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What Does It Cost to Die?

Okay, a strange question, but hey if you aren’t thinking about it now, when you die your poor family will be and they won’t like what you have not prepared for. Here’s why…

A recent survey of funeral homes shows the average cost for a funeral is $7,500.  In New York and California it is twice that much! Iowa and Oklahoma is a bit less than this amount. The point is, however, that dying is darned expensive!! 

We all know how emotional it can be to have a loved one pass away, but to put that kind of cash burden on family on top of that emotional stress is awful.

Some time back, I attended a funeral and sat with the surviving family members.  They talked openly about the funeral and burial costs and how they didn’t know anything about how to proceed so they just let the funeral home make all the decisions for them about their father.  In retrospect, they regretted that decision, so they met as a family to talk about what they could have done better to make the death of their father more bearable and less financially taxing.

Here are the things they discussed that they didn’t do or didn’t urge their father to do before he died that would make a difference if they did do them for other family members upon their deaths:

  1. Make a list of all assets and where they were located.
  2. Record who is in charge of each particular asset and the ongoing expenses for that asset.
  3. Determine whether assets can be sold upon death and what the tax implications might be upon sale.

Another thing they had  not planned on was the cost of an attorney to help settle their father’s affairs. They decided they could not navigate the court system, organize a funeral, and meet with the tax preparer all at the same time, so they approached an attorney they knew who said he could handle all these matters for them quickly and simply.  This sounded attractive to each of the four members of the family so they hired this attorney and started to do his assignments. However, they soon found the list of to-do’s becoming longer and longer and the cost to retain this attorney more and more prohibitive. If their father had done some of this work before his death and helped his family members be prepared to settle his estate, hiring an attorney for this length of time would have been totally unnecessary.

The family finally reached out to Money Mastery and we are coaching them on how to gather all the financial information simply, effectively, and without the high cost of an attorney. 

As they have followed the Money Mastery program, their heads are starting to clear and they are more openly discussing as a family what to do going forward as other loved ones pass away. It has created a healthy respect for each other and in the end they have all now recorded what they each want done in the case of their own deaths. They are determined not to let this happen to them again.

For more information on how to properly organize and settle your estate contact me directly:  peter@moneymastery.com.

How to Prepare Financially for 2017

Goals are helpful but everyone always complains about how hard New Year’s resolutions are to keep.  So what can you do to make the New Year financially successful and ensure that goals you set in January don’t end up on the back burner by February?  Here are some of my thoughts about money and personal organization that can bring a lot of success to your financial life in 2017:

New Year Challenge: During the first month of the year, sit down with your spouse and start the discussion by announcing that you are dead, at least on paper. Then begin asking him or her the following thought-provoking questions and see how many of them they can answer without any prompting from you. This little exercise will reveal just how organized you are financially (oh, and how well you can communicate about such things).

  1. How much life insurance do I have on my life?
  2. Where is the policy?
  3. Who is the agent to call and report my death?
  4. How much debt do I have?
  5. Will you have to sell the house or refinance the mortgage, and how do you find out which you will need to do?
  6. Do I have any savings or safety deposit boxes?
  7. What investments do I have?
  8. Do I have a will or trust?
  9. How long will it take to clear assets and take ownership of the trust
  10. Who is the executor of my estate?
  11. Do I have a burial plot paid for?
  12. Does anyone owe me money, and how can you find out?
  13. Where do I keep my tax returns and who prepares them?
  14. Does Social Security pay a death benefit to you upon my death?
  15. How much will Social Security pay you when I die, and why/when?
  16. What attorney should you use and what will be his/her average costs to settle the estate?
  17. Where will the funeral be held and what will it cost?

Now you may be thinking that some of these questions most couples would know the answer to, together. But you might be surprised by how many spouses stay completely out of the finances and let the other partner handle everything. When their spouse dies, they have no idea what to do or what problems they may have to handle.  Asking these questions gets you both thinking and gives you a chance to review exactly what each partner knows or doesn’t know and what needs to be done to get on top of things financially so BOTH people are taking responsibility for the financial success of the marriage.

I urge yo to take this challenge in the New Year as a catalyst for getting completely and totally organized financially. For more ideas on financial organization, contact me at peter@moneymastery.com. The Money Mastery Master Planner organizational system I use personally and with my clients will totally change your life and help make 2017 the best year ever!

Organizing Your Finances Enables the Creation of Additional Wealth

It is so important to know the 10 financial principles that can change your life is so many wonderful ways. That’s why I have been spending time covering each of the Money Mastery Principles, which build upon each other and all work together in harmony. As you apply each principle on top of the next, you will get in better and better control financially. That’s what today’s post will cover, Principle 8, and the importance of organizing all the principles to work together.

Organizing Your Finances Enables the Creation of Additional Wealth. Disorganization breeds procrastination which leads to lost opportunities. Organizing your finances means knowing where important documents are, having an estate plan for your loved ones, and knowing how to protect your assets from over-taxation, litigation, and theft.  


It can be hard to know where to store important documents, but we must try.  When I see someone who is not organized, it makes me sad for them.  They have no idea how expensive it is to them by not being organized.  I know from personal experience, when I try to get organized, as soon as I get started I realize how long it will take and sometimes feel defeated before I get anything done.

Consider this statistic, only 1 out of 7 families has a simple will.  It is a well known fact we will all die.  No one has gotten out of this life alive.  Why don’t we get organized before we die so we don’t leave a financial mess for our family members? It’s largely because of this feeling of being overwhelmed with difficult decisions about what to do with certain things, and we give up before we have even begun.

In my 45 years of experience, I have helped many people get organized and it has made a world of difference to them to get that nagging feeling of not knowing what will happen to their money or belongings when they die off their mind and come to a place of peace, hope and prosperity. I have done this by first having them get their spending and debt under control. Once
these things are working well together, people find they are acquiring a little bit of a surplus and before long, they have money and assets they need to manage and organize so that Uncle Sam, inflation, and mismanagement doesn’t eat away everything they have worked so hard to put together.

So that’s when we get the wills and living trusts put together and name a guardian for their children.  I have watched while a family was mourning the loss of their father, they knew that he had provided enough money to pay for their college, and take care of Mom and all because he had stopped being frozen by what he perceived would be hard to do, and got organized, before it was too late.

Without planning, if you have minor children and both you andEstateOrganization your spouse pass away at the same time, your resident state will take over and direct all the affairs of the children.  And your assets and money will follow the guardians that the court appoints, during the court proceedings.  Along with foster parents chosen for you, all debts become due and payable upon death.  Add all the court costs and attorney’s fees and your family will pay out an additional $30,00 or more to get things settled.

Do the smart thing. For about $495 and 60 minutes you can avoid all this expense and give yourself peace of mind by setting up a living trust and funding it, then distribute copies to all family members who are involved for their records.  Go to www.easylegalplanning.com and get your financial affairs organized.  Then review documents once a year and make necessary changes.  Contact me with questions (801) 244-5756, or peter@moneymastery.com.

 

 

Planning for Your Own Death Is Important, But Seldom Done…

Carve out some time to discuss your financial situation in the event you die.  What are your wishes?  What cemetery will you be buried in?  Have you titled your property correctly so you don’t have to wait for the probate court to decide things for two years?  How should you designate a beneficiary?  Why and when do you need an attorney?

Beyond these very big, but standard issues let me just point out one other discussion point that perhaps you have never thought to discuss in preparation for your death:  Create a document and determine a location in which to store this document for passwords and other absolutely important information.  Passwords give your surviving family members access to bank accounts, utilities, insurance products, and so forth.  Be sure the document includes account numbers and other vital information to go along with the password. I review my key contacts with my spouse each January so we are both up-to-date about auto and homeowner’s insurance policies. We also review the current Screen shot 2016-06-03 at 1.42.28 PMstatus of our living trust, along with any agreements we may have entered into.  I update the password document and make sure PIN numbers, where to find birth and marriage certificates, titles to the car, where the key to our safety deposit box is kept, and other important information are included. That way, if I die, my spouse knows what’s going on, and when we both die, our kids can more easily settle our estate.

We all pass away, so why not plan for this?  Save time and money by getting organized in advance and do like the elementary schools do by establishing a quarterly financial “fire drill” so to speak.  If the elementary school caught on fire, small children have practiced what they would do to save their life.  Most schools don’t catch on fire, but you will surely die.  This is a certain event just like taxes.  Save grief and headache for your survivors by planning ahead and then review for any changes at least once a year.

Getting to Know Your Financial Adviser Will Bring Peace at Time of Spouse’s Death

Almost 75 percent of all widows fire their financial adviser immediately upon the death of their spouse because there is no relationship of trust.  In over 45 years of meeting with client, I have often seen the wife resist talking about death and will sometimes have an excuse about missing the meeting when we are going to be discussing estate settlement. She will say something like, “My husband will take care of all this.”  Or, “Bill will catch me up to date later.”  This is a serious mistake.

When a spouse passes away,  financial issues must be addressed or the costs of not doing so can destroy the widow’s future.  If you are a woman who has relied a little too much on your husband to take care of the finances, now is the time to get comfortable with estate planning and settlement and especially with how your finances are going to be play out after your spouse’s death.

Here are some of the issues widows and widowers must deal with after death:

  1. Titling of property.
  2. The need for at least 12 death certificates (many people order just one but find they must submit an original in order to claim Social Security benefits, or life insurance proceeds, and so forth. If you do not get an appropriate amount at death and have to reorder, it can take months before additional ones are issued. Meanwhile, you can’t file insurance claims or get Social Security income.
  3. The need for a joint banking account. So, for example, if a refund check in the name of her spouse arrives from a magazine subscription  six months later, she can deposit it.  Perhaps a refund check is sent in the name of her deceased husband from an over payment on an insurance contract, or a business debt is paid.  There are many examples of why a joint banking account is needed.

All of these things and many more are reasons why having a good relationship with a qualified financial adviser can help you when your spouse dies.  Using the old “trial-and-error” technique on 50 financial issues upon the death of your spouse is a horrible experience.  Find a good adviser you trust, then review ALL financial issues annually. Planning ahead will help you find peace at a time of grieving. 

For more information about financial coaching and how it can help you even more than just a good financial adviser, contact me: peter@moneymastery.com.

Organize Your Finances to Create Additional Wealth

Many people have had experience using an estate planning system, which includes help in organizing asset schedules and planning for estate distribution and settlement upon death. But planning the way you want your assets and money to be distributed at your death is only one part of a good financial organization system. The right one will do much more, extending that organization to  other areas of personal finance, allowing you to master plan every aspect of your financial life, including the way you spend, borrow, save, and pay taxes while you are living.  Using such an estate planning tool is vital if you want to create wealth on ANY income.

A comprehensive approach to financial planning aids in accurately predicting how your spending, borrowing, savings, and taxes will affect your overall financial well being. A good organizational system should help you create the following:

  • Spending Plan
  • Debt Payoff Plan
  • Savings/Retirement Plan
  • Tax Reduction Plan
  • Estate Planning and Settlement

Organizing the way you spend through a Spending Plan. A good master planning tool should prompt you to answer questions about your personal, social, and financial feelings about money and toshutterstock_283185716 create a history of the way you have spent money in the past. It should also help you analyze how spending money makes you feel so that you can prioritize your values, create realistic spending goals that you can track, and help you get in control of your spending within the first month of applying the plan.

Organizing your debt payoff.  A good financial organization system should also help you create a debt elimination plan. It should prompt you to pull your credit history, review your current debt load, Debtdetermine how to prioritize debts for quickest payoffs, and show you how to power down your debt so you can get out of ALL debt in under 10 years.

Organizing your retirement. Financial organization should also include powerful savings and retirement planning tools that prompt you to observe how saving for emotional, emergency, and long-term needs is affecting your overall financial well being. And of course it should help you accurately predict how muchshutterstock_128683532 (534x800) money you will need for retirement — enough that you cannot outlive that amount.

Organizing the way you pay taxes in order to reduce them. A good master planning organizational tool will also include information on how to take advantage of tax deductions and of course include all the estate planning forms and schedules typically found in standard estate organizer. It should also provide storage to help organize important legal documents your loved ones will need to quickly and easily settle your estate upon your death.

We have found that clients who master plan every aspect of their finances, from the way they spend and borrow, to the way they save and pay taxes, have a much easier time accurately predicting their future and remaining in control of changing events than those who do not.

For information on how to obtain a comprehensive master planning organizational system that will help you get in control of every aspect of your financial life, call the Money Mastery offices today:  (801) 292-1099.

Time Is Money… Use it Wisely

Time is money and money can buy you time

…time on the beach, time with family and cherished friends, time to start businesses that can employ others and create security for them and you, time to retire the way you want to rather than working until you die as a greeter at a big box retailer.

Time and money go hand in hand. That’s why here at Money Mastery we teach principles about how to manage both time and money and why Screen shot 2016-05-03 at 3.33.07 PMthe name of our company that owns the Money Mastery concept, system, and all of its copyright materials is “Time & Money, LLC.”

One of the principles we teach is Money Mastery Principle 10, which 
states: “Money in motion creates more money.” An example of this is when someone deposits money into a bank, then the bank loans it out to someone else.  The proceeds from that loan are then deposited into another bank where it used to loan out to someone else for another purpose. The initial bank deposit multiplies several times as it is used over and over again within the banking system, creating a multiplier effect and putting that money in motion to make even more. In my experience, this principle about money also applies to time management.  If you hire a secretary to help with your work, you can get a lot more done than if you try to do all the work yourself.  If you hire this secretary for $20 an hour, but their work creates $40 in revenue you have multiplied your time, and subsequently your money as well.

Another Money Mastery principle about money that also relates to time is Principle 2: “When you track your money, you control it.” By tracking you have good information as to how much money you have left, and a record of how much something will cost so you can plan for it in the future.  Tracking also applies to time management. When you track your time you will know how much it takes to complete a project, earn revenue for a specific investment, or how much your own personal skills are worth. This point of reference can help you when you plan your next project, determine how much time you will need to make certain investments pay off, or how Clockmuch you should charge someone for your services.

Now let’s focus on Money Mastery Principle 7, “Always look at the big picture.” When you are planning for retirement, it is important to predict when you will have enough money to retire.  Applying this principle to time management can help you know how your time spent today will be able to harvest surplus savings to be used during retirement.

I urge you to learn the powerful Money Mastery Principles. Not only will they help you make sense of every aspect of your personal finances, but they will also help you manage your time, and as I  have already pointed out time is money and money is time — they go hand in hand. Contact me for more information today: peter@moneymastery.com, 801-292-1099.

Why Organizing Your Finances Is So Important

Perhaps you feel like you’re drowning in debt right now or can’t get your spending under control, so a discussion on the importance of financial organization may not seem very relevant to you. But no matter your financial state, whether on top of things and looking for ways to generate more cash flow, or struggling to pay the bills, financial organization is for everyone.

Financial organization is essential to ordering and controlling some of the complex issues that surround finances. It is also vital if additional wealth is going to be created and most importantly, retained.

I have found over several years of coaching that most people have a financial junk drawer, sort of like this one:

Organizing Finances: JunkIf you were to examine your own financial junk drawer what would it look like? Perhaps it would resemble this picture where a mishmash of important financial and legal documents have been tossed. Financial success demands that you adopt an organizational system that will help you get rid of this junk drawer and arrange and order your financial life. Once a system is in place, disorganization and procrastination will diminish, making it much easier for you to get out of debt, start saving for the future, and even create more wealth.
  • Organization will help you sort out complex emotional thoughts and feelings related to money.
  • Organization will help you make good spending decisions.Organization will help you make good investment choices.
  • Organization will help you get out of debt – quickly!
  • Organization creates additional wealth because it helps you make the most out of the hard-earned assets you create through good long-term planning.

One of the most important ways to get organized financially is to look at how your money and assets are taxed and to get your estate in order so that it can be settled easily upon your death.

To get properly organized, you should work on each of the following three areas:
  1. Personal Organization: This kind of organization is where you get your household and personal and family life in order; important documents and paperwork are filed so that you can find them quickly and so that if you die, your family doesn’t have a nightmare ahead of them in settling things.
  2. Estate Organization: This is where you determine your personal net worth by completing asset schedules for property, real estate, bank accounts, and so forth. When you know how much you are (or are not) worth, you will be motivated to get out of debt so that you can be worth something or to learn how to vigorously protect your wealth from taxes, bad decisions, and market downturns.
  3. Estate Settlement: This kind of organization makes it easy for your family to distribute money, property, and special family heirlooms to those you want them to go to. Getting organized here also gives you the opportunity to write down your life history and express feelings to loved ones, and to let family know how you want your funeral and final arrangements to go.
If you are thinking about getting better organized financially, contact me for more ideas: alan@moneymastery.com, 801-292-1099.

What Are the Financial Risks Associated with Your Death?

When will you die?  That seems to be a stupid question, because nobody knows when they will die.  But what if you died tomorrow?  If you knew for absolute surety that you would be gone tomorrow, what would you do today?  Now that you have some thoughts in front of you, overlay all your financial concerns associated with such questions. What would your death mean financially to your loved ones?  What money issues would they face because you are gone?

What we leave behind when we die is called our “legacy.” What will be the legacy you leave your family? What will be your community legacy or your spiritual legacy? What will be your financial legacy? Will your death be a hardship for loved ones? Once you allow yourself to contemplate such questions, you will begin to get a whole lot more concerned with what you want to have happen and what you don’t wantmy-goals to have happen when you die. As you make a list of things that you need to do to ensure the outcome you desire, this list becomes a high priority and you will realize you have to begin working on it now if you want to leave behind a legacy you can be proud of.

Here is a partial checklist designed to help you think about some items that you may need to take care of now before it’s too late:

1. Get cash reserves in place that will be enough to pay your debts and bury you.

2. Ensure you have enough income for dependents, i.e. life insurance.

3. Create a will and/or trust declaring your final wishes.

4. Name a guardian for your minor children and be sure this is in your will and/or trust.

5. Get assets organized in one place with instructions for your heirs on how they need to be distributed.

6. Prepare final/funeral wishes and final goodbyes (letters to loved one, life history, “emotional” legacies, etc.).

7. Record passwords and access instructions to computers that have information about your personal and financial information so that it won’t be difficult for your loved ones to sort out your affairs.

8. Bequeath special items, like a gun to a son, or china and furniture to daughters, etc.

20429. Make amends with anyone you feel you have offended or that has offended you.

10. Arrange photographs with descriptions so your family can continue to pass these along knowing what they are about.

Don’t get depressed over this subject, just get prepared.  What I have done for the last several years, when someone asks a favor of me, is to ask them for a favor in return by being willing to come to my funeral.  I wait to see if I get a verbal yes, and then don’t push the issue. In one such instance, a young man I had helped in the Boy Scout program played the piano really well.  I was so impressed I asked him if he would be willing to play at my funeral.  He reluctantly said yes.  So I offered money, to see what he would say.  “I will be happy to pay you $25 now, or name your price, if you will play.”  He smiled and said “no, I will be happy to do this.” He said I had helped him with his Scouting activities a ton, so there would be no charge.  Sometimes it’s good to think about how you want to be remembered when you die rather than worry so much about all that’s happening around you right now, then get prepared, spiritually, socially, and financially for your desired outcome.

Few people get prepared for what will be a certain event.  In my experience, this kind of preparation really helps leave good memories and alleviates a whole lot of financial worry while you are still alive.

Wills and Trusts Reviewed

Many people believe that wills are only for the aging, and trusts are only for the wealthy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Whether you are a young couple with minor children, an individual with some personal property you would like taken care of at your death, or an elderly person trying to get your estate in order, wills and trusts are an important part of anyone’s personal financial organization and planning.

There are many resources I can recommend to receive good information regarding the establishment of will and/or trusts.  Following is information from the sites I like the best, including www.nolo.com and  www.easylegalplanning.com.  In addition, pricing through these organizations is extremely competitive, especially when compared to an attorney you meet with one-on-one.

Here’s a run down of what is recommended through these and other Internet sites:

Who Needs a Living Trust?

Living trusts have a distinct advantage over wills when it comes to avoiding probate. Probate, the process of court-supervised asset distribution at a person’s death, often involves a significant amount of time as well as attorney and court fees, as reported by Nolo. But the assets that are put in a trust are not subject to probate and go directly to beneficiaries. Additionally, although probate court proceedings are public records, trusts are private documents which leave the details of a person’s private life, their beneficiaries, and the assets they have confidential. And according to AARP, a living trust can substitute as a power of attorney if the owner of the trust becomes unable to manage financial affairs through illnessLegalAgreements or disability. Because of all these advantages, anyone can benefit from having a living trust.

Be aware, however, that there are significantly more legal expenses in creating a living trust than a will. And contrary to what some people believe, a living trust doesn’t provide any protection from paying property taxes.  A drawback of living trusts is that they can be difficult to modify, states Nolo. While a trust can be created without a lawyer, one that is drawn up by a lawyer can cost more than a thousand dollars. Even with a trust, it’s a good idea for an individual to write up a standard will to use as a back up.

Who Can Benefit from a Will?

Because trusts are more expensive to put in place, some people opt to create a simple will, which designates what the person wants done with their property at death. It gives some direction to the family and the court in terms of asset distribution, however, a will does have to be probated in court, or “proved” and this can take time and money. Couples with minor children should always have at the very least, a will in place that dictates who will become legal guardian of their children should they both pass away at the same time.  Many couples assume that if they were both to die  that family would be able to take over the care of their children automatically. Instead, children of deceased parents become wards of the state until legal issues with family can be sorted out in court. Parents’ personal wishes mean nothing after death without a will in place. Therefore, if you are a parent of minor children, do not wait another day, get at least a will in place immediately. Later you can work on creating a trust that will be private and not require probate, but for now make sure you at least have a will in place to protect your minor children!

How Are Living Trusts Administered?

“Owners of living trusts often name themselves and their spouses as trustees so they can maintain full control over the trust and change assets and beneficiaries as needed,” notes AARP. The AARP further states that children are often named as successor trustees. Living trusts can specify exactly how and when assets are passed on to beneficiaries upon the owner’s death. Owners of living trusts have the flexibility to dissolve them anytime for any reason.

According to LegalZoom, because the trust doesn’t have to be probated, the successor trustee can begin making distributions shortly after a person’s death, and the contents of the trust, as well as the directions for distribution, do not need to become public knowledge. In addition, the appointed trustee pays any bills incurred by the trust. Financial assets such as stocks, bonds and checking accounts must be transferred to the trust fund accordingly. Trusts can also be worded so the successor trustee can take over managing the fund if the owner of the living trust becomes incapacitated.

To decide whether or not a living trust is necessary, an individual should consider his age, his assets and his marital status, notes Nolo.