Free Financial Planning: My Response to COVID-19

I am waiving all my hourly financial planning fees, effective immediately, to help anyone, anywhere in the country.  In these times when so many Americans are feeling both emotional and financial stress, everyone should have access to someone with a financial planning and financial therapy background without fretting over the fee. I am here to help on a voluntary basis. Based on my research, expertise, and experience, I have been predicting a major market disruption for some time (although I did not expect it to be a pandemic). As a result, we have been allocated primarily to strategies that provide steady cash flow while simultaneously insulating from even severe market losses. Consequently, I am not at all frantic at this time. The only calls I have received are from folks whose accounts I do not manage seeking what my research is showing and a game plan moving forward. Many people are distraught over what has happened to their investments, what risks lie ahead, and what they shou

Major 2020 Estate Planning Law Change Affecting Maryland Marriages

There is a sweeping and complex change beginning October 1, 2020 in how married Marylanders will be able to distribute assets to their heirs that will especially impact inter-spousal estate conveyances. The Issue Under Maryland's current law, which affects anyone domiciled in the state who dies prior to October 1, 2020, in terms of determining the surviving spouse's legal share of her decedent spouse's estate assets, there is a distinction between "probate" and "non-probate" assets. Non-probate assets are assets that have a named beneficiary and pass directly to the named beneficiary upon the death of the decedent. Because they pass onto the named beneficiary and not in accordance with provisions in the decedent's will, they are deemed to transfer upon death "outside the will." Examples of non-probate assets include life insurance, revocable trusts, retirement accounts, and investment accounts which are designated as TOD (transfe

You Are Getting Divorced. How Will You Afford College?

      Affording college is challenging enough for parents living under the same roof. Therefore understanding and maximizing rules for qualifying for the most comprehensive financial aid post- divorce is particularly crucial. State universities rely on information provided in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Private universities and colleges typically rely on guidelines which are not nearly as generous as FAFSA, thereby significantly increasing the family's expected financial contribution well above the FAFSA limits.   The Department of Education in creating the FAFSA has created a uniform financial formula to equalize the expected family contribution irrespective of a particular family's lifestyle or expense choices. In other words, when completing the FA

Crucial Financial Data You Are not Receiving

  by Gregory Gann      Crucial Financial Data You Are not Receiving        A)     The End of Quantitative Easing   The mass build-up of worldwide debt came to a head for whatever reason in 2008. We were on the verge of a great depression. The crisis called for swift emergency action. It initiated in the United States in a grand experiment known as Quantitative Easing, and was mimicked across the globe. Quantitative Easing is the process of printing money and using that money to buy assets from banks with intentions of cleaning up the banks' balance sheets and to lower interest rates. Interest rates declined to the lowest levels in history with many rates actually turning negative. This meant that lenders were paying borrowers to lend from them. (Unbelievable).   The U.S. formally ended this process in 2014. And, from the date the program ended i

Structuring Divorce Settlements to Benefit College Funding

  Any college or university that awards federal student aid must require applicants to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). There is a relatively small number of institutions that may require an additional aid form known as the CSS Profile. While married, the incomes for both spouses are factored into determining eligibility. However, if the parents are legally separated or if they live in separate households as if they were unmarried, then only the income of the parent with whom the student lived the greatest number of overnights over the past 12 months is considered for purposes of FAFSA eligibility. Furthermore, certain assets are given preferential treatment and are not counted when determining FAFSA eligibility. Examples of assets that are not counted include a family-owned small business, home equity, life insurance cash value, as well as IRA accounts and qualified retirement plans such as 401ks and 403bs. However, contributions made to an IRA or q

Stock Options, Executive Compensation, and Divorce

By Greg Gann   One of the most lucrative forms of compensation for corporate officers, managers, and other executives comes in the form of stock options and rights to restricted stock. The four most critical issues for executives awarded these financial instruments who divorce is whether these perks were marital, vested, a determination as to how they will be valued, and how will the tax considerations be handled. A stock option is simply the right to purchase a stock at some future date at a stipulated price that is determined and offered in the present. If a stock option provides the right for the employee to purchase the stock at a stipulated strike price, say $50 per share at an assigned date in the future, this creates a significant economic windfall to the employee, if at the time of time of eligibility or vesting, the stock is trading at a price significantly above the strike price, say $100 per share. It should be evident that such forms of executive compensation
Visualizing the Potential Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Divorce