As a diverse wealth management group, The Bahnsen Group seeks to guide clients through all the phases of their financial needs, investments and all, but we do that in a context that is comprehensive and holistic. From tax efficiency to retirement planning to estate and legacy strategies to charitable impulses to asset protection – we really don’t see a way to be comprehensive and elite wealth advisors without incorporating all elements of the accumulation, preservation, and transfer phases of wealth into our process. To that end, we formed our Financial Concierge Services platform to represent a value-added service to clients – generating absolutely no revenue for us – wherein we formalized our due diligence, analysis, understanding of needs, and created a formal platform for service providers we could recommend to clients when needs arose. Along with this service, we created The Financierge to provide consistent thought leadership driven by a desire to inform and educate our clients.
As part of our holistic and comprehensive planning, it is important for us to identify and manage risks that can take client plans off course. In this issue, we will focus on several areas of risk management and provide some mitigation strategies to help protect you and your family.
The Financierge – Issue #2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Lifestyles of the Affluent and Exposed
Six Items to Keep in Your Vault
Twelve Proactive Tips to Fight Identity Theft
Twelve Ideas to Guard Your Family in a Digital World
As an affluent individual, you can be the target of liability lawsuits. Lawsuits translate into financial exposure for you, your business and family. Risk management and mitigation is an essential part of our wealth management process. We help you identify areas of exposure, analyze alternatives, and implement strategies to help you mitigate the risk. The following are a few risk areas to be aware of:
Entertaining – Whether you entertain friends or use your home for charities, you create unique liability risks associated with guests on your property. Examples include slip & falls, pet bites, alcohol served to guests, as well as staff and catering risks. Often these liability exposures do not end when your guests leave your home.
Domestic Staff – Examples include domestic staff to help with your young children, housekeeping, landscaping and pool, a home yoga or massage therapist, or even a Personal Assistant to help with household and business responsibilities. Common risks associated with these employees include disclosing your family’s personal information to outside parties, having access to your children, staff injuries, and wage and labor issues like sexual harassment or age discrimination. Another risk area is when a domestic employee has driving responsibilities. Transportation creates additional liability exposures, especially if they are driving your children.
Children in College – College teens are usually independent for the first time and their actions while away from home may expose you to litigation. If you are high profile, your children will attract even more attention. It is important to understand your parental liability while your child is away driving your vehicle, on social media, or attending parties with drugs and alcohol. Also, if you or your child are involved in an auto accident, the injured party’s attorney could pursue a claim for higher damages based purely on your profile and net worth. Young adults age 18 or over should execute a power of attorney, advance medical directive, and HIPAA release so that parents have the power to act as the decision makers on medical and financial issues while their children are away at college.
Not-for-Profit Boards – If you are a Board Member for a charity, it is important to know your exposure to lawsuits and the amount of your Directors & Officers Liability insurance coverage. Most charities do not carry more than $1 million of coverage, often shared with several board members during a lawsuit. This is an important area to review.
Whether electronically or physically, your vault should house all of the important financial information your family may need in case something happens to you. Clients of The Bahnsen Group have access to a highly secured, online electronic vault through their custom eMoney financial planning portal. We recommend that you create a “legacy” folder that contains at least the following six items:
1. Cover Letter – This is simply a letter stating the purpose of the “legacy” folder. Nothing fancy, just a way to introduce your loved ones to the contents of the folder.
2. Will and Estate Plans – All information about your will and estate, including names of the executor, trustee, guardian and estate planning attorney. The healthcare directives and power of attorney documents should also be in the folder.
3. Financial Accounts – Anything that has money in it and your name on it should be kept in the “legacy” folder. This includes account names, numbers, and amounts.
4. Funeral Instructions – All details and specifications for funeral plans should be kept in the folder so the family can fulfill your wishes. If you are married, you need one for you and one for your spouse.
5. Insurance Policies – All insurance information, including health, car, disability, term life, etc., should be combined into one single document for easy reference. You might want to create a document listing the type of insurance, who the policy is for, contact information and policy numbers.
6. Other Important Documents – Any legal or other important documents you have should be stored in the file. This includes deeds, birth certificates, titles and photos of Social Security cards, driver’s license and passports, and passwords.
During mid-2017, attackers used a defect in the Equifax website software to extract information on over 145 million individuals. This information included Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, birth dates, names, addresses, and credit card information. Here are twelve proactive tips to help you fight identity theft:
1. Enroll in Credit Monitoring – IdentifyForce, LifeLock, CreditSesame and ID Watchdog are some of the top-rated credit monitoring service providers.
2. Place Fraud Alerts on Your Bank and Credit Files – A fraud alert tells creditors to contact you before they open any new accounts or change your existing accounts. Call any one of the three major credit bureaus listed below. As soon as one credit bureau confirms your fraud alert, the others are notified to place fraud alerts. All three credit reports will be sent to you, free of charge, for your review.
- Equifax (800) 525-6285 https://www.alerts.equifax.com
- Experian (888) 397-3742 https://www.experian.com
- TransUnionCorp (800) 680-7289 https://www.transunion.com
3. Opt Out of Pre-Approved Credit Offers – Identity thieves often intercept offers of new credit and insurance sent by mail. You can call (888) 567-8688 or go online to https://www.optoutprescreen.com to stop prescreened offers of credit and insurance.
4. Use a Shredder – Shred bank, credit card statements and receipts, junk mail, and other documents with confidential with personal financial data instead of throwing them in the garbage.
5. Use Anti-Spyware Software – Spyware is software installed on your computer, often without your knowledge, that collects information about you.
6. Monitor Your Financial Accounts – Report any suspicious activity in your bank and credit card accounts as soon as you notice it. Check credit reports often. You can get one free credit report every year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Rotate requesting on report every four months from each credit bureau and review it for suspicious or incorrect information.
7. Protect Your Social – Avoid sharing your Social Security number or keeping it in your wallet or accessible place.
8. Don’t Download Unknown Software – Avoid opening unknown attachments or using software downloaded from unknown Web sites. These may be programs that can include spyware or malware.
9. Limit Social Media Data – Don’t leave personal details, such as your birthday, place of birth, family members names or address. Strengthen your privacy settings and be cautious about whom you accept as a connection.
10. Secure Your Phone – Lock your phone with a password or fingerprint. Turn off Bluetooth when you’re not using it, and be cautious when downloading apps which could contain malware.
11. Know phishing! – Watch out for emails, links, texts, phone calls or mail asking for your personal information. You most likely do not have a rich relative trying to send you money if you send them your bank account information.
12. Keep Your Mail Safe – Mail theft is an easy way for a thief to steal your identity. Consider using a locked mailbox or P.O. box. Don’t forget to have your mail forwarded when you move and have your post office hold your mail if you travel.
1. Keep Your Security Software Current – Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the first line of defense against common viruses, malware, and other online threats. If available, turn on automatic updates for your software programs to automatically connect and update to patch vulnerabilities. This includes smart devices used as controllers for home automation systems.
2. Backup Your Data – Store data in a secondary location (on physical hardware or in the cloud). Also, back-ups should be encrypted whether they are stored locally or in the cloud.
3. Encryption – Whole disk encryption locks down the data on your computer’s hard drive to prevent access by an unauthorized user if it is lost or stolen.
4. Remote Wipe – Enable remote wipe capability on smart devices and computers to provide the ability to remotely self-destruct the device (wipe data and restore to factory settings) if it is lost or stolen.
5. Encrypt your Wi-Fi – Change the password on your Wi-Fi to something unique. Default passwords on routers are often the same and discoverable. Always choose the strongest encryption setting: WPA2/AES.
6. Administrator Login – Change the administrator username and password for the router. The majority of routers come designed with a default username and password. These can easily be discovered, and attackers can use them to log in and change your network configuration.
7. Update Router Firmware – Firmware is the software for the router which allows it to function. Firmware should regularly be kept updated from the manufacturer.
8. Complex Passwords – Passwords should be longer than twelve characters and have a combination of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols (and spaces, if allowed). Six character alphanumeric passwords have 19 billion different password possibilities, but can be cracked with computer programs in under an hour.
9. Unique Passwords – Use a unique password for every site, account, and piece of hardware. Never reuse words or phrases in passwords between sites. Password manager services can help keep track of passwords in a secure manner.
10. No Personal Data – Check your accounts to ensure that the answers to password reset questions are not based on basic information about you or your family (e.g., names, date of birth, street address, etc.)
11. Authentication – Turn on two-factor authentication wherever possible. Especially email accounts and banking and other financial sites.
12. Implement Parental Controls – Use top-rated software like ContentWatch, Symantec, Qustodio to protect your children from access to inappropriate websites or excessive use.
We are here to serve you with competence, trust, and value. Have a wonderful week!
Don B. Saulic, CFP® CPA
Partner, Private Wealth Management
Business Entity Structures and New Tax Law Considerations (Aug 20, 2018)
Five Charitable Planning Perspectives to Know Before You Sell Your Business (Aug 20, 2018)
Two Estate Planning Tips for Your Businesses (Aug 20, 2018)
Four Strategies to Preserve Your Business’ Future (Aug 20, 2018)
Five Ideas about 529 College Savings Plans (Nov 2, 2017)
Dividend Stock Investing (Feb 14, 2018)
Six Items to Keep in Your Vault (Nov 16, 2017)
Twelve Proactive Tips to Fight Identity Theft (Nov 16, 2017)
Twelve Ideas to Guard Your Family in a Digital World (Nov 16, 2017)
Is Your Lifestyle Balanced and in SHAPE? (Nov 20, 2018)
Real Estate Planning
Four Points to Ponder Before Buying or Leasing a Home (Jun 22, 2018)
Six Considerations About Mortgages, Refinancing and Taxes (Jun 22, 2018)
Five Elements of Reverse Mortgages (Jun 22, 2018)
Four Perspectives to Consider in Deciding to Move to a State with Lower Taxes (Jun 22, 2018)
Risk Management and Insurance Planning
Starting Social Security Benefits – Ready, Set, Hold!? (Nov 2, 2017)
Nine Considerations to Maximize Social Security Benefits (Nov 2, 2017)
Lifestyles of the Affluent and Exposed (Nov 16, 2017)
Eight Benefits of Health Savings Accounts (Mar 16, 2018)
Seven Ideas for Life Insurance (Mar 16, 2018)
Six Considerations About Long-Term Care Insurance (Mar 16, 2018)
Twenty New Tax Reform Bill Changes (Feb 14, 2018)
The Bahnsen Group is registered with HighTower Securities, LLC, member FINRA and SIPC, and with HighTower Advisors, LLC, a registered investment advisor with the SEC. Securities are offered through HighTower Securities, LLC; advisory services are offered through HighTower Advisors, LLC.
This is not an offer to buy or sell securities. No investment process is free of risk, and there is no guarantee that the investment process or the investment opportunities referenced herein will be profitable. Past performance is not indicative of current or future performance and is not a guarantee. The investment opportunities referenced herein may not be suitable for all investors.
All data and information reference herein are from sources believed to be reliable. Any opinions, news, research, analyses, prices, or other information contained in this research is provided as general market commentary, it does not constitute investment advice. The team and HighTower shall not in any way be liable for claims, and make no expressed or implied representations or warranties as to the accuracy or completeness of the data and other information, or for statements or errors contained in or omissions from the obtained data and information referenced herein. The data and information are provided as of the date referenced. Such data and information are subject to change without notice.
This document was created for informational purposes only; the opinions expressed are solely those of the team and do not represent those of HighTower Advisors, LLC, or any of its affiliates.
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