Silent Partner

It’s pretty much understood that planning for the future with products such as retirement packages and Life Insurance are necessary in today’s world. Nobody wants to leave their family members scrambling to come up with funeral expense funds in the wake of losing a loved one!

So, you’ve taken care of this, and that’s great! You have the best interests of your spouse, or children in mind and you have taken definite steps to make that inevitable occurrence a little easier to handle. However, one thing many people neglect to consider is how arduous the process can be when it comes to filing paperwork and handling claims. Especially because sometimes the family members left behind aren’t fully aware of what kinds of plans/policies their deceased loved one even had!

This is where something called a “Silent Partner Program” can really come in handy.

A Silent Partner Program is just another term for an Executor Planning Document and is a way to keep family records organized and up-to-date. This will take a lot of the stress away from someone who is going to be grieving and may find it difficult to navigate the planning process ahead of them.

Many people find it difficult to compile this information and share it with their family members, but fortunately, a number of Retirement Planning companies provide a structured program to manage all of this data.

Usually, a representative from the company will meet with you one on one and walk you through filling out all necessary documents. This will likely include details on the following personal information:

•             Personal Documents

•             Survivor’s Guide

•             Family Data

•             Safe Deposit Box Inventory

•             Contacts

•             Budgeting

•             Additional Sources of Help

•             Personal and Financial Security

As you work together to gather all this data, you will no doubt start to realize how important it is to have this available to those who care about you most!

When all the details are correct and finalized, a number of copies of this document will be created to be kept by the necessary individuals. You will keep one copy for yourself so that you can refer back to it annually and make sure it’s still up to date. Another copy will go to your “Silent Partner,” the person who will be using this information in the event of you becoming disabled or passing away. A final copy will be kept by your retirement planning agency. Your representative will check back with you periodically to see if you need to execute any changes to the information, in which case a new document will be created and distributed. This representative will also be the point of contact for your family members when the time arises to use the information contained in the document.

Just like a will or a Life Insurance policy, a Silent Partner Program is an essential step in looking out for the future of your loved ones. It’s a simple service that many companies provide for free to you and your family.

Why not start working on yours today? http://www.cornerstonewealthsc.com/silent_partner.php

The Importance of Fact Finding

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You’re at home on a Tuesday afternoon and you receive a phone call from a local retirement planner, offering to visit you at your home, explain the Medicare program and do a free financial review.

Of course, as an informed consumer, you are skeptical. “What are they going to try to sell me? Is this legitimate?” You may wonder.  And these are valid questions. ANY time ANYONE wants to visit you at your home or wants you to divulge personal information, it’s your responsibility to do your due diligence and make sure the representative is legitimate. In a society filled with dishonesty, scams and scandals it can be hard to know who to trust! This article will discuss a few ways you can help ensure that you are dealing with who you THINK you’re dealing with and also that they give you the treatment you deserve.

Step 1- Identification

When you book an appointment with a representative over the phone, be sure to get their FULL name and the name of the Company they represent. Your first step is to make sure that they are licensed to do what they say they do. If they are representing an insurance company, or a group that works with insurance companies, they are required to have a state insurance license. You can easily go online and do a search for the Department of Insurance for the state you live in. Each website usually has something called a “Producer Search” which allows you to inquire by Insurance License Number, or by name.

When you find the name of the person you’re looking for you will want to verify that their license is current and active. If you have trouble finding them, don’t hesitate to contact them back and ask for a State Insurance License Number. If you still can’t find it, or if it’s not active, do not meet with this person! Contact their company back and ask for a manager. The company should be able to provide you with a different representative who can help you. You can also contact the state Department of Insurance for more information on that individual.

If you DO find them online, you’ll also want to search further and see which companies they’re licensed with. If you don’t immediately see a particular company listed, don’t be alarmed. Insurance Agents frequently become contracted with new companies as rates fluctuate and products change. They just want to be able to offer their clients the very best options! But sometimes these companies take time to reflect those contracts in the State’s online system.

Another issue is that sometimes an agent works with an agency of a certain name (For example: Jones Retirement Center) who has contracts with insurance companies (Like, John Hancock or Lincoln Financial) So the person on the phone might say: “This is Mike, with Jones Retirement Center.” but when you look him up online you don’t see any sort of contract listed for “Jones Retirement Center”, you only see “John Hancock and Lincoln Financial”. This is because the State sometimes only lists the contracts for actual Insurance Companies, not for the agencies they work through.

If this is the case, you’ll want to do another online search for the name of the agency they work for. So, using the example above “Jones Retirement Center in Financeville, Washington.” Most agencies have a website and you can use this site to review a little more about the company the agent represents and possibly even verify that the agent DOES in fact, work for that agency. (Many agencies list their representatives on their website.) You might also check other outside online listings such as Yellow-Pages or Google, to read reviews about this agency. If negativity seems prevalent with no response or explanation from the business, then you might want to turn elsewhere for your financial planning advice.

If the agent and agency clear all the above filters, the last thing you’d want to do, is just verify that they are who they SAID they are, when they come to your house for their appointment. Asking to see a driver’s license or insurance license will not throw an honest agent off-guard. They will be happy to share their credentials with you. Hopefully they’ll tell you that they appreciate your diligence and that they’re glad to be working with someone who has taken steps to protect themselves in this crazy world we live in.

Step 2- Fact Finding

If you went to a doctor for a check-up and he walked in the room and handed you a prescription for a heart medication, without ever talking to you, taking your blood pressure or running any other tests, you’d think he was crazy! He knows nothing about you or your situation, yet he’s trying to get you to take a drug for a heart condition! How can he even know you HAVE this condition? And even if he’s right, you might already be taking some other medication to treat it! Who knows how the two could affect each other!

It’s just as unreasonable, for a representative to come to your home and tell you that a certain product or service will best suit your needs, if they haven’t first done a financial review.

Also called a “Fact Finder” a financial review will let your agent know about everything you are and aren’t currently doing with your insurance, investments and savings. Having this information will allow them to inform you of possible problems and offer valid solutions.

It can be unsettling to divulge this type of personal information, but keep in mind, you’ve already verified that this is a licensed and trained representative, working for a company that has a good reputation. It’s vital that they have a full picture of your financial situation BEFORE you purchase any new product, or they suggest any changes to your retirement plan.

You may be asked any of the following questions:

  • What types of investments do you currently have? What are the interest rates and total balance of those accounts? (They will want to see statements if you have them and might even call the company to confirm different details of your policies.)
  • What type of life insurance do you have? (This is another case where showing the agent your policy and letting them call the company for full details is definitely to your benefit.)
  • What are the balances of your checking and savings accounts?
  • What type of health insurance do you currently have?
  • What is the current state of your physical health?

Honestly answering all of these questions is the only way that your representative can truly evaluate your situation and offer real solutions that could change your life!

If your representative doesn’t take the time to do this type of review with you, they aren’t doing their job. To get the best service in this industry, you must demand it! Don’t settle for less. Give them your full attention, and they will give you theirs.

Together you can work towards a secure future for yourself and your family.

For more information about Wealth Management and Financial Planning visit www.cswta.com.

 

Same monthly payment- double the benefit! How?

You may wonder why Cornerstone is constantly emphasizing the importance of having a regular financial review at least once a year. Managing Partner/Branch Sales Manager Jonathan Booher recently encountered a situation, which is a great example why these reviews are so important!

Mr. Booher recently met with a client who we will refer to as Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones is 66 years old currently in good health and hasn’t had any major medical complications within the last five years. Mrs. Jones was very happy with all of her insurance policies and felt like she was set and did not need a financial review. To be on the safe side, she decided to let Cornerstone review her current policies to make sure everything was still in force and in good standing, and that there weren’t any oddities to the policies she might have been unaware of (seems like there’s always SOMETHING hidden in the small print. Right?)

The Life Insurance Policy Mrs. Jones had purchased many years before, was a whole life policy that had a $25,000 death benefit. Her monthly premium was $50, and she made it very clear that was the most she could afford to pay for her life insurance.

When Mr. Booher did some research into this life policy, he found that in the years Mrs. Jones had been paying premiums into her life insurance policy, it had accumulated over $10,000 of cash value! However, Mr. Booher explained to Mrs. Jones, that in the event of her death, her beneficiary (her daughter) would ONLY be entitled to the $25,000 death benefit, and NOT to the $10,000 of cash value! This was very upsetting to Mrs. Jones, because her main goal was to leave as much of a legacy behind to her daughter as possible, and it seemed like a waste to just lose that cash value that was rightfully hers!

So, through Cornerstone, Mrs. Jones was able to take out a new life insurance policy. Using the $10,000 of cash value that had grown within her old policy she was able to fund a new policy with a death benefit of $52,800- more than double her previous benefit! ALL of this money will go to her daughter when Mrs. Jones passes away. And best of all, her monthly premium stays exactly the same!

In just one simple (and FREE) financial review, Mrs. Jones was able to use an asset she already had and double the benefit that will be paid to her family with NO added monthly financial responsibility!

This is just one example of how beneficial a financial review can be!

Cornerstone has more than 50 trained professionals who will complete a financial review completely free and with no obligation to the client! It’s what we do! These meetings can take place in the comfort of your own home at a time convenient for you.

Contact us to set one up today!

843-376-3350

administration@cswta.com

Behold! The Power of Life Insurance!

Wanted to share this article written about life insurance, by our representative Matthew Gouin, a few years back. Very helpful information!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 11:18am ·

By Matthew Gouin, Field Trainer

I’ve helped seniors with their retirement for the last several years now and I’d like to share a few ideas that have helped others I’ve met along the way.Life Insurance can be a powerful tool and can be used for much more than covering one’s final expenses. There are many ways to use life insurance and I’m going to share a few. The first is through Pension Maximization. When choosing a pension payout, you typically have several monthly options. Many retirees choose to take a partial amount to provide a widows benefit for their spouse. In doing so you will receive a lesser amount. I recommend taking the full amount and using the difference to invest in a life insurance policy. You can provide a large lump sum to your spouse rather than a monthly payout.

In addition to Pension Maximization, many of my clients are choosing life insurance to leave behind a legacy or offset estate taxes. The end of 2010, means the end of the Bush tax cuts. Starting in 2011 estate tax could be as high as 55% over the $1,000,000 exemption. Instead of using a monthly income to pay premiums, we will utilize the Required Minimum Distribution or (RMD) from IRAs to pay annual premiums. This gives the client cheaper premiums by paying annually, an answer on how to use the mandatory RMD, and it also creates a tax free benefit to whomever you choose.

Many retirees I meet with have old life insurance policies saturated with cash value. If you cash in the policy you will forfeit your death benefit and pay taxes on part of that money. If you borrow against it, you must pay that loan back plus interest. In most cases when you pass away that cash value stays with the life insurance company. There are few options to use that cash value so what good is it? Did you know that you can use that cash value towards the purchase of a new policy? Even though you may be 10,20,30 years older you can utilize that cash value to work for you. Insurance companies are more concerned with the health of an applicant than their age. Last year I had an 80 year client issued Preferred due to her good health.

Through a 1035 Exchange, we can transfer the proceeds from an old life insurance policy to a new life insurance policy with no tax consequences. Ultimately, this provides clients with three options: 1) Pay the same premium and maximize death benefit 2) Keep the same death benefit and reduce premiums considerably, or 3) Sometimes a policy that is completely paid-up.

2012 Update

As many of you may know, we relocated this fall into a corporate office suite in Summerville, SC. As our business continues to grow and expand we have recently welcomed in a group of new representatives from the Newport News, Virginia area. This team is being led by Branch Manager Erik Goerman who has had many years in the financial services industry.

Cornerstone has always tried to utilize modern resources to benefit both our employees and our clients. That is why we’ve recently started branching out by using a variety of Social Media Networks. Taking advantage of these avenues opens up many doors for our Financial Advisers and Representatives. It also allows us to keep our clients updated on what kinds of new products and services we can offer them! 

As this growth and expansion continues we will be updating this blog regularly with information that can benefit everyone!

Stay tuned!ImageImage

Website Revisions Live!

Great news! Cornerstone’s website has been recently revamped! Lot’s of exciting stuff for everyone! Check it out to see our event calendar for Cornerstone Representatives, as well as upcoming events for our clients too! There are links on the site to important documents and other helpful sites. It will also connect you to our Facebook and Photobucket pages where you can check out tons of photos from fun company events!

Whether you’re a current Cornerstone employee, a client, someone seeking employment or even someone looking to find guidance for their retirement planning and insurance needs, the website can be a great tool!

To visit go to www.cswta.com