Category Archives: decision making

My Monkey Mind-Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT)

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

Something which happened about 10 years ago has been in my monkey mind.  I guess listening to my friends talk about elderly parents must have triggered it.  So here goes….

As part of my financial services business I had a listing in the Yellow Pages under resources for women.  It was the best I could do since there wasn’t a separate listing for women and finances.  The result was unexpected.  I received random calls from women in difficult life situations ranging from physical abuse, unwanted divorce, requests for money to start  businesses, and sometimes just a reality check on some financial decisions a spouse or significant other had made without checking with the woman.  After these calls continued , I became a connection between these women I never met to non-profits, social services providers, free legal advice, and government agencies who could help.  I learned a bunch of things which reached beyond financial advising.

One day I received one of those calls from an elderly woman who asked me what the difference was between term insurance (no cash value) and universal life insurance (which has a cash value).  The real reason for the call had to do with the fact that her late husband had established an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) with a cash value policy and she thought he had made a bad decision.  I was curious to hear all the details so I went to visit with her.

In my Financial Freedom Party for Women®, A Little Book about Money for Women, Workbook Edition, I cover the differences between term and cash value policies.  To put it in a couple of sentences, term insurance is a very cost-effective way of getting life insurance and is appropriate for most people.  The premium goes towards the insurance cost and the policy runs for a certain period of time, such as 10, 15, or 20 years.  A policy with a cash value, such as universal life or variable universal life is more complicated and more expensive.  Some of the premium goes to the cost of insurance and some goes into investments offered through the insurance product.  The policy is considered to be “permanent” life since it is not restricted to a certain length of time.  My experience is that these policies (UL and VUL) are often considered upon guidance from an estate planning attorney when creating ways to provide for beneficiaries and reduce estate taxes.  This is a very generalized overview and to learn more please ask your insurance agent or do your own research on-line.

The control of the ILIT rests with a trustee, not the beneficiary (in this case the lady who called me).  This is done because of the estate tax benefits.  You can learn more by clicking here.  As with most people, she did not like knowing she had “all this money”, yet couldn’t access it when she wished.  I came to learn that was part of the plan.

I shared this insight with the lady. Apparently I was the first person she met who sat down and explained to her how this ILIT all worked. I was also the only woman advisor/insurance agent she had ever met.  She found me through my Yellow Page listing.

I learned that she was unhappy because the ILIT controlled her spending.  She had to ask a young man( who was the trustee) for any money which was needed  in addition to the monthly payment which had been established.  The goal of the plan was to keep her from running out of money.   I learned that her ILIT  did contain a universal life policy, the trust was created by an attorney with involvement by the now-deceased husband, and seemed to be in good order and in her best interest.  The things the trustee had told her were true, if she did not control her spending, she ran the risk of outliving her money.  In this situation, the planning was really in her best interest and when we finished our discussion, she, for the first time, realized it.  We talked about other ways for her to finance the expenses she wanted to incur including having a roommate in her spacious home, moving to a smaller one, or cutting expenses elsewhere.

I never heard from her again, but I learned a lot.  I saw how the appropriate cash value life insurance policy can be an integral and useful part of estate planning and a way to take care of beneficiaries upon the death of the insured.  My passion for working with women to understand their finances was re-kindled.  I knew that if someone had taken time to speak to this lady in language she could understand, her life would have been much better.  Sometimes financial professionals forget that it is not all about the numbers,  it is about how the numbers improve the lives of clients and getting the  clients to understand that.  It also reinforced my belief that the best time to learn about finances is not when your spouse or family member has died and not there to explain things.  Learning the fundamentals as a young person will make things a lot easier throughout her or his lifetime.

This event has stayed with me.  My insurance career involved term life insurance and that worked well for my family and clients. The ILIT was a good example how a cash value policy can be beneficial in estate planning and for beneficiaries who may need some additional structure and measured control over assets.  Each situation is different and this posting is not intended to provide you with personal advice on your estate planning, financial planning, or insurance needs.

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

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www.financialfreedomparty.com

www.ffptalk.com

Empty Mansions– Living the Good Life?

mansions

I just finished reading the book “Empty Mansions” by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Junior.  The title says it is about “The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune”.

Any book with the words fortune and spending just calls to my financial education mind.  It would seem that a book about wealth would be all about what we call “living the good life”.  I learned that the title refers to the empty properties Huguette continued to maintain even though she didn’t live in them.  Interesting.

This book is about a woman and her story which revolves around extreme wealth, business, family owned businesses, decision-making, relationships, trust and distrust, and how money can be both a blessing and a curse.

Personally, it took me a long time to learn to deal with money in an unemotional manner.  The main character, struggled with that for a really long time as she was born in 1906 and died in 2011. She dealt with a lot of emotions and they often guided her decisions.  For Huguette, these decisions usually involved  large sums of money. The world changed radically during her lifetime and she also outlived her close relatives.  Some of the change was more than Huguette wished to deal with, so she created a lifestyle which was strange and unconventional to most ordinary (and even wealthy) people.  Her needs for security and safety as a wealthy person played a big part in how she spent money.  As an elderly woman  it appeared that those who were caring for her may have taken advantage of  her financially, even though the medical professionals found her competent.

It is hard to imagine the majestic homes her father created with his wealth  and the mind-set of  Huguette who was born into such a lifestyle and never knew anything different.  Still, I was struck by the similarity between the decisions she had to make about  businesses, advisors, and income management, and those made by the rest of as we manage our personal finances or make lifestyle and financial decisions about the senior citizens our lives.

Was Huguette happy living what most would see as “the good life”?  It is hard to tell.  That is the mystery which remains in her interesting life story.

Until next time.

Debra J. Hadsall

My Monkey Mind – Culture of Threes

monkeys

My monkey mind postings relate to Buddha’s description of the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, and carrying on endlessly. These postings come from my monkey mind.

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A Culture of Threes

These  Monkey Mind posts are just fun.  They allow me to step back, process thoughts, ideas, and other information which come my way, and then look for connections.   Connecting the dots is apparently a creative process.

Since our world is super-charged with information, it is impossible to react to everything which interests me.  So, I have used our culture of threes as a filter to lead me to those things which are worth pursuing further.

Our culture of threes was introduced to me by a trainer whose heritage was American Indian.  Her perspective was different from those of us in the audience.  She was attempting to teach change management and elevate the level of understanding about diversity in the workplace to a group of accounting oriented employees.  Her approach began with talking about how most of us (in the Western world), live in a culture where we refer to things in threes.   I had never thought about it, but she  went on to list a few common terms and descriptions such as:

Three blind mice

The three musketeers

Three strikes and you’re out

Then I began thinking of others like

Three Dog Night (a band)

Once, twice, three times a lady (from a song)

Three wise men

A triple threat

and of course the familiar , I’m counting to three and you better….

You can probably think of many more.  When I googled the subject I found some expanded writing which you can read by clicking here.

That day the instructor was trying to make a point about  how just because we are comfortable with a culture of threes, it doesn’t mean that everyone in the world sees things this way.  Unfortunately the subtlety of her message was not getting through to most.  One attendee stood up and informed the group that he had a lot of work to do at his desk and just wanted to know what not to say and do when it came to dealing with women.  He pretty much let us all know that this was a waste of time to him.  The instructor looked shocked, and I was so grateful that I wasn’t the speaker that day.

The culture of threes and the reaction of the man in the audience who was so resistant to change have stayed with me over the years.  As with most of us, when I hear something new, or someone wants me to pursue a certain activity, join a group, or spend my energy in a certain way, I often resist and shut off the message.  So I adopted a personal rule that when something came into my consciousness the first time I would just make a mental note and move on.  Then, when it comes again from a totally different source, I start paying attention.  When it arrives again for the third time from yet another source, I invest some time and energy is seeing what I am supposed to do with all these triggers of information.  I sense there is a message reminding me to open my heart and mind and see where things go from there.

In the last few weeks I had one of those culture of threes experiences.  These are just little things which don’t mean much to anyone else but me.  Put together, they have made me smile, encouraged me in my work with the Financial Freedom Party for Women, and connected some dots in a manner I didn’t expect.  I will be posting about them in future postings.

Until next time.

Debra Hadsall

www.financialfreedomparty.com and www.ffptalk.com

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