Friday , November 27 2015
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Ask the CFP

Estate Planning: Avoiding the “Oops”


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin   “The only source of knowledge is experience.” ~ Albert Einstein   Question: My brother passed away and his will and estate plan had not been updated. This left everything in disarray with the family fighting. What can I do to avoid this type of chaos for my family? Answer: My condolences on the loss of your brother. Life is unpredictable and each day is a gift. Situations change personally and professionally and estate documents are often overlooked and not updated. Grief and uncertainty never go well together. Proper planning is a gift you can give ... Read More »

Avoid Charity Scams


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” ~ Sophocles, Greek playwright born in 495 B.C. Question: How do I distinguish reputable charitable organizations from others that may be scams? Answer: It’s interesting that you ask this question now because I just received several calls requesting donations for the victims of the South Carolina floods and was leery of making donations to unknown entities. We know that as year-end approaches, the push will certainly be on for donations to numerous organizations. Weeding out the worthy ones from the unworthy can be tricky. For instance, in ... Read More »

Divorce: Rent or Own?


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin Question: I’m in the midst of a divorce and don’t know if it’s better to keep the house, sell it and buy another or rent. What are your thoughts? Answer: The answer is the same as it is for most questions, and that is “it depends.” This is an important time to regroup emotionally and financially. Realistic analysis of the economics of your new lifestyle, with financial planning, gets beneath the raw numbers as you go through this transition. Cookie-cutter advice isn’t specific enough to rely on for decisions of this magnitude. A woman in ... Read More »

Gifts to Charity


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “The best thing to give your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to your father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.” ~ Francis Maitland Balfour, British Biologist, 1851-1882   Question: What is the most efficient way to make gifts to charities? I support a number of organizations and want to know if the gifts need to be completed before year-end for tax purposes? Answer: Making charitable donations isn’t only commendable, ... Read More »

Shaken, Stirred and Perturbed, or Were You Prepared?


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “For those properly prepared in advance, a bear market in stocks is not a calamity but an opportunity.” ~ Sir John Templeton   Question: Why were financial markets so volatile during August? Was it all because of China? Answer: China’s currency devaluation and overall economic slowdown were the likely catalysts for the recent dramatic declines, yet other factors also fueled the fluctuations. It’s convenient and tidy to pinpoint one reason for the market’s downward drift, but it’s usually not that simple. Slow(er) Boat to China For the past twenty years, China has experienced frenzied growth. ... Read More »

Your Longest Vacation


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “Never lose sight of this important truth that no one can be truly great until he has gained knowledge of himself, a knowledge which can only be acquired by occasional retirement.” – Johann Georg von Zimmerman, Swiss Physician and Philosopher, 1728-1795.   Question: My husband and I are both 65. We don’t want to be caught off guard during retirement. What advice can you offer? Answer: While some surprises are positive experiences and lots of fun, eyes wide open is the way to go when planning for the financial reality of retirement, or the longest ... Read More »

Easy Money?


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “The influences on stock prices are so numerous and so complex that no person has ever been able to predict the trend of stock prices with consistent success.” ~ As stated by Sir John Templeton in August, 1958. Question: Once again, there is talk all over the news of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. Please explain why they would raise rates and how it would affect the economy. I’m not clear on the relationship between these two variables. Answer: Let’s start by examining the role interest rates play in the overall economy. In the ... Read More »

Greece is the Word


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “Complacency is a Problem.” ~ Ben Bernanke, Former Federal Reserve Chairman Question: Can you explain the relationship between Greece and the European Union? Answer: The European Union, also called the Eurozone (EZ), is an association of nineteen countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, among others. The common denominator of this union is a shared currency, the Euro, to provide an effective exchange rate system to facilitate ease of trade. Today’s Greek drama focuses on the amount of debt that Greece originally brought to the union and continued to add to the balance ... Read More »

To Roth or Not to Roth?


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “They are able because they think they are able.” ~ Virgil, 70 BC – 19 BC, Ancient Roman Poet   Question: What is the difference between a Roth IRA and a regular IRA? Is it true that I can convert my traditional IRA to a Roth IRA? Answer: Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are personal savings plans that provide tax benefits. The IRS allows certain favorable treatment of these assets to encourage U.S. taxpayers to contribute to these accounts as way to take responsibility for their future financial well-being. Let’s start by identifying differences ... Read More »

Nationwide Healthcare Subsidies Upheld


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “Health is not simply the absence of sickness.” ~Hannah Green, American Author, 1927-1996 Question: What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what will it do to the stock market? Answer: The nine U.S. Supreme Court justices voted 6-3 in the King vs. Burwell case stating that taxpayer money will pay for federally funded healthcare exchanges. These exchanges are essentially subsidized health-insurance plans for the states (including Florida) that chose not to create their own exchanges. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 11.7 ... Read More »

Social Security


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt   Question: I am confused, when is the best time to file for my social security benefits? Answer: Welcome to the great debate. There are numerous strategies for “maximizing” the receipt of your benefits. The short answer is that most people will be better off to delay filing for Social Security to provide for a higher lifetime income, maximized survivor benefits and longevity protection. Longer life spans make the decision of when to file more important than ... Read More »

Our Best Investment


ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin “An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends.” ~Benjamin Franklin   Question: What’s the best way to set aside funds for our grandchildren to help with college expenses? Answer: If your intention is to designate the funds exclusively for higher education expenses, there are three tax-advantaged strategies available. We’ll focus on these techniques because money not paid out in taxes is that much more available to offset rising college expenses. There certainly are other ways to save for future generations, but to answer your specific question, here are three tax efficient ways to help ... Read More »

The Key to Life is Balance


Ask The CFP® Practitioner Darcie Guerin “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” General George S. Patton   Question: What are your thoughts on interest rates? Answer: When it comes to making predictions, I’ve learned over the years that it is helpful to plan for occasional economic wildcards and look for trends rather than absolutes. Current events such as dramatically lower oil prices, international tensions, a stronger than expected U.S. dollar and dramatically lower oil prices all influence interest rates and make it difficult to predict the timing of any movements. While expectations might be for rates to move ... Read More »

Online Identity and Your Legacy


By Darcie Guerin “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” – Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder   Question: Having just lost my mother, I’m now more aware than ever of how important it is to make things as easy as possible for my loved-ones after I’m gone or for when I cannot manage my own affairs. It was extremely difficult to gain access to my Mom’s on-line information for bill paying, email and other matter further complicating the situation. What recommendations can you make? Answer: First, my condolences on the loss of your mother. ... Read More »

All in the Family


By Darcie Guerin Question: I’m a bit uneasy with my children and grandchildren’s abilities to manage the family finances after I’m gone. What tips or suggestions might you have?   Answer: Not knowing your family, but based on studies by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research, your concern is justified. The unfortunate reality is that 70 percent of family wealth disappears when passed to the next generation. All too frequently, the first generation builds the wealth, the second expands it and the third generation loses it, having to start over. With an estimated $30 Trillion (yes, that’s with a ... Read More »

Common Sense or Common Cents?


Ask The CFP Practitioner Darcie Guerin “The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” — Carl Jung, Swiss Psychologist, 1875-1961.   Question: Can you explain what is meant by a “strong dollar?” How does this affect consumers, the economy, and the stock market?   Answer: Your question is not only well timed; it should be on an Economics College Final exam! The U.S. Dollar (USD) index is a commonly used, and often misunderstood, measure of the strength of our currency, the USD, relative to the currency of other countries. Common sense indicates ... Read More »

The Employment Report and Why it Matters


By Darcie Guerin “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” John Naisbitt, Author of the bestseller, Megatrends, born in 1929.   Question: Financial news channels place a great deal of emphasis on the jobs report. Please explain why this is such an important report and why it matters to individual investors. Answer: The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the jobs report, also known as the Employment Report, on the first Friday of each month. Investors, employers and policy makers eagerly await the findings that provide insight to the relative strength or weakness in the job market. Economic ... Read More »

Serenity Now!


Ask The CFP® Practitioner Darcie Guerin Coastal Breeze News inadvertently ran the wrong column under an updated headline in our last edition. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.   Question: Now that we’re solidly into 2015, what is the outlook for financial markets? All this volatility makes me nervous. Answer: Last month we attended Jerry Seinfeld’s performance in Naples. Your question brings to mind the phrase “Serenity Now” from his television show. In the show, Jerry was portrayed as very deliberate and habitual. The same holds true in real life. In fact, I’ve read that it can take ... Read More »

Roseanne Rosannadanna


Ask The CFP® Practitioner Darcie Guerin “If you want to go fast…go alone. If you want to go far…go together.” — African Proverb   Question: My financial affairs are in good shape, although they might be a bit random and unintentional. I know I need a plan, yet I’m afraid that if I do make changes I’ll do something wrong. World affairs are so volatile, the economy is uncertain, interest rates are low and the stock market is so high; what should I do?   Answer: It sounds like you’re in the right frame of mind to prioritize, organize and gain ... Read More »

Cybercrime on the Rise


Ask The CFP® Practitioner Darcie Guerin “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” — Albert Einstein (1879-1955)   Question: According to the news, it appears that cybercrime and identity theft are on the rise. What can we do to protect ourselves? Answer: You’re right; these types of crime are on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission reports that between 2011 and 2013, odds increased by 65 percent that if you were notified of an online data compromise, you’d become an actual victim of identity theft. Because that’s where the money is. Willie Sutton (1901-1980) the notorious ... Read More »