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6a019b003fe4d5970b025d9b3d243e200c-600wi-300x143“Don’t panic” has been a common refrain from government leaders, public health professionals, and across social media from well-meaning people trying to keep everyone calm during the coronavirus pandemic.

Though it may be hard not to panic when the grocery store shelves are empty, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 keeps rising, and we see sobering statistics across the globe … we will not overcome this challenge with a panicked response.

Nonetheless, there are certain things we all need to be doing right now – and your public health officials are the best resource on how to stay personally safe and help prevent the virus from spreading.

4.1.19“Financial planning is an ongoing process that examines your goals, situation and finances, in order to determine if and how these goals can be met. It’s not a product-centric process, but often we use financial products like mutual funds, annuities and/or life insurance to achieve goals in the most efficient manner.”

As Forbes explains in the article “2 Ways To Combine Charitable Giving And Life Insurance,” one of the core products for protecting wealth is life insurance. As you age, your need for life insurance may lessen, but sometimes it will increase. If you have a life insurance policy that you no longer need, one option might be to donate the policy to a charity. There are several ways that life insurance policies can be gifted or used for charitable purposes.

Gift Your Existing Policy. You can simply give away an existing policy, if you no longer need the policy for estate liquidity or estate taxes. You could gift the policy outright to your favorite charity or use a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). If you give the policy to a charity outright, you can change ownership of the policy and pretty much be done with it. You might get a charitable income tax deduction for the value of the policy at the time of the gift (it’s measured by the sum of the interpolated terminal reserve plus unearned premiums rather than the death benefit amount).

Hour glass
It’s already February! What happened to the holidays? What happened to January?

On the first of January, we each received the gift of 525,600 minutes—plus we get a bonus of 1,440 minutes because it's a leap year with an extra day, February 29. By the time you read this, more than 41,760 minutes will have passed this year, and we can't get them back.

They're gone. Forever.

Football sidelinesThe transition from pro football to civilian life is easier for NFL players who can get assistance from a comprehensive support program created by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. The program recognizes the challenges facing retired football players as they shift to life without football. Many have no experience handling finances or coping with emotions of day-to-day living.

A recent article in The Employee Benefit News, "NFL aims to keep players financially fit," describes "The Trust," which officially launched in 2013. It's an extensive financial wellness program that includes education, lifestyle, health, and career services. It has helped about 1,000 former players each year.

Players who enroll are assigned a case manager who identifies their key issues. Then The Trust and its service partners devise a customized "game plan" that tells the player where he is financially, where he should be, and how to get there. A critical part of the program works to create a community for these retired players where they share their personal stories with each other and mentor others who are in need.

Piggy bankuilding a nest egg is an important goal for Americans, yet most Americans lag behind in their retirement planning goals.  Many families are still recovering from economic downturns, and saving is a struggle, even for people who are over 50 and know they should do more. There are certain tax breaks and, if you are lucky enough to work for a great company, employer contributions that can help grow your retirement savings in 2016.

US News explains how to take full advantage of the 401(k) and individual retirement account perks you're eligible for in 2016 in "How to Maximize Your Retirement Accounts in 2016."

Max out your 401(k). You can contribute up to $18,000 to your 401(k) plan in 2016, which means saving $1,500 per month. Income tax isn't due on this money until it is withdrawn from the account.

Money bagIf you are planning to issue your next $100 million tax payment to the IRS via check, better make arrangements for an alternate payment method.  The IRS has announced that it will no longer accept payments by check in excess of $100 million. 

In the modern grocery store, scanners are used by people who bag their own groceries and pay with a swipe of a credit card. Express lines ferret out the quick buyers from the people stocking their homes for the next six months. Despite these advances and time saving technology, there’s one thing that drives everyone on the checkout line crazy.

That is when a person in front of them pays with a check.

Lady Mary PosterThe viewers of this high-end PBS costume drama, which takes place about a century ago, could very likely be your clients' demographic. Look at who's a top corporate sponsor: Viking River Cruises, which told The New York Times that “our demographic is affluent Baby Boomers 55+.” It's a big group: more than 10.1 million viewers watched the first episode of the fifth season in early January. Look closely and see if Downton can impart valuable financial lessons to you.

It can be difficult to explain to clients the ramifications of putting off their estate planning. Sometimes people have to “see it to believe it,” so to speak. Enter PBS hit series, Downton Abbey.

Downton Abbey follows the lives of the fictitious Crawley family who live in a grand English country house in the early 1900s. Downton’s characters can teach some valuable financial lessons, according to AccountingWEB’s recent post titled, 8 Lessons You and Your Clients Learn by Watching Downton Abbey.

Signing document close upThe decision about how to designate beneficiaries for your company retirement plan, life insurance policies, and other assets might seem like a no-brainer. Chances are you would like those near and dear to you to inherit any money you've accumulated during your lifetime, so making sure that happens should be as simple as writing their names on the appropriate forms, right? Not so fast.

Have you designated beneficiaries on the appropriate accounts? Are you sure you did it right?

A good estate plan uses a wide-variety of vehicles to distribute the estate. Today, that normally means that retirement accounts and life insurance are used to help quickly distribute assets to heirs after someone passes away. Because of this importance, you need to know how to go about designating beneficiaries to receive the assets.

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