Trust Fund Baby

If you die without a will (intestate), the state where you reside will determine how your property will be distributed at your demise. If you do not know what will happen to your property, you are not prepared.

Estate planning is very important whether you own a little or a lot. A will outlines the wishes of the property owner for how his/her property is to be disposed or bequeathed at his/her death. The grantor may, for example, want to leave all property to spouse and then to children equally if the spouse predeceases the grantor. A representative or executor is named in the will to carry out the wishes of the grantor at his/her death. It is important to name someone you believe to be competent and trust worthy to carry out this role. Generally, a will either identifies beneficiaries to receive their portion as a lump sum, or it may have verbiage to place all or a portion of property in a trust.

A trust will also lay out the wishes of the grantor as to how and to whom assets are to be distributed. It may have provisional requirements that monies are to be given only for provision, health, and education.   The trustee is appointed by the grantor to make decisions about the management and distribution of the trust assets. Again, care should be taken when appointing a trustee. You may see in a trust where the administrator and money manager are co-trustees. This enables the trust to have a personal or professional trustee to do either or both administration and investment management of the trust.

The above mentioned is very general and intentionally so. A financial advisor, tax professional, and legal professional should be consulted to help you make more informed decisions.

A trust fund baby is someone who is the beneficiary of a trust fund that provides for their needs. All who are in Christ Jesus are trust fund babies. Jesus died and rose again. He is the Executor/Trustee of the Father’s will. All that the Father owns is His. We are joint heirs /co-heirs with Christ. We have access to a limitless inheritance. The Administrator / Trustee is perfect in all His ways. He distributes according to the Father’s will to meet the needs of His children. If you are born again in to the family of God; If you are in Christ, then you have an inheritance that is out of this world! The Word tells us that our Father knows what we have need of before we ask. The Word tells us that He will supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19. For our Father’s will, there is only one Trustee, one Administrator, and to receive our inheritance, we must submit our petitions to Him and we must lineup with our Father’s will.

If you do not have a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ, you are not prepared. I submit to you that today is a good day to prepare both for what you may leave behind and for where you are going.

…:for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:8b-13 KJV

More Than Investing

Summer is over! Fall is here! Children are back in school and some are attending college. Education funding is a part of financial planning. An analysis can help project future costs and help determine which education savings plans, investments, and planning strategies may help address your funding goals.

But for some families, funding college is not the concern. Too many of our children are not able to read at grade level. Illiteracy and semi-illiteracy are plaguing our communities with a higher propensity for those affected to commit crime and/or be impoverished. Illiteracy has been shown to be a culprit in high rates of poverty. I recently heard that the number of beds that will be needed in prison can be determined by the rate of illiteracy in our third-grade children. There is a direct correlation of illiteracy and crime.

Reading to children helps children learn to read. Listening to children read and encouraging good reading skills is a gift of time money cannot buy. Volunteering at a before- or after-school reading program, donating books, offering to tutor, or befriending an illiterate family are ways to bless and affect positive change. If a third-grade child is reading at or above their grade level, they have a much greater success rate of not only completing school, but of going on to trade school, community college, or university.

Gafcp.org is the link for Georgia Family Connection. Every county in Georgia has a Director to help connect resources for families. If you are looking for purpose, consider contacting your local collaborative. As an LPL Financial Advisor, I help clients plan and invest for their financial future. But I also know life is more than investing. We should also be giving and receiving, planting and growing, sowing and reaping immaterial, eternal rewards.

“And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:12-14 KJV

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40 KJV

What Time Is It?

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (KJV)

When storms come in our lives, times can change very quickly. Harvey and Irma have affected millions of lives and will continue to for some time. We cannot comprehend the magnitude of damage and loss. Just looking at the mess in my own yard – trees down, limbs everywhere, and fences to be mended – is overwhelming. Yet it is nothing compared to what so many others have lost.

Tragedy and loss come in many forms. We may not give them a name as we do our tropical storms, but the effect on an individual level can be severe. As we have experienced with these hurricanes, our lives can be brought to a standstill when the unexpected happens.

Whether you have been in the paths of these storms or not, this is a good time to evaluate where you are and what resources you have available to plant and build. This is a good time to take a fresh look at where you want to be in 1,3,5,20 years and to plan for better days ahead.

I pray whatever you may be facing in your life, that you realize your life has purpose and this is your time given to you by our all-knowing, all-powerful, loving Creator. We have seasons, and in those will be both good and bad times, but when asked “What time is it?” remember this is your time, your season. A new day is dawning: a time to plant, a time to heal, a time to gather, a time to embrace, a time to get, a time to sew, a time to love, a time of peace.

“Ok, That Didn’t Work.”

It had been a long day. My day to get things done started off well. I was full of ambition and up to the task. Two days earlier I had started cutting trees and trimming hedges and as my husband says “went whack-o.” So, laying throughout the front yard were branches and trimmings, and I still had more cutting to do. It was a beautiful day but nothing seemed to go as planned; tools broke, blades had to be sharpened, everything took longer than I thought it would, and an injury had prevented scheduled help from arriving. My husband, home from his long day at work, as he was loading limbs, suggested that maybe I should take smaller bites. He was right. In the future, I will take smaller bites; cut a load, haul a load to keep from making a mess of more work than I can complete in a day.

I have decided to do this in other areas of my life, too. I will break down my big jobs into smaller, manageable tasks. I have heard it said “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at the time!” I will say sometimes moving our mountain has to be done one scoop at a time. We want to speak to the mountain and watch it move. But many times, we have to pray, speak, and scoop to move the mountain. It is that way with financial planning, too.

Financial planning is a mountain of information and decisions. Where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there can seem like climbing a high peak. But if you take small bites or move small scoops at the time, it becomes more manageable. If you try to get all your information together and make all your decisions in one day, you may find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed, and in a mess.

First, take time to think about where you are by gathering information such as assets and liabilities. Assets are anything you own of value including cash value in insurance policies. Liabilities are debts – amount you owe; mortgage, consumer loans, etc.

Second, take time to think about what you enjoy; travel, gardening, hobbies, sports, whacking limbs off all your trees, etc. How do you want to spend your free time?

Third, take time to think about your cash flow; monies coming in and monies going out. Is there a surplus or a deficit? How can you generate more cash flow? How can you enjoy life now with the people you love and plan for the future, too?

I ended my day thinking “Ok, that didn’t work.” It really was too much for me to do in one day. So, I will reschedule my help and, God willing, move more of my mountain, one scoop at the time. If your financial planning is like my pruning and it’s not working, get some help. An experienced financial advisor can help you move your mountain and two scoops are better than one!

Save 50% Now

Trends are reversing with men and women entering the work force deciding to live small now and save big so their retirement is funded first. When I first started reading of this mind set it caused me to take pause. I like it! We are beginning to see a shift; small footprint i.e., tiny houses; marriage later in life; saving more now; spending more later.

Our parents are living to be much older now. It is common to see at least one parent living into and beyond their 90’s. This has an impact on the children who may be entering what should be their high-income years. “Honor your mother and your father” is not a suggestion. It is the children’s responsibility to be available to assist aging parents. By accumulating wealth early in the life cycle, it gives opportunity for family values and obligations later. For an example, you have accumulated enough early so you are able to take a break from career to focus on family without the panic of loss of income or depleting retirement savings.

So how do we accumulate wealth early? Regardless of your wage, if you begin to save 50% from your first pay check and live within your means, you will accumulate at a much faster pace, and with time invested, it will also compound at a much faster rate. Living at home may not be an option but if it is, do it! Make yourself irreplaceable; clean the house, mow the lawn, run errands, cook meals. If you make yourself a blessing instead of a burden, you and your parent(s) will benefit.

If living at home is not an option, try to rent a room or board with someone else to share expenses within your budget after saving 50% each pay. If your income and other assets enable you to save more, increase savings and live small. You do not have to buy the big house on the hill just because you can. If that purchase is not an investment that you can turn or “flip” for a profit, it is an expense.

Imagine if we teach our children purpose over property; peace over prosperity; family over fame. Life is not a competition. Wealth is not measured by the zeros in your bank account. Some things are worth more than money. Family, especially parents and children, should be a priority. The memories of time shared with those closest to us cannot be purchased or replaced, and you have to show up to get them. Have you ever signed up for a door prize and it was announced “must be present to win”? Be present in your family, invest in relationships and show up when you are needed. Who will be impressed with your big house, career, clothes, barns and bigger barns if you have neglected to take care, loving care of people?

Planning your life is a good thing to do: Setting goals, reaching for them. Bumps, curves, and yes, catastrophic events can cause plans to be revised, but keep moving forward. Plan for a long, long, life but also prepare for tomorrow as if today is it. I believe in this time of technology and digital social media, we should be careful to save some time for family, board games, knock-knock jokes, dinner around the table talking (not texting). I enjoy the voices when everyone is home and I just close my eyes and listen to the voices. Yes, while you are saving for the future… save some time. 50% sounds good to me.

Your Future – Your Blueprint

CDs, mutual funds, stocks, real estate, personal property, bonds, cash, annuities, life insurance, etc. are tools we use to help us build our future on a firm foundation. However, we can get too focused on accumulating wealth and on investment performance and lose sight of the big picture – our future. Our monetary possessions are only a part of our legacy. We must also build faith, good works, and secure our eternal heritage.

We should all strive to prepare for the future and beyond, provide for loved ones, preserve our lifestyle, and protect our legacy. Knowing how and when to use a tool is an important part of financial planning as is monitoring progress and making adjustments when necessary.

A plan should begin with a vision and is not complete until we see the blueprint laid out. My part is to help identify goals, implement plans, monitor progress, and discuss adjustments. The when and how use of the tools mentioned above is determined by the planning process.

Your future is quickly approaching. Wherever you are in the process, I can help.

Build Your Future on a Firm Foundation

One of my favorite places to be is mowing our field about an hour before dusk. Just a few days ago, I had been mowing for a few hours in the scorching South Georgia heat when the sun began to set, the refreshing breeze blew through my hair and I began to give thanks. It seemed to be the perfect time of day and the perfect temperature. I enjoy God’s creation and the wonder of it: the beautiful blue skies with pillow clouds; the shade of tall pines and pecan trees; crickets and grasshoppers hurrying out of my way in the tall grass; deer going to the feeder; the small turtle on its way across the drive; the cows in the pasture across the road in the green, sloping field; the smell of fresh cut grass; the breeze giving relief from the hot sun.

You may be asking what that has to do with building a future on a firm foundation. In that short paragraph, I have identified two things about myself that can help establish some goals and guidelines for achieving those goals:

  1. I believe in creation by a living, almighty God Who hears me and cares about my heart’s desires, even so much as to send a breeze my way just because He knows how much I love it. How much more He must care about the decisions I make for my future and the future of those I love. As a believer in the Creator, I also believe in absolutes. God is the absolute authority of right and wrong, good and bad. I have complete trust in His Word and the Truth He has provided for my life.
  2. I enjoy nature and being outside in my own space. Although much of my time is inside, I really want to have time in my space. So, in planning my future, I should bring that forward as a goal to maintain or preserve that lifestyle.

We should recognize those moments in our lives that give us pleasure, and identify important information to help us plan our future – not only for the next 100 years or so, but also for eternity:

*Prepare for your future here and beyond: We spend so much of our time preparing for retirement that may not ever come, and so little time planning for eternity that is certain to come. No one can escape death and eternity. We should plan for today, tomorrow, and forever.

*Provide for your loved ones: If you live beyond 100 years of age or die in the next week, your plan should provide for those you love. If you have a spouse and or children dependent on your income, what is the plan if that income is lost due to disability or death?

*Preserve lifestyle: How will you maintain your lifestyle when you are no longer willing or able to work (i.e., save large portion of income and live small to accumulate wealth earlier instead of later; retire later or not at all)?

*Protect legacy: Planning for passing your estate to others once you are no longer here is important.

I Timothy 6:17-21 (KJV)

17) Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18) That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19) Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20) O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21) Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.