The Family Firm Blog

Time to Discuss Estate Planning: Day of the Dead

Posted by Kate Fries on 11/1/16 3:53 PM


Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, is a popular holiday in Mexico and the Southwestern United States, and is celebrated on Nov 1-2nd.  Having grown up in San Diego, I was aware of the celebration and to be honest I was pretty freaked out at first by all the skull and skeleton decorations!  When I came to learn that Day of the Dead was in fact a day to remember loved ones who had died and to celebrate and remember them, I became intrigued.

 Talking about death is a lot like talking about money in American culture – we don’t do it.  Or if we do, it is behind closed doors or in hushed voices.  I love that the Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, a party with colorful decorations, lots of good food and music, and time to reflect and share the memories of those we love and miss.  Moreover, it presents a wonderful opportunity to talk about death itself. 

 When a loved one dies, there is of course grief and sadness.  This difficult and painful time can be compounded by family conflict and/or bureaucracy if appropriate measures are not put into place while the loved one is alive.  While we may not like to talk or even think about death, the knowledge that we are lessening the future pain and suffering of those we leave behind is a powerful motivator to take action.

 Here are some actions that can be taken to help ease the burden on surviving loved ones, in my personal order of importance:

  1.        Have a Medical Power of Attorney aka Advanced Medical Directive aka Health Care Proxy – any                document that names someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. 

*Critically important for single individuals over 18 – mom and dad cannot make medical decisions for their children once they are 18 years old, and if their (adult) child is incapacitated the last thing parents want to do is have to apply to court for the ability to do so.

  1.        Have basic estate documents in place:
  •          Power of Attorney (this one is for someone to make legal and financial decisions for you during              your lifetime)
  •          Will - including guardianship if minor children are involved
  •          Possibly a trust – this is more advanced and should be discussed with your financial advisor and              estate attorney
  1.        Make sure that beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and life insurance policies are        up to date and reflect your wishes – you want to make sure that former spouses and or deceased            beneficiaries are no longer included.
  2.        Consider sharing your estate plan with your heirs and loved ones while you are still alive so that              there are no surprises and you are still available to answer any questions.  This may help to                      prevent hard feelings and even heirs suing one another after your death.

Estate planning takes time and effort that most of us would rather spend on just about anything else.  However, failing to plan in order to ease our discomfort only passes it along (exponentially) to those we leave behind. 

My grandmother Jane, “G.G.”, was 5 feet tall on a good day, often wore red, white, and blue, and loved a good party!  She died 5 years ago just over the age of 91.  My family and I will share stories and laugh while eating her favorite pigs-in-a-blanket on her required “little napkins” on Nov 1st this year.  In this connected, festive atmosphere the stage will be set for me to ask my family  about their wishes at their death?  What documents are in place?  What do they want their legacy for our family to be? 

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Topics: Insider

Medicare Open Enrollment Season: October 15 through December 7

Posted by Stephen Daly on 10/1/16 3:57 PM


The fall Open Enrollment is the time of year when Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their Medicare prescription drug plans, also known as Medicare Part D coverage.

Medicare drug plans can make changes to their coverage each year including to things like: cost, coverage, and what providers and pharmacies are in their networks.  If you don’t request a change to your current Part D plan during the open enrollment period it is automatically renewed for the following year.

Many Part D participants are unaware that the cost for the exact same prescription can vary greatly between different plan providers.  To compare plans that are available in your area and see if you have a cost effective plan based on your prescription needs you can enter your drug information in to Medicare’s online plan finder by clicking here.

To learn more about the Open Enrollment period and the changes that you can make to your Medicare coverage click here.


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Topics: Medicare

Protecting Yourself From Hackers

Posted by Kate Fries on 8/25/16 3:58 PM

by Kate Fries

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Audio from our August 2 Investment Conference Call

Posted by Nate Gendelman on 8/2/16 4:02 PM


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Topics: Insider

Advice for Adults Concerned About Aging Parents

Posted by Stephen Daly on 6/7/16 5:00 PM

On May 18th, The Family Firm hosted a panel discussion and dinner for clients looking for advice on caring for their aging parents. The event took place at The Bethesda Hyatt Regency and the panelists were: Linda Hill, a Clinical Social Worker specializing in Elder Care at Aging Network Services, Robin Mansfield, a Care Manager at Aging Network Services and Stacy Bakri, Financial Advisor at The Family Firm.  Nate Gendelman, President of The Family Firm moderated the discussion.

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Europe's Economy is Outperforming

Posted by Nate Gendelman on 5/23/16 12:00 AM

It's got to be the most under-reported and unappreciated economic development in 2016: Europe's economic growth outpaced America's in the first quarter by a fairly healthy margin. Is this just a temporary blip or something more significant? 

It wouldn't be wise to speculate about what the rest of the year might hold. Background factors that might help Europe are the decline in the euro over the past 18 months as well as continued pump-priming from the European Central Bank.  Factors that work against Europe are the continued political dysfunction as well as resistance to structural changes.

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Oil and Stocks

Posted by Nate Gendelman on 5/21/16 5:34 PM

One trend I have noticed lately is that the strong correlation between stock and oil prices has broken down.

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Three Months Through April 30th

Posted by Nate Gendelman on 5/10/16 12:00 AM

Investors in nearly asset class had an enjoyable three months (ending April 30). Central banks continue to be supportive and the global economy continues to muddle through.  Riskiest investments were very much in vogue, as emerging market, natural resource, and small cap stocks all recorded double digit gains. Broader market stock indexes also notched healthy gains.  Bonds also recorded unusually large gains during the quarter, as the Fed signaled a pullback from plans for aggressive interest rate increases. The dollar fell and this provided a significant boost to international bonds. 

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First Quarter in Review

Posted by Nate Gendelman on 4/20/16 12:00 AM


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Tax updates for 2016

Posted by Stephen Daly on 1/13/16 12:00 AM


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