Planned Life Changes
In the April issue we went into depth about navigating unplanned life changes, and now it’s time to delve into the life events that are specifically planned. Some are much the same, as they can occur unexpectedly or as a part of an established timeline of events, while others wouldn’t just happen unless they were intended – and generally the better thought out, the better on all accounts. Furthering your education and graduation, marriage, having a baby, getting a pet, retirement, moving, buying/selling a home or business – there are so many wonderful, even if sometimes bittersweet, things in life that are planned occasions. As such, here are some key things to keep in mind when doing so!
Planning for the First Years
There’s a lot that goes into planning to have a baby, some of which can be stressful but mostly REALLY exciting. There are doctor’s appointments, baby showers, nursery projects complete with furniture assembling ordeals, and more, all on top of the stuff of normal life. Then, everything about your life changes once the baby is born and home. One thing that you want to have in place, as everything goes by SO fast during pregnancy and even faster once the baby arrives, is the images that document such a special life moment, as you won’t get a second chance.
Gina Zabloudil of Zabloudil Photography explains, “For these reasons, we offer a BabyPlan, which is an opportunity to have prepaid portrait sessions with us to document your child’s 1st year of life. We plan each session and brainstorm with you ahead of time, sharing our recommendations and hearing your ideas too! We also talk about age-appropriate expectations. The majority of these sessions are to be created in-studio or in your home. We advise scheduling each session at least 2 weeks prior to the milestone.
Our BabyPlan includes the following sessions: Optional Maternity Session with Daddy: Ideal to create these images about 4-8 weeks prior to your due date. Clothing or type of wrap is for you to decide. (This session isn’t appealing to everyone. A family session after the child is 1 year old could be substituted if this option isn’t used.) Newborn Session: A special time for your family. These must be created before 4 weeks of age (up to 6-7 weeks for preemies) – the ideal time frame is less than 2 weeks old. If you’re pregnant and would like us to photograph your newborn session, please call us with your due date now so we can plan accordingly! At this time, we also create images with the parents together with their new baby. Four Month Session: These must be created before the child is 6 months of age. They are the “on the tummy” images that are so adorable and capture the spontaneous smiles of this age. Eight Month Session: These must be before the child is 9 months of age. This session is busy because baby is usually mobile now, so it’s perfect to include their sibling(s) for a portion of it. Weather permitting, this session could be created on location. Twelve Month Session: Happy Birthday Sweetheart! This session has the optional ‘birthday cake’ party portion, usually at the end. It could include the whole family as well, but not at the same time if the ‘cake’ option is desired. On-location is an option for this session if weather permits and there won’t be cake. There is an additional fee for family session at a different time.
At the conclusion of the BabyPlan, you’ll receive a custom storyboard with your favorite image from each session presented at the end!”
Planning for the Golden Years
On the opposite side of the age spectrum, when it comes to planning for one’s golden years, retirement is center stage, as is estate planning and making end-of-life arrangements, life insurance, securing Medicare benefits or adequate health care coverage otherwise, downsizing and planning for changes in living arrangements, investment planning, and so on. Given our audience of entrepreneurs and business professionals, one thing you all may find surprising is that many business owners don’t have plans in place for an exit strategy. Although they know at some point they will sell their business or pass it on to the next generation, it’s something that tends to get put off. “Having an exit plan is so important,” emphasizes Jethro Hopkins of No Coast Business Advisors. “It’s one of the basics of being a business owner. Whether you’re the sole proprietor or in a partnership, you’ve got to be proactive in planning for everything you’ll do moving forward, from start to finish. In the event of your untimely passing, will your significant other, child(ren) or another family member take over, and are they prepared to do so? In the event of a partner’s passing, are you comfortable entering a partnership by default with their spouse, children, parents, or another outside party? Everything that would happen in the event of the sale of the business, dissolution of partnership, death, etc. should be well documented, written into your operating agreement or articles of incorporation.
From the day you open the business, an exit strategy should be in place and the plan should be clear to all parties involved. When you’re ready to retire is not the time to be scrambling to put this together either. You want to have everything in order at least 3-5 years prior to when you want to get out of the business. Plan your exit, your partner’s exit, and ideally both, as early on as possible – and specifically for partnerships, while you are on good terms. When planning for the future, just the same as not saving early for retirement or having your will and power of attorney in place, not having an exit strategy will burn you. You don’t want your business going into probate and having a judge determines what happens to it. You have the power when it’s in writing, as your wishes for your business take precedence over a judge’s orders. Similar to a will, someone has to challenge it and prove it’s not valid to prevail. Not to mention that having an exit strategy in place will allow you to get the most money out of your business when it comes time to sell, as you’ll have all of the documentation ready for the bank and potential buyers. It’s a simple way to plan for, and protect, your future and the future of your business.”
Planning for All of the Above
Aside from what we’ve already discussed, with which there is potential for crossover, there are the things that apply universally, such as insurance policies, investment planning, and estate planning.
“The most common life changing events we deal with are retirement and adding new family members either by birth or marriage,” says Andy Storz of Good Life Retirement Solutions. “Ultimately we help provide peace of mind. We want to make sure the people we work with don’t have to worry about losing money due to market uncertainty or not having the resources they need if something happens to them or a family member. ‘How much is enough?’ is a popular question for all types of scenarios, whether it be savings, coverage, benefits, etc. I don’t have a single answer because everyone’s situation is different and needs personalized attention. We like to discuss someone’s goals and balance that with ‘what if’ situations to make sure we can take care of as many needs as possible. When planned life changes are coming up it’s a great time to get more information and plan for the future. Something commonly overlooked is simply taking the time to plan now rather than waiting. It will take more effort to reach savings goals the longer you wait and the older you get certain forms of insurance will get more expensive. It’s best to start preparing early so planned life changes can occur without any added stress. With these types of things, it’s always important to stay informed and sometimes that means getting a second opinion. We all want to make sure that any decision we make is good for our families and making sure we know our options is a great benefit to that process.”
He also notes, “Recently, in our business, the Department of Labor’s new Fiduciary Rule is a big topic of conversation. It just took effect in June after a great deal of debate. Although the reaction to it by the financial industry has some downsides, I believe that overall it will be beneficial to the public by forcing more transparency and highlighting fees and charges by companies that may not have been easy to see in the past.”
Christine Vanderford of Vanderford Law adds, “Life changes – marriage, birth of children, blending families in second or subsequent marriages, death of a spouse, death of a child, child/children with special needs or developmental disabilities – are all things we routinely discuss in helping clients with their estate planning. Many are surprised to find that both short-term and long-term planning considerations are discussed.
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, thinking about an untimely death is often shoved into the background. Unfortunately, many are unprepared for the logistics of moving forward in life without that person’s presence, financial support, legal support, and care, let alone the emotional impact that person’s death has on the lives of those who survive them. Very commonly people think their spouses automatically speak for them as their power of attorney. But not true, and especially if there are assets only in your name, or when it comes to gaining access to restricted/confidential medical information and your medical records, often needed to make competent decisions regarding your health care and rehabilitation.
All persons who have children under 19, married and/or single, who have assets collectively valued over $50,000, should seek the counsel of an attorney to prepare a last will and testament. Additionally, any person over the age of 19 should have their own Advanced Health Care Directive, assigning who would be making health care decisions for you if you were incapacitated.Seeking the assistance of professionals is the best and most cost-effective way in the long run when it comes to planning with respect to life changes. Be wary of online legal forms without engaging in legal advice particular to your personal situation, as the effect of ‘going it alone’ may only give your loved ones more frustrations or headaches in your absence.”
For the things in life that should be thoughtfully planned out in advance, there’s usually a palpable sense of urgency that’s not to be dismissed or ignored. It’s for good reason, because there are significant benefits to having arrangements made at the recommended intervals, if not sooner just for good measure. It always helps to have guidance when planning the important things in life, specifically from the professionals who will apply their knowledge and experience to ensure everything is in place and nothing is overlooked. An outside opinion doesn’t hurt either. By establishing these relationships, you’ll know exactly who to consult when planning for any number of life changes you’ll experience down the road.