What is the cost of working with a financial advisor?
Often times, it seems that the cost of seeking advice from a financial professional can act as a barrier for those who need help with their financial planning. When working with Mountain Peak Financial, however, it is important to know that the only cost of meeting with us is your time. If we decide to move forward and put a plan into place, then fees are charged - but not directly by us. We will never charge for a consultation, phone call, or any other client interaction.
So, what are the fees? There are usually two sides of the financial industry that work well for retirees and pre-retirees. The first is the investment side, including stocks, exchange traded funds, and mutual funds. The second is the insurance side, including annuities, long term care, and life insurance. On the investment side, there is a fee charged for assets under management (AUM). This fee is charged from the actual investment account - you will not receive a bill directly.
This chart explains the difference between a broker who charges commissions for making trades within your investment portfolio and a fee based plan under a financial agreement. Note that Charles Ragonese of Mountain Peak Financial, Inc. falls under the “advisor” category in the chart and is held to the fiduciary standard of care.
Finally, on the insurance side, business placed with the various insurance companies is commissionable to the agent, meaning the insurance company pays a commission to the agent.
If you still have questions about this, do not hesitate to calls us at 909.982.2277.
What will happen to my retirement income if I need to make a large withdrawal for an emergency?
There is no easy way around this one. The best way to be financially prepared for an emergency is to have your own reserve of cash that you've set aside specifically for emergencies. But of course with all our day-to-day expenses, this isn't always practical and, as emergencies pop up out of the blue unannounced, there is always the possibility that one will strike before we even had the chance to start saving for one. So if you don't have any extra cash on hand to cover emergency expenses, the next option is to withdraw cash from your IRA or other qualified plan. Though this may be the only option, you should know that taking money from your IRA has two main consequences - you will have to pay taxes on the money and whatever you are taking out deducts from your retirement income when you start taking distributions. The larger the withdrawal, the less income you will have for your retirement. It's also important to note that there is an additional 10% penalty that will be charged if you withdraw from your IRA prior to age 59 1/2.
Our advice? Saving for an emergency is just as important as saving for anything else. Start today. If you can manage it, put aside a small portion of each paycheck and don't touch it for anything other than emergencies. Of course it'll take time to save a significant amount but anything helps. If you do have an emergency, be sure to contact us so we can discuss the best strategy for you.
If my spouse predeceases me, what happens to their investment/savings accounts?
Upon death, a person's assets are passed to the named beneficiaries. It is important to ensure that you and your spouse are specifically named as each other's primary beneficiaries, if that is your wish. You should also be sure to already have named contingent beneficiaries, which are usually your children, other relatives, friends, etc. Having named beneficiaries is an advantage because it will allow certain assets such as IRAs, defined contribution plans, pension plans, annuities, and life insurance to bypass probate through direct transfer. If beneficiaries are not named, those assets will be paid out to the deceased's estate.
Our Advice? The bottom line is that you should be sure that the correct beneficiaries are named on all of your assets at all times because those named are the ones who will receive the assets upon your death. If you are unsure about who you currently have listed as your beneficiaries or want to make changes, contact us or your attorney right away.
Why do annuities have such a bad reputation?
Often times, annuities are just misunderstood. Fixed and fixed index annuities are insurance contracts designed for retirement or other long term needs and provide lifetime income. They provide guarantees of principal and credited interest. Who wouldn't want that? But of course, no financial product is 100% perfect; every product has a compromise and for annuities that compromise come in the form of less liquidity [access to the money].
If a client wants complete access to their money or changes their mind about why they purchased the product and decides to withdraw the money, a surrender charge is applied. However, 10% of the money can be withdrawn each year without surrender charges. But taking out 10% of your money each year could lead to running out of money in 10 years!
Here it's important to think about the specific role that annuities serve. Annuities are typically used to create a guaranteed income to last for the rest of your life. I doubt that any retiree plans to run out of money in 10 years. Retirement is not about how much money you can make, but about how long your money can last. Annuities are intended to make your money last as long as you need it to.
When you hear that annuities have a bad reputation, it's important to think about it in context, in terms of how the annuity is being used. If you are using an annuity for lifetime income, then full liquidity is not necessary anyway because using too much of that money could result in running out of money too soon.
So in considering what type of product is right for you, you first need to fully understand what you need. From there we can determine what is right for you. But if it's lifetime income that you're looking for, then there's no need to be afraid of annuities and their seemingly "bad rap."
**Annuity guarantees and protections are backed by the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurer.
How do I pay for long-term care if I need it?
There are 3 ways to deal with this issue. If you're very wealthy, you can afford to self-pay. If you're poor, you'll most likely qualify for MediCal assistance. However, for most people who are in-between those opposite sides of the spectrum, there seems to be two options - spending down your own assets that took you a lifetime to save, OR purchasing insurance to cover the cost of long-term care (you can take a wild guess as to which one I would recommend). It does seem it'd be a good practice for everyone to purchase insurance to cover the cost, but it's a fact that not everyone can afford to do so. There are a few options when considering long-term care coverage, and it's important to think strategically about which option is best for you.
The three main options when considering ways to pay for long-term care expenses are: traditional long-term care products, some life insurance with an accelerated long-term care benefit rider, and some annuities with an accelerated long-term care benefit rider. If long-term care insurance is something you would like to learn more about and consider purchasing, please call us at 909.982.2277 to set up an appointment.
**Living benefits are available in the form of accelerated death benefits. These benefits are NOT a replacement for long term care (LTC) insurance. Living benefits and LTC riders are not available on all products and may not be available in all states. Addition of an accelerated death benefit or LTC rider may require an additional fee and are subject to eligibility requirements.
How do I leave money for my kids?
Many clients ask me, “How do I leave money to my kids?” What they are really asking is how can they leave a legacy for their children and even grandchildren.
Of course, you can update your beneficiaries on your various accounts to reflect who you’d like to leave money to. These could be bank accounts, investment accounts, IRA’s and 401k plans, etc.
However, that may not be enough. We would all like to live to a very old age and most of the money in the above-mentioned accounts may not have much money left over to pass down. You might consider the role life insurance can have for leaving a long-lasting legacy.
What steps can I tell my children to take to start saving for retirement?
Adults in their 30's and 40's have so much going on in their lives that saving for retirement often takes a back seat, as it's not urgent enough. If your kids aren't saving for retirement, they need to understand that it is not too soon to start. As you know very well, starting your retirement savings a couple months before you plan to retire just doesn't cut it. It takes years to accumulate the funds necessary to last you for the rest of your life. Here are two things you can do to help encourage your kids to start saving for retirement:
(1) Ask them if they are contributing to their employer sponsored contribution plan (401(k), 403(b), etc.). This is the easiest way to save for retirement. Once the monthly payment is set to go automatically from their paycheck into the savings plan, they don't even have to think about it. If they don't have an employer sponsored program, they can look into setting up an IRA (individual retirement account) and make automatic payments monthly. The benefit of these two options is that it's easy - they only have to set it up once - and there's no need to save so much money every month that they become nervous about paying their bills. Choose an affordable amount, even if it's just $50 a month. Some savings is better than no savings.
(2) Share with your kids your experience of saving for retirement and how those savings have affected your retirement lifestyle. Maybe even share with them anything you wish you did differently. Your kids will appreciate your honesty and advice.
If your children are beginning to think about retirement planning, I'm more than happy to answer their questions.
Can I retire if I still have debt?
It's always wise to pay off debt before you retire. However, we also know that it is sometimes difficult to do so. Tax and credit card debt are the typical types of debt people are faced with going into retirement, and it could be in your best interest to have these two paid off.
People often ask if they need to have their home mortgage debt paid, but it isn't always necessary because there may be tax advantages to carrying this debt. If you are in a position to pay off your mortgage, then by all means do so. Otherwise, you just have to factor it in with the rest of your expenses and make sure you can afford it with the income you have planned for retirement. Many people do go into retirement with a mortgage anyway, especially if they recently downsized to a smaller house.
If you are worried about the amount of debt you have, schedule an appointment with me so we can find a strategy that works for you.
How could inflation impact my retirement income?
Inflation poses the threat of making future purchases harder to afford; it decreases your purchasing power. When strategizing for your retirement income, we factor in the impact that inflation might have and plan accordingly to help ensure that you will have the income you need.
It is ideal to have sources of retirement income that can also grow over time, keeping up with inflation. It also helps to cut out certain expenses, but if that's not a possibility, certain lifestyle changes may need to be made. Remember that, though inflation in the short run doesn't seem like that big a threat, you very well may live for 20 - 30 years after retirement. Just as prices are significantly higher today than they were 20 years ago, so they most likely will be 20 years from now.
For example, it may be likely that you will purchase another car during your retirement. In the year 2000, the average price of a new car was $24,750 (
source). Today in 2018, the average price of a new car is $36,270 (
source). If this is any sort of trend, we need to account for the future costs of goods and services in your retirement income planning.