Posts Tagged ‘fiduciary’

Six Things You Can Do Now To Protect Your Loved Ones’ Assets

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
Making Moments Count: Family Financial Challenges

Bright Idea: Make sure everyone in your family has their financial information organized in one place. The organizer you’ll find in the financial resources section of our website is a great place to start. Click here to view our Personal Financial Records Document and get started today.

The value of our existence is measured by an infinite collection of meaningful moments that have shaped our lives and the lives of those around us. Perhaps our most precious moments occur when we positively impact the lives of our loved ones. We are all capable of initiating these moments and, sometimes, a simple conversation is all that is needed to provide insurmountable relief – now and for years to come.

Find out what else you can do now to improve your personal and financial well-being.

Even if they have never expressed their concern about the realities of aging before, it is almost certain that your parents are worried about their own mortality. Because this topic doesn’t typically find its way into casual conversation, it is your responsibility to broach the subject. Your parents will be grateful you did.

Here are five things you can do now to actively protect your loved one’s assets:

1. Overcome Your Discomfort

The first conversation about your loved ones’ finances is probably the most uncomfortable one, but it’s also the most important. It’s uncomfortable to talk to our parents about their death. Mom and Dad don’t find it thrilling either because they don’t want to be a burden. But as awkward as it is to discuss, you may eventually be shouldered with responsibility of managing the affairs your parents leave behind.

2. Set Up A Power Of Attorney

In order for you to assume this important role, you must be named as your parents’ power of attorney. This step gives you legal authority to pay their bills, maintain their residence, complete tax returns and review their financial investments.

If your power of attorney was established more than two years ago, verify that it was issued properly by today’s standards. Even though powers of attorney never expire, some have reported having problems with establishments that have updated their forms. The new forms no longer identify powers of attorney that were named several years ago.

Your parents can name multiple powers of attorney. But to avoid possible disputes, make sure that you and your siblings have your own, clearly defined responsibilities. Also, if your parents have decided to name a power of attorney, and it’s not you, make a point to respect their decision – even if you don’t agree with it. As long as a plan is in place, you and your family are on the right track.

3. Understand Your Responsibilities

Being a power of attorney is a big responsibility. Not only are you empowered to make tough decisions, your actions are now able to be scrutinized by everybody from the IRS to other family members. To avoid problems, carefully track how much money is coming in and going out and maintain thorough records. And call in the professionals if you feel like you’re in over your head.

4. Send In The Team

In the past, did your parents work with a team of professionals to manage their finances, legal affairs or anything else? If so, make it a priority to talk to them before moving any money or assets around. You will need to know if your parents set up a will, trusts, or anything else over the course of their lives. This team will not only be able to compile the information you need, they can answer your technical questions, which will make the entire process go smoother.

5. Compile An Inventory

To manage anything well you must have a clear picture of what it is you are managing. To that end, make it a point to compile a complete inventory of your parent’s assets and liabilities to create a clearer plan of action.

Do you know how the value of real property is determined?
Read: How Do You Value Property For An Estate In Ohio to learn more.

6. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Once you understand your responsibilities, simplify everything. For example, if your parents have seven or eight open bank accounts throughout the county or state, consolidate them into one – and don’t stop there. From assets to investments, consolidating these affairs will make your job easier and less confusing as you try to track expenses.

It’s not easy to manage your loved ones finances, but with the right approach, plan and team of advisors, you can do it – and do it well. Once you get your ducks in a row, you can focus on other, more important things – like making every moment with your loved ones count.

By: David K. McCarthy, CPA, CSEP (Medina office)

This article was originally published in The Rea Report, a Rea & Associates print publication, Winter 2015. If you don’t already receive The Rea Report, our quarterly print newsletter, in your mailbox, click here and start your subscription today!

 

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What Does ASU 2011-04 Mean For Your Pension Audit?

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

How to Prepare For Changes to Your Retirement Plan

While the basics of double entry accounting haven’t changed in hundreds of years, the devil, as they say, is in the details. And, when it comes to accounting, the details are always changing. A new accounting standard update has been announced – and it could have a big impact on your pension plan’s 2012 audit.

For the last decade, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) have been working toward accounting convergence; bringing U.S. accounting standards into harmony with international requirements. Through the Accounting Standard Updates (ASUs), FASB has been nudging U.S. standards closer to their international counterparts. Think of it as the accounting equivalent of finally getting America to convert to the metric measuring system. It’ll be great once we’re all on the same page, but the process of getting there… well, it’s a little complicated.

Here’s what you need to know about ASU 2011-04 and what you can do to prepare for its impact on your retirement plan. (more…)

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Do You Need to Send an Annual Notice to Your 401k Participants?

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Does your 401k plan have a calendar year end? If so you have until December 1, 2012, to send notice requirements to plan participants or the operation or qualification of your plan could be impacted. Use this checklist of notices to get started: (more…)

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Who is Responsible for Fidelity Bonding?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

When it comes to following the ERISA requirement of fidelity bonding, the devil, as they say is in the details.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requires that fidelity bonding be obtained to cover each person who “handles” plan assets.  The general rule is the bond amount be ten percent (minimum of $1,000) of plan assets as of the beginning of the plan year, not to exceed $500,000, or one million dollars if the plan holds employer securities.

While this requirement seems relatively straightforward, we find plan sponsors are sometimes unclear about their fidelity bond responsibilities when we are performing  benefit plan audits.   Following are some of the commonly asked questions. (more…)

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You’ve Received Fee Disclosures, Now What?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

It’s Your Turn to Disclose Fees to Participants

Did you suffer from sticker shock when you received the recent fee disclosures from your service providers? If so, you weren’t the only plan fiduciary to be surprised, even though it’s your job to know the ins and outs of your pension plan.

Now, by August 30, you have to disclose that fee information to your plan participants. How do you think they will react? It is possible they aren’t going to like the news. Worse yet, they may be confused as to why they are suddenly paying new fees when the reality is they have always paid them. Being upfront about plan costs, and plan benefits, can help you make it through this new disclosure requirement. (more…)

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Insurance Company Rebates

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Why They’re Coming and What To Do with Them

Not sure why you got a check in the mail from your insurance company? No, they’re not dropping your coverage. They’re crediting you back for what they overcharged your participants in 2011. Why? Because of health care reform.

Since the Supreme Court decided on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we told you about how it might mean additional taxes and regulations for your business. But, the ACA isn’t all bad news for small business owners. In fact, it could get you a check from your insurance company! (more…)

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Do You Understand the New ERISA Fee Disclosures?

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

408(b)(2) Regulations Help Meet Fiduciary Responsibilities

Are you wondering why there is so much buzz these days about ERISA Section 408(b)(2) fee disclosures? After all, your service provider tells you what you pay for the services provided, right? Maybe.

Service provider pricing and compensation can be structured many different ways, so it may prove difficult for you, a responsible plan fiduciary (RPF), to evaluate plan fees. The Department of Labor (DOL) recognizes this and, in  408(b)(2) regulations, is mandating what information is to be disclosed to help you assess the reasonableness of fees paid for by the plan. The regulations also aim to help identify conflicts of interest that may impact a service provider’s performance. (more…)

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Can Benchmarking Uncover Money Hiding in Your Retirement Plan?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Benchmarking may result in potential savings

Could you use an extra $26,000 a year? A plumbing company realized that savings after discovering it was overpaying recordkeeping and investment fees in its retirement plan.

By benchmarking the plan, this company saw how the fees compared to plans of a similar size across the country. This provided the plan sponsor with solid data to discuss fees with current providers.

While there are plans out there where reasonable fees are being paid, that’s not the case in every situation. From a law firm that saved $46,000 in investment fees to an administrative services firm that reduced its annual recordkeeping fees by $50,000, some plan sponsors have found that their plan fees are not in-line with similar plans. (more…)

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What does the new ERISA regulation mean for plan sponsors?

Friday, March 30th, 2012

If your company sponsors a 401k plan, a new ERISA regulation could mean extra paperwork… and potentially extra liability. (more…)

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What Kind of Fiduciary Are You?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Over the years, I’ve worked with many clients who served as fiduciaries for their company’s retirement plan. It’s a serious position. When you serve as a fiduciary, the position comes with responsibility outlined by ERISA, including keeping track of reasonable fees, completing and following an investment policy and providing guidance to participants. Unfortunately, plan fiduciaries who do not fulfill their duties can be found liable by the Department of Labor, and participants have also successfully sued fiduciaries in civil actions. (more…)

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Are you following fiduciary best practices?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

If you operate a retirement plan, you’re probably well aware that your position as a fiduciary is facing increasing scrutiny – and increasing liability and risk. In addition to increasing rules from the Department of Labor, recent lawsuits and settlements have highlighted the “significant potential liability for breach of fiduciary duty.” (more…)

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