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If Widowhood Happened Tomorrow, Would You Be Prepared?

By Kim Segal, CFP®

When you say, “I do” and start your marriage, the last thing you’re thinking about is the potential death of your spouse. We get it. It’s heart-wrenching and uncomfortable. But do you know what’s even worse? Being caught unprepared as you wade through what feels like insurmountable grief. And considering the difference in life expectancies of men and women, widowhood is a possibility you need to take seriously.

While there is really no way to prepare emotionally for the loss of a life partner, you can prepare financially. Spending a little time and effort in advance to ensure you can answer the following questions will ease the burden if you find yourself in the excruciatingly difficult time of widowhood. So ask yourself, “If I were widowed tomorrow, would I be prepared?”

Do You Have a Trust in Place?

If your spouse doesn’t have a trust, they need to draw one up immediately. A trust ensures that your spouse’s assets are protected and are given to the right heirs in a seamless way. Unlike a will, trusts allow the owner to determine how their estate is disbursed rather than just listing their wishes. In addition, trusts do not need to go through the long and complicated process of probate that wills do, and they cannot be challenged. Without a trust, it takes a lot longer to get closure and all the details can get messy in the process. If your spouse does have a trust, make sure it’s up to date and that they have worked with a professional to get all the legalities in place.

Have You Organized Your Documents?

In the aftermath of your spouse’s passing, their will is not the only document you will need. Your marriage certificate, their birth certificate, and their Social Security card will be required to do things like request benefits or change the name on your car titles. Make sure you know where all this paperwork is located, in addition to automobile titles and property deeds.
What Benefits Are Available to You?

When your spouse dies, you will be entitled to Social Security benefits and possibly other assets like pension benefits, life insurance, and annuities. If they are still working, there’s a good chance you will be eligible for benefits through their employer which you are unaware of. Have your loved one make a list of all the benefits you will receive at their death, and ensure you have the necessary information to claim them.

Do You Have Access to All Financial Account Information?

You probably have a checking account, savings account, retirement, and other investment accounts. When your spouse dies, the management of them will fall to you. Therefore, you need a list of every account you have, whether joint or in only one of your names, the type of account, the institution that holds it, and the account number.

In addition to your assets, you have liabilities, such as debts, insurance, and monthly utilities. Since you don’t want to default on your mortgage while you’re trying to cope with your loved one’s death, record the relevant information for these accounts as well, including how and when payments are made.

What Does Your Spending Plan Look Like?

An important part of developing a plan to move forward alone will involve knowing your current spending needs. If you don’t already have a written budget, begin tracking your expenses and create one. It will be an incredible aid when planning for the future.

Do You Have a Trusted Advisor?

Having a strong support system will carry you through the death of your spouse and give you the strength to move forward. Part of that support system should be a trusted financial professional. In many marriages, the husband handles the finances and it is he who has a relationship with the family’s financial advisor. If it is he who passes first, his wife inherits an advisor she may not know well or necessarily trust.

It is vital you have someone you trust that you can turn to for help in financial matters. Widowhood is an extremely vulnerable time, and many unscrupulous people prey on widows. Take some time now to get to know your financial advisor and make sure you like working with them. Your well-being is of the utmost importance, so if necessary, find another advisor.

You’re Not Alone

One thing you’ll never regret is preparing for possible widowhood before it happens. At Catalyst Investment Management, we aim to arm you with a solid financial foundation and empower and educate you to make decisions that are right for your life. As you prepare for widowhood, we are here to answer your questions. Schedule a call by reaching out to us at (617) 610-0587 or emailing info@cim.financial.

About Kim

Kim Segal is co-owner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional at Catalyst Investment Management, an independent firm dedicated to providing personalized financial advice and planning. With over 20 years of experience, Kim is passionate about developing long-term relationships with her clients so she can provide them with customized solutions that make the most impact on their lives. Kim specializes in serving business owners and pre-retirees and post-retirees who desire a road map to their ideal retirement and women who are recently divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. Every client of Kim’s receives her utmost dedication and attention as they work toward their goals. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and spent much of her career prior to CIM at Charles Schwab, where she held various roles, including financial planner, vice president, and financial consultant. Outside of work, Kim loves spending time with her two teenage children, cooking, and staying active by running and skiing. Learn more about Kim by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

Jump-Start Your Financial Plan for 2022!

By Kim Segal, CFP®

How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Hopefully you aren’t part of the 80% of Americans who discard their resolutions by February, (1) but if you are, remember that there’s nothing magical about January 1st. No matter where we are in the year, you can set new intentions and make the small steps necessary to make your goals a reality.

Now that we’re more than a month into 2022, it’s an ideal time to revisit your goals, especially your financial goals. Use this check-in to review your financial plan to make sure it’s on track for the rest of the year and beyond.

1. Set Financial Goals

The first way to jump-start your financial plan is to set financial goals. Do you have a goal for your finances or are you just crossing your fingers and hoping you have enough for the lifestyle you want?

Specific goals with defined timelines will help to determine the best course of action, including how much risk you can and should take with your money. For instance, if you’re looking for a guaranteed source of income, then you will probably want to stick with investments that will provide long-term security. Conversely, if you are looking for substantial growth, then you might want to take on more risk and invest less conservatively. Every dollar in your portfolio should be working toward a specific goal.

Remember that the best goals will be SMART:

  • Specific: The more you can identify exactly what you’re saving for, the easier it will be to work toward it.
  • Measurable: As much as possible, try to identify how much your financial goal will cost. Do the research to figure out what you need to save so that you’re able to see tangible progress along the way.
  • Attainable: Make sure your goal is realistic and achievable. This might require some self-reflection or reevaluation of your priorities.
  • Relevant: Ask yourself which goals align with your core values. Remember that your finite assets will be split amongst your seemingly infinite list of wants. The more you can scale back your list to what is truly relevant, the quicker you’ll be able to achieve each goal.
  • Timely: Identify the timeline for each goal so that you can prioritize which ones need to be addressed first and how much risk you can afford to take.

2. Build Up Your Savings

If there’s one thing the last two years have taught us, it’s that it’s crucial to prepare for the unpredictable. Whether it be a pandemic, a lost job, or rising rates of inflation, sufficient savings can mean the difference between staying afloat during uncertain times and not having enough when you need it most.

If you’re not saving already, take steps to start putting a portion of your income away every month. Usually 10-15% of pre-tax income is a good guideline. Ideally, it is recommended that most people should have at least 3-6 months’ worth of non-discretionary expenses saved in a highly liquid, easily accessible emergency fund before saving toward other goals. Either way, consistent savings are the cornerstone of any solid financial plan.

3. Reevaluate the Risk in Your Portfolio

As mentioned in Step 1, risk is fundamental to investing. Even “investing” by hiding cash under your mattress involves risk, since there’s always the chance of a break-in or increased inflation eating away at its value. To jump-start your financial plan in 2022, be sure to reevaluate the amount of risk you are taking in your overall portfolio.

It’s not uncommon for a portfolio to become unbalanced as the market ebbs and flows. What may have started out as a 60/40 allocation between stocks and bonds can easily become a 70/30 or 80/20 allocation, which is a significant difference in risk level. You may also find that you are too heavily concentrated in one type of asset or in one company’s stock. If this is the case for you, rebalancing and diversification should be explored.

Though risk is fundamental to investing, it’s also crucial that you aren’t overexposed to unnecessary risks. Take steps to evaluate your risk tolerance, based on your unique financial circumstances, stage of life, and personality, and be sure your investments align.

4. Partner With a Financial Professional

Facing challenges with a partner by your side always makes it feel less daunting. So no matter where you’re at in the planning process or what goals you’ve set for your financial life, consider enlisting the help of a financial professional.

At Catalyst Investment Management, we have the tools and expertise to help you set financial goals, build up your emergency fund, and reevaluate your risk level to help you take control of your finances. With the end goal of providing financial peace of mind through market wisdom, integrity, and strong personal relationships, we are here to support you, guide you, and navigate any financial challenges you may face.

If you’re ready to get your financial plan in order and set yourself up for a strong financial future, you can schedule a call today by reaching out to us at (617) 610-0587 or emailing info@cim.financial.

About Kim

Kim Segal is co-owner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional at Catalyst Investment Management, an independent firm dedicated to providing personalized financial advice and planning. With over 20 years of experience, Kim is passionate about developing long-term relationships with her clients so she can provide them with customized solutions that make the most impact on their lives. Kim specializes in serving business owners and pre-retirees and post-retirees who desire a road map to their ideal retirement and women who are recently divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. Every client of Kim’s receives her utmost dedication and attention as they work toward their goals. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and spent much of her career prior to CIM at Charles Schwab, where she held various roles, including financial planner, vice president, and financial consultant. Outside of work, Kim loves spending time with her two teenage children, cooking, and staying active by running and skiing. Learn more about Kim by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

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(1) https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2021/12/09/this-new-years-set-goals-not-resolutions/?sh=3c998be81ece

Why I Became A Financial Advisor

By Kim Segal, CFP®

People choose their respective careers for many reasons, whether it’s potential for advancement, a desire to use their skills in a specific arena, or even income possibilities. But for me, it was all about helping others. I wanted a career that would allow me to add value to people’s lives and help them achieve a bigger future they only dreamed of. With an interest in finance and an understanding of how much of an impact money makes, I decided to put my passion into action as a financial advisor. I strive to build strong personal relationships with clients, so together we can achieve their dreams.

First Career Steps

After graduating from Boston University, where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management, I jumped right into the financial world working for Fidelity. I climbed my way up from trading and answering calls to work in the investment center. I broadened my skill set during my seven years with Fidelity, learning more about the operational side of things and how to resolve issues. In 1999 I was hired as an advisor with Charles Schwab, and during this time I completed my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation.

Building My Career

I spent the next 16 years working as a financial planner, vice president, and financial consultant. In 2015, I knew it was time to step away from a larger, corporate setting in order to give my clients a more personal touch. I want to hear people’s stories, walk with them through decisions, and provide security and education. I get a great sense of fulfillment from helping a client assess their financial situation as it currently stands, ideate what their financial future could look like, and then implement a plan to get them there. I maintain the highest level of commitment and dedication to each of my clients, and I get to know them on a personal level, beyond just the quantitative details that help me do my job. I never operate on a one-size-fits-all plan.

My Career Today

Now, as a wealth advisor and co-owner of Catalyst Investment Management, I get to spend my days doing what I dreamed of—helping business owners, pre-retirees and post-retirees build wealth and set themselves up for a secure future while still having the time and energy to do what they love. I specialize in walking my clients through big life changes. Whether you’re planning for retirement, retired, trying to plan for college, going through a divorce, navigating Social Security, or just needing to make a course correction, I’m here to help!

The best part of my job is providing my clients with peace of mind knowing someone is proactively looking out for them, getting them closer to their goals and celebrating with them as they get to live out their dreams.

Are You Ready For A Different Financial Future?

I’d love to meet you, get to know you, and find out more about your financial goals. I can’t wait to listen as you explain your worries and the unique challenges you’re facing on your financial journey. Together, we can create a personalized plan and make your dreams a reality. With my unique set of skills and expertise, there’s no reason for you to go it alone! Take the first step today by calling us at (617) 610-05867 or emailing info@cim.financial.

About Kim

Kim Segal is co-owner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) at Catalyst Investment Management, an independent firm dedicated to providing personalized financial advice and planning. With over 20 years of experience, Kim is passionate about developing long-term relationships with her clients so she can provide them with customized solutions that make the most impact on their lives. Kim specializes in serving business owners, pre-retirees and post-retirees who desire a road map to their ideal retirement and women who are recently divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. Every client of Kim’s receives her utmost dedication and attention as they work toward their goals. She graduated from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and spent much of her career prior to CIM at Charles Schwab, where she held various roles, including financial planner, vice president, and financial consultant. Outside of work, Kim loves spending time with her two teenage children, cooking, and staying active by running and skiing. Learn more about Kim by connecting with her on LinkedIn.