Estate Planning and Where to Start

Estate planning is crucial to secure your financial future and care for your loved ones when you’re no longer around. Despite its importance, many people procrastinate or even overlook this essential process, aimlessly wandering along their financial journey. That’s why we’re discussing the key components of estate planning and guiding you along this quest. 

Understanding Estate Planning 

Estate planning involves creating a comprehensive strategy to manage your assets, debts, and personal wishes, both during your lifetime and after your passing. The right strategy plans for medical care, designated guardians, and minimized tax burdens. By crafting a well-thought-out estate plan, you gain control over how your intentions and assets are handled.

1. Assessing Your Assets and Debts

The first step in estate planning is to take stock of your financial situation. List and organize your assets, including real estate, investments, bank accounts, retirement funds, and personal belongings. Simultaneously, identify your liabilities such as mortgages, loans, and credit card debts. Having a clear overview of your financial standing will help you determine the overall value of your estate and its distribution.

2. Designating Beneficiaries and Creating a Will

A last will and testament is a foundational document in estate planning. It allows you to specify how your assets should be divided upon your death and designate guardians for any minor children. Your will should also name an executor, someone you trust to ensure your wishes are carried out and the legal process is managed smoothly. Keep in mind that while a will is vital, it might not cover all your estate planning needs, especially when it comes to assets like retirement accounts that have beneficiary designations.

3. Exploring Trusts and Advanced Directives

In addition to a will, you might want to consider establishing trusts, which can provide benefits like avoiding probate and potentially reducing estate taxes. Trusts specifically allow you to precisely tailor your assets’ distribution to your unique circumstances. Moreover, consider creating advance directives, such as a living will and a healthcare proxy, which outline your medical wishes and designate someone to make healthcare decisions if you become incapacitated.

4. Regularly Reviewing and Updating Your Plan

Estate planning is not a one-and-done task; it’s a dynamic process that needs periodic review and updates. This is because our lives are full of changes, such as marriage, divorce, births, and financial shifts. Doublecheck your life insurance policies to ensure they match up with your family’s ever-evolving needs. Regularly reviewing your estate plan ensures alignment with your current goals and circumstances. 

But, as laws and regulations evolve, your plan might also need adjustments to minimize taxes and ensure smooth asset distribution. By scheduling regular check-ins with a financial advisor, you can rest assured that your plan remains up-to-date and continues to reflect your wishes accurately.

5. Involving Your Loved Ones in the Process

While estate planning is a personal endeavor, involving your loved ones can provide clarity and alleviate potential conflicts. Openly discuss your intentions with any beneficiaries to manage expectations and prevent misunderstandings. By explaining your decisions and reasoning, you can ensure that your wishes are understood and respected. Ultimately, including your loved ones in your estate planning journey promotes harmony and reinforces the legacy you wish to leave behind.

6. Seeking Professional Guidance for Complex Situations

Lastly, estate planning can become intricate, especially if you have significant assets, complex family dynamics, or unique wishes. In such cases, seeking an estate planning attorney’s guidance is invaluable. Estate attorneys, financial advisors, and tax experts possess the expertise to navigate complex legalities and craft customized solutions tailored to your situation. 

Their insights can help you make informed decisions that minimize tax inefficiencies and conflicts while achieving your goals. Professional advice not only simplifies the process but also provides confidence that your estate plan is thorough, accurate, and well-structured. 

Plan for Your Financial Future Today! 

Estate planning is an essential task that ensures your legacy and provides peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. By understanding the various components of estate planning, you can lay a strong foundation for your estate plan. However, remember that estate planning is an ongoing process that may need adjustments over time due to changes in your life, finances, and laws. Don’t delay, start planning today to secure a more certain tomorrow. 

To embark on this journey with confidence, seek the guidance of a financial advisor or estate planning professional who can tailor our services to your unique needs and goals. Each of our advisors would be more than happy to help you get started and plan for your future. Contact us today to set up a meeting and get to know your local agent. 

Choosing the Best Life Insurance Policy

Life is unpredictable, and it’s essential to plan to protect your loved ones’ financial well-being. One way to secure their future is by investing in a life insurance policy. However, with numerous options available in the market, choosing the best policy can be a daunting task. That’s why we’re discussing these crucial points to consider when selecting the ideal life insurance policy for your needs. 

Determine Your Life Insurance Needs   

The first step in choosing the best life insurance policy is to assess your coverage requirements. Consider factors such as your age, marital status, number of dependents, outstanding debts, and future financial goals. Calculate the approximate amount of money your family would need to maintain their lifestyle in case of your untimely demise. This evaluation will help you determine whether you need a term or whole-life policy. 

Understand Different Types of Life Insurance Policies  

There are various types of life insurance policies available, each with its features and benefits. Term policies provide coverage for a specific period, usually 10, 20, or 30 years. It offers a death benefit to your beneficiaries if you pass away during the policy term. On the other hand, whole life insurance provides lifelong coverage, accumulating cash value over time. It also offers the potential for dividends and investment growth. Understanding the differences between these policies is crucial in selecting the one that aligns with your goals. 

Evaluate Each Insurer’s Financial Stability  

Life insurance is a long-term investment, and you want to ensure your insurer will fulfill its obligations when necessary. Research and evaluate the financial stability and reputation of the insurance company you are considering. If necessary, look for ratings from independent agencies such as A.M. Best or Standard & Poor. A financially secure company will provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your beneficiaries will receive the benefits when they need them most. 

Compare Premiums and Policy Riders  

When choosing a life insurance policy, compare premiums from different insurers. Obtain quotes from multiple companies to find a balance between affordability and coverage. Additionally, consider policy riders that can enhance your coverage. Riders are optional provisions that can be added to your policy, such as critical illness coverage or a disability waiver of premium. Assess the riders available and determine if any align with your specific needs. 

Seek Professional Guidance  

Navigating the intricacies of life insurance can be complex, and seeking professional guidance can significantly benefit your decision-making process. Consult with a reputable insurance agent or financial advisor who specializes in life insurance. They can help assess your specific needs, explain policy details in simple terms, and provide personalized recommendations based on your financial situation and long-term goals. Their expertise will ensure you make an informed choice and select the best policy for your unique circumstances. 

Read and Understand the Policy’s Fine Print 

When choosing the best life insurance policy, it’s crucial to thoroughly read and understand the policy’s fine print. Insurance policies can contain complex terms, conditions, and exclusions that may impact the coverage and benefits provided. Pay close attention to details such as policy renewal terms, exclusions for pre-existing conditions, limitations on payouts, and the process for filing claims. 

Reading the fine print enables you to make an informed decision and avoid any surprises or misunderstandings in the future. If you encounter any unfamiliar terms or have questions about specific provisions, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from your insurer or financial advisor. 

We’re Here for all Life Insurance Needs 

Choosing the best life insurance policy requires careful consideration of your needs, the different policy types, an insurer’s financial stability, and a policy’s fine print. By following these main points, you can make an informed decision that provides the necessary protection and peace of mind for you and your loved ones.  

Take the time to research, consult with our trusted advisors, and select a policy that suits your unique circumstances. We’re proud to advise our fellow Kansans & Nebraskans on their financial future and look forward to meeting with you!  


What are Fixed Annuities?

When planning for retirement, exploring various investment options that can provide a steady income stream in your golden years is essential. One such option is a fixed annuity. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the composition of fixed annuities, helping you decide if this investment is right for your retirement portfolio.

Upsides of Fixed Annuities

Fixed annuities offer several advantages that make them an attractive option for retirement planning. These advantages include a guaranteed interest rate, tax-deferred growth, and predictable income options. By understanding these benefits, individuals can make informed decisions about incorporating fixed annuities into their retirement strategies.

1. Guaranteed Interest Rate 

One of the significant advantages of a fixed annuity is the guaranteed interest rate. Unlike some other annuities, which are tied to the performance of underlying investments, fixed annuities provide a predetermined and stable interest rate. This means that regardless of how the financial markets perform, your fixed annuity’s value will grow at a consistent rate, offering reliable and predictable returns.

2. Tax-Deferred Growth 

Another advantage of a fixed annuity is its tax-deferred growth. Just like other annuities, you can defer taxes on any interest earnings until you receive withdrawals or annuitize the contract. This tax advantage can help your investments grow faster, as you don’t have to pay taxes on your earnings each year. However, they will be subject to ordinary income tax rates upon withdrawal.

3. Predictable Income Options 

Fixed annuities offer predictability when it comes to receiving income during retirement. You can receive a set income stream for the remainder of your lifetime or for a specific period. This can provide a stable income stream that can help cover your living expenses during retirement. Additionally, some fixed annuities offer features, like a death benefit, that can protect your beneficiaries upon your passing.

Potential Downsides of Fixed Annuities 

Retirement planning involves making strategic investment choices, and fixed annuities often appear appealing. However, understanding these drawbacks will empower you to know if a fixed annuity suits your specific financial goals and aspirations.

1. Lower Growth Potential 

One of the main drawbacks of these investments is their lower growth potential compared to variable annuities. As fixed annuities offer a guaranteed interest rate, they may not provide the same potential for high returns as variable annuities when the financial markets perform exceptionally well.

2. Limited Flexibility 

Unlike variable annuities, which allow you to invest in different sub-accounts, fixed annuities lack investment flexibility. Once you purchase a fixed annuity, you are committed to the predetermined interest rate for the duration of the contract. This lack of flexibility may not align with the investment preferences of some individuals.

3. Inflation Risk 

Another consideration with fixed annuities is the risk of inflation. Since the interest rate is fixed, the purchasing power of your income may decrease over time due to inflation. This could lead to difficulties in maintaining your desired standard of living during retirement.

We Provide Advice for Retirement Planning 

Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed interest rate, tax-deferred growth, and predictable income options. However, they also come with some limitations, including lower growth potential and limited flexibility. It’s important to weigh these potential drawbacks before deciding if this investment is the right choice for your retirement portfolio. Consulting with a financial advisor who specializes in annuities can help you make an informed decision.

Our advisors are more than happy to discuss retirement and insurance needs and help you protect your financial future. Remember, retirement planning is a long-term commitment, and considering all aspects of a fixed annuity will help you secure your financial future.

What is Whole Life Insurance

Whole life insurance is a comprehensive, long-term solution that can secure your loved ones’ financial future. Out of the many life insurance options, this coverage offers unparalleled protection and peace of mind. So, today we’ll delve into the key question of what is whole life insurance, shedding light on why it is an essential component of any solid financial strategy. 

Whole Life Coverage  

Whole life insurance stands out from other types of policies due to its lifelong coverage. This means your loved ones will receive a death benefit regardless of when you pass away if the policy is in force. Lifelong coverage like this protects your beneficiaries financially, even if you live a long life. 

Cash Value Accumulation 

In addition to death benefits, whole life insurance also builds cash value over time. A portion of the premiums you pay goes towards this cash value component, which grows on a tax-deferred basis. Plus, you can access the cash value during your lifetime through policy loans or withdrawals. These funds are perfect to supplement retirement income, pay for education expenses, or address financial emergencies. 

Stable Insurance Premiums and Benefits 

Unlike term life insurance, which offers coverage for a specific period, whole life insurance provides stable premiums. This means that your first premium will remain the same, regardless of changes in your health or other circumstances. Additionally, this coverage offers guaranteed death benefits and cash values, ensuring that policyholders and their beneficiaries can rely on a predictable financial foundation. However, whole life policies’ comprehensive coverages make these options more expensive than their term counterparts.  

Potential Dividends from Policy Participation 

Certain whole life insurance policies are eligible to earn dividends. Policyholders who hold participating policies receive dividends, which represent a share of the insurance company’s profits. These dividends offer several utilization options, including receiving them as cash, accumulating them to increase the cash value, or using them to reduce future premiums. Dividends provide an opportunity for policyholders to participate in their insurer’s financial success and enhance their policy’s value. 

Estate Planning and Tax Benefits 

Lastly, another significant advantage of whole life insurance is its role in estate planning and the potential tax benefits it offers. The beneficiaries typically receive the death benefit in a tax-free manner upon the policyholder’s death. This can be particularly advantageous for policyholders with substantial estates, as it allows for the efficient transfer of wealth to the next generation without the burden of estate taxes. 

Moreover, whole life policies can be structured to gain additional benefits for estate planning purposes. One example is utilizing the death benefit to cover estate taxes, eliminating the need for loved ones to deplete their assets or inheritance to settle tax liabilities. Additionally, individuals can maintain ownership of these policies through a trust. This option provides greater control over the distribution of policy proceeds and potentially offers creditor protection. By utilizing a trust, policyholders can ensure that their funds are distributed according to their specific wishes while providing long-term financial security. 

By incorporating whole life insurance into your estate planning strategy, you can create a legacy for your loved ones. It offers a powerful tool for preserving wealth and ensuring a smooth transfer of assets. Ultimately, this contributes to your family’s long-term financial security while minimizing the impact of estate taxes. 

Consider Your Whole Life Insurance Choices 

Whole life insurance is a versatile financial tool that combines lifelong coverage, cash value accumulation, and stable premiums. It offers a comprehensive solution for individuals looking to protect their loved ones and build a solid financial foundation. The coverage and guaranteed benefits provide peace of mind, while the cash value accumulation offers lifelong flexibility and financial security. 

If you’re seeking a long-term insurance option that provides both protection and potential for growth, whole life insurance may be the right choice for you. Consult with our financial professionals to explore our coverage options and see how it fits into your financial plan. If you have any questions or want to arrange an appointment, contact our friendly agents today to get started! 


Creating a Budget That Works for You

Creating a Budget That Works for You  

Creating a budget that works for you is the best way to take control of your financial future. The right budget allows you to track your spending, see where your money is going, and adjust to save for your future goals. Creating a budget can feel daunting, especially if you’ve struggled with money management in the past. So, we’ll share tips on how to create a budget that works for you and optimizes your personal finances. 

Assess Your Current Spending 

Before you can create a budget, you need to know how much money you’re spending. Take a couple of weeks to track your spending by observing your monthly income and corresponding monthly expenses. Try to categorize all your spending into essential categories such as food, rent/mortgage, utilities, transportation, and debt payments. Then compare your total spending to your income to see if you have a deficit or surplus. 

Once you’ve tracked your spending, it’s time to take a closer look at where your money is going. Are there any unnecessary expenses you can cut back on? For example, maybe you’re spending a lot of money on eating out and daily coffeeshop visits. Once you’ve identified these areas, construct a plan to cut back. One way to do this is to set weekly or monthly spending limits on non-essential spending. 

Additionally, many people have recurring subscriptions and other monthly memberships that can quickly add up. Take an inventory of the subscriptions you have and prioritize which ones you need. For those you don’t need, cancel them, and shift your money to other areas of your budget. 

Set Your Financial Goals 

It can be difficult to stay financially stable in today’s world with increasing expenses, lifestyle changes, and social pressure to spend money on the latest trends and experiences. However, setting financial goals can give you a target that makes it easier to complete the necessary changes and sacrifices to your budget. 

Ask yourself what you want to achieve financially in the next year, five years, or ten years. For instance, creating an emergency fund should be one of your first goals. This’ll help you prepare for unexpected expenses such as medical bills or car repairs. Your financial goals can be short-term, such as paying off debt or saving for a vacation, or long-term, such as saving for retirement. Once you have your goals in mind, you can start making a budget that works towards those goals.  

Create a Fine-Tuned Budget 

Creating a budget may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Start by allocating your monthly income into categories such as housing, food, transportation, and other expenses. Make sure to include a category for your family’s savings, insurance, and investment needs. Policies like life, accident, and disability insurance are all worthy considerations for any family’s financial planning.    

You can allocate a percentage of your income towards each category, depending on your financial goals. However, make sure that your expenses do not exceed your income. A good rule of thumb is the 50/30/20 rule, where 50% of your income goes to necessities, 30% goes to discretionary expenses, and 20% goes towards savings and investments. 

Follow and Periodically Adjust Your Budget 

Sticking to your budget will make all your planning and other efforts worthwhile. Use a budgeting app or spreadsheet to keep track of your expenses, monitor your progress toward your goals, and plan adjustments to your spending. For example, if your grocery bill is exceeding your budget, you can try meal planning or using coupons to save money. Sticking to your budget may require discipline and sacrifices, but the long-term financial benefits are worth it. 

Additionally, your financial situation may change over time, such as changes in income, unexpected expenses, or changes in your financial goals. Review your budget monthly or quarterly to properly adjust your spending or savings. Remember, a budget is not set in stone and can be adjusted to meet your changing financial needs. 

Reach out to Discuss Your Financial Goals  

Creating a budget that works for you is an essential step toward financial stability and success. By assessing your current finances, setting your financial goals, and following a fine-tuned budget periodically, you can take control of your financial future. Remember, creating a budget is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that requires discipline, patience, and commitment. With these tips, you can create a budget that works for you and achieve your financial goals. 

If you’re unsure of how to plan for your family’s financial future and safety, then we’d recommend reaching out to our financially focused team. We’re proud to provide Nebraska & Kansas with expertly customized insurance and financial offerings that work for our clients.  

Types of Annuities

An annuity is a financial instrument that can provide a steady income stream during retirement. Investing in these policies is a fantastic way to secure one’s financial future for years to come. Each annuity has its own unique benefits and risks to consider. Let’s review three general types of annuities and how they work for retirees and their loved ones.

What Is an Annuity?

An annuity is a retirement savings account funded through installments or lump-sum deposits. These investments come in various forms to meet diverse needs and objectives.

Annuities may be great choices if you’re looking to mitigate long-term risk, leave a legacy for loved ones, or guarantee retirement income. Their interest rates and relative security can make them worry-free investments later in life.

The downside of annuities is that policyholders, commonly called annuitants, can’t withdraw their deposits without incurring penalties. A good rule of thumb is to not invest more money than needed for unplanned expenses. Given their limited flexibility, it’s essential to weigh the costs and benefits of distinct types of annuities.

1. Fixed Annuities

Fixed annuities guarantee steady income disbursements over their terms. They’re purchased for immediate or deferred use and can promptly start residual payments for a set time. Due to these consistent payments, fixed annuities are great options for anyone looking to divest from risky investments. Residual payments are based on an annuitant’s age, deposit size, and interest rates.

These investments pay higher amounts to older policyholders, so many retirees use them to supplement existing retirement income. A good usage of a fixed annuity is for a retiree who doesn’t receive recurring payments from Social Security or a pension plan. A downside of fixed annuities is that the conservative interest rates may not keep pace with inflation.

2. Variable Annuities

Variable annuities allow one to allocate their deposit to investments like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and money markets. Because of these investments, variable annuities offer the potential for higher returns but carry the risk of losing value over time.

These annuities are ideal for individuals who want to invest their savings, delay tax payments, and pursue higher returns. Deferred annuities are often purchased during an annuitant’s career to provide a stable income stream during retirement.

This type of annuity also offers tax-deferred growth potential and higher return rates than other investments due to compound interest. The main downside of variable annuities is that payments start around ten years after the policy’s creation. Due to the deferrals, a retiree needing immediate income would benefit from a fixed or indexed annuity instead.

 3. Indexed Annuities

These annuities allow investors to capitalize on the returns of a stock market index like the S&P 500 or Dow Jones without incurring losses when the markets decline. The earnings come from index funds linked to an assortment of stocks. This diversified approach to index funds not only curbs the risk from variable annuities but also provides moderate returns.

Indexed annuities are also perfect for risk-averse investors who want steady, high returns. However, those more comfortable with risks should also consider variable annuities if they’re seeking high returns on their deposits.

Let’s Discuss Types of Annuities

Investing in annuities requires an understanding of your needs, goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon. It’s crucial to meet with an insurance agent and discuss your financial goals and the types of annuities before considering this investment. Reach out to an agent today to learn more about our annuities, insurance policies, and other forms of income protection. Whether you’re looking for reliable income today or want to invest in your future, we certainly have a policy for your needs.