Financial advisors have played a central role in the financial planning industry for decades, helping people (mostly the wealthy) to manage their money over time. Financial advisors are typically paid a commission based on their Assets Under Management, or AUM, or paid on a fee-only basis, meaning you pay them a flat fee directly for financial planning services. Some financial advisors get paid with a mixture of fees, commission, and/or AUM, and these are called ‘fee-based’ financial advisors.
A financial plan is exactly what it sounds like – a plan for your finances. Building a true financial plan typically involves evaluating your current financial situation (things like how much you make and how much you’re spending) and then developing a strategy for your future based on your personal goals and stage in life. Many people, especially those just beginning to focus on personal finance, find the idea of building a financial plan overwhelming. You might be thinking, “Where do I even begin? Do I even need a financial plan?” The short answer is – yes. Building a financial plan makes it far easier to reach your short and long-term financial goals because you have clear and measurable targets to reach. For example, if you’re looking to purchase a new house within the next two years, you can research how much you need to save each month for a down payment. Without understanding how much your dream home will cost and setting a time-bound goal, it would be next to impossible to build an appropriate savings strategy. What else should I know? If you decide to move forward with creating a financial plan (you should!) you may be surprised by how emotional the planning process can be at first. After all, building a plan requires confronting every aspect of your financial life – even past decisions you may now regret. Don’t let these negative emotions deter you! By working with Planswell, we blend technology with financial experts that get to know you and your specific goals. We work them into a coherent and flexible document that adapts to your life over time.
Often when we think of financial planning, the first thing that comes to mind is planning for retirement. But what about all of the other critical financial decisions we make and goals we set for ourselves long before we reach retirement age? The purpose of goal-based planning is to focus not only on retirement but on reaching all of these other goals – from buying a house, to owning a boat to going on a year-long adventure around the world! Goal-based planning tends to be more personal and customized. Everyone will eventually need to care for themselves in old age, but not everyone has dreams of buying a vacation home in the Italian Riviera!
One critical part of financial planning that tends to be put on the “someday” list is estate planning. Let’s be honest, no one likes thinking about what will happen after they’re gone, but end-of-life and emergency planning helps protect the assets you’ve worked hard to accumulate and grow. Your Last Will and Testament, trust, and Power of Attorney documents allow you to appoint people you trust to act on your behalf when you are no longer able to or temporarily incapacitated. These legal documents empower them to distribute and manage your accounts, properties and any other assets according to your written wishes. When and why do I need a Will? Creating a legal will is an important responsibility and can be created once you reach the age of majority in your province or territory. Life is unpredictable and can throw us curve balls at any point, but having a will and a power of attorney (sometimes known as a living will) can help us prepare for the unexpected and protect our loved ones from future chaos and complications. While all adults should have one, here are some key factors that drive people to create their Will: You recently got married or remarried, you are currently in a common-law marriage, you recently went through a common-law separation or divorce, you have assets such as a home or multiple properties, you have a child(ren) and/or other dependants, you own valuable heirlooms such as art or jewelry, you have assets that as a result of your death may cause tension among surviving family, you own a business or investments, and/or you have a cause that really matters to you that you wish to donate to after you pass away. In the event you pass without a will, the law says that you have died “intestate,” meaning that you haven’t left any instructions as to how you would like your property to be divided and distributed. In these circumstances, your property will be divided according to the laws of the state you live in. Usually, this is a set formula that the courts will decide on. There are many options when you’re ready to check this important task off your list such as visiting a lawyer if you need legal advice, or using an online will service if you have a simple and straightforward estate. Regardless of how you decide to create these legal documents, you’ll need to have some important conversations with those you’re assigning responsibility to such as your executor, power of attorney, and if you have minor children, their guardians. Make sure they are comfortable with these crucial and potentially life-altering roles. They should know about your important accounts, investments, properties and the documents they might need access to in order to represent you and your wishes.