When should you review your Life Insurance planning?

You may want to replace the income of the life insured—either you or your spouse. Ask your advisor to do a capital needs analysis. It is easy to calculate the capital needed over any short or long period of time in any situation if the life insured were to die. Many professional calculators allow advisors to prepare accurate life insurance assessments.

It may be time to review your Life Insurance at these life junctures:

  • After you have finished your career training and begin a new job, you will want to buy life insurance as you start the foundation of your goal-setting strategy to gain financial independence. Life Insurance proceeds can pay off any OSAP or car loans so that the family has no financial burden should you predecease them.
  • If you have recently married or are engaged, your finances take on a new scope of responsibility for spouses jointly planning to protect one another’s financial security. Also, review your Life Insurance needs together to protect your income if one of you die or become disabled. This is a key foundation for developing a sound financial strategy when you are young and newly married.
    • If either of you had a will, it might be revoked upon marriage unless it specifically states it was created in contemplation of marriage. When planning your Life Insurance together, consider how to set up your beneficiaries carefully. Often it is best to do so outside of a will.
  • If you work at a trade, make sure that you have Disability Insurance. This insurance is also called Income Replacement Insurance because it provides a paycheque if you become disabled. Your children and spouse are dependent upon your income. What if you became disabled – will that source of income dry up or become minimal?
  • When you have children, Life insurance is purchased to provide capital if one of the parents should die. A young mother would not be forced to work, reduce her lifestyle, or leave her children cared for by others.
  • When children go to college, many of us tap into our savings to help meet their tuition and housing expenses. We may purchase a child’s first car or provide an income for one or more years. If you die without providing continuing support, your young adult child may need to quit seeking a higher education due to a shortage of funds.
  • Suppose you have a change of executor, lawyer, accountant, or guardian. If one of these key people dies or becomes incapacitated, or is replaced regarding your estate plan, it is wise to review that aspect of your plan, which may include an entire rewriting of your will as you appoint new people.
  • If you want to establish planned giving, Life Insurance works well. If you desire to leave money, for example, to a charity, church or religious organization, an art gallery, or a school, you will need to do some estate planning. Consider using advanced life insurance planning. Life insurance can assign a beneficiary, allowing the monies to go directly to the charity or foundation. Consider that your will may need to be changed if you use Life Insurance to circumvent your will.
  • If you have grandchildren, you may want to ensure that they are provided for, perhaps through life insurance planning.
  • If you have experienced a significant change in your level of wealth, replanning may be important. If you inherit money or inherit Life Insurance proceeds, you may want to talk to your advisor about implementing Life Insurance in your own estate planning. Also, look at Disability Insurance and Long-term Care Insurance to see if financial risks can be insured to protect or enhance your wealth. If your assets decline, consider altering your bequests and newly establish this in your will.
  • If special care is needed for a loved one, make sure to plan. When a spouse, parent, or child has become disabled and needs future care, consider: Long-term Care costs are very high if you want a private room or special personal attention (such as defining when you want to take a nap or go to the washroom or bath, versus a strict schedule), for yourself, your parent, or another.
  • If you personally anticipate requiring costly long-term health care, you may want to alter the specific bequests in your will to reflect this new reality.
  • If you appoint a new or revoke a previous beneficiary, review your beneficiary designations with your Life Insurance representative and your beneficiaries.
  • If you have sold or will sell a business, your Life Insurance will need a review. If your assets become more liquid upon the sale of a business, you may want to pass that benefit along to beneficiaries or charities; or enhance your retirement. If a partner has bought or is buying your business previously bequeathed in your will, you may need to adjust your estate planning while using advanced life insurance planning for business-related solutions.
  • Replanning your Life Insurance may be necessary when you want to use or change a trustee or trust institution. You may, at some point, want to assign others to be in charge of investments within a testamentary trust directive.
  • A change of legislation can affect your plan. Changed government legislation can affect your estate planning. The validity of your will may be affected by changes such as estate taxation or probate laws.
  • Capital gains taxation on a major asset will eventually come due. When you own an asset that has appreciated, such as a cottage or business, or equity investment, make sure the tax payable will not harm the estate. Affordable Life Insurance solutions can pay off your estate liabilities after death.

What makes investing in mutual funds simple?

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The following advantages, make investing in mutual funds simple:

· Simplified investing You can select an industry or sector or country and/or currency within which a mutual fund trades securities. You do not have to to hand-pick each security. The mutual fund manager does this security selection process for you. You don’t have to be assessing which stock or bond may or may not be a winner. A fund manager is trained to weigh out all the market contingencies which can affect investor performance.

· Low-cost diversification A small monthly purchase plan can have you moving forward in your mutual fund investments in a day. Your money can buy a piece of many different investments held within one or more funds.

· Dollar-cost averaging Dollar-cost averaging allows you to buy more fund units when the unit values are down, less when they are high, giving you some benefit from downward volatility.

· Flexible access to your money You can sell your fund shares in one day. Your proceeds are available the next day if your money is needed in the short term.

· Portfolio balancing Choices include the full range of fund types, and strategies are available to use such as strategic balancing of your fund holdings.

· Automatically invest You can automatically invest more in mutual funds at any time or use dollar-cost-averaging.

· Professional management Mutual funds have active professional management watching over your investment.

Source: Adviceon

How simple is it to invest in segregated funds?

 

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You may want to consider using segregated funds when the market is offering low snail-paced returns on guaranteed term deposits.

The following advantages, make investing in segregated (seg) funds simple:

  • Invest in stocks when interest rates are low Interest rates on term deposits pay a very low percentile return per year, whereas the stock market can grown rapidly.
  • Simplified investing You can select an industry or sector, for example, without having to hand-pick each security. The segregated fund manager does this selection process for you. You don’t have to be assessing which stock or bond may or may not be a winner. A seg fund manager is trained to weigh out all the market contingencies which can affect investor performance.
  • Low-cost diversification A small monthly purchase plan can have you moving forward in your segregated fund investments in a day. Your money can buy a piece of many different investments held within one or more funds.
  • Dollar-cost averaging Dollar-cost averaging allows you to buy more seg fund units when the unit values are down, less when they are high, giving you some benefit from downward volatility.
  • Flexible access to your money You can sell your seg fund shares in one day. Your proceeds are available the next day if your money is needed in the short term.
  • Portfolio balancing Choices include the full range of seg fund types and strategies which are available to use such as strategic balancing of your funds holdings.
  • Automatically invest You can automatically invest more in segregated funds at any time or use dollar-cost-averaging.
  • Professional management Segreaged funds have active professional management watching over your investment
  • Segregated funds also offer some certainties Some guarantees are offered or optional as far as principal retention goes or the investor, which are quite different than segregated funds, which may differ according to the segregated fund policy.

Talk to your advisor about how you might benefit from the use of seg funds in your investment planning strategies.

 

How can Segregated Funds benefit an investor?

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How Segregated (Seg) Funds Work

Segregated (seg for short) funds are professionally managed investment funds holding pooled investments, with a life insurance component.

With predefined investment objectives and policies, a professional manager selects the assets the seg fund will hold. Many individuals pool their money for the purpose of investing in stocks, bonds, and other kinds of securities by purchasing shares or units. The price per unit fluctuates in relation to the market price of the securities the fund holds.

Fund investors get a share of the fund’s ongoing investment earnings or losses, based on the number of units they own. When they redeem or sell units, the redemption value or price they get depends on the number of units redeemed, the unit price at the time of redemption, and any applicable fees.

The advantages of segregated funds during market turbulence Seg funds can offer growth when the market increases in value. Seg funds allow investors who have only a little capital or limited investment knowledge to invest in a diversified portfolio of assets. Individual investors share the expenses of running the fund, such as employing a professional manager who buys and sells assets. They are very liquid; in other words, individual investors can cash out at virtually any time by redeeming their units with the fund issuer.

1. Diversity can reduce investor risk The more diversified a fund is, the greater the mix of assets it holds in its investment portfolio. As with all investment products, there are various kinds of investment risk, such as inflation risk, declining market risk (referred to as bear market), default risk, currency risk, interest rate risk, and political risk.

2. Safeguards certainties The most compelling reason for buying a seg fund policy is capital protection. While GICs also offer a guaranteed return, they are limited in their growth potential. Since seg funds are invested in capital markets, they have a greater capacity for appreciation. Segregated fund contracts have special features offering certainties over and above those offered by other investment funds.

3. A maturity benefit The seg fund’s contract at maturity date, or at death, may guarantee a minimum percent of your invested capital to be returned (by a life insurance company). Typically, at the time of maturity set in the contract, some companies permit a resetting of the new guaranteed capital amount and a renewed maturity date.

4. Money security options Regardless of market performance, at maturity you are entitled to receive most or all of your initial invested capital back (or more if the market has performed well), less any withdrawals. Note: Examine the conditions of the contract.

6. Estate planning benefits As with the certainties of the maturity benefit, some insurance companies allow individual contract owners to reset the death benefit periodically to lock in increases in the value of the segregated funds the contract has invested in, equal to at least a percentage of gross contributions.

This benefit is payable directly to the beneficiary of the contract upon the death of the insured person. If a beneficiary is named and the death benefit paid to him or her, monies can be protected from probate, government estate administration fees, and any attending legal fees incurred.

7. Why seg funds appeal to senior investors This is of particular value when an investor is nearing, or has begun, retirement and cannot afford to lose capital invested during a volatile market. Even if the fund’s actual unit value declined, your seg fund investment contract may guarantee that you will get back a very high percentage of the initial capital invested.

Also, at maturity, you will get back the guaranteed minimum amount or, if the market has risen in value, a higher amount. This means less worry, as you will know with certainty the minimum amount of money you will have when the contract matures (some return up to 100% of the original capital invested). This is particularly good for those who intend to pass the money on to the next generation if it is not needed for income or emergency during any period of market devaluation.

8. One or more beneficiaries Segregated fund policies allow you to designate one or more beneficiaries, much like a life insurance policy. At the time of your death, the proceeds from your seg policy may not be included with the rest of your estate. The proceeds from your segregated fund policy pass directly to your beneficiaries.

Note: The provisions of a seg fund contract, such as the guarantee periods and the MER, may be dependent on age and insurance underwriting. There are many new seg funds being developed offering various guarantees (and periods related to those guarantees). You should note that individual contracts have their own restrictions on the age to which you can invest. In addition, the level of payout can vary depending upon your age.

9. Potention creditor-proof investments Depending on jurisdiction, some seg fund policies might be protected from creditors for an investor’s lifetime if the policyholder ever faced a lawsuit or bankruptcy. This is because seg funds include insurance-related contracts. There must be an irrevocable or preferred beneficiary (or multiple preferred beneficiaries)—a child, grandchild, parent, or spouse—named on the contract. This can be beneficial for self-employed small business owners who take more financial risk (such as consultants, dentists, lawyers, and accountants). Equally, since those who own a significant number of shares in a corporation or serve as an officer or director of a corporation may be liable if lawsuits are filed against that corporation, they also can benefit from this creditor protection. For example, a sexual harassment or environmental lawsuit could affect a small business owner or corporate officer. Losing a serious lawsuit can put both your business reserves and personal investments at risk.

Note: Subject to certain restrictions, these strategies should be discussed with a qualified financial advisor. The creditor protection is allowed as long as money was not placed in the seg fund with the intent to protect the capital from an impending financial crisis. In most cases, however, the creditor protection is valid when the lawsuit or bankruptcy (in the case of both personal and business situations) is unexpected. Recent court rulings have shown that creditor protection may not always apply. You should seek legal advice to determine under what circumstances (especially intentional quick-fix shielding of money) a seg fund policy might not offer such protection.

Seg funds are best suited for the investors involved in long-term  wealth creation and preservation of capital.

Capital protection appeals to a variety of people, including:

• Everyday investors who are conservative and yet want higher returns than GICs offer;
• Pre-retirees who need growth but can’t afford to lose money;
• Seniors who require estate protection and certain capital guarantees; and
• Businesspeople who have exposure to personal liability and want to protect their assets.

 

What is an investor risk/reward trade-off?

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Understanding investor risk/reward trade-offs.

The risk/reward concept states that the higher the risk of a particular investment, the higher the possible return. Although there is normally risk with any equity investment, it is important to assess just how much risk your portfolio should carry. Risk involves the potential for gain or loss of monies invested.

Many people take on more risk, hoping to achieve a higher return without regard to cyclic markets. If an investor expects higher returns on the basis of past experience, he must understand that markets can go through both periods or gain and periods of loss.

In theory, many think that the higher the risk, the more you should receive for holding the investment. With cyclic markets this is not necessarily true. Conversely in theory, the lower the risk, the less you should receive. Unfortunately, the dilemma is this: a higher potential for above-average returns comes with a higher risk of below-average returns. Conversely, safer investments, such as cash and bond instruments, have a lower potential for high returns and a higher potential to not keep up with inflation.

Different types of securities have associated levels of risk. While choosing investments for your portfolio, you need to be conscious of risk/return trade-offs and your own tolerance for risk. Every investor’s goal should be to find a balance that allows you to not experience undue anxiety in the markets and achieves your long-term financial goals at the same time.

Media chaos causes investors to fear investing.

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Psychological fear can hold one back from investing. People behave according to their mind-set. Some of the following thinking can keep one from not putting their money to work by buying equity investments such as equity investment funds. If you have said any of the following statements you may be experiencing investor anxiety:

“I think the markets will pull back and lose some value.” I will wait and invest when this happens.” This viewpoint is based on the need for having a belief confirmed before acting, where the investor must minimize any evidence that contradicts their belief-mantra. The media frequently offers bad news if the market has a low day, and it is easy to hear only this kind of information while filtering out other positive news. This process can paralyze an action plan to invest for years.

“I want to immediately sell the investment, if I see a profit.” People might sell an investment early once it rises in value, for fear of any future loss. Aside from considering taxation, an investment with either a gain or a loss, once sold, ends any future potential of that investment rising in future value. To avoid this mind-set one should have a disciplined written plan for buying and or selling investments that can be frequently referred to.

“The market is bound to correct and head downward because it is at a peak.” Anchoring our point of view occurs when someone assigns a reference number, like a 52-week high or low, to compare a price of an investment stock or unit value of a fund or a stock exchange’s last peak value. Past price movements are poor predictors of future price performance. When you invest for the long-term for retirement, using past price patterns is comparable to driving your car while gazing in the rear view mirror as a reference.

Conclusion
The above emotional mind-sets can ruin or avoid forming an otherwise great investment plan. Work with your investment advisor to help you gain an understanding of how the mind can trick us into failure simply by not investing over the long term. He or she can help you develop a risk tolerance profile along with an investment plan.

“Individuals who cannot master their emotions are ill-suited to profit from the investment process.” Benjamin Graham

What insurance planning fits a good Estate Plan?

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What are the key insurance components of an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is a singular categorical part within organized financial strategies aimed at achieving financial independence. Life insurance, disability insurance (group or personal), critical illness (CI) insurance and long-term care (LTC) insurance policies are key components of a good estate plan when protecting your family’s financial security.

Keep your documents up to date with your life needs.  It is important that an individual maintains and updates a will and two powers of attorney documents: 1) for property such as real estate, bank accounts, and investment assets, and 2) a power of attorney for personal health care.

Life changes can affect the integration of each of the above strategic solutions. Therefore it is important to review the above aspects of an estate plan every three to five years. For example, there may be a change in the beneficiaries, where a person needs to be added or removed during an addition to the family; or if you remarry, your existing will may automatically become nullified.

There may be significant changes in your net worth if the value of your residence or investment assets change over time; or your liabilities increase or are paid off. If you have significant assets, have your accountant make sure that the best tax arrangements are in place.

Business owners If you are the shareholder of business assets, make sure that a buy sell agreement is in place in the event of your death or disability, assuring that every owner is covered with life and disability (income replacement) insurance.

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An estate plan may benefit from using formal trusts to reduce taxes and segregated funds to circumvent or minimize probate or estate administration tax and/or fees or protect assets from creditors.

Life insurance with named beneficiaries can also be solutions to transfer capital tax-free to heirs outside of probate/EAT scrutiny. For an estate plan seeking to transfer large capital assets to named heirs, it would be wise to discuss these capital-transfer techniques with an account and/or tax lawyer.

How can estate planning minimize obstacles for my heirs?

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Estate planning provides some ability to minimize the obstacles that loved ones might encounter in the event of an unexpected death such as:

  • Fear of losing your money by erosion of capital that might come about with poor investments.
  • Delays during the settling an estate can be a lengthy process.
  • Legal and accountancy costs, probate fees, and taxes.
  • Potential liabilities for Executors and Trustees in Ontario re the new administration of probate/EAT in 2013.
  • Lost privacy due to your will becoming public during the probate process.
  • Ability of your beneficiaries to handle money as some children are less capable than others of handling large amounts of money

How can the use of Segregated Funds and Term Funds help?

  • Ability to invest in diversified funds that have professional money management to help your clients preserve their capital.
  • Segregated funds and Term funds with named beneficiaries can avoid probate, making payout quicker.
  • By avoiding probate, your wishes are kept private.
  • There are excellent estate planning concepts such as the Gradual Inheritance concept that can help you better plan the allocation of money to your children (eg., buying an annuity or deferring payout until the child turns a certain age)

What is the value of good financial advice?

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A good financial advisor will not only assess your current fiscal resources. He or she will also outline a plan whereby you can achieve your goal for a sound financial future.

As time passes, so does your opportunity to build a strong financial future. Will your financial stability be based on our government’s pension plan? Did you know that its maximum benefit covers only 25% of the average Canadian’s wage? If you are to build an investment portfolio and a significant net worth, will you personally try to determine how to purchase stocks among the international markets, analyze investment funds, and sidestep economic pitfalls as you invest all by yourself?

Why involve an advisor in your financial affairs?

The majority of Canadians seek specialized professional help. An advisor’s work is to help you systematically achieve your goals and make your life dreams come true. His or her work is to guide you towards achieving financial independence.

• It is important that an advisor analyze your current fiscal resources, in order to define appropriate financial strategies that are best suited to your current and future personal priorities, retirement goals
and risk tolerance.

• Calculating your current net worth and net cash flow after taxes is also important. With a net worth statement, a financial specialist can identify any opportunities or problems relating to capital gains; life insurance, disability and/or critical illness insurance needs versus your present coverage, investment growth, income taxation, retirement income needs, employee benefits, and potential capital gains tax liabilities for your estate. It is also imperative that parents assess educational funding needs, and plans for any dependent adult child and/or special health care such as Long Term Care (LTC) for parents.

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• Establishing a written plan sets forth specific solution-oriented recommendations, and will enable you to see how ordering your finances can benefit your overall lifestyle.

• To achieve your goals and objectives, it will be important to act on the plan’s recommendations. Building a strong portfolio of investments tailored to meet your goals and risk tolerance is essential for
your future financial independence.

• Appropriate life and/or disability insurance coverage will ensure your plan meets family income needs, business debt or buy-out payments, and any tax liabilities for your estate.

• Finally, an advisor will establish a periodic review to monitor and refine your plan to accommodate events such as a birth, marriage, illness, or retirement.

 

The increasing need for Long-Term Care Insurance

The need for Long-Term Care Insurance is increasing as medical intervention and medications keep us living longer.

  • Every year, about 50,000 strokes occur in Canada. A stroke is the leading cause of a transfer from hospital to a long-term care facility.
  • Nearly 10% (1 in 11) of Canadians over age 65 are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.
  • An increasing demographic (7%) of Canadians age 65 and over are residing in healthcare institutions.
  • An additional 28% of Canadians age 65 and over receive care for a long-term health problem, outside of a healthcare institution.

Sooner or later ageing baby boomers starting to enter retirement will increasingly depend on long-term care, offered by their children or professional health care services.

A study authored by Dr. Marcus Hollander and Neena Chappell of the University of Victoria found that approximately $25 billion dollars worth of unpaid care is provided willingly by family members and friends in lieu of paid care.

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As the populace ages, more care for the elderly, such as respite care (additional home care services) will increasingly be needed to provide family members with the medical guidance and support they need to continue caring for their loved ones. With this in mind, are our families financially prepared to deal with costs associated with providing long-term care for loved ones?

Fewer hospitals offer long-term care A historic study which remains relevant, looked at a trend which revealed a 35.6% reduction in staffed long-term care beds in the extended care sector, from the late-80s to mid-90s, when our ageing population has been growing at an unprecedented rate. The baby boomer population is noticeably ageing. Canadians need to concern themselves with this question: Will governments be able to provide the necessary spaces and accommodate the increasing demand on the healthcare sector with regard to long-term care?

Staffed Beds In Hospitals

Source: Statistics Canada, pre-baby boomer info

What does Long-term Care Insurance (LTC) offer? Long-term care insurance provides money to pay for the care that you both desire and need. With LTC Insurance, you have:

  • Broader choices about the quality and amount of care you receive.
  • An increase of choices when determining where you receive care and by whom.

Sources: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Alzheimer Society website, Statistics Canada

Source: Some of the concepts and information are used with the permission of Patty Randall who is widely considered a leading advocate on the need for care-years planning in our country. Visit her website: “Aging Successfully with Passion and Purpose and Care-Years Planning” online at www.longtermcarecanada.com for discussions, ideas and to obtain family materials on this issue.