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The Best Part of Breaking Up with Your Financial Advisor

You may think that breaking up with your financial advisor is a crazy idea, but believe me it’s not as off-kilter as you think. Especially, if you’re like many people who hire a financial advisor then never revisit the decision you made until it’s time to retire. Or maybe you inherited your financial advisor due to a death or other life situation and have just left the investments in their care. Inertia is one of the most difficult forces to overcome.

 While your financial advisor may have had your best interest in mind when you first hired them, they may not actively monitor your account to keep pace with the economy and with investment vehicles that may serve you better as your life and circumstances change. If you inherited the advisor, you may find that the person you inherited them from had not looked into their investments in some time.

 In many instances financial advisors get their clients set up in particular investments and turn their attention to attracting new clients. More often than not, a majority of financial advisors are salespeople for products that generate commissions for themselves but less often generate the promised returns for their clients. It is no wonder that financial advisors have to live with a bad reputation. A good financial advisor, on the other hand, is absolutely priceless.

Interviewing financial advisors does take time. However, finding that one gem who is going to be involved in making certain your money is working for you with all the leverage possible will be worth every moment required to seek them out. And in the long run will make breaking up with your current financial advisor a liberating, not to mention enriching experience.

A little bit of research into the types of fees you are paying will give you a clue to your advisors motives. Perhaps your tolerance for risk has changed. Maybe you were willing to pay certain fees when you established your account than you are today. Maybe you simply want ongoing communication regarding your account as opposed to a monthly statement.

Investment objectives can change continuously. At least they should. Every stage of life has a new set of circumstances that should be taken into consideration. A good financial advisor will initiate a conversation when it’s time to think about them.

There is an old school of financial advisors and a new school. The old school is on its way out. The new school of financial advisors is like a breath of fresh air. The old school way was a person of authority telling investors what to do with their money. There was no questioning involved. After all, they were akin to a doctor, educated about things the average person knew nothing about.

Today’s financial advisors are inclusive as opposed to exclusive.  We welcome questions and the opportunity to educate our clients. We are certainly not anti-profit, however, we also refuse to be salespeople and instead want to be consultants to our clients. Above all, authenticity is a quality to look for in a new financial adviser as are openness and questioning uniformity. No two investors are alike. Your investments should be as unique as you are. And that means it could be time walk away from your old financial adviser.

Jaime Westenbarger


Forest Hills Financial Inc.






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Guest Saturday, 26 May 2018
The Importance of Credit Score, Even for High Net Worth Individuals
By Jonathan Arnold, Branch Manager  Inlanta Grand Rapids, MI     As a direct mortgage lender dedicated to helping my real estate investment clients build wealth, I have a unique vantage of the counter-intuitive nature of credit scoring and reporting. Often, individuals with higher net worth don’t leverage their assets in a way that optimizes their credit scores. For example, you’d think a client sitting on $400,000 in home equity, about to sell his house in this hot market and move to a condo in preparation for retirement, would be a underwriting dream. You’d think, if you were a logical person, that his careful management of his money would net him very best interest rates available. Yet time and again, my team sees clients who have done “all the right things” but don’t get the benefits of the highest credit scores, which means they would leave money on the table by paying a higher interest rates. Proactive intervention can save these people tens of thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a loan. So it’s important to talk to your mortgage lender the moment the notion to buy, sell or refinance occurs to you. With the right team in your corner, you can leverage your “right moves” to reflect in your score. Reasons for Lower Scores in HNWIs Let’s take my guy “Sam” for example. He’s a big Dave Ramsey fan, so he’s dutifully paid off his high-interest, revolving credit cards and closed most of the accounts. Plus he saved up to buy a used Ford F-150, cash. The one credit card he keeps open, he makes sure to pay off in full every month, no matter how high the balance. In other words, he’s admirably managing himself and his assets by most accounts….unless you’re a lender looking at the weighted FICO score that adds up differently in the alternate universe of credit scores. The Alternate Universe of Credit Scores The difference in interest between someone with a “good” score of 700 and an “excellent” score above 760 can be hundreds of dollars a month in interest and thousands per year. There are actually different types of credit scores used for different scenarios, such as revolving credit, auto, and home loans. For home loans, this is the weighted mix of the FICO score: Payment History (35% of score) Amounts Owed (30% of score) Length of credit history (15% of score) New Credit & Inquiries (10% of score) Types of Credit (Mix) (10% of score) By this standard, Sam doesn’t look as good as he is, at least on paper: Sam lost positive history and score weight by closing credit cards, which would have contributed to a low utilization percentage. For example, if you have a total of $20,000 credit available and used only $5,000, you’re at the desirable 25% utilization. Now that Sam is down to a single card with a $10,000 balance, a month where there’s $5,000 in charges, even if paid in full at the end of the month, might report as a 50% utilization – which negatively affects his utilization score, worth 35% of his overall report weight. By paying off the credit cards and not having a car loan or mortgage, Sam will not have the desirable mix of credit lines lenders prefer to see. He has also depleted his cash reserves by buying the truck. Mortgage lenders in some cases like to see 6 months worth of income in savings. Sam may also have left himself unable to buy a new condo until he sells his house unless he has other liquidity available. He will not be able to bid competitively on a condo without a solid pre-qualification letter, and if much of his income isn’t earned income, that can pose another set of challenges. Sam’s Solutions & Considerations: Sam could reopen some of his revolving credit accounts and have small monthly payments be charged to them. He could distribute his credit card charges across different accounts, ensuring he does not exceed 30% utilization. Sam would be well-served to investigate a HELOC before listing his house for sale. He would then have the cash available to purchase a condo when he finds the right one. Sam would likely have substantially more money in his retirement fund in 15 years if he used a large share of his proceeds to aggressively contribute the maximum each year for the next several years, and mortgaged a higher amount (but not more than 80% to avoid mortgage insurance). The Takeaway: Cash may be king, but credit score is Queen when it comes to great rates. Proactive review of your credit score by a mortgage specialist is a great way to prepare to make a move, whether you’re trading up or right-sizing for retirement. Everyone, not just young folks starting out, can benefit from these general credit tips, plus a well-vetted review when it’s time to make a move. Consistency long-term is key to a great credit score Everyone should check their credit annually: (FREE) You must use credit to have credit Keep old accounts open Don’t request lower limits on open accounts Keep credit pulls to a minimum Don’t let “good habits” prevent you from qualifying for the best rates. Know the score on your Credit. Please feel free to access our Free Guides on this and other topics to help investors at our website:
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Estate Planning and Probate: Is it possible to contest a Will or a Trust?
  Why would I contest a Will or a Trust?   If your loved one’s Will or Trust is not what he or she really intended, there are corrective actions you can take so that your loved one’s wishes are properly carried out. Who can contest a Will or a Trust? A beneficiary of a Trust, a devisee of a Will, or someone who would have inherited if the deceased died Intestate (without a Will/Trust) has standing to contest a Will or a Trust. Under Michigan Law, spouses, children, grandchildren, parents and in certain circumstances, siblings, are considered interested persons, if the deceased died Intestate. What consequences should I be concerned with if I contest a Will or a Trust? Most Wills and Trusts have clauses in them stating that any interested person or beneficiary who contests the Will or the Trust will forgo their rights in the same – commonly referred to as a “no contest” clause; however, under Michigan Law, a “no contest” clause is only given effect if there is no probable cause for challenging the Trust/Will. MCL § 700.2518. In other words, the consequences of a “no contest” clause will only kick in when there was no reasonable basis (probable cause) to challenge the Trust/Will. What facts give you probable cause to challenge a Trust/Will? The most common reasons for challenging a Trust/Will are: The deceased lacked capacity when the Trust/Will was made; Undue influence by another (oftentimes, a close family member); Fraud; The existence of a more recent Trust/Will; or The Trust/Will was not executed properly (not witnessed or signed properly). The Take Away. If your loved one’s wishes are not carried out as they intended, and you have a reasonable basis for that belief, per the common reasons above, you can challenge the Will/Trust.
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If You’re Listing Your House This Spring, First Get Your Equity Out
By Jonathan ArnoldManager, Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids You've heard the Grand Rapids Real Estate market is on fire. You've been scheming and dreaming to trade up to your dream home. Or maybe you're going the other direction, selling the empty nest at peak profitability for a more carefree condo lifestyle. Either way, spring 2017 is a great time to list your house in Michigan. But before you start staging, cleaning out closets, or calling your real estate agent, have you thought about what's likely to happen the minute your house hits the market in this climate? The good news is, it will likely sell. The bad news is, it will likely sell -- immediately. Which means that finding -- and securing -- your dream home in a hot market becomes an exercise in stress-seeking behavior as you try to juggle finding just the right house, selling your existing house, and having somewhere to live in the middle. It Doesn't Have To Be This Way Savvy homeowners can save themselves time, trouble and possibly grief if they make just one call before listing their homes. That call is to the Inlanta Grand Rapids Mortgage Team to be connected with a lender partner to open a home equity loan before it's listed. Note: It must be before the house is listed! Traditionally, people facing the financial juggling involved in selling and buying a home have chosen among bridge financing, borrowing against their 401Ks, or proactively getting a home equity loan before listing their homes on the market. While the best option will depend on your individual financial standing, the team at Inlanta feels that in the current market, the HELOC offers more advantages and flexibility than other solutions, allowing the homeowner to get the jump on the home they want before putting their existing home on the market. Interest-Only HELOC - Home Equity Line of Credit If the house is not yet listed you can probably get a home equity line of credit (HELOC). With a HELOC, you can draw the amount you need for the new house, subject to a maximum draw.   The advantages include typically competitive rates, flexible terms and even Interest-Only products. The key advantage to the HELOC is that it allows a homeowner to access the equity locked up in the existing home before it's on the market. Bridge Financing - Too Reactive vs. Pro-Active In the old days, "bridge financing" was the instrument commonly used to help homeowners buy another home while selling their existing home. However, in the current mortgage climate, a bridge loan isn't usually available unless you have a binding contract of sale on the old house. This also means that you can't start looking until conditions are met. The sale agreement is the lender's security. Bridge loans differ from traditional real estate financing. Interest rates are higher than a fixed-rate mortgage loan, and closing costs can be as high as mortgage loans. At the end of the day, if you rely on a bridge loan secured on a sale, you may miss opportunities when the right house comes along. Do The Math on the 401K Some pundits recommend borrowing against your 401K as a low-risk way to finance a new home before closing on your existing home. But this makes no sense when the stock market is giving stronger returns than the interest charged on home equity loans. Money pulled from the market creates exponential losses over time. So if you're getting ready to enter the spring market, get a jump with a call to Inlanta for a referral to our partners who specialize in smart products like the interest-only HELOC. We'll help you map out the right amount to keep in reserve for commissions and closing, and get you started started on the happy trail to your dream home. Contact us for information on our HELOC partners. ===================================================== Jonathan Arnold has been working in the mortgage industry since 2003. He prides himself on taking the time with each and every client to evaluate not only what is best for them today, but also what will be best for their future. As the Grand Rapids Branch Manager at Inlanta Mortgage, Jonathan ensures that each client is confident in making their homeownership dreams a reality. Contact Jonathan at or follow him on LinkedIn ( ) Visit the Grand Rapids Inlanta website at: Forest Hill Financial, Inlanta Mortgage and Securities America are separate entities
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Can a Trust own and manage my business?
Can a Trust own and manage my business? The short answer – yes, it can; however, there is more to it. Trusts can own businesses and manage them for the benefit of your heirs, but there are nuances to consider. S-Corp thoughts/considerations. For example, if your business is an S-Corp, you avoid corporate taxation, double taxation, because the shareholders receive the income and losses from the business (S-Corps are “pass through” tax entities). In other words, the business income gets treated like personal income for the shareholders, although certain exceptions apply. An S-Corp: Has fewer than 100 shareholders (family members and estates are treated as one shareholder); Does NOT have a shareholder that is not an individual (except for certain types of Trusts, and certain exempt organizations, such as a 501c3); Does NOT have nonresident aliens as shareholders; and Has only one class of stock. The take away. A Trust can own and manage a business for the benefit of your heirs; however, there are specific nuances to consider, such as limiting S-Corp status to certain types of Trusts. If you would like to consider Trust based ownership-management, meet with your Estate Planning lawyer to discuss the specifics.  
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What benefits should you be looking for out of your job? | A Millennials Perspective
Maybe you just graduated college and landed your absolute dream job. Or maybe you have been working with the same company for ten years now and are considering a change of career. Regardless of what your situation is, one main source of focus should remain a constant; your workplace benefits. Having benefits in your workplace, and better yet; understanding what those benefits are is a very important aspect you should keep in mind as you are looking to start your career or perhaps exploring the idea of changing jobs. After all, millennials are the “job-hopping generation.” There are numerous staples to your financial future that a workplace can offer, many of these unfortunately tend to slip the mind throughout the application process. Beyond the seemingly bare minimum 401k match, keeping in mind benefits such as healthcare coverage, flexible schedules & vacation time, student loan repayment, and career & personal development should all be taken into consideration! Your future is much more complex than the dollar figure of your paycheck every week.   In today’s world, having healthcare coverage through your employer is one of the most important benefits to consider, and a huge factor for deciding if you’ll take on a new role at a new company. The future of the current healthcare system remains uncertain, so having guaranteed coverage provided by your employer is beneficial in more ways than you may think. For starters, you get to keep more money in your own pocket; which can be huge for young families that are just starting out. Not worrying about finding coverage on the healthcare exchange and having deal with that headache can really save you stress in the event something was to ever happen. Finally, many employers want to keep their employees healthy and will often throw in gym memberships and health classes as an added bonus, brownie points for getting fit!   Another point to consider when looking into a new job, is work-life balance. In today’s day and age, it seems to be more and more difficult to manage the roles and responsibilities of being an exceptional employee, along with the health and wellness of your home and social life. There is a never-ending stream of “things to get done and places to be,” whether it’s with your spouse, work colleagues, children, family, or even just downtime with friends. If you find yourself constantly exhausted from a the seemingly never ending pull of your time and energy, a flexible schedule should be taken into careful consideration before signing the dotted line on your new job offer. Now that being said; most of us won’t get a “work when you can” type of job, but this thought process also pertains to vacation time. Two weeks’ vacation may sound great at first, but as you soon find out, that grandma’s birthday and your best friend’s Bachelor party have single handedly eaten through all your time may find yourself reconsidering. Moral of the story here, understand the demands of your life and ensure before you sign that offer, that your personal life and emotional wellbeing won’t suffer as a result.   A sore subject among many millennials...student loans. Student loan debt is, and seems to continue to be a significant burden to the millennial budget. There are now more than 44 million college graduates who have amounted more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, yes you read that right...trillion. After making payments for months and even years, it seems like that loan burden will always be present. It is tough for millennials just starting out to balance finances when you hit the ground running backwards entering the workforce already owing, for some, tens of thousands of dollars. Working an entry level job because you don’t have experience all the while trying to make it on your own with high rent costs, student loan debt, credit card debt, and all the other bills you’re responsible for can make the future can look pretty glum. For many millennials, the reality of this has left them with very little (if any) money left over for anything else. Now, how does this fit into what to look for when applying for a job other than how big the salary is? One of the trending employee benefits for 2017 is student loan repayment, hallelujah! There is a light at the end of this tunnel! This benefit is monumental in helping young employees move forward in their early stages of life and is making jobs that much more competitive. Keep an eye for this up and coming benefit in the job market, it’s definitely one of the rising stars to making a company attractive to work for.   Your job is much more than just your salary or your paycheck. The people you work with become sort of like your second family, and your office your “home away from home.” You spend most your time with colleagues during the week, and most of the time they end up knowing you better than your best friends. You will grow close with your bosses and their desire to ensure you do well will increase as your relationship grows; after all...if you do well, the company does well too. You want to ensure that you will be setup to succeed and the people and environment you’re working in will be one that you can prosper. When your company invests time and money into you to help develop you as an employee, they have an incentive to keep you around and keep you happy. It is important to be challenged each day, so work to find a job you love, stick to it, and develop your skills to work your way up the corporate ladder! The people and the environment are a key component to your success!   Like I said in the beginning, we are the generation of job hoppers. With more and more college educated millennials entering the workplace, companies have had to get creative with their benefit packages to keep millennials from continuing the job to job trend. When looking for a new role or when negotiating your offer, it is ok to play hard to get! You are an asset to them...remember that. There are a lot of great benefit packages out there and it is well worth holding out for the one that best suits you. Understand your options and be selective in your decision, the choices you make today have a serious impact on your career and future.
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