4 Fundamentals for Protecting Your Assets in a Litigious World

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Asset protection planning takes many forms for every type of individual, and isn’t always associated with multimillion-dollar offshore trusts.  Whether you’re concerned about bankruptcy, creditor, divorce, or an injury case, you should start by building a foundation of protection.

Here are 4 fundamental principles you may want to consider for yourself:

  1. The more protection you want, the more control you may need to relinquish. First, ask yourself two questions: Is there any chance that I may want this asset back on a rainy day? Am I willing to relinquish complete and total control over it? The more strings you attach to an asset you are giving away, the more likely it is that a creditor will be able to use those strings to obtain access to the asset.
  2. Timing is everything. The time to plan for asset protection is when no creditors are looming on the horizon. Although you may plan to protect assets from unforeseeable future creditors, strict rules, called “fraudulent conveyance laws,” protect the rights of present and foreseeable future creditors. The courts help shape the definition of such creditors on a case-by-case basis, and each state’s statutory time frame varies.
  3. The method of transfer matters. Do you simply want to give the asset away, or are you considering a more advanced strategy, such as an asset protection trust? More complex strategies may come with additional administrative rules, as well as ongoing costs.
  4. Federal and State laws can be tricky. The implications of federal and state laws on asset protection can be complex and depend on many factors, including the determination of exempt and nonexempt assets, who the creditor is, and the basis for the claim. On top of that, state-to-state variations in how federal and state laws overlay can complicate matters even further.

My name is Valerie Leonard and I have experience helping clients build a foundation for asset protection planning that includes determining the level of protection you need, insurance, estate planning, and advance transfer strategies. Together with your experienced attorney, I can help you develop a good asset protection game plan – one that you can understand, feel comfortable with, and incorporate into your total financial picture.   Contact me for more information.

The Toddler Conspiracy That Will Make You Want to Quit Your Job

The Toddler Conspiracy That Will Make You Want to Quit Your Job%0D

This weekend I feel like I was banging my head up against the wall.  Between the biting, spitting, kicking, sassy talk, willful disobedience and other tumultuous behavior that went on between my 5, 3, and 1 year old, it was enough to make any parent ask, “what am I doing wrong?”  My husband and I have always prided ourselves on applying consistent discipline in our home.  We were on the same page the entire week.  We unsuccessfully tried all the tactics that have worked in the past.  It was like one week ago our sweet little darlings turned into little rabid birds that wanted to peck our heads off.  So, naturally, I started asking the question, “would they act this way if I stayed home with them and gave them more attention all week?”  The conclusion God revealed to me yesterday honestly surprised me.

Let me start by saying, I have no intentions of becoming a stay-at-home mom.  It’s not that I don’t think my kids would benefit from having their mom by their side on a full-time basis.  Instead, it’s more about the fact I believe I’m a better parent because I work.  I realize this isn’t true for everyone.  In my case, I firmly believe that God called me to a career of helping people outside of the home and I’ve been able to use this talent to teach my kids lessons that they wouldn’t otherwise learn.  I know it will continue to be a challenge trying to juggle both, but I am resolved to use my career to help Americans live financially healthy and productive lives while simultaneously teaching my kids the same lessons.

In America today, 68% of mothers are working outside the home and statistics tell us that the number one emotion working moms struggle with is guilt.  I think guilt often comes from our own agenda.  We want to accomplish something, we envision our family lives looking a certain way, we see our friends or family doing things differently and we are envious, we lack forgiveness of ourselves for our past mistakes, we say to ourselves, “if I can just do x,y, and z then things would be different.”  As mommas who want the best lives for our families, we have to stop this nonsense.  There IS an easier way!

So what does God wants for me as a Mom?  The only way I can know for certain is by asking Him and seeking His truth.  I was reminded yesterday that God started making promises to those who choose His path way back in Genesis.  He fulfilled His promises when he sent His Son to pay the price of our imperfections.  He gave us an advocate in the form of His Holy Spirit who is filled with His very own power to live within us and give us wisdom.  So many times we rely on our own strength, our own ideas, or our own pride to get through the day.  In my life, He’s teaching me that I need to simply rest in Him.  He is enough.  My parenting efforts can only be done through His strength.  Thankfully, His truth frees me from dwelling on the failures of my day and my own self-pity and allows me to focus on the blessings that come through being a mom and wife.

So to you other working moms out there, don’t add any more stress to your life by beating yourself up.  You are not alone.  Parenting is a process and as long as we hold tight to God’s promises, we will succeed!

 

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Characteristics of Families Summary, 4/22/16

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.

How to Build a Simple Emergency Fund that will Help You Feel in Control

How to Build a Simple Emergency Fund that will Help You Feel in Control

If the water heater breaks down, you don’t want to be forced to beg or borrow just to make it through.  An emergency fund can be your first line of defense against months or even years of debt.  So how do you build one without giving up your ability to live life?  In my expert opinion, it all comes down to tricking your brain into making it easy.  Try these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to a sizable bank account and feel in control of your cash flow before you know it!

  1. Open an account at a bank on the other side of town – The first step to building a sizable emergency fund it to have a place to put money that’s out of sight and out of mind. In most cases, a simple checking or savings account will do.  Don’t be bothered by the frilly bells and whistles that banks can charge you.  You’re not even looking to invest this money.  The purpose of this account is easy access in case you need it.  Opt for the free version and keep it simple.
  1. Timing is everything – I strongly suggest a plan that includes emergency fund savings each time you get paid. If you get paid weekly, your emergency account should be funded weekly.  If you are paid bi-monthly, you should fund your emergency fund bi-monthly.  Since most people are living paycheck to paycheck when starting to set aside reserves, this strategy will help you eliminate the timing challenges that come with savings.
  1. Any amount will do when starting out – For the first month, I’d suggest just getting started. Don’t stress too much over how much you need to save each pay day.  Pick an amount that you can live with and go with it – even if it’s just $25 per paycheck.  You’ll most likely find that you won’t miss it and you’ll be able to easily increase the amount you save any time you want.  If you want to challenge yourself, that’s fine.  Just be careful not to overdo it.  It’s better to start small and increase from there than to start big and fail.
  1. Make it automatic – The most important part of the equation is to establish an automated link from your primary checking account to your new emergency fund account on the other side of town on the same day you get paid (or one day later).  Ask your primary bank if they can setup automated transfers to this new account or ask your employer if they can direct deposit an amount there each pay day.  If those aren’t options, ask your new emergency fund banker whether they can pull money into this new account from your primary checking account on their end.  If that doesn’t work, setup automated bill payments from your primary checking account on the same day that you get paid so that a check will be sent to your new bank on a regular basis.  Keep in mind that your plan has a high chance for failure if you are forced to manually transfer money or write a physical check each time your emergency fund needs to be funded.  You should opt to set it and forget it.
  1. Don’t look at your statements – Ok, ok, in good conscience I have to tell you to keep a watchful eye on your new account to be sure you avoid fraud, banking errors or unnecessary fees. But the bottom line is that the less frequently you look at the balance of this account, the more likely you are to let it accumulate without the temptation of touching it.  Put a note on the calendar to review it every six months and focus more on reviewing the amount you’re saving each payday than the total account balance.  Your goal is to set aside at least 3-6 months worth of money to cover your monthly expenses.  And another thing – try not to touch it even if you need it.  Look at this account as an account of last resort when things get tough.

My name is Valerie Leonard and I’m not your traditional financial advisor.  I want to help you feel in control of your money by using proven strategies that make it easy on you.  If you’re looking for a money mentor who can help you reach your goals, hold you accountable, and plan for the unknown, contact me today!

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member www.FINRA.org/www.SIPC.org, a Registered Investment Adviser.  This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MS, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services.