Financial Planners

Do You Need a Financial Planner?

If you’re comfortable managing your money and are pleased with your investment returns, you may not need a financial advisor. Financial planners can help you manage your money, but they do charge for their services and they shouldn’t make your financial life decisions for you. They can help you with advice on the following:

  • Budgeting
  • Allocating your assets among the right investments
  • Tax planning
  • Retirement planning
  • College funding
  • Estate planning
  • Insurance coverage
  • Debt-reduction

A financial planner should help you assess your financial situation and develop strategies to reduce your debt, increase your savings, manage your cash, provide tax advice, recommend investments and help plan your retirement. Never let a planner determine the level of investment risk you will take, decide what happens to your assets after your death, or do all your paperwork. Planners should advise on these issues, but you should retain the right to make the final decisions. Also, don’t be tooled by insurance salesmen or brokers who call themselves financial planners or financial advisors. These people earn a commission on the investments or products they recommend and may not have your best interests in mind.

How do financial planners get paid?

A financial planner is paid in one of 3 ways: by fees, by commissions, or by a combination of fees and commissions. “Commission-only” planners are paid a percentage of any investments you make their fees come directly out of your investment dollars. “Fee-only” planners are paid either a flat fee, an hourly rate or a percentage of the assets they manage for you.

Organizing Your Records

Organize your records for safety and accessibility. It’s important that valuable or hard-to-replace documents are kept in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box at a bank or a fireproof box at home, and the attorney/friend/relative who would tend to your affairs in the event of your incapacitation or death should also have easy access to the documents that would be needed.

Safe Deposit Box Fireproof Box at Home Attorney/Relative/Friend
Automobile title Canceled checks Burial instructions
Birth certificates Recent tax records Living will
Citizenship papers Insurance policies Power of attorney
Death certificates Living will Trust documents
Personal property inventory Power of attorney Will (copy or original)
Property deeds Original will Copy of the Personal and Professional Directories in your financial notebook
Education degrees Trust documents
Legal documents Warranties
Marriage documents Copy of the Notebook Items in your financial notebook
Military documents
Stock/bond certificates
Back tax records

Where to Store Important Documents

  • Do not put original copy of your will in your safe deposit box. Some states require that a safe deposit box be sealed at the renter’s death until the probate process is completed. This could take a year or more.
  • Documents placed with an attorney or another person for safekeeping should be stored also in your fireproof box at home or in a safe deposit box.

How Long to Keep Records

When in doubt, don’t throw it out!

In general, the following, should be retained permanently:

  • Income tax returns, worksheets, and documentation for deductions; The Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S) recommends keeping records for three years; however tax records are often useful in divorce proceedings and other situations in which your financial history is relevant.
  • All records that might be used as proof of ownership, such as deeds, mortgages, purchase agreements, and canceled checks (file these checks with the papers related to the transaction); Records of ownership may be needed for settling an estate or settling property disputes.
  • Proof of debt repayment (including canceled checks)
  • Insurance accident reports and claims
  • Retirement and pension records
  • Proof of date and price of purchase for all investments or other property that might be sold some day or transferred to heirs
  • Correspondence relating to legal and important matters