Daily Archive: January 22, 2018

Jan
22

Asia solar shares give mixed response to Trump’s tariff hike

Jan
22

Christine Lagarde: global economic growth can fight inequality

From corruption to climate change, the threats to our economies and our world ignore borders

Jan
22

Your Last Will and Testament

Creating an estate plan, writing down your last will and testaments, and identifying a healthcare proxy don’t seem like a fun way to spend a weekend.

However, organizing your end of life paperwork and making sure you have a plan for your finances are some of the most important tasks you can complete as an adult. After all, you don’t want your family to make difficult decisions in their grief or struggle to pay for your care.

By preparing your end of life documentation now, you are making a selfless decision to prevent your family from lengthy court proceedings and stress both before and after you pass away.

: 5 Reasons It’s A MUST Have

You can prepare your finances by ensuring you have the proper levels of insurance, saving throughout your life, and investing wisely. By doing this, your estate will potentially have some value, and thus, it will be helpful to your family to have a thorough estate plan in place.

Learn more about the five main reasons you need to prepare your end of life finances below.

Reason #1: Most People Don’t

You should prepare your end of life paperwork because, well, most people don’t.

In fact, according to a Gallup poll, only 44% of adults write down their last will and testaments. Maybe it’s because it’s not a pleasant topic. People don’t like to think about their own mortality.

Or, maybe they think creating these legal documents will be too expensive. Spoiler alert: it’s not.

If you have a relatively straightforward estate, you can actually create your will yourself online, which will run you somewhere between $20-$100, which is far less than the cost of an estate planning attorney.

Remember, spending less than $100 to fill out the paperwork now can save your family significant time and grief in the future.

However, if you have an estate worth millions of dollars, it would be wise to speak with an estate planning attorney.

Even though their advice might be expensive, they could potentially save your family money if they have an exceptional understanding of the laws and rules regarding estate planning laws and estate taxes.

Again, even though this type of paperwork isn’t fun to complete, it’s necessary for your family’s well-being.

Additionally, please keep in mind that creating your last will and testaments isn’t just for the elderly. All adults should take the time to complete this paperwork, even if they don’t currently have a spouse or dependents.

Reason #2: It Puts You In Control

You might be wondering why someone who doesn’t have a spouse or dependents should plan their end of life paperwork and finances, but it’s pretty simple, really.

When you prepare your last will and testaments, you are in control of your future.

Things like:

You get to write down what your hopes are for whatever you leave behind.
You get to say whether or not you want to be resuscitated if you get too sick and stop breathing.
You get to say who gets your gold watch and which charity will benefit from a portion of your investments.

Instead of leaving things to chance or hoping that someone remembers your wishes, write them down. Remember, just because you prepare your last will and testaments today doesn’t mean that you can’t change them.

In fact, any time you have a big life event (like having children, for example) you should go back and re-examine your will. If you do have children, buying term life insurance is a must if they’re young so you can ensure they have the same quality of life, even if you’re not there.

When it comes to your last will and testaments, you can include things like who you want to raise your children should something happen to you, where you want them to go to school, and even what traditions you want them to have.

Really, it’s so much more than legal documents; it’s a comprehensive list of how you want your family’s life to be in your absence.

This will not only give your family clear directives but it will also give you peace of mind. You will be able to rest easy knowing that you clearly wrote down your expectations for your family, especially when it comes to the things in life most important to you, like your children.

Of course, once your children are older, you can adjust your will since you won’t have to assign a caregiver to them. You can also add grandchildren to your will as they come!

Reason #3: Your Family Won’t Have to Skimp on Your Medical Care

When you take the time to plan for your end of life care both from a medical and a financial perspective, you are more likely to get the type of care you want.

Additionally, your family members won’t have to make difficult decisions about your care if they have clear directives and funds to pay for it. There have been numerous cases in the news lately of families struggling with decisions over life support and other serious medical considerations.

Don’t put your family in a bind. Tell them what you want to happen should you get sick and can’t speak for yourself.

Some examples of things to think about include where you’d like to spend your final days.

Would you rather be at home with a skilled nurse taking care of you?
Would you rather be in a nursing home or some other type of assisted living facility?
Do you know whether or not you want to be resuscitated should you get ill and stop breathing?

These are things that can be included in your last will and testaments or even a living will, which is a document that states your preferences for medical care while you’re still alive.

Again, although these topics aren’t pleasant, they’re incredibly important to think about so you can create a plan. We tend to think we will live a long time, but medical directives are important to write down even if you’re young.

You never know what’s going to happen or if you will be in a serious or unexpected accident in the future.

Do your family a favor and think through these decisions now while you’re well.

Remember, when you take the time to plan, you can get proper insurance coverage, like long term care insurance, which can help your family pay for your medical care. You can also make sure all your wishes are carried out, even if you’re unable to speak for yourself later in life.

Reason #4: You Can Prevent Any Financial Uncertainty

You’ve spent your life working, saving, and accumulating wealth. What are your hopes for your financial legacy? Do you want to pass your wealth down to your children, set up trusts for your grandchildren, or donate funds to charity?

You can put all of these wishes and plans in your last will and testaments. By writing down exactly what you want to happen to your investments as well as your personal belongings, your family will have clear instructions on what to do.

By getting the proper levels of insurance, your family won’t have to stress about paying for a funeral or paying for your final hospital bills.

Even basic levels of insurance are relatively affordable for someone with a low income, so take the time to research your options and get quotes now.

The younger and healthier you are, the more affordable insurance like term life insurance is. Again, by completing these tasks ahead of time while you’re of sound mind, you’ll take the stress and worry away from your family later in life.

Reason #5: Your Children Won’t Be Burdened

This is perhaps the most important reason for preparing your end of life documents. You might not realize this but if you don’t create a last will and testaments, your children won’t get to decide what to do with your estate.

Rather, according to the AARP, your estate will be settled in court.

A judge chooses someone called an administrator to manage your belongings, finances, and more. It will be up to them, and they “will most likely be a stranger to you and your family.”

This isn’t exactly a comforting thought to a spouse or children who are grieving.

Also, this court process could take an extended amount of time, delaying your children from receiving any financial benefits from your estate. By creating a last will and testaments, you are saving your children from the burden of going through court proceedings while they are grieving your death.

Because you put everything you wanted in writing, you are saving them hours and hours of time, a time they’d probably rather spend remembering you.

Ultimately, preparing for your end of life finances and completing all necessary documentation for the end of your life is an incredibly important process to complete.

It might take a few days or weeks to get all of your paperwork and insurance coverage in place, but you won’t regret it and your family will be incredibly grateful you thought ahead.

When Should You Use a Living Trust?

First off, not everybody needs a trust.

Typically, they are most appropriate for folks who have sizable estates.

For example, people with who likely need trusts will have approximately have an estate of $1 million or more.  When you have an estate of this size and you do go through probate, you can expect that court and legal fees will cost around 2-4% of the total estate.

This is where setting up a trust will usually pay for itself.

How to Name Your Trustee

Most people will name themselves as the trustee as the trustee’s role is to manage the trust’s assets.

A husband and wife will usually serve as the primary trustee and then carefully select a successor trustee they feel will manage the trust the most appropriately.

The successor trustee can be an individual (you better choose wisely) or a financial institution (bank or corporate trustee). A corporate trustee will be much more expensive, but you take the human element out.

Remember, you can always change your successor trustees at any time.

What Can You Put in a Living Trust

Almost any type of asset can be placed in a trust:

savings accounts
stocks
bonds
real estate
life insurance
business interests
personal property

To fund a trust, one simply changes the name or title of one’s assets to the name of the trust.

Spouses and Domestic Partners

Since a living trust can hold both separate and community property, it may be a convenient estate planning vehicle for spouses and registered domestic partners to plan for the management and ultimate distribution of their assets in one document.

Wills vs. Living Trusts: What’s the difference?

WillsLiving Trusts

ProbateSubject to probate; becomes public recordNot subject to probate; remains private

CostsGenerally costs less to create; increases probate costsCosts more to create; probate is avoided

What Happens When You Die Without A Will or Trust?

This is one of the most common questions asked around the idea of wills.

First, let’s understand what it means to die without a will.

To die without a will, the legal term refers to dying “intestate”, which means you didn’t have a will drafted before you died, or your will doesn’t meet the requirements of the state law that you’re residing.

When dying without a will, almost everything is subject to probate. Previously, I had interviewed a local estate attorney, Carey Gill, and these were her remarks regarding what really happens when you die without a will:

While probate is usually the standard, you may also pass $100,000 with a small estate affidavit with or without a will.

Probate allows for clean titling of your assets to go directly to your next of kin.

One potential downside of probate is your matters are made public and anybody is allowed to make a claim against your property.

Another way of looking at probate is basically everything you have left over, you are leaving subject to your state government’s laws and regulations to determine how you wanted your property distributed.

So, if you are comfortable having the state determine how your assets get split up, then probate might be okay for you. That still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a will.

What Does a Will Really Do?

Many people don’t seek out getting a will drafted because they don’t understand what it really does or they think it’s only necessary for people with tons of money – not the case!

Here are the 3 main functions that a will allows you to do:

It allows you to give away the property you own in your name the way you want to.
It allows you to nominate an executor to take care of all of your last affairs as far as paying bills, etc.
It allows you to nominate a guardian for your minor children.

Of course, if you do not have a will, then none of these will be accomplished in the way that you will see fit and will be subject to your state laws and regulations.

Are There Repercussions of Dying Intestate Between States?

Between different states, there are different rules, although many stick to a loose sense of how money should be distributed.

Additionally, your marital status, and whether you have children or not (also how many children you have) affect where your belongings go.

If you’re married and have children, often the money is split up into half between your spouse and children. Often the spouse will get one third to one half of the total sum, and the rest is split among the children. This is usually done regardless of the age of the children.

If you have a child who is 15 and another who is 30, they’re probably going to end up with the same amount.

If you’re married but you don’t have children, your spouse gets about the same amount as if you did have children (one third to one half).

The difference is the remainder often goes to the parents of the deceased. If the deceased has no remaining parents, the siblings of the deceased share the money equally among them. It’s interesting to note, even half-siblings receive a share, no different than siblings who come from the same set of parents.

If you’re single but have children, the law tends to be very clear.

The entirety of the sum often goes to the children, who split it evenly.

Usually, there’s no provision for the other parent of the deceased’s children. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of the law for people who have been in long-term relationships, yet remain unmarried. No matter whether they have had children or not, the state almost always regards them as single entities.

If you’re single and have no children, your possessions usually go to your parents. If they are deceased, the property is typically split evenly among any siblings you have. The same rule of half-siblings being treated the same as full siblings tends to apply.

What About Other Circumstances

Family circumstances can be extremely complex, and the explanations above are not meant to cover every person in every state (or country). There are frequently extenuating circumstances that make each probate case a little more finicky.

For cases outside the above-stated circumstances, there are clauses that suggest money should go to grandparents, aunts and uncles, children of a deceased spouse, relatives of a deceased spouse, and finally to the state you were considered a legal resident of.

The post Your Last Will and Testament appeared first on Good Financial Cents.

Jan
22

First Tech Federal Credit Union Review

There are plenty of different banks and credit unions for you to use all across the country. Each of them has different products, perks, and disadvantages you’ll need to consider when you’re shopping around for the perfect bank.

What separates one from another?

Today we’re going to look at First Tech Federal Credit Union. We’ll be looking into their account types, products, advantages and disadvantages, and more.

A Brief History of First Tech Federal Credit Union

first tech federal credit union logoAs a company, they were established in 1952 as the Tektronix Federal Credit Union. They have only been around for 60 years, but they have made a lot of progress in those 60 years.

As their name implies, being on the verge of technological innovations is their goal. They were using computers for their data process in 1976, using ATMs in 1979, and had a 24-hour helpline by 1985.

Additionally, they were one of the first institutions to offer mobile banking, which they started in 2000.

Currently, they have over 465,000 members and over $10 billion in assets, which makes them one of the largest credit unions in the United States.

Through the years, they have received several awards and recognition, in the past two years, they have been selected as one of the Best Banks in both Oregon and California.

Their headquarters is in California, but you don’t have to live in-state to join the credit union. We will discuss the memberships requirements later in a moment.

Banking with First Tech

Like most financial institutions out there, they have a handful of different accounts they offer.

Each of them is slightly different in how they operate and the benefits you receive from them. I’m not going to cover all of them, but I’ll outline their most popular options.

Membership Savings Account

Before you can open any other account at First Tech, they will require you to open a Membership Savings Account.

This is the account which solidifies you as a full member of First Tech and allows you to open up one of their other accounts. The Membership Savings Account is an extremely basic plan. There are no maintenance fees, and you will earn a 0.05% APY in monthly dividends.

Dividend Rewards Checking

This is the most popular option at First Tech.

It has no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement. As you can probably guess from the name, the allure of this account is the dividend rate, which is a 1.58% APY currently.

Carefree Checking

The main difference with the Carefree Checking account is you won’t earn any dividends with this account. This checking account is designed for anyone who wants a straightforward account without all of the bells, whistles, and fees.

Instant Access Savings

Unlike the basic Membership savings account, the Instant Access Savings earns much better dividends and they are tiered depending on how much money you have in the account.

Unlike some other savings accounts out there, you can take out your money at any time. There are no withdrawal fees or monthly fees. If you want a savings account with a decent interest rate which won’t be bogged down with fees, this is an excellent option.

Carefree Savings

Much like the carefree checking, the carefree savings is a watered down version of their Instant Access savings, and it’s the perfect choice for anyone who wants a simple place to put their money.

You’ll still earn dividends on your savings, but it’s only 0.10% APY, compared to the higher returns you would earn with an Instant Access account.

Investing with First Tech Credit Union

You can’t discuss a bank or credit union without looking at their investment options. More and more banks are becoming the premier place for investing. They have both IRA Certificates and IRA Savings accounts you can open. Their certificates range in maturity length, anywhere from 6 months to 60 months.

Borrowing

One reason a lot of customers choose a credit union over banks is for their rates. If you plan on taking out a loan, credit unions are an excellent way to secure lower rates, but how does First Tech stack up against the competition?

If you’re looking to buy a home, First Tech has four different types of mortgage loans. We are going to focus on their traditional fixed-rate home loan.

They have rates as low as 4.125% APR right now. One additional claim they make regarding their mortgage is “most purchases close within 28 days.”

They also offer several kinds of auto loans, a new car loan, a used auto loan, and auto loan refinancing. With a new car loan, which is for current models or the previous car models.

With this loan, you can get rates as low as 3.59% APR for up to 84 months at the moment. Compared to some other lenders and banks, this is very competitive.

For their used car loans, which is defined as cars within 2 – 10 model years, you can be looking at rates as low as 3.74% for up to 84 months. Just like with their new car loans, this is better than the national average for auto loans.

Joining First Tech Federal Credit Union

Like most credit unions, there are several ways you can qualify to be a member. Thankfully, First Tech makes it incredibly easy to qualify to join their credit union. There are 7 different ways you can become a member:

Work for one of the tech or telecom companies which sponsor First Tech
Work for the state of Oregon
Work in Lane County, Oregon
Live in Lane County, Oregon
Be a family member of someone who is a First Tech member
Be a member of the Computer History Museum (which is quick and easy to join)
Be a Member of the Financial Fitness Association (which is also quick and easy to join)

Because of the last two qualifications, anyone can become a member of First Tech Credit Union.

FTFCU’s Advantages

The obvious draw of First Tech is their Dividend Rewards Checking account.

Their 1.57% is drastically higher interest than you’ll find at a traditional bank, and it’s higher than what most credit unions offer. There are a few requirements you have to meet to get the interest rate, but it’s worth it.

Another benefit of choosing First Tech is the access to their fee-free ATMs.

They have over 30,000 ATMs you can use across the U.S., without having to pay any fees. Not only can you use those ATMs, but you can also walk into one of their 5,000 partner credit union branches. These credit unions are a part of their Co-Op network.

With these branches, you can walk in, make a deposit, withdrawal, or buy a money order.

Pitfalls of using First Tech Credit Union

I’ve discussed the benefits of being a First Tech member, but there are a few reasons they may not be the best choice for you. One of those is the lack of branches.

Unless you live in Oregon or around California, you probably won’t have access to one of their branches. They have their co-op network, but even still, there is a good chance you won’t live near one of those. If you want the face-to-face interaction, you should choose a larger bank.

Another drawback of First Tech is their customer service. I can’t say I personally haven’t had any experience with their customer service representatives, but while I was reviewing the credit union, I saw dozens and dozens of complaints about their customer service and the lack of personal relationship.

I’m hesitant to include this in the review, because every person is different, and some people give poor ratings as an overreaction, but their customer service quality kept popping up. Hopefully, you will never have any complaints about their customer service, but it’s something to be aware of when you’re shopping around for a bank or credit union.

My Final Verdict for FTFCU

Every person is different, and everyone has different preferences for their money and how they save and spend it. It’s impossible to say which credit union is “best,” because they all have different advantages.

If you’re looking for a place that is always on the leading edge of technology and can give you good rates for a checking account, then give First Tech a chance. Joining and opening an account is simple and easy, which means you won’t lose much if you don’t like it.

Hopefully, this review has helped you wade through the thousands of options out there. Get your money out from under your mattress and find a bank or credit union or trust.

The post First Tech Federal Credit Union Review appeared first on Good Financial Cents.

Jan
22

Mike Pence Says U.S. Embassy Will Open in Jerusalem Next Year

The vice president promised the quicker-than-expected move during a visit to Israel’s Parliament, where Arab lawmakers staged a protest and were removed.