Your Life's Work

Do You Get a Slice of the Equifax Settlement?

08/07/19

By Wayne Locke, CFP®

 

As many of you may remember, in 2017 the credit reporting agency Equifax was the victim of the largest breach of customer data ever. More than 147 million Americans had their personal data compromised due to a criminal cyberattack on Equifax, as well as negligent information security practices within the company. Equifax has reached a settlement in the class action lawsuit against them and will pay up to $700 million to provide cash payments for those affected. Below are the details of what will be paid out, how to check if you were affected, and how to file your claim.

  • Free Credit Monitoring: Up to four years of free credit monitoring services from all three bureaus, and up to six more years through Equifax. There was previously an option for a $125 cash payment, however the fund established was not large enough to meet the demand.
  • Cash Payments Based on Time Spent: The time you spent remedying fraud, identity theft, or other misuse of your personal information caused by the data breach or purchasing credit monitoring or freezing credit reports is eligible for up to 20 total hours at $25 per hour.
  • Recouping Losses due to the Breach: Equifax will pay up to $20,000 for any out-of-pocket losses resulting from the data breach, and up to 25% of the cost of Equifax credit or identity monitoring products you paid for in the year before the data breach announcement.

This data breach affected nearly half of all Americans, so there is a high chance that you or someone you know was impacted. The deadline for the initial claims period is January 22, 2020 so be sure to go through your financial documents to see what you are eligible for.

Feel free to contact the office if you have any questions about this settlement or credit monitoring in general.

Cheers!

 

To find out if your information was affected by the breach, go to

https://eligibility.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/en/eligibility

If you were impacted, review your records to determine what you are entitled to and file a claim at:

https://www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com/file-a-claim

 

Should You Consider A Family Limited Partnership?

07/03/19

By Wayne Locke, CFP®

Those with family businesses know that planning an effective ownership strategy is crucial to the continuation of the business. One estate planning strategy worth considering is the family limited partnership.

By creating general and limited partnerships within your business, you can gift limited partnerships to your children while holding the general partnership interest in your business. There are several advantages to this type of strategy:

  • Gifting partnership shares to your children over time allows you to take full advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion
  • It can reduce your estate tax liability
  • Incentivize family members within the enterprise with ownership
  • A family business can include real estate or investments

I encourage you all to take a look at this article, which can be viewed here on my website. There are other articles and videos available here as a resource to you, and I welcome any feedback you may have.

Cheers!

 

What's In a Good Exit Plan?

05/17/19

By Wayne Locke, CFP®

 

For most entrepreneurs, their business represents a lifetime of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. Building a successful company is extremely challenging, but also incredibly rewarding. However, many business owners find themselves so caught up with day to day operations, that they fail to prepare a plan for exiting their business. The Business Enterprise Institute estimates that a successful business exit plan takes between 3 and 10 years to successfully complete. Many owners have not established a plan at all. This often results in highly profitable businesses being liquidated or closed, leaving potentially millions of dollars on the table.

A Forbes article titled, “What's In A Good Exit Plan?”, by John Brown poses seven questions based on the Business Enterprise Institute's exit planning process:

Step One: Setting Exit Objectives: Do you know your retirement goals and what it will take—in cash—to reach them?

Step Two: Determining Business Value: Do you know what your business is worth today, in cash?

Step Three: Increasing Business Value: Have you identified the best ways to increase your company's value and cash flow?

Step Four: Sale To A Third Party: Do you know how to sell your business to a third party for maximum dollars and minimum taxation?

(or)

Step Five: Transfer Your Business To Insiders: Do you know how to transfer your business to insiders (family members, co-owners or employees) for cash rather than give it away?

Step Six: Business Continuity Planning: Do you have a continuity plan to protect your business should you die or become disabled prior to your exit?

Step Seven: Wealth and Estate Planning: Do you have a plan to assure your family's financial security should you die or become disabled?

In my view, having an exit plan is a critical part of any business plan because like it or not, nobody can or should work forever.  

 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrown/2017/05/04/whats-in-a-good-exit-plan/#1f9b0341904a

https://www.exitplanning.com/solutions/planning/exit-planning-process

 

 

Have You Made an Estate Planning Checklist?

04/02/19

By Wayne Locke, CFP®

 

Recently I hosted a workshop where we discussed several topics related to estate planning. Listed below are several important steps that everyone should take when it comes to ensuring your wishes will be carried out.

  • Is your testamentary will up to date? Be sure that you update this document whenever major financial or lifestyle changes occur to best reflect your wishes. Pay special attention to review your named executors, beneficiaries, and trustees as appropriate.
  • Have you granted medical power of attorney to a trusted individual? This person would be able to make important medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you were incapacitated.
  • Similar to medical power of attorney, granting someone durable power of attorney for your financial affairs allows them to make decisions regarding your finances if you are incapacitated.
  • Do you have a HIPAA authorization in place? These documents allow your medical records to be released if needed to a third party.
  • Make sure all beneficiary designations are up to date. This includes any retirement accounts, insurance policies, or pension plans you might own. As a rule, always update your beneficiary designations after any major changes in your life such as the birth of a child/grandchild, divorce, loss of spouse, etc.
  • If you have trusts, be sure that the trust records are easily accessible to those who would need them.
  • Notify trusted family members where your important documents are located.

There is often a perception that estate planning is only for wealthy people, but this could not be further from the truth. Having a well-organized plan for how you would like your wishes carried out can relieve your family of stress during a difficult period. Please reach out to your financial and legal professionals if you have any questions or concerns regarding your own estate plan.

Cheers!

 

 

The Economy Holds Steady

03/07/19

By Wayne Locke, CFP®

 

There has been a lot of discussion out there about the economy cooling down, so I wanted to take some time to talk about a few key indicators which have been performing very well, despite the recent government shutdown and the ongoing trade disputes. The Institute for Supply Management is an organization which publishes a report every month that looks at indicators relating to various sectors of the economy. The February Report on Business, which you can access here, showed that the Non-Manufacturing Index (NMI) was at 59.7, up 3 points from January. This number is a composite of data from all the non-manufacturing industries about business activity, new orders, employment, and supplier deliveries. Each non-manufacturing industry experienced growth, and while they did report concerns about the uncertainty of tariffs, capacity constraints, and employment resources, they were optimistic about the overall business conditions and economy.

So what is the takeaway from all of this data? Despite the turbulence in the political climate and the stock market, the consumer remains strong. The fundamentals for many companies are strong, despite slowing growth. As always, consult with your financial professional before making any major changes to your strategies.

Cheers!

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-05/u-s-services-gauge-tops-forecasts-in-sign-of-economic-health

https://www.instituteforsupplymanagement.org/ISMReport/NonMfgROB.cfm?navItemNumber=31115

 

Please Note:  The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy.  When you link to any of the websites provided here, you are leaving this website.  We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these websites.  Nor is the company liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, websites, information or programs made available through this website.  When you access one of these websites, you are leaving our website and assume total responsibility and risk for your use of the websites to which you are linking.

 

 

Beware of Snowbird Scams!

02/05/19

By Wayne Locke, CFP®

 

Happy Winter everyone! I wanted to share an article from the January edition of Retire Wise by Katie Williams. It talks about some things to be aware of if you're someone who likes to fly to warmer climates for the winter. Take a look at the article below, and you can access Retire Wise by clicking here.

Retirees aren't the only ones seeking warmer weather when temperatures drop. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), scammers and con artists flock to areas including Florida and Arizona in droves to prey upon unsuspecting “snowbirds” from November through April each year.  Despite the passing of the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, which was designed to help protect seniors, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that one in 10 older adults lose an estimated $2.9 billion a year to elder financial abuse. And reports from the FBI show that almost 50,000 people over age 60 lost $342.5 million in 2017 to internet fraud and scams. AARP lists the following among the top snowbird scams:

  1. The malevolent mechanic. Waiting outside shopping malls or supermarkets, they watch for snowbirds (often recognized by out-of-state license plates) to park and go inside. If the car's older or left unlocked, they can pop the hood and disable the vehicle by pulling wires. When the owner returns, they offer help getting their car started, which usually includes driving them to the bank to get money to pay for the repair. Their main target: women in their 70s or 80s.
  2. The condo caper. These crooks frequently work in pairs. They arrive unannounced as self-described utility workers, contractors or exterminators, requesting to enter your home and claiming that the condo association sent them. Typically, one creates a distraction to divert your attention while the other stealthily steals valuables.
  3. The lottery winner who can't collect. In a parking lot, someone approaches you claiming to hold a winning lottery ticket, but he or she “is in the country illegally and can't collect.” They offer to give you the winning ticket if you pay a portion of the jackpot in cash. Its number may be "verified" by a passerby — "I saw it announced on TV last night." In reality, this person is an accomplice and the ticket is worthless.

How can you avoid becoming a victim of snowbird financial abuse?

  • Remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in parking lots or in large crowds where distracted individuals are seen as easy targets for would-be pick-pockets, purse snatchers and car thieves.
  • Never let anyone claiming to be a worker inside your dwelling unless you initiated contact, or the homeowners' or condo association gives prior notice.
  • Never agree to provide cash in person or over the phone (via credit card or gift cards) for a transaction you did not initiate yourself or to claim a lottery or sweepstakes prize. Remember, while good faith is an admirable quality, there's no replacement for good judgment when it comes to protecting your safety, your property and your assets.

 

If you are a victim of one of these scams, contact the local police department as soon as possible and provide as many details as you can. You may also want to contact your children or grandchildren to keep them informed of the situation. Finally, our office is always available to you as a resource in case you need advice.

Stay safe out there!

 

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-11-2012/7-common-snow

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/06/12/curbing-elder-abuse-whats-been-helping-whats-needed/#7430400e457e