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Checking Up On Your Estate Plan

Dallas McKinnon

Dallas McKinnon

By Dallas McKinnon, In conjunction with Lincoln Financial Advisors/Sagemark Consulting, a division of Lincoln Financial Advisors, a registered investment advisor.

You have an estate plan; you probably even remember creating it—making the decisions and pulling together the documents was probably a time-consuming and tedious effort. The initial process of creating an estate plan can be so painful and involved that people may avoid reviewing it again for years.

But your estate plan does not exist in a vacuum. Life events such as marriage, separation, divorce, births, deaths, relocations and tax law changes all impact your estate planning needs. By revisiting key elements of your estate plan annually, you can correct errors, make adjustments for life changes and guarantee that your current wishes are known. Here are some items to review:

Friends & Family

  • Beneficiary designations. Be sure that life changes make your beneficiary designation selections relevant and that they still reflect your current desires.
  • Legal roles. Are your powers of attorney and estate executor(s) still competent and can they represent you? Have either of you relocated, causing you to consider if someone living locally could carry out the responsibilities more efficiently? Some states have updated their forms and require a redrafting of your power of attorney; talk to your financial planner about your situation.
  • Long-term care insurance. Every person moving toward retirement or working in their sunset years should consider long-term care insurance. All you have to do is the math on the economic impact to a family of a nursing home stay. Long term care insurance can be an inexpensive alternative if the right policy is purchased at the right time.

Review of Assets

  • Property titles. Have you established ownership and survivorship in the way you intended? Is it supported by current state titling laws?
  • Business succession plans. A significant number of buy-sell agreements call for annual revaluation of the business that most people forget about. Not having an updated appraisal presents two concerns: You don’t have a current figure for the value of your business for your own planning, and in the event an owner or partner dies, an arbitrator without a true sense of the business will negotiate the reappraisal.
  • Life insurance. Do you still need your current policy; do you need a different policy? Is the policy performing as originally illustrated? Policies are affected by interest rates and the investment options. If you expect the policy to provide for a particular need, it is important to review its performance annually.

Legacy Instructions

  • Will. Your will is less likely to be contested as outdated if you have updated it every few years with your attorney.
  • Ethical will/letter of instruction. Does the letter you have drafted still reflect the message that you want to leave your heirs? Have there been changes to your will or estate planning that you want to explain or emphasize.

Staying Current

  • Tax law changes. Talk to your financial planner and accountant at least three months before the end of the year to see if tax law changes will negatively impact your current plan, you will have time to make any necessary adjustments.

Organization Eases the Task

Though it can be time consuming, it’s worth organizing your legal documents in a way that makes them easy to review and update. Be sure to keep these documents in a safe or fire-proof cabinet:

  • Document finder. Lists your legal documents and where they are stored. If access requires a key or password, include instructions on how to find them.
  • Estate planning summary. Includes a list of professional advisors and passwords for each account (including Web access). Adding the dates the documents were created can help prompt you to keep wills, powers of attorney and health care proxies up-to-date.
  • Net worth statement. Describes every asset, including account numbers, titling, beneficiaries and current value. This statement identifies areas for in-depth review and serves as an overview for your estate executor.

These documents ease the access of information for those who—in the event of an emergency, or if you become incapacitated—will need to know where to find your estate plan and the legal documents that will guide them in support of your wishes. Creating an estate plan is just the first part of managing your future; keeping it up to date is essential for the long-run.

Do It Right, Do It Now

 

Dallas McKinnon is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and President of McKinnon & Associates Private Wealth Services in Redlands.  He has lived in Redlands and helped his clients in the Inland Empire for over 20 years.  You can reach him at 909 363-4026 or at www.McKinnonandAssociates.com

 

 

 

10 Social Media Tips for Teens

Akilah C. Thompson

Akilah C. Thompson

By Akilah C. Thompson

Social media is one of the most powerful forms of communication teens and adults use today.  Here are some tips to help you use social media safely and effectively.

1.     Respect yourself.  ­  Show off how great you are with class. You are a brand and should represent yourself accordingly on social media.  Make sure your photos are appropriate.  Do not post or text photos of yourself naked, dressed provocatively, or making obscene gestures. Avoid uploading anything you would not want your grandmother to see on the front cover of the New York Times! Social media plays a major role in building and ruining personal images. Be wise! 

2.     Post with positivity – Keep it cool! If you don¹t have anything good to say, don¹t post. Avoid ranting or arguing with people on social media and posting when you¹re upset. You may be upset with your mom but it would be very disrespectful to share your anger with the world. What do you think college recruiters or future employers might think about you disrespecting your mother on social media?  No Bueno!  Share positivity and good vibes on the web.

3.     No ³twerking² videos please! ­ Just because you see a trend starting on social media, doesn¹t mean it is something you should do. Do not post videos that portray negative images of you, your friends or family involving profanity, sex, nudity, crime, drugs, discrimination, violence, lewd gestures, or anything that could be offensive to the public. Keep your video posts kid friendly. You don¹t want a video of you intoxicated and ³twerking² inappropriately with friends to surface while you are campaigning for President in 20 years.  Definitely not a good idea!

4.     Know your followers ­ Allowing strangers to follow you can be very dangerous. Even if their account looks harmless, be aware that there are many fake accounts where creeps follow their prey. If you don¹t know them, ignore them and don¹t let them follow you. Also, use privacy settings to protect your accounts from being viewed by strangers. Proceed with caution!

5.     Be careful what you post for likes ­ You don¹t want to end up ³instafamous² for something that could destroy your future.  Keep your posts positive, dignified and smart. Social media is a great way to build a web presence for future endeavors.  Don¹t compromise your future for ³likes² or ³followers.²  Make your mark on the web, the right way!

6.    Play nice ŠDon¹t cyber bully! - No one has the right to harass anyone based on their sex, race, age, orientation, personal beliefs, values, etc. The impact of harassment is heightened and can have deadly consequences when acted out over the Internet. Avoid engaging in cyber brawls on twitter and status face-offs on Facebook. If you have a personal issue with someone, keep it off the Internet. If anyone is saying things about you on social media, report their account and let a relative know.

7.     Think before you post.  – Nothing is ever truly deleted, so be very sure about what you post before you hit the ³post² or ³send² button.   Once you post a picture or a status it is stored on the site¹s server and can normally be retrieved even if you delete it from your profile. So, be smart and post with care for your future!

8.     If you see something, say something! - Report anything inappropriate. Block or un-follow people that post negative comments on your timeline, make you uncomfortable or harass you in any way.

9.     Manage your use wisely ­ Too much of anything can become a bad thing. Is social media keeping you from getting work done? Try putting time limits on your social media usage to make sure it is not impacting your productivity.

10. Don¹t post your every move  - Leave some information to share with your real friends and family over the phone. Your best friend would probably want to know you and your boyfriend broke up before the whole world knows via your relationship status change.  Also be careful sharing info when you are going out of town. You don¹t want to alert a potential burglar that you will be in the Bahamas for a week with your family.

As a teenager it is important that you are aware, informed, and understand the risks that come along with using social media.  Remember to protect yourself, censor what you post, and chose the crowd you associate with wisely.

About Akilah C. Thompson:

Akilah C. Thompson is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of North Carolina A & T State University where she earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting and Business Economics. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, Certified Life Coach, Licensed Zumba Instructor, and Inspirational Speaker. She is the Founder & CEO of her trademark company ACT Inspires Inc and nonprofit, Generations Inspired Inc. Akilah is also a model, actor, and author. Her life goal is to inspire and empower others to be Ambitious, Courageous & Talented.   For more information, please visit Act Inspires.

Black History: State of Affairs and Mind

Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim

“An institution is not a place; it’s a state of mind.”- Tom Pomeranz

It’s impossible to listen to commentary about the state of affairs concerning Black America and not form an opinion. This will not be your typical article on Black History. I’m going to take a different approach, one that attempts to point out an empirical thing that we can remedy as a people still striving to fulfill the promise of the God we serve in Christ and the dreams our ancestors had for us. By using Pomeranz’s definition above, I’ll attempt to provide some clarity by defining institution as a state of mind, and I’ll call for an exodus away from the mindset. In this day and age of increasing government deficits and ineptness we cannot continue to look to institutions, no matter how evolved, for answers.

The primary function of any type of institution is to govern in some form.  People conditioned by institutions of any type look to the authorities and seek guidance, counsel, permission and ultimately favor from the leaders. We were brought here as powerless people, and we were liberated by the bold actions of abolitionists, a president of conviction and the blood of countless soldiers. During the Civil Rights Movement, we compelled the government to give us equal treatment. In short we were reformers of the status quo, not dependent on it. In our battle to secure rights and privileges from the institution of government, we, especially as Christians, must ask ourselves if we have become dependent on it.  The institution has helped us, but it is not our liberator.

I was once privileged enough to sit in on a training by national disabilities clinician, Tom Pomeranz. He spoke of institutions in a profound way—as a way of thinking and acting by the people who depend on it and those who provide services and instruction to those they are entrusted with. These three characteristics were evident:

  • Belief in segregation (Certain people should be kept away from others)
  • Belief in limiting choice (Certain people can’t handle decision making)
  • Belief in limiting privacy (A mindset that encourages and tolerates intrusion)

I cringed when I heard these words. I knew it to be true. In some ways we were all institutionalized in regards to our thinking regardless of race. But slavery had a profound impact on Blacks traumatizing generations to come. It scarred the soul of the oppressor and oppressed. Martin Luther King, Jr., attacked the institutions of the day that promoted the belief in segregation, limiting our choices and violating the most basic private rights of our people. Law enforcement routinely violated Black families, homes and even taped confidential conversations. The government upheld and codified these approaches into law and enforced them with vicious brutality.

I am thankful this is no longer the status quo approach of the government, but I lament the current state of affairs so many Black folks are disproportionately ensnared in poverty, fatherlessness, addiction and skyrocketing incarceration rates.

The pain caused by these things prompt us to look for a source of relief. In the past, government came to our aid; currently, many of our leaders teach us that it’s impossible for minorities to have success without its intervention. I beg to differ. I changed my mind a long time ago.  We need to raise a generation of ministers, entrepreneurs, educators, politicians, and people who excel in the natural social sciences. We have to raise expectations. If we expect the exceptional from the marginalized, they will give it to us.

ABOUT HAKIM HAZIM:

Hakim Hazim is the founder of Relevant Now and co-founder of Freedom Squared. He is a nationally recognized expert in decision analysis, criminality and security.