insurance docs

What insurance documents do you need copies of in an emergency?

We received such a positive response to our previous article detailing the medical related items needed in an emergency that we decided to follow it up with a second part: insurance documents needed in case of an unexpected life event. These events range from auto accidents, floods, storms, theft, and death of a loved one, just to name a few. After one of these situations, most people don’t possess their full mental faculty and may even be grieving. The last thing on their minds is dealing with an insurance company. Being prepared now and storing these documents in a safe and easily accessible location will greatly reduce time, headache, and possibly save you money. So, here are some of the most important insurance documents you will need.

  1. Homeowner’s/property insurance: Do you know where your policy is located right now? Have you ever tried to make a claim after a pipe flooded and ruined your electronics or carpet? Some insurance adjusters are better than others and more helpful. Make sure you know what is covered in your policy and what the insurance company is required to do. They will try to limit their exposure and knowing your rights and coverage limits will be critical.
  2. Photos/receipts of your tangible items: This is closely related to your homeowner’s and/or rental policy. Did you have a $3,000 turntable that was destroyed by a fire? How are you going to prove that it was worth that amount? The burden is on you. Again, an adjuster will have to make this determination. The more proof you have, the more likely you will get full reimbursement. If you don’t have a receipt(like me who usually loses them) make sure you take photos and store them in separate and safe location like your DocuVital account. It doesn’t do any good to have copies of your information in the same place you live-i.e-a flood or fire or storm can destroy it just the same. Redundancy of your information is critical, just like a computer engineer backs up her information in a separate cloud location.
  3. Rental insurance policy: See # 1 above. More and more people today, especially Millenials, do not own their homes but prefer the flexibility of renting. Even the same, you will need a rental policy to protect your personal belongings. Your landlord doesn’t cover your items in the event of damage.
  4. Life insurance policy: We cannot state how important it is to store this information in a safe place. If a loved one dies, you will be suffering extreme grief. However, your life will need to go on and you likely will need the financial support from the life insurance policy immediately. Bills don’t stop. Make sure you know where the policy is located, that it is paid and up to date, and that it has sufficient coverage to protect you. These are the basic items that we all should have stored in a secure location that is easily accessible anytime, from anywhere. Your DocuVital account can handle all of this for you. Taking these simple steps now will protect you and your family down the road.
medical docs

What medical items do you need in an emergency?

I frequently get asked the question by people, “What are the most important things I need to have backed up and stored in case of an emergency or unexpected life event?” It is too late to compile the items once you have gone through a medical emergency, storm, fire, flood, theft, accident, death of a loved one, etc. So what are the things you need stored in advance? While the list is too long to discuss here and is unique to each person depending on their age, stage of life, and financial situation, there are some very basic items that almost everyone shares in common. In this article I will focus first on the most important medical related items every person should have stored in a separate, secure location in case of an emergency.

  1. Health Insurance card and ID’s.-You don’t want to get hit with unexpected hospital bills simply because you did not have proof of insurance. As an attorney I have helped far too many clients with erroneous billing issues. It is a nightmare.
  2. List of medications.-In time of a medical crisis, it is crucial that the physicians diagnose and treat you based on all the medical information possible and knowing what medicines you are taking will determine what other medications you can be prescribed.
  3. Copy of living will.-Should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate, the last thing you want is your family to fight over your end of life care and wishes. Make sure your wishes(advance directives) are explicitly spelled out and that this document can be located easily. For example, would you want to be kept alive on a breathing machine? Families have been destroyed over these difficult decisions and ultimately the fate will rest in the hands of a judge, not you, if you did not plan ahead.
  4. Medical history.-Have you had a recent back surgery? Do you have a herniated disc? Do you have diverticulitis? The quicker a doctor can locate this information, the quicker he or she can treat you effectively.
  5. Family members and contact information.-If you have an accident or medical emergency and you are alone, you want the medical professionals to contact your loved ones asap. I recommend keeping a list of those relatives and/or friends who you want to be notified.

These are the basic items that we all should have stored in a secure location that is easily accessible anytime, from anywhere.  Your DocuVital account can handle of this for you.  Taking these simple steps now will protect you and your family down the road.

Financial institutions embrace FinTechs

As #FinTech #startups continue to make progress, traditional financial institutions have become more open to working with FinTechs as partners, rather than competitors. According to the Capgemini 2017 World FinTech Report, 76.7% of executives agree that FinTechs provide partnership opportunities.

Majority of world is using a FinTech solution

50.2% of people worldwide have already started using a FinTech provider aside from their traditional financial institution for banking, insurance, payments, or investment management. -Capgemini 2017 World Fintech Report

fintech

Financial industry, baby boomers, and fintech, the next step.

No issue looms larger for the financial advice industry than demographics and the aging of the baby boomers.

Over the next several decades, the biggest and wealthiest generation in U.S. history will transfer roughly $30 trillion in assets to their Gen X and millennial children, and if studies are accurate, most of those children will promptly fire their parents’ advisors.  At the peak, between 2031 and 2045, 10 percent of total wealth in the United States will be changing hands every five years. Capitalizing on these intergenerational shifts in wealth will be critical for the long-term success of wealth management firms.

“Studies regularly show that when wealth passes to another generation, in the majority of cases, the heirs change financial advisors,” said Gauthier Vincent, head of Deloitte’s U.S. Wealth Management practice. “The relationship between assets, asset owners and financial advisors is unraveling before our eyes.”

This tidal wave is approaching like a tsunami sitting hundreds of miles offshore. You know it’s out there but many in the financial industry have not taken sufficient steps yet to weather this storm. Understandably, most are focused on generating revenue now and servicing higher net worth clients like the baby boomers. The financial advisory sector has already seen significant disruption from the fintech startups dominating the “robo advisory” space. Companies like Betterment, Wise Banyan, and LearnVest have been targeting the GenX and Millenials who were traditionally avoided by the more established advisory companies.

“Indeed, firms in all corners of the industry — from banks and wire-house brokerages to asset managers and even insurance companies — have seen the light. They are either building out digital-advice platforms, as Charles Schwab and Vanguard have done, buying them like BlackRock and Northwest Mutual Insurance did, or partnering with online advisors, as UBS recently did with SigFig. The RIAs, most of whom can’t make the investments, are accessing the fintech tools through custodians such as Schwab, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade.”

Those companies that don’t embrace fintech technology to attract the next generation of clients will likely fall behind and not survive as the last of the baby boomer clients pass away. Finding innovative ways to stay ahead of this generation wealth transfer will be paramount to succeeding. Creating engagement and value for the adult heirs of the baby boomers is critical to keeping them as clients. I do think the best way for large and often slow moving financial service firms to accomplish this is to actively work with fintech companies who are far more effective adapting to the consumer needs and putting products in the marketplace.

Tools that allow the parent and adult children to interact via an online or mobile application where the heirs see the value of what the advisor is providing to the family.  For example, DocuVital stores critical documents and information that the children will need when wrapping up the affairs of their parents. White labeled or co-branded solutions will insure the advisors stay in the mind of the consumer when they are using the products.

Inaction and indecisiveness by the financial advisory sector will surely cause significant damage and some companies will not survive if they fail to proactively mitigate the wealth transfer issue.

financial wellness

Why financial wellness benefits are vital for your company…

When you think about employee benefits, your mind probably goes right to medical coverage. But there are actually a lot of other valuable added employee benefits to consider, from retirement plans and disability to vision and dental coverage.

If you don’t consider these added benefits to be a priority for your business, you might want to rethink that. Employee benefits are actually more important now than they ever have been before. Below are some of the reasons you should consider value added employee benefits beyond medical for your small business, along with tips for implementing those benefits.

Why You Should Offer Value Added Employee Benefits

They Help You Attract the Best Employees

According to a 2015 CareerBuilder study, 55 percent of employees consider affordable benefits to be more important than salary when job hunting. That means that more than half of potential workers out there would rather work for a company that offers comprehensive benefits than one that offers a slightly higher salary but limited benefits.

So if you don’t offer any valued added benefits to your employees, you could really be missing out on some great potential team members.

If more than half of people would pass on the opportunity to work for your company just because of the benefits, that greatly reduces the talent pool for your organization. And that means you’ll have less of a chance to actually find the best people for each job.

They Help Your Team Stay Focused on Work

Even if you do manage to hire a great team, it’s more difficult for employees to stay focused and engaged at work if they’re worried about money or experiencing financial issues, which is more likely if comprehensive benefits packages aren’t offered.

According to MetLife’s 14th Annual Employee Benefit Trends Study, 46 percent of employees who are financially distressed believe that their money worries have a negative impact on their productivity. And employers tend to agree.

In addition, since two-thirds of Americans report that they would have trouble coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected medical emergency or other crisis, insurance can have a big impact on whether or not many workers have to actually experience those financial burdens.

They Convince Your Team to Stick Around Longer

If you’re able to attract the right employees to your business and compensate them enough so that they can actually be productive and focused at work, then you likely want to get them to stick around as long as possible. Luckily, value added employee benefits can also help in that area.

Fair compensation, which often includes added benefits, can make employees feel that they are fairly compensated for their work. And if they’re satisfied and stable in their jobs, they’re more likely to stick around instead of looking for opportunities with better compensation elsewhere.

This not only allows your business to hold onto the best possible employees, but also potentially saves you money on training and HR expenses.

How to Offer Value Added Employee Benefits

Talk to Your Employees

There are many different types of employee benefits out there. Generally, more than half of employees tend to see retirement plans, dental coverage and life insurance options as “must-haves,” according to MetLife’s Employee Benefit Trends Study. And vision care insurance and disability insurance are also considered to be important.

But as a small business owner, you have access to even more specific information about what your employees want if you’re willing to just talk to them. If you know exactly what kinds of benefits they consider to be important, you can prioritize those over others.

Keep Looking Forward

You’ll also want to be sure that your benefits plans will work for the future of your business as well. Don’t spend so much in the short term that you’ll potentially harm your chances of affording great options in the future. But you also need to consider how added employee benefits might help your business going forward they help your team grow and stay productive.

Re-evaluate Regularly

As your team changes and evolves, so should your benefits. You’ll need to constantly re-consider different types of benefits so that you can make sure your plan is always what’s best for your team. In addition, as your budget grows or fluctuates, you can make adjustments that fit within what you can afford while still offering the best possible plans to employees.-Annie Pilon

cta_bg

3 tips for end of life planning

Most people can’t or don’t want to think about the day they might be incapable of making even basic decisions, says Jessica Lillesand, senior advisory specialist at Wells Fargo Private Bank. Incapacity planning—laying out the manner you want to be cared for should you lose your cognitive ability—is difficult to face but an absolute must for someone with estate plans.

“Most people don’t give much thought to the issue” until it is too late to handle carefully, Lillesand says, and that can accidentally throw parts of an estate or financial plan out of the window—the exact opposite of what they want.

Lillesand had a female client, for example, with an intricate and long-planned tax strategy requiring residence in Florida. When she began to deteriorate and started needing assistance, her family kept trying to move her out of Florida, nearer to where they lived. She never shared with them her tax strategy and her family was left to guess her exact wishes.

So, here’s lesson number one: make your location wishes clear from the get-go, says Lillesand, and let your surrogate decision-makers understand your thought process. That way, they have all the information on hand to carry out your wishes when the need arises.

The common mistake is that “there is a fall or illness that puts a person into a rehab and everyone is in crisis mode,” she says. The family ends up making a decision based off of the information they have on-hand, which is usually not complete.

Which gets us to lesson number two: pick strong surrogates. The advocates you grant “durable power of attorney,” reminds Lillesand, “will be running your show”—from handling your finances, such as conducting complicated bank transactions; to legal battles, such as standing in your place in the case that a medical lawsuit is filed. This means, you not only have to trust your surrogate, but they also have to be capable of managing your sophisticated finances.

That’s a lot more responsibility than most people really sign up for, Lillesand says, which is why you need to talk beforehand and in considerable detail to the person you want to nominate for the position. To make the conversation more robust, be sure to bring up the day-to-day administrative and financial tasks that may need overseeing, she says.

To split the burden, so no one person is overwhelmed by the responsibility, you may also separately pick a healthcare surrogate, to become your voice on medical decisions, freeing up the competent administrator to focus solely on your complicated financial affairs. That can become a problem in itself. Many people, when it comes to their medical surrogate, pick someone close to them, who may not always be the one best-suited emotionally for tough medical decisions. You may, for example, pick your child to be your medical surrogate, but ask yourself whether they have the heart to advocate for your wish to withdraw from life-prolonging procedures or the intake of food, if the situation arises. Lillesand says, “the emotional challenge is tremendous,” and when you’re not fully there, this person needs to be able to communicate your wishes, even if they are brutally painful to execute.

Which brings us to lesson number three: don’t leave a child who is easily heartbroken the responsibility of cutting off your life.

It’s the little things…

I have been an attorney for over 21 years and I have seen my share of families grieving after they lose a loved one.  Death is never expected, even for those who are terminally ill.  What compounds the problem is that the family left behind now is tasked with wrapping up the affairs of their loved one, all during a time they are grieving.

Did you know that on average over 100 tasks need to be completed after someone passes such as finding and closing bank accounts, credit cards, claiming life insurance benefits, pensions, social security and much more?  The look of complete exhaustion and the overwhelmed faces of the family at trying to do this all while living their lives is unforgettable.  This then crosses over to work.  A person does not check their grief at the door of their job at 9 in the morning and then pick it back up when they leave at 5.  And in today’s society, most families live in different states and cities which means frequent travel will be required to tend to the affairs.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that because you have a will that all is good. That is just the start.  It typically addresses only the high line items and assets in a person’s life.  What we have seen over and over are families ripped apart by the “little things”.  Epic arguments and ruined relationships occur over over pots and pans, shoes, clothes, mementos, pictures, etc.  But this can all be handled and prepared for with a minimal amount of time and thought by using solutions like DocuVital.

Helping your employees prepare for both the “big things” and the “little things” are key to making a smooth transition when they lose a loved one.   Assisting them during the ultimate time of loss and grief will be one of the greatest benefits you could ever provide them.

Prince

Life Happens Fast. Be Prepared.

By now many of you have heard and read about Prince’s tragic death.  To many of us he defined our youth and his albums were the soundtrack to our lives. What has compounded his passing was the fact that he was not prepared.  Like many Americans(over 50%), he died without a will and without making plans for his family.

Prince was famously known for guarding his privacy.  This was very important to him but now that he is gone, his life is being needlessly dragged out in the public eye and the courts.  “Prince’s relatives, employees and friends, even his ex-wives, apparently knew less about the 57-year-old star’s habits than they thought. And because Prince failed to leave a will, the probate proceeding is even more complicated — and non-transparent — than usual.”  There is much talk about the worth of his musical legacy which has surged in value since his death.  But who are his heirs?  Where are the “secret tapes” located?

In my experience as an attorney for over 20 years I have seen families ripped apart by the smallest things that a will does not usually address.  For example; baseball card collections, clothes, pots and pans! Fortunately, these issues can be easily addressed now.  Being prepared now will greatly reduce the stress and headache for your family later.

We all wanted to be Prince at one time, but don’t be like him now.  Life Happens Fast.  Be Prepared.

tidal wave

Does wealth transfer scare you as a financial services professional?

Anyone working in the financial services industry right now has been aware of or is quickly learning about the aging baby boomer population. Whether they work for a bank, insurance company, financial planning firm, or related entity, there is a tsunami waiting offshore that is heading in their direction. Already struggling to attract clients and differentiate themselves, they now face the greatest wealth transfer in human history as baby boomers get older and die. According to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, $59 Trillion will be transferred from baby boomers to their heirs over the next 40 years.

What does this mean for the financial services industry if they are not prepared and not taking measures to reduce this effect? Disaster. The baby boomers acquired significant amounts of wealth and have used their trusted advisors to manage their wealth and protect it. Many have long lasting relationships that have endured for years and acted like an annuity for the professionals in this industry. But, the adult children who will inherit the money and accounts in most cases have no relationship with the bank or financial institution of their parents. This means accounts that have been stable parts of your business will now be vulnerable.

In order to prevent this from happening, financial institutions must be forward thinking and one way is to embrace the Fintech revolution. Rather than looking at Fintech startups as disruptive technology, look for startups that can complement your business. How are you driving customer engagement? How are you making yourself relevant to the family members? How will you retain them as clients? How will you provide meaningful content and services to them?

In other words, what steps have you taken to survive the greatest wealth transfer in human history?