Pre-Deadline Open Enrollment Checklist

December 15th is right around the corner. Time to make your healthcare coverage selection is running out fast. If you haven’t selected your health coverage yet, don’t put it off a moment longer. Review the checklist of items below that I’ve adapted from a list on Forbes.com. I’ve included the most important points for your consideration in order to help break down the process for you and make your decision making process faster and easier. Print it out, take it to the office and go over each point carefully and completely.

1.Evaluate Your Medical Coverage Offerings

This is the most important and most complicated decision you have to make. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing a plan. Ask yourself the following questions:

How often do you tend to visit the doctor?

Do you anticipate a change in your health care needs?

Will you soon have more dependents to cover? Perhaps a new baby is on the way?

Do you take regular prescription medications?

How much will the plan will cost you?  Take into consideration the expenses beyond your monthly premium: deductible, co-pay, co-insurance, total out-of-pocket limits, and out-of-network coverage.

And most importantly, check to make sure your doctors, specialists and preferred hospitals are still covered by your chosen network.

2. Dental and Vision Benefits

 

Once you’ve selected your core health plan, check to see if your employer offers dental and vision coverage. Some health insurance plans may incorporate these benefits.  If they don’t, you may be able to elect standalone plans.

For vision insurance, you may be able to choose between a vision benefits plan or a vision discount plan. With a vision benefits plan, you pay a premium in exchange for eye care coverage usually with an allowance for frames and lenses. A vision discount plan typically offers lower premiums, but only for a percentage discount off services from participating eye practitioners.

When it comes to dental insurance, make sure your dentist accepts the plan you are offered. And, while it might be important to consider whether you anticipate only needing to cover preventive checkups and cleanings or services like root canals, oral surgery or orthodontics in the coming year, remember these types of things are impossible to anticipate.

3. Determine the value of opening a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or a Health Savings Account (HSA)

 

Both of these types of accounts enable you to use pretax money to cover eligible health expenses, such as premiums and deductibles, over-the-counter medications, prescription eyeglasses, and acupuncture. However there are important differences between the two.

The FSA is company-owned.  If you don’t use all the funds in the account by year-end, you could end up losing the cash. (Your employer may allow up to a $500 rollover, but they aren’t required to do so.) For 2016 the maximum you can contribute to an FSA is $2,550.

An HSA is in your name and your control.  Your funds can be rolled over from year to year and the money can be invested, but you can only contribute to the account if you have a high-deductible health plan. For 2016 the contribution limit is $3,350 for individuals, and $6,750 for a family, with an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution for those who are 55 and older.

4. Reassess Your Retirement Contributions

 

Open enrollment can be a good time to determine if you may want to change your contributions going into 2016. If your employer offers a 401(k) match, check to see if you are contributing enough to maximize that match.

5. Review Your Insurance Options

 

Open enrollment is a good time to consider other types of coverage your company may offer that could help protect your income.

Life insurance: If you have a family or other dependents who rely on you for financial support, a company-sponsored life insurance policy can help provide some level of protection or help supplement any existing life insurance you may have.

Disability insurance: The reality is that you never know when a disabling injury could happen, so consider calculating your PDQ (personal disability quotient) to see what the chances are that someone in your demographic could suffer a disability.

Once you’ve run your number, find out what short- and long-term disability insurance options are available to you, so you’re covered should a temporary illness or more serious disease keep you from being able to work.

One important thing to check for, specifically, is whether your company offers “own occupation” versus “any occupation” disability insurance. Own-occupation policies tend to offer better benefits because they consider you disabled if you’re unable to perform the same job you held. Any-occupation policies define disabled as being unable to perform any job for which you are reasonably qualified.

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance: This coverage can provide an additional financial cushion in the event an accident causes you or someone in your family to die, lose a limb, or suffer impairment to speech, hearing or eyesight.

6. Update Your Beneficiaries

 

Make certain all of your designated beneficiaries are up-to-date. Your beneficiary designations override what’s written in a will, so it’s important that you keep them up to date. If you’ve recently gotten married or had a child, be sure to put your new family members as beneficiaries instead of a friend or distant relative.

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Guest Sunday, 25 June 2017
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 Arnold Manager, Inlanta Mortgage Grand Rapids http://www.MichiganHomeLoanSolutions.com 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 jonathanarnold@inlanta.com or follow him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/jonathanarnold1 ) Visit the Grand Rapids Inlanta website at: www.MichiganHomeLoanSolutions.com 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 off...you 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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Let's Get Uncomfortable: The Dealings of Divorce, Separation and the Fear of the Unknown from a Banker's Perspective.
I suppose there are a lot of lighter topics that one could talk about on the dawn of a new year, however in my line of work every year around this time I find myself providing counsel to individuals and couples that have decided to go their separate ways. Generally, it's not the holidays or the new year that actually done the relationship in. Although the stress of the holidays coupled with unwanted conversations over politics with in-laws that may have over stayed their welcome certainly doesn't help a struggling couple find their way. Typically, the relationship has been broken or been breaking for a long time leading up to these conversations. It's never easy for someone to open up about personal matters such as this and quite frankly especially when there are children involved, it can be a very emotional conversation. I decided to lay out some of the biggest takeaways and advice that I could give to someone facing the breakdown of a relationship and the prospect of a divorce or separation. 1. Do not let the fear of the unknown prevent you from finding out what the state of your credit, finances and potential future options are. Knowledge is powerful, just knowing where things stand and what your options are will help alleviate some of your stress and fear. 2. If you are still in an amicable relationship and have yet to file a divorce, prior to filing it is highly, and I can't stress enough HIGHLY, recommended that you seek out a banker such as myself to lay out your potential paths. Once the divorce is filed there are a number of options that will no longer be available to you as far as home financing is concerned. 3. There is such a thing as a "win-win" when dealing with a divorce or separation. I know it can sound unlikely or seem impossible, but I've worked with numerous couples who as a result of an earnest effort on both sides, were able to find housing solutions that provided stability for the children and peace of mind for themselves. 4. Find a compassionate banker who is objective and excels at communication. This is such a touchy subject and charged with so many emotions. The last thing many people want to deal with when going through a separation is their finances. It takes a patient ear, an open heart and a lot of experience to be able to successfully guide someone through this tough time in their life. Choose your mortgage banker wisely! 5. The solution may surprise you and be something that you did not expect. Throughout the years ofworking with couples going through separations and divorces I have witnessed, structured and been a part of some very unconventional outside of the box solutions. The biggest thing that I can recommend is just having the conversation with someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with these types of situations.
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