Retirement Withdrawal Strategy

If you’re like most people, you’ve worked a lot, put money into retirement and relied on your paycheck to pay the bills. A lot of time goes into retirement planning, and then there’s this cosmic shift where you’ll find yourself spending your retirement money.

You have all of these accounts that have grown as you tried to secure your retirement, and you may be wondering: Which accounts do I take money from? 

The steps below can help you create a retirement withdrawal strategy that works well for you:

5-step Retirement Withdrawal Strategy

1. Determine Your Retirement Needs

We work and save for so long that when retirement comes, most of us don’t know our needs. You’ve built up a nest egg, and now it’s time to understand your needs:

  • Essential income: What do you need to stay relatively happy? You’re not having all of the fun yet, but you need to pay your mortgage, eat and enjoy life a little bit, such as going out to dinner. Calculate this expense, which may be $3,000 to $4,000 or less and maybe even more, depending on your lifestyle.
  • Wants in retirement: Do you want to travel, play golf, or spoil your grandkids? What will make retirement fun for you? It’s important to come up with your own bucket list and then put a dollar figure on each item.

Social Security is unlikely to cover all of your needs, and this is where the coming steps will help you create a withdrawal strategy.

2. Understand the Different Types of Retirement Accounts

Many people know a lot about their 401(k) accounts because they’ve paid into them for so long. Their employers may have contributed to these accounts, and it is where many people have the bulk of their wealth.

However, you may be involved with:

  • Traditional or Roth IRA
  • Traditional or Roth 401(k)

If you have a traditional IRA or 401(k), there is a rule that you have to take what is known as a required minimum distribution. Currently, at age 72, you need to begin taking withdrawals from these accounts every year. This age is set to increase to over the years, but right now, it’s 72.

We have a few clients who didn’t realize that they needed to take this distribution and don’t need the money. However, since these accounts are traditional, you’ll need to take your withdrawals and pay taxes on this money, creating a lot of interesting scenarios.

For example, you may have to deal with:

  • Health benefit changes that are based on income
  • Paying into a higher tax bracket because your income is now higher

Roth accounts do not require you to take a required minimum distribution. In many cases, we’ll discuss doing things early, such as in your 50s and early 60s, when you still have time to convert the traditional account earlier to avoid potential drawbacks in the future.

Everyone with a traditional or Roth IRA must sit down and figure out the rules of each account type that they have.

3. Figure Out Your Priorities

Year by year, your retirement withdrawal strategy can change. Nothing is set in stone, but we find a yearly strategy provides our clients peace of mind. With that said, you do need to determine your priorities.

For example, you may want to prioritize:

  • Roth conversions to get into a tax-free scenario
  • Tax strategies to lower future taxes

Roth conversions will trigger taxes and can impact you in the future. 

We have one client who is trying to leverage a very low tax year, live on cash in the bank and do a Roth conversion. He plans to live on the cash he has saved so that the Roth conversion can happen at a rate of just 12%.

Since he is converting into a Roth account, he benefits from:

  • Allowing the money in the account to grow
  • Not having to take withdrawals

He is making it a priority to get his money into accounts that can grow tax-free and not have to worry about future withdrawals.

Another priority that we have seen in recent years is staying under IRMAA. IRMAA is a Medicare surcharge, and if you go over a certain threshold, you’ll need to pay higher premiums as a result.

Don’t know what IRMAA is or why it matters? Read through our guide: IRMAA Medicare Surcharges and 

If you never want to go above the IRMAA threshold, this can be a priority and achieved by creating the right withdrawal strategy.

4. Manage Investment Risk

Investment risks can be complicated, but we like to keep it simple with a three-bucket strategy. The strategy includes:

  1. Cash in the bank that you can use as emergency money any time you need it.
  2. Investment bucket, which is the money that you want to grow. Some risk is involved here.
  3. Income or safety bucket. Let’s assume that we have an income or safety bucket, this will cover your expenses and allow your investment bucket to rise and fall without worrying about market downturns.

You can read more about our retirement bucket strategy here.

5. Be Willing the Adjust

The final step in a retirement withdrawal strategy is that you should be able to adjust the strategy at any time. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach or rule of thumb to follow with your withdrawal strategy.

Retirement-focused financial plans are “living and breathing.”

We want to have the ability and flexibility to adjust your plan when it benefits you the most or when priorities change. For our clients, we recommend going through their plans at least once a year.

A quick review helps you understand if you have everything to cover your life for 30+ years in retirement. If you get caught in autopilot, you may miss important changes that need to occur.

If you prioritize your withdrawal strategy, you’ll find that it’s a lot less complex than it is if you scramble to create a strategy too late.

Do you want help with your retirement planning?

Click here to schedule a call with us about your retirement withdrawal strategy.

April 10, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for April 10, 2023

This Week’s Podcast -Why Review Beneficiary Designations Annually?

Listen in to learn the importance of naming contingent beneficiaries after your primary beneficiaries to ensure everything is clear. You will also learn why you need to consider the tax implications of each account, the needs of your beneficiaries, and its impact on your overall estate plan.


This Week’s Blog – Why Review Beneficiary Designations Annually?

Retirement planning is a long process. When you first start trying to secure your retirement, your life may be entirely different than it is today. One topic that we’re passionate about is the need to review beneficiary designations annually.

Why Review Beneficiary Designations Annually

Retirement planning is a long process. When you first start trying to secure your retirement, your life may be entirely different than it is today. One topic that we’re passionate about is the need to review beneficiary designations annually.

Backtracking a little bit, we decided to discuss this topic in-depth with you after reading an article on MarketWatch.

The story begins with a man who has a market account worth around $80,000. Suddenly, this man passes away, and the beneficiary of his account is his prior wife. However, his prior wife was deceased.

What Happens if the Beneficiary of an Account is Deceased?

In the scenario above, the man’s prior wife is deceased already. When he passes on, the account then goes to his estate. His account must then go through probate and into the estate, too.

However, in this man’s case, he had a daughter who was meant to inherit the account. Her stepmother even sent the daughter a text message stating that her father wanted her to have the money in the account.

Fast forward a bit, the stepmother becomes the executor of the estate after the account goes through probate and says, “She thinks the girl’s father changed his mind and that the money is meant to go to her, the stepmother.”

The daughter feels like the stepmother betrayed her father.

Unfortunately, a text message isn’t enough legal grounds for the daughter to fight back against her stepmom.

This is an example of someone who didn’t review beneficiary designations annually. Instead of the father’s wishes being upheld, someone else decided what they thought was best for the funds in the account.

Key Takeaways from this Example

Beneficiary designations are very important. We don’t know what the father wanted to happen to the funds in his account, nor do we know what may have been written in his estate plan. What we do know is that the daughter does have a message from her stepmother stating that the funds were meant for her, but something changed along the way.

We can speculate that perhaps the stepmom found estate documents mentioning that she received the estate, or maybe she fell on hard times financially and wanted to keep the funds.

In all cases, this could have been avoided by:

  • Reviewing beneficiaries annually
  • Updating beneficiaries when major life changes occur

Many accounts that you have often allow you to add beneficiaries, even if you don’t know that you can. For example, you can add beneficiaries to IRA, 401(k) and life insurance. You can even add beneficiaries to checking accounts.

We recommend that you:

  • Gather all of the accounts that have money in them
  • Inquire with all of these accounts if you can add a beneficiary

Probate and state law can vary from state to state dramatically. The daughter in the case above wanted to know if she could use the text message as evidence and file a lawsuit.

Contesting Probate 101

We don’t know the logistics of the case the daughter has or if a text message will mean anything in her scenario. Likely, the text will not hold up in court. What we are certain of is that contesting probate is:

  1. Lengthy and can be very difficult to do
  2. Costly

Avoiding any probate contestation is always in your best interest. The father in the example above may have been able to add a contingent beneficiary to his account. What this does is say, “If the first person is no longer living, the next beneficiary should be this person.”

Contingent designations would have helped this family avoid probate court and animosity between the daughter and stepmom.

7 Steps to Manage Your Beneficiaries Throughout Your Life

1. Review Your Beneficiaries Annually

For our clients, we do a beneficiary review each year. We show them who is listed on their accounts as a beneficiary, including:

  • Beneficiary name
  • Percentage to each beneficiary
  • Contingents
  • Etc.

If you’re not a client of ours, you can easily do this review on your own. Reach out to all of your account holders and ask them who you have listed on your account as a beneficiary. It is possible that you sent in a form to change a beneficiary and it was never filed.

It’s so important to verify your beneficiaries annually, even if you have a form sitting in front of you naming the beneficiary, because you just want that peace of mind that everything has been filed properly.

2. Consider Tax Implications

When you leave accounts behind, they may have certain tax implications that you need to worry about. For example, an IRA is taxed one way and a Roth IRA is taxed another way. It’s important to know the implication of each account to make it easier to understand who best to leave the account to when you pass.

If you leave an account to a high-income earner, they may take the money out of the account and pay the tax burden. Then, they may decide to give the money to your grandkids.

However, there are ways that you can set up these accounts to avoid this high tax burden and leave the funds to your grandkids directly. You can do what is known as “disclaiming,” which would allow your son or daughter to divide the money how they see fit with fewer potential taxes.

3. Understand the Impact on Your Overall Estate Plan

Let’s assume that you’re leaving $1 million behind with most of it in an IRA or 401(k) and have beneficiaries attached to it. The remaining part will go through the estate plan. In this case, you may be disinheriting a child if:

  • In one area, you split the funds 50/50
  • Another area you split the funds 80/20

When going through a beneficiary review, it’s important to look at the dollar amounts that are given to each child. You may decide to leave $500,000 to one child and $1 million to another child.

In this scenario, one child would need to receive the house and an additional $250,000 and the other $750,000 to split the inheritance evenly. Of course, you can divide your estate up however you see fit, even if that means one child receives far less than the other.

4. Consider Beneficiary Needs

Beneficiaries may have different needs. If one beneficiary is a high-income earner and the other is not, the high-income earner may not need as much money. You may even want to allow the high-income earner to disclaim the inheritance to give to their kids without the high tax burden.

If you have a special needs child, you also need to consider how the inheritance may impact their benefits. In this case, you may want to consider a trust account so that the child still receives their benefits and the help they need.

Another common scenario is that:

  • Your child is not good with money
  • The child may spend all of their money at once

In this case, a trust and a discussion with an attorney can empower you to leave money behind and dictate how it is used with greater control.

5. Be Specific 

For example, your intent is to leave 25% of the money to your grandchildren. It’s better to name the grandkids as primary beneficiaries. The reason for this is that people may forget how you want the money divided, and being very specific in your documentation can help clear any potential confusion.

6. Consult with an Attorney

An attorney is a second set of eyes who will look through all of your beneficiaries and estate plans with you. We know quite a few attorneys who are highly skilled and still hire others to review their documents with them in case they overlook something.

If you need a trust, the attorney can also assist with that.

Legally drafted documents will hold up far better in court than you writing a will on a piece of paper.

7. Consider Contingencies

In our story of the daughter and stepmother above, a contingent would have been immensely helpful. The reason why adding a contingent is so important is that if, for some reason, you get sick and do not check your beneficiaries, you already have a contingency in place.

The father could have listed the mom as the primary and the daughter as a contingent, which would have helped those he left behind avoid arguments and disagreements along the way.

What if the father set the contingent so long ago that both the primary and contingent are no longer living at the time of his death?

He could have left the funds to his grandkids if the institution allowed him to mention “per stirpes,” which means if the primary is not alive, the funds will go down the line to the person’s descendants equally.

Per stirpes is a powerful designation because you don’t even need to know the names of the person(s) to whom you’re leaving the funds. 

Annual beneficiary reviews and putting contingencies in place are powerful tools that we firmly believe are worth using. You can help your family avoid grief and any potential arguments if you spend the time going through your accounts and putting all these measures in place.

Are you curious about retirement and want to gain more insight into the process? Click here to browse through books we’ve authored on the topic.

March 27, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for March 27, 2023

This Week’s Podcast – Implementing Your Retirement Plan

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Nick and Taylor return to talk about the retirement plan implementation after the initial process. When you decide to be our client, we ask for all the information needed to open your account with our custodian Charles Schwab.


This Week’s Blog – Implementing Your Retirement Plan

At this point, a lot of work has been done on both sides of the table: you provide a wealth of information, and we give you a recommendation and insight into your retirement. Now, you have to decide whether or not you want to work with us as a client.

If you love everything and want to work with us to secure your retirement, we will move forward through a new process…

Implementing Your Retirement Plan

Last month, we started a conversation on the retirement planning process, which you can read here or listen to on our podcast. In that episode, we discussed:

  • Preparing for an introduction meeting with our team
  • Obtaining documents for the meeting (financial statements, retirement statements, etc.)
  • What happens on our end before the second meeting
  • Bucket sheet (cash, safety and growth)

At this point, a lot of work has been done on both sides of the table: you provide a wealth of information, and we give you a recommendation and insight into your retirement. Now, you have to decide whether or not you want to work with us as a client.

If you love everything and want to work with us to secure your retirement, we will move forward through a new process.

Meeting and Figuring Out Any Additional Information We Need

We’ve gathered a lot of information from you up until this point, but there are still some documents we’ll need to open up accounts. For example, we’ll need:

  • Beneficiary information
  • Dates of birth
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Contact information

We’ll spend time filling in documentation with all of your information to open up a Charles Schwab account in your name. Once all of this paperwork is signed, we’ll submit it to Schwab. In most cases, it will take 1 – 3 business days to open the account, depending on the type of account in question.

This is when:

  • Transfers take place
  • Nick reaches out to you about the account being opened
  • Verify that everyone can access the new account (including you)
  • Etc.

If you’re already a customer of Charles Schwab, we only need to provide a single form to access the account. 

Understanding Our Relationship with Charles Schwab

It’s crucial for you to understand that we don’t work for Charles Schwab. In fact, we’re not connected with the company in any way other than using them as a custodian. Custodians can be:

  • Fidelity
  • TD Ameritrade (not for much longer as Schwab acquired them)
  • Charles Schwab
  • Vanguard
  • Any place where you have your accounts

Charles Schwab doesn’t have a financial relationship with us.

When we transfer your accounts from your existing custodian to Schwab, something called an “in kind” occurs. This is a simple term, meaning that all of your assets are moved from one account to another and remain unchanged.

We don’t have to sell and repurchase anything when transferring your accounts to Schwab.

Until we come up with a strategy around the investments, nothing changes in your accounts during the transfer. The transfer doesn’t cause tax liability or anything like that.

What Happens If I Transfer My Monthly Distribution from One Custodian to Another?

If you have a custodian account with, say, Fidelity and you’re taking a $1,000 monthly distribution, what happens when you transfer to Schwab? We’ll need to fill out one additional form on your behalf and make sure the same exact thing happens at Schwab for you.

In essence, we’re just changing bank accounts when moving to Schwab, and we replicate everything for you effortlessly.

What Happens with a Company Plan, Such as a 401(k), 403(b), 457, etc.?

If you have what is called a “company plan,” the transfer happens a little differently. We require one less form to file and we’ll need to contact the company, such as the 401(k) company.

When we contact the company, we’ll request that the company send a check for the balance of your account. The check will be made out to Charles Schwab for the benefit of you. The check can be sent to you or to Charles Schwab directly.

The process varies and depends on how fast the company cuts the check.

Note: When we work together, we do a trustee-to-trustee turnover so that you don’t trigger a taxable event. 

Tax Planning Over the Next Few Months

During the first few months of working with us, we’ll dive into tax planning. If you want to secure your retirement, you must not pay a dime more in taxes than is necessary. First, we’ll need your most recent tax return.

We’ll analyze these returns to learn where you can save money.

For example, perhaps you can benefit from a Roth conversion, so we’ll have a conversation around this to see if it’s something you’re interested in doing.

Of course, we may be able to leverage:

  • Qualified charitable distributions
  • Donor-advised funds
  • Any opportunity to lower your taxable income

We want to lower your current taxable income and future taxes, too.

Clients Over the Age of 65

If you’re over the age of 65, you may be concerned about selling something with a gain or a Roth conversion. Clients who are paying Medicare premiums, or will be shortly, need to worry about something called IRMAA.

Don’t know what IRMAA is? Read our guide on it here.

Essentially, once your adjusted gross income reaches over a certain level, there’s a possibility that your Medicare premiums may start increasing. The goal is to keep your premiums at a level where whatever we do on our end, such as a Roth conversion, isn’t negated.

Our clients who work with us, we will:

  • Introduce you to a CPA we work with
  • Help you gather all of your tax forms
  • Ensure that your return is filed on time

Taxes have a lot of moving parts, and we do our best to ensure that we take as much of the burden off of you as we can.

Communication With Clients

On our end, there’s so much going on quickly that it can feel overwhelming and confusing. We communicate as much as we can with our clients so that you’re never left wondering: what’s going on with my accounts?

We provide updates, often via email or a phone call, to tell you about accounts opening, ensure that you have access to each account, transfer estimates and then when the transfer is complete.

We also keep in close contact with you during this time to ensure that if you have any questions, they’re all answered in a timely manner.

401(k) Transfers

If we’re transferring a 401(k), we often do not have an estimated date for this completion. However, we do see when the check is sent to Charles Schwab and when it is deposited into the account.

When the check goes to you, we’ll be in frequent contact with you to ensure everything goes smoothly.

At this point, we’ve done a lot of the process needed for our “45-day meeting.”

45-Day Meeting

In most cases, the 45-day mark is when we have everything in-house, and all of your assets have been properly transferred. We’ll be getting together to:

  • Ask you questions about logging into your account, statements and ensuring that you’re comfortable with the setup in place
  • Finalize anything that is left to talk about for the investment strategy
  • Deliver anything left in the investment strategy to you

We provide you with a one-page document on how everything is laid out for your multiple buckets. These buckets include your cash, safety, and growth accounts. During the visit, you’ll have time to ask us any questions about the way we devised these buckets.

Next, we’ll move on to the important part of estate planning, which will include a few things, such as:

We have a relationship with a partner firm, and we take care of this expense for our clients. The estate plan ensures that your retirement planning accounts for those times when you’re incapacitated or no longer living.

Since so much is going on during the first year of working with us, we will plan on meeting with you quite a bit so that we can get everything in place. You’ll also be able to see all of the work that we’ve done up until each meeting so that you can have peace of mind that your retirement is in good hands.

Do you want to learn more about our approach to retirement planning? Contact us today.

March 20, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for March 20, 2023

This Week’s Podcast – I’m 66 – Can I Retire?

In this episode of the Secure Your Retirement podcast, Radon and Murs discuss the question of whether you can retire at age 66, using a specific example from an article in Market Watch. They provide insights and advice on retirement planning and financial management.


This Week’s Blog – I’m 66 – Can I Retire?

Are you 66 years old and wondering, “Can I retire?” You’re Not alone. We have a lot of clients come to us for retirement planning that ask this very question. People want to get out of the ratrace and enjoy life, and we actually read an article on Market Watch with a person asking this exact question.

I’m 66 – Can I Retire?

Are you 66 years old and wondering, “Can I retire?” You’re not alone. We have a lot of clients come to us for retirement planning that ask this very question. People want to get out of the rat race and enjoy life, and we actually read an article on Market Watch with a person asking this exact question.

Unfortunately, there is no standard answer to give you because the way you secure your retirement may be different than how someone else has planned for their retirement.

We do this every day. We know each element it takes to retire comfortably. Unless you’re working as a financial advisor, it’s not your job to know every little detail that shows you’re ready for retirement.

In our most recent podcast, we walk through the question of can I retire?

Let’s find out what we talked about.

Can I Retire?

What prompted this article is that a man who is 66 wrote into Market Watch, said he has $2 million in retirement and just wanted to retire and golf. We have folks with far less in retirement that have been able to retire and some with far more who have not.

Someone may read this and say:

  • You have $2 million. Of course, you can retire.
  • You have just $2 million? Of course, you can’t retire.

Let’s look at this man’s scenario. He is 66 years old and four months. He has $2 million in retirement, plans to have $3,300 in Social Security very shortly and works as a consultant three days a week and wants to leave his position.

He also has:

  • $1.6 million in retirement accounts
  • $600,000 in his wife’s retirement accounts
  • A daughter who still lives at home
  • A modest home that he owns
  • $9,000 – $10,000 in expenses
  • $6,000 in taxes and insurance
  • Home is paid off

As financial planners, we’re going to say to this individual, “Job well done.” This individual has done a great job paying off his home and saving over $2 million for his retirement.

Ultimately, dollars in and dollars out will dictate if this person is able to retire at 66 or not.

First, we’ll have a conversation with this individual to better understand their:

  • Travel goals
  • Legacy goals
  • Things they’re worried about
  • Health condition

We’ll want to create a retirement-focused financial plan that looks at multiple layers of a person’s scenario to understand if retiring now is possible with what they’ve saved and what they want in their retirement.

If you’ve read our blogs or listened to our podcast, you know that we mention the GPS retirement system a lot.

This system considers:

  • Where you’re going
  • Where you are right this moment

A fact-finding discussion that we have with our clients allows us to know a person’s starting point and where they want to be in the future.

What we’ll do is run a person’s financial plan at a rate of 4% to 5% because we know that if this plan does good, a higher rate of return will just make life easier. We don’t recommend running a plan at a higher rate of return than this because you’ll have to make riskier investments that can cause you to lose a major portion of your retirement.

The other thing we want to look at is why this person’s expenses are $9,000 – $10,000. We often find out that a person is spending $3,000 a month for traveling, so we then create a fun fund for 10 years.

Often, a person will travel for the first 10 years and then it tends to slow down, saving money in the process.

Taxes are also something to consider. If you’re paying a lot in taxes, it can reduce your ability to retire now or stay in retirement over the long term. Tax planning may be necessary for this individual because they may have deferred taxes, which means the $2.2 million in the bank is far less.

Next, we’ll go into scenarios.

What-if Scenarios

If we’re confident that the person can retire, now or in the future, then we can start looking into what-if scenarios. For example, if the person asking if they can retire has medical issues, they may be concerned about long-term care, which is very expensive. We can then consider:

  • Long-term care insurance
  • What would happen to the person’s retirement if long-term care were necessary?

What-if scenarios can be very positive, or they can be negative. Perhaps you want to buy a boat, RV or a second home. This will be considered in a what-if scenario.

We know that the individual in question has a lot of money in retirement accounts and a home paid off. Next, we would run a full retirement plan that shows us:

  • How much money the person has in their accounts every month based on the rate of return and expenses
  • How long the person can be retired
  • What life will be like from a financial standpoint if they reach age 90 or 100

If the person has more than enough money left at 90 in their retirement, we can then consider a long-term care scenario. Using the average cost for long-term care, stay length and so on, we can then find out the cost for the level of care, which is often $400,000 – $600,000.

Then, we will look at the remaining retirement balance when the person in long-term care passes, and we’ll see if they can live until 90 or 100 on the remaining retirement accounts.

We may find that self-insurance is possible, but if we find that you start running low on assets early, long-term care insurance may be a better option.

As you can see, there are many moving parts in retirement that you need to consider. We may be a bit biased, but everyone should sit down with a financial advisor to go through all these scenarios to better understand if you can retire and when.

We want to ensure that if you do retire, you can handle the what-ifs that come your way and have peace of mind heading into retirement.

If you have individualized questions that we haven’t covered just yet, feel free to contact us and we’ll be more than happy to answer them for you.

Click here to schedule a call with us.

Do You Need a Trust in Retirement?

Estate planning is something we talk about a lot. For many clients, estate plans can be very complicated because it’s an extra step in their retirement planning process. However, we believe that this plan is so important that we talk to each and every client that we have about it – even prospective clients.

We teamed up with Andres Mazabel at Trust & Will to streamline the process for everyone, and it has worked out well for so many of our clients.

Andres was a special guest on our most recent podcast to answer a question many of you may have: do you need a trust in retirement?

Why Trust & Will was Founded

Trust & Will, Andres’ company, was founded five years ago because more than 60% of families do not have an estate plan. Traditionally, financial advisors that wanted to help their clients with estate planning had to use an attorney for this process.

Now, Trust & Will offers estate planning documents in all 50 states, making the process:

  • Easier
  • More accessible
  • More affordable

While Trust & Will doesn’t replace an attorney, they make the process easier for people to set up their estate plans from the comfort of their own homes. You can even update your plan through the platform and consult with some of the attorneys on the Trust & Will team.

If you have 30 minutes to an hour, you can have your estate plan in place, which is something our clients love. By removing the friction and procrastination in estate planning, we find more of our clients have these important documents in place to protect everything they worked for in life.

Documents Everyone Needs in Retirement

One survey found that the biggest gaps people have when working with a financial advisor are:

  1. Wealth transfer advice
  2. Estate planning advice

Unfortunately, there’s a big gap in consumer knowledge of probate, wills and what happens when they’re no longer around.

With all of this in mind, we believe everyone should have a:

In addition, some of you reading this may also need a trust.

Trust vs Will in Estate Planning

Basic will documents outline, on paper and in legal documents, your assets and how you want them to be divided up upon your death. Then in the middle of this is something called “probate.” 

Probate, or the court process of a judge settling the estate, allows the judge to make the decision of what happens to your assets if you don’t have a will. Let’s look at an example of this:

  • You die without a will
  • You have no contact with your children
  • You wish for your assets to be transferred to your fiancée

In the above scenario, your estate would be settled in probate. The judge, who has no knowledge of your family dynamics, will split the assets in accordance with the law, and a large portion will go to the children you haven’t heard from in years.

Of course, your parents and siblings may also receive some portion of your estate.

A trust helps your estate avoid probate.

Depending on the state you live in and the assets you have, you may or may not need a trust. In California, if you have taxable accounts above $184,500 (this figure can and does change), these assets will go through probate.

Without an estate plan, a person who exceeds these amounts would have their assets go into probate and then keep the family in probate for 12 months or more.

You don’t want to keep these assets from your family for a year or more.

A trust can be set up to allow you to direct your assets the way you want and at the time that you want. Additionally, the details of the trust are private, but probate is a public matter that anyone can see.

For example, with a trust, you can:

  • Give your kids all of the funds at once
  • Give your kids a percentage of a fund at certain age or life milestones
  • Set money aside for charity

What You Should Know About Creating a Trust

A trust, in its most simple form, is a legal agreement, in which some ways, creates a legal entity. A revocable living trust is the most common form of a trust, and while you’re alive, you can manage the trust, update beneficiaries and have a successor trustee in place.

When the trustee is no longer around, the successor trustee will step in and then be in charge of executing your wishes for the trust. You have a lot of options on who you can choose as your successor trustee, such as:

  • Family member
  • Spouse
  • Someone you trust

You also have the option of hiring a corporate trustee who you pay to execute the plan that you have for your trust. 

If you have an estate under $5 million, most people don’t need a corporate trustee. However, if your estate is worth more than this amount, it may be worthwhile to use a corporate trustee to manage the trust when you’re gone.

Trusts and estate plans can be modified and adjusted while you’re alive because your plans will change over time.

Example Situation of a Trust in Action

Visualizing the benefit of a trust in retirement is easier with an example. Let’s say that a person has:

  • An IRA with beneficiaries in place
  • A house or vacation home

Logistically, with the houses, they would go through probate if you didn’t have a will in place – if the asset was in your name only. Perhaps the asset was purchased before you were married, so it’s not part of your marital property either.

If you pass away suddenly, the real estate will go through probate because no one else is on the deed.

A trust would “own” the real estate, which transfers the deed of the property to the trust, and in a good number of states, you can do a deed transfer, too. Deed transfers allow you to pass the property to someone else without a trust.

However, a trust ensures that the property is transferred before your death so that you can leave it to someone else via your trust’s plan.

You may also have taxable accounts that would undergo a very similar process, such as:

  • Bank accounts
  • CDs
  • Investment accounts (not under an IRA or Roth IRA)

Proper titling of these accounts (such as having named beneficiaries) can help you protect these assets.

A trust allows you to either transfer the asset to the trust or leave the trust as the beneficiary if you wish. Retirement accounts are often not included in a trust. Instead, these accounts often have a beneficiary listed who takes over an account.

Trusts can also help you with business succession, allowing you to pass your business to someone else or have it liquidated.

Do You Need a Trust?

You may or may not need a trust, but you always want to avoid probate. If you have cash assets that can have beneficiaries added to them, the account avoids probate. However, if you have real estate, a business or other assets that do go through probate, a trust may be in your best interest.

We find that a trust is in your best interest in certain states and not others.

Texas is a state that offers fast and efficient probate, so you likely don’t need a trust if you live in Texas. With that said, we recommend that you take the time to talk to your financial advisor or estate planning attorney to determine if a trust is in your best interest.

Our clients have access to Trust & Will as part of our service, but you can also visit to set up your own trust and will online.

If you have any questions about your trust, will or financial future, contact us and we’ll help you in any way that we can.

March 13, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for March 13, 2023

This Week’s Podcast – Do You Need a Trust in Retirement?

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs discuss the importance of having a trust as part of your retirement plan with Andres Mazabel. Trust & Will provides an “easy and secure” way to create estate plans and settle estates online, with the ability to customize legal documents.


This Week’s Blog – Do You Need a Trust in Retirement?

Estate planning is something we talk about a lot. For many clients, estate plans can be very complicated because it’s an extra step in their retirement planning process. However, we believe that this plan is so important that we talk to each and every client that we have about it – even prospective clients.

Secure My Retirement Podcast: Where Is My Episode?

People lose a lot of things. One of the things that people lose a lot of is information. Open up your smartphone, and you’ll be bombarded with info from multiple sources:

  • News outlets
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Etc.

Well, as we’re moving closer to podcast 200, we’ve realized that our podcast list is massive. Navigating all of these episodes is difficult for us, so it must be extremely difficult for our listeners and readers, too.

We know that we have a ton of resources available, and today, our goal is to help you find the podcasts that you’re most interested in.

Note: We listed some of the most popular episodes, but we’re always expanding our library with new, great content.

Estate Planning:

  • EP 1Chess Griffin – How to Know What You Need for Your Estate Plan: Tips and information on how to know when an estate plan is good for you.
  • EP 73Chess Griffin – Do You Need a Trust?: Guide on the basics of a trust and what they can do for you.
  • EP 106What Should You Consider If Your Spouse Passes Away?: Episode about death. When a spouse dies, life changes and can be uncertain. We discuss this in greater detail.
  • EP 109Chess Griffin – Special Needs Trust – What You Need to Know: All about special needs trusts, what they are and how they can help you.
  • EP 135How to Create an Estate Plan Without the Stress: Episode on how to create an estate plan the stress-free way.
  • EP 1606 Considerations for Your Estate Plan: A great episode where we discuss all of the things to consider when making an estate plan.

Retirement Planning:

  • EP 8Planning for Retirement – How the Process Works – Part 1: 3-part series covering the entire retirement planning process.
  • EP 10Planning for Retirement – How the Process Works – Part 2: 3-part series covering the entire retirement planning process.
  • EP 12Planning for Retirement – How the Process Works – Part 3: 3-part series covering the entire retirement planning process.
  • EP 18How to Build an Income Plan For Retirement: A great episode if you’re worried about running out of money in retirement.
  • EP 22Looking at The Whole Picture in Retirement: Episode covering the multiple parts of retirement that go beyond just your total investment portfolio value.
  • EP 44How Do IRA and 401K Rollovers Work?: Key episode that walks you through rolling over an IRA or 401K.
  • EP 48How Much Do You Need to Retire?: An overview of how much money you need to truly retire.
  • EP 52The Retirement Planning Checklist: Complete checklist to have to plan for retirement.
  • EP 58Social Security – When is The Right Time?: A guide to knowing when Social Security is the right choice for you.
  • EP 88Having a Team Approach in Retirement: Informative episode on why having a team approach makes retirement easier.
  • EP 97Social Security Strategies: More key strategies that you can follow when considering taking Social Security.
  • EP 1184 Questions to Help Your Income Plan: Key questions that everyone should ask themselves when trying to create an income plan.
  • EP 157The Retirement Bucket Strategy: A key episode on creating a simple, three-bucket strategy that helps you have confidence in your retirement plan.
  • EP 162401k Versus IRA: Episode on removing the mystery of a 401k vs. IRA.


  • EP 13Tom Turner – Planning Taxes and Retirement: Insight from Tom on how to plan for taxes and retirement to keep money in your retirement.
  • EP 66How To Convert an IRA to a Roth IRA: Guide that talks about converting to a Roth account to let your money grow tax-free.
  • EP 94Tax Strategies for Non-IRA Brokerage Accounts: A key episode for someone with a non-IRA brokerage account.
  • EP 124IRAs – Required Minimum Distributions: Perfect for those reaching 72 and a half because you’ll need to take distributions.
  • EP 130Considerations For Charitable Giving: Are you charitably inclined? If so, this is the episode for you.
  • EP 133Steven Jarvis – Tax Planning for Retirement: Steven provides his insights on tax planning and how to plan around retirement.
  • EP 158Tax Planning Versus Tax Preparation: Learn the major differences between tax planning and prep and how they benefit you.
  • EP 161How Required Minimum and QCDs Work: How to leverage RMDs to contribute to a charity and not pay taxes on distributions.
  • EP 163Steven Jarvis – Mid-Year Tax Strategies: Steven is back again with an episode on mid-year tax strategies everyone should consider.

Portfolio Management:

  • EP 16Investing During Retirement – Buy and Hold or Active Management?: Learn about buy and hold, why we recommend active management and why buy and hold may not be the best option.
  • EP 19Bill Sherman – Buy and Hold is Dead: Bill shares his insights on why the buy and hold strategy is truly dead.
  • EP 56Asset Allocation or Strongest Assets: Learn the strongest assets to own and how to allocate them the best.
  • EP 146Risk Adjusted Portfolio – How It Works: Risk is scary because no one wants to lose the money they have invested. Learn what a risk-adjusted portfolio is and how it works.
  • EP 150What’s The Difference Between a Mutual Fund and an ETF?: Uncover the key differences between a mutual fund and ETF to understand which is better for you.
  • EP 153Bonds Versus Bond Alternatives: Bonds are not doing well. Learn about bond alternatives that can help you profile.
  • EP 159When Cash Is Good: Should you cash out of the market? Learn when cash is good and why you need to consider it at times.


  • EP 26 Annuities – Why Ever Use Them: Major series on annuities, part 1 of 8.
  • EP 30Annuities – Why Ever Use Them – Part 2: Part 2 of 8.
  • EP 34Annuities – Why Ever Use Them – Part 3: Part 3 of 8.
  • EP 38Annuities – Why Ever Use Them – Part 4: Part 4 of 8.
  • EP 41Annuities – Why Ever Use Them – Part 5: Part 5 of 8.
  • EP 46Annuities – Why Ever Use Them – Part 6: Part 6 of 8.
  • EP 47Annuities – Why Ever Use Them – Part 7: Part 7 of 8.
  • EP 54Annuities – Portfolio Implementation – Part 8: Part 8 of 8.
  • EP 128Should I Consider an Annuity in My Financial Plan?: Learn how to structure an annuity into your overall retirement plan if you think an annuity is right for you.

Whew! What a list. And we intend to keep producing great content for our podcast to help you learn how to secure your retirement and reach your financial goals.

Want to talk to us one-on-one?

Click here to schedule a call with us today.

How to Reverse Osteoporosis

While we often focus on ways to secure your retirement and retirement planning, we broke away from the norm on this week’s podcast and had a very important conversation about osteoporosis.

As anyone listening to this should know, we’re all getting older. Osteoporosis is a major concern for everyone as they age. We believe that a healthy retirement goes well beyond finances and ought to really consider your physical health, too.

Dr. Doug Lucas sat down with us to discuss how to reverse osteoporosis and outlined steps you can take if you want to slow and even reverse this condition. 

Who is Dr. Doug Lucas?

Dr. Lucas is a highly trained and respected doctor who finished his training as an orthopedic surgeon at Stanford University. After going into practice, he started to see a lot of patients that would fall and fracture or even break a bone.

The impact of a fractured hip or arm is a major concern for patients, and if you break a hip in retirement, the question is, will you enjoy retirement?

Probably not. 

Dr. Lucas started what he calls “health optimization,” which helps you live a longer, healthier life. And part of this life is trying to slow and even stop osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis Anyway?

If you’re in your early 50s, there’s a good chance that you have heard of osteoporosis in passing or may not even know what it really is in the first place. Dr. Lucas explains that this condition is the diagnosis of:

  • Poor bone quality
  • Poor bone quantity

Your bones often get stronger as you get older, and then when you hit your late 20s, the bones may begin to weaken. Doctors often don’t discuss your bone health, but it is something to be concerned about because it makes it so much easier to break a bone or suffer from a fracture.

When you’re older, a broken hip or bone can drastically impact your life.

Traditional Healthcare Model Surrounding Osteoporosis

It’s estimated that 50 million adults in the United States have osteoporosis. Unfortunately, most doctors and traditional checkups will not even test to see whether your bones are weaker. However, if your doctor does perform tests and you are diagnosed with the condition, the treatment is going to revolve around pharmaceutical treatments.

For example, your doctor is likely to recommend:

  • Supplements
  • Medications

Unfortunately, none of these things reverse the condition. If you do fall and have a nasty fracture, you’re often left with a doctor who doesn’t specialize in bone health. You need a very comprehensive picture to better understand how osteoporosis works and to heal from it properly.

Optimizing Your Health for Osteoporosis

Dr. Lucas explains that health optimization looks at the entire person and the root cause of your bone loss. So, before you can begin reversing your bone loss and weakening, you should understand the condition’s cause.

While you should begin early with health optimization, if you’re 55+, you can “turn this ship around.”

You can slow down bone loss and even reverse bone loss.

You won’t reverse back to your 20s when your bones were exceptionally strong, but you can take steps to strengthen your bones and prevent many bone fractures and breaks.

Typically, there are two main reasons for bone loss:

  1. Gut health is improper and does not allow you to maximize nutrient absorption
  2. Adrenal glands are causing chronic inflammation, often from stress

Once you figure out why you’re losing bone, it’s time to “plug in” holes and then work to strengthen the bones. The way to optimize bone health and begin restoring it is:

  • Taking certain supplements
  • Eating a proper diet
  • Consuming calcium
  • Eating the right proteins

Dr. Lucas also monitors micronutrients to ensure that the body has the nutrients necessary to restore bone health. Even genetics will be considered because there may be certain issues that you cannot change due to genetics.

How to Begin the Process to Check for Osteoporosis

If you’re starting from scratch and have no idea whether you have osteoporosis, the first step in the process is to schedule an appointment with a doctor who will run a screen test to learn more about your bone health.

You need a starting point to know your bone health.

However, if you had a fracture from minimal trauma, such as tripping over your dog and falling relatively lightly, there’s a good chance you have a “fragility fracture.” In this case, you have osteoporosis because your bones should not break that easily.

At this point, you want to reach out to someone who specializes in bone health, but there aren’t many people in this field.

Dr. Lucas is certainly a great contact to have because he created a mirror website for his company, found at Optimum Bone Health. The website provides a wealth of information to help you learn about bone health and can provide recommendations to optimize your bone health.

He can even help you get started through telehealth.

The process begins with:

  • 10 – 15-minute free consultation
  • Determine if you’re a good fit
  • Enter a six-month program to reverse osteoporosis

During the first month, many tests are taken to understand where your bone health is. Then, you’ll sit down with Dr. Lucas for an hour to discuss your tests. Based on your unique results, a program will be made for you to really start strengthening your bone health.

While it can take one to two years to start strengthening your bones, it is a process that is worth every second because it reduces your risk of fractures and bone breaks.

Do you want to secure your retirement? Sign up for our 4 Steps to Secure Your Retirement Video Course.

July 5, 2022 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for July 5, 2022 

This Weeks Podcast -Nick Espinosa-Cybersecurity

How do you keep your finances safe in a world where cybersecurity has become a household term? In a world where we’re performing most of our tasks online, it is important to be aware of the innovation of cyber fraud and hacking and how to stay safe.


This Weeks Blog –Why is Internet Safety Important?

Are you trying to secure your retirement? If so, a lot of clients we have are majorly concerned about cybersecurity. In an instant, a hacker can get into your bank account, transfer your savings over to their own accounts and leave you to pick up the pieces.

Cybersecurity 101: How to Secure Your Financial Accounts, Phone and Email

Are you trying to secure your retirement? If so, a lot of clients we have are majorly concerned about cybersecurity. In an instant, a hacker can get into your bank account, transfer your savings over to their own accounts and leave you to pick up the pieces.

These individuals or groups may also hijack your email account and try mailing your financial advisor to make changes to your portfolio or give them access to your accounts. Additionally, someone can log into a retail account and rack up a ton of debt.

In our recent podcast, we had the opportunity to sit down with Nick Espinosa, CEO of Security Fanatics, a cybersecurity expert, to ask him a lot of questions to help protect our clients. Nick has worked with Fortune 100 companies and small businesses. He is a writer and even has Ted Talks where he teaches people about cybersecurity.

And he was more than willing to share some knowledge with our audience.

How to Keep Your Data Safe When Shopping Online

Shopping online is something a lot of people do. It’s a lot easier to go on Amazon and simply order a new pair of pants. However, in the middle of these transactions, you put a lot of trust in a third party that now has access to your credit or debit card information.

How can you stay safe when shopping online?

Nick claims it’s a “loaded question.” Everyone is online, and the pandemic accelerated online shopping and even working from home. The best way to protect yourself is awareness. Technology is constantly innovating, but the threats out there to steal your information or gain access to your accounts are also accelerating with its own technology.

A few questions to ask are:

  • What happens if someone breaks into your phone?
  • What happens if someone gains access to your computer?
  • What information would be found on these devices?

For most people, a lot of information may be accessible in these situations, and maybe you even saved passwords to the device, opening up a treasure trove of data to a hacker.

Protecting against these threats requires some diligence.

Enable Encryption or Set It Up

If someone steals your PC or phone, encryption ensures that they cannot read any of the data on the device. Unfortunately, a pin code isn’t enough to stop someone from potentially accessing files on these electronic devices.

Late-model iPhones and Android devices have automatic encryption, but it doesn’t work well with pin codes.

It’s easy to clone a phone and continually try cracking the pin code.

Instead, you want to use:

  • Long passwords
  • Biometrics, such as thumbprint

If you use these advanced security settings, you’ll encrypt your phone using a method that is very difficult or impossible to break.

Storing Passwords in a Password Manager

Many people rely on password managers because we know that people shouldn’t reuse their passwords across sites. Password managers can help you manage site passwords by:

  • Generating very secure passwords
  • Remembering the passwords for each site
  • Storing passwords using encryption

However, many password managers also synchronize across devices, so the passwords are available on your smartphone, PC, etc.

Hackers are working to break into these password managers because they’re a treasure trove of data. One thing to understand is that if you do use a password manager and there’s an update available for it, download the update immediately.

A security flaw may be the main reason for the update, and if you say, “Well, I’ll update that later,” you’re inviting hackers to steal your information.

Two-factor Authenticator

Two-factor authentication is changing the way people secure their accounts. Using this authenticator adds an extra layer of protection to your account, making it exponentially safer.

Hackers are lazy, and they will go after low-hanging fruit to hack.

Enabling multi-factor authentication requires you to verify the person logging into your account is you. Even if a hacker knows your password, without having access to your phone or wherever the authentication is received, they can’t get into your account.

Threat Detection Systems

A threat detection system sounds so advanced, but it’s crucial to realize that you have a minicomputer in your pocket if you have a smartphone. Your mobile devices are powerful, and they need the same protection as your PC:

  • Antivirus 
  • Antimalware
  • Anti-phishing
  • Etc.

We’re downloading things all the time. However, it’s easy to infect someone on Facebook or Twitter because these platforms do not actively scan files we upload to friends. It’s as simple as a hacker sending a blurry image of you from your mom’s Facebook account, asking if it’s you and then infecting you when you open the image.

The image may even be a doctored image of you, so you would reply, “Yes, awesome picture, mom,” and not realize that your smartphone is now infected with a virus.

Protecting Against a Phishing Scam

Phishing can take on many forms. For example, a Nigerian Prince may email you stating they have millions of dollars they want to transfer to you. Of course, most people are aware of these types of scams and will not fall for them, although some people still lose their entire retirement in these schemes.

There is also something called “spearfishing,” and Nick sees this often in the corporate and individual world.

The main problem retirees face is that they didn’t grow up with the technology that we have today. Nick claims that the vast majority of phishing victims are over age 60 and are the main target of hackers.


Let’s use an example. A hacker starts looking through someone’s email and sees that this person is a 22-year-old male named Johnny. As it turns out, Johnny often sends emails to his grandmother, and she’s the perfect target for phishing.

The hacker may use Johnny’s email to:

  • Send an email to grandma
  • Craft a story about how he’s stranded in London, and someone stole his wallet
  • Grandma sends the money

Grandparents will do anything for their grandchildren, and since grandma knows Johnny is in London, she doesn’t even realize that the mail may be from a hacker. Verifying that the person sending an email is real is as simple as picking up the phone and calling Johnny on his usual phone number.

If you call Johnny, you’re using two-factor authentication to verify that Johnny is really in trouble and can send him money.

Phishing can also happen on fake forms online. For example, someone may own, and the site looks exactly like the real Amazon. However, when you type on your account information, it may redirect to Amazon, and you don’t realize anything was amiss.

The problem is that the hacker captured all of the form information and can now access your Amazon account and make purchases.

Sometimes, there’s an infection on a smartphone or PC. When you’re on your device and on Facebook, a pop-up may appear on the screen that says, “Call 1800 scamm-me.” You call, and the person steals your information.

Additionally, someone may text you from Bank of America saying there’s an issue with your account, so you click on the link and don’t realize it’s not a legitimate one. In this case, it’s crucial to call the bank yourself or log into your account by going to the official site yourself and verifying that there’s an issue with your account.

It’s far too easy to recreate a site, create this sense of an urgent problem with your account and fall into the grasp of a hacker who wants nothing more than to hack into your bank account. You need to do your due diligence to keep your information safe when logging into your bank account or receiving emails.

The key to keeping yourself safe online is to educate yourself and don’t make it easy for hackers to hack you. Use complex passwords and two-factor authentication, and always verify that the person mailing you for money is actually the person you want to help.

A healthy retirement is one that you actually get to enjoy. If you’ve worked hard, did everything right and then lost everything in an instant, it would be a horrible feeling. Focusing on your cybersecurity and just following the basics above will protect your retirement from hackers.

If you’re saving for retirement and want expert advice, schedule a call with us to see how we can help.