Resources

Just too good to keep to ourselves

Welcome to our library. We strive to provide resources so that our clients know as much as they wish when it comes to being financially savvy. And it doesn’t stop there! We are part of a larger community – including you, wherever you may be. This is where we share content and tools that are important, fun and even inspiring, with everyone. Our resource vault will help you get smart about money, find your own motivation to move forward, and laugh and breathe a bit easier along the way.

An Explainer on Our Approach to ESG Investing and Company Screening

Published in: Resources |

You’ve decided you want to get involved with impact investing — you want your investments to have a positive, measurable social and environmental impact, while also having a financial return.

You’ve reached out to The Humphreys Group to get started with impact investing. So what can you expect in the process? We give a general outline of our process in today’s blog post.

Impact Investing with The Humphreys Group: What You Can Expect

When you show an interest in investing in socially responsible/value-based funds, we will provide you with an ESG questionnaire that helps you think through your values.

This questionnaire includes several issue topics such as:

  • Alcohol (whether a company has more or less involvement in the alcohol industry)
  • Animal testing (whether or not a company uses animals in testing pharmaceutical and/or non-pharmaceutical products)
  • Community investment/relations (the extent to which a company is involved in charitable programs, support for education, housing, and other community-based programs)
  • Diversity (whether a company has more or less women and minority board members)
  • Employment equity (evaluation of issues such as health and safety, union relations, profit sharing, and employee involvement)
  • Environment (whether a company has strong or weak environmental performance and trends)
  • Firearms (whether a company is involved in firearms and ammunition manufacturing)
  • Gambling (whether a company is involved in the gambling industry)
  • Renewable energy (extent to which a company’s products foster renewable energy sources, research, and development)

In these materials, you’ll be able to rate each social concern to indicate the level of importance to you, describe your stance on each issue, and mention any other concerns.

From this questionnaire, we can identify which ESG funds best align with your values.

How Does Each ESG Fund Screen the Companies They Invest In?

Here is how each ESG fund we offer — such as the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund, the Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund, Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Social Investment Funds, and Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Sustainability Funds — determines which companies make the cut. Note: We invest in a wide range of ESG funds from a group of ESG investment firms. These are some examples, but they don’t represent the full breadth of what we offer.

1. The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund:

The Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund was the first broadly diversified global mutual fund to invest in the highest-rated companies in the world for advancing women through gender-diverse boards, senior leadership teams, and other policies and practices. The Fund invests in companies that understand the value of gender-diverse leadership teams.

How companies make the cut:

  • Representation of women on the board of directors
  • Representation of women in executive management
  • Hiring, promotion, and retention of women
  • Gender pay equity
  • Proactive gender goals and targets and/or signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women
  • Transparency about gender diversity data

2. The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund:

The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund invests in companies that are developing innovative solutions to resource challenges in the four key areas of new energy; water; waste and resource recovery; and sustainable food, agriculture, and forestry.

How companies make the cut:

  • The Fund chooses companies in increasingly important global environmental markets, companies focused on resource efficiency, and companies providing environmental solutions and net carbon reductions.

3. Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Social Investment Funds:

Dimensional’s social investment funds enable investors to pursue higher expected returns across stock and bond markets while maintaining alignment with social priorities and philosophies.

How companies make the cut:

  • Generally, the funds will seek to exclude securities of firms engaged in contentious activities relating to health care matters, alcohol and tobacco, gambling, adult entertainment, indiscriminate antipersonnel weapons, and human and/or labor rights. Their social funds exclude individual securities issued by companies that are involved in controversial activities while preserving investors’ ability to pursue higher expected returns across stocks and bonds.
  • Historically, the screens established for Dimensional’s social funds have taken into account the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, among other factors.
  • Dimensional utilizes leading third-party firms that provide detailed screening criteria. Where appropriate, they may use multiple vendors to ensure depth and transparency in our social screening.
  • They apply screens across both equity and fixed income strategies. They generally evaluate companies holistically; if any subsidiary fails one of their screens, that subsidiary and all other subsidiaries and the parent entity are excluded.

4. Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Sustainability Funds:

Dimensional’s approach seeks to address the sustainability issues important to investors while continuing to offer broad diversification and focus on higher expected returns.

How companies make the cut:

  • Sustainability considerations include greenhouse gas emissions intensity, land use and biodiversity, toxic spills and releases, operational waste, water management, and other considerations.
  • When applying sustainability considerations, companies can be rated or scored on certain sustainability-focused metrics. With a sustainability score assigned to each company across all major sectors, investment in companies with high environmental sustainability scores can be emphasized while investment in companies with low scores can be minimized or excluded.
  • Additional screens can be applied to reduce exposure to companies negatively connected with other issues important to sustainability-minded investors.

Get Started with Impact Investing

If you’re interested in learning more about impact investing, reach out to our team today.

How to Improve Your Financial Literacy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published in: Resources |

The financial literacy gap between men and women is from structural, systemic and societal inequalities and barriers over time. (One example: It wasn’t until 1974 — with the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act — that women won a legal right to apply for credit cards separate from their husbands.)

Why the Financial Literacy Gap Is So Important

The financial literacy gap — also known as the  “secondary gender wage gap” — is so important because without financial literacy, women can’t build their wealth. They feel less confident being in control of the household finances, and this becomes an even bigger issue when their spouse passes away or if they go through a divorce. Women also may feel less confident about investing in the stock market. And women already earn less than men — without the financial knowledge about investing, they are at even more of a disadvantage.

Other financial hindrances? Women tend to live longer than men, which can make them financially insecure during retirement. Women are also often expected to leave the workforce during their high-earning years to take care of their children or aging parents. The COVID-19 global health and economic crisis, and how it has disproportionately affected women, has further underscored these issues.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Financial Literacy

Now that we know what we’re up against and understand why it’s so important to arm ourselves with financial knowledge, what steps can we take that are in our control?

  1. Listen to podcasts and books about personal finance. You don’t have to read a dense tome about finance. Listen or read something that you would enjoy.
  2. Find out what financial wellness programs are available at your workplace. Many employers offer workshops and programs on financial topics, such as understanding your 401(k), health savings accounts (HSAs), and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).
  3. Research financial advisors. As we say at The Humphreys Group, it’s not just about the numbers. Find a financial advisor who you feel comfortable with and can connect with.
  4. Attend a Conversation Circle. The Humphreys Group regularly hosts Conversation Circles where we have authentic conversations about money. Let us know if you’d like to join us at our next one!
  5. Talk about money with your family and friends. We as a society are conditioned to not talk about money. But money affects everything in our lives — why should something so pivotal in our lives be taboo to talk about? Have an honest conversation with your family and/or friends about money. As CNBC Make It suggests, host an event and 1. invite friends who are comfortable around each other, 2. set expectations ahead of time, 3. have topics ready (but let the conversation flow naturally), 4. ask questions, and 5. be open to new perspectives.

Continue the Conversation About Financial Literacy with The Humphreys Group

The Humphreys Group is passionate about empowering women in their finances and giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed. If you’d like to continue the conversation about financial education, reach out to our team today.

The Importance of Impact Investing

Published in: Resources |

The global COVID-19 crisis, social unrest, and economic inequality have highlighted how connected we all are and how deeply we need more efficient systems.

This is where impact investing — also known as SRI (socially responsible investing), ESG (environmental, social, governance), sustainable investing, or socially screened investing — comes in. While impact investing is not new, investors are now starting to fully understand its significance. Investors want to make a difference in the world with the capital they are investing.

Impact Investing By the Numbers

Supporting a sustainable future is not only good for the world — it’s good for your wallet. There’s a common perception that by investing in sustainable companies, you pay a price for more “moral” investments — but data suggests that sustainable investments are actually financially rewarding. Here are a few key stats:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic crashed the market, yet sustainable investments performed better than their counterparts during the first quarter of 2020. According to BlackRock, investment funds tracking the performance of companies with better ratings on ESG issues lost less money than those including worse performers in 94 percent of cases during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Last year, shares of the 100 companies on Barron’s America’s Most Sustainable Companies” list had average returns of 34.3 percent, while the S&P 500 had 31.5 percent.
  • 2019 saw a total of 479 green bonds issued worldwide, up by a quarter compared to the previous year. 2020 is set to be a “bumper” year for green bonds.
  • According to Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN)’s 2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey, the global impact investing market is estimated at $715 billion.
  • For the past one-, three-, and five-year periods, ESG stock and allocation fund strategies lost less money than non-ESG funds during market declines and displayed less volatility, Morningstar reports.
  • According to a Nuveen study of high-net-worth investors and financial advisors, 54 percent said they would invest their entire retirement balance into a responsible investment portfolio.

But the push for impact investing is not just about potential returns: As The Business Times notes, people worldwide want companies to reduce their impact and are becoming more aware of the role that financial institutions play when it comes to creating a sustainable future.

For instance, the movements Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion demand action from political and business leaders. And as Barron’s writes, “How a company treats essential workers has become a measure of how responsible it is. … Then came the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and the widespread protests about police brutality and inequitable treatment of people of color. Top-level executives, who once took a hands-off approach to such issues, began speaking out.”

Employees also want to work for businesses that put sustainability as one of its core values. As we’re seeing, impact investing is not just a fad — it’s an investment strategy that is here to stay for the long-term.

Interested in Impact Investing? Reach Out to The Humphreys Group Team Today

The Humphreys Group supports the increased interest in investing to promote social good. It’s one of the most effective ways we can vote with our dollars. Many of our clients are invested in ESG funds, such as the Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Leadership Fund, the Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund, Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Social Investment Funds, and Dimensional Fund Advisors’ Sustainability Funds. If you’re interested in learning more about impact investing, reach out to our team today for additional fact sheets and materials.

The Idea that Women Need “Extra Help” Understanding Their Finances is a Myth

Published in: Resources |

For 20 years, Annamaria Lusardi, an Italian-born economist and researcher, has been testing people all over the world on their financial knowledge. She has become especially well-known for constructing a financial literacy test composed of three basic questions on inflation, diversification, and compound interest. Unfortunately, only about 30 percent of Americans could answer all of them correctly. Even more alarming, however, is a sizeable gender gap: While 38 percent of men provided the correct answer to all three questions, only 22 percent of women did the same.

Research like this has fueled a newfound crusade within the financial services industry to educate women on their finances. While we submit that the gender gap in financial literacy exists, let us be clear: The idea that women need extra help understanding their finances is a myth.

A key reason why women performed worse than men on Lusardi’s financial literacy test? They disproportionately answered the test questions with “do not know.” To determine if this was truly the result of a lack of understanding, Lusardi and her research team decided to remove “do not know” as an answer option. When they did, women’s correct responses increased significantly. In fact, Lusardi estimates that half of the gap was the result of women underestimating their own knowledge!

An Unfair Advantage: The Correlation Between Financial Knowledge and Wealth

While this simple change sheds light on how often women underestimate themselves, it did not eliminate the gender gap entirely — which means that yes, men still do appear to have more financial knowledge than women. But it’s not because women are less capable of understanding financial concepts; it’s because they’re rarely given the opportunity to learn about them in the first place.

Across the world, those with the most financial knowledge are also the most wealthy — and it turns out men are significantly wealthier than women.  As a result, a college-educated man is 45 percent more likely to understand diversification than a low-income woman with less than a high school education.  And because financial literacy is a major predictor of behaviors that accumulate money (like investing in the stock market), this lack of knowledge only exacerbates economic disparities.

Where the Financial Services Industry Gets It Wrong

The financial services industry views this disparity as an opportunity to “swoop in and rescue” women from the unfortunate situation in which they find themselves. Advisors cite less financial education, a longer life span, and lower salaries as evidence that women need help understanding and managing their money, and proudly present themselves as the solution. Large firms, eager to build their clientele, now offer internal workshops on how to deliver “female-friendly” financial advice, complete with patronizing sales pitches. And a new flock of financial gurus have now made a living off of selling books that are unhelpful at best, and sexist at worst.

Women Are Taking Initiative and Fixing the Financial Literacy Gap Themselves

Fortunately, women already know they need to learn more about money and are taking it upon themselves to fix it. Financial wellness programs have seen an encouraging uptick in female participants in recent years. In 2014, Financial Finesse found that women completed two-thirds of their financial evaluations, up from one-half three years before.

Many instructors have also observed that women’s willingness to seek out financial education makes them easy to teach compared to men, who are usually less likely to admit what they don’t understand. And we’re already seeing the gap closing across generations: A recent study found that the financial literacy gap between genders for those under age 35 is much smaller than the general population. Women are taking initiative, proving they do not need to be coddled and cajoled into understanding their finances.

Learn More about Money Myths with The Humphrey Group’s eBook

Of course, because this problem is largely rooted in systemic issues, many argue that education alone won’t make the financial literacy gap disappear.

This is certainly true — rather, large-scale economic change would make a huge difference in helping women become more educated about money.

But for now, we can move the needle by focusing on what we can control and take financial literacy into our hands. If you’d like to learn more about common money myths and how we can dispel them, download our free eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money.

Why You Should Frequently Revisit Your Estate Plan 

Published in: Resources |

We’ve written on the blog before about the importance of estate planning, especially for women.

Estate planning is a woman’s issue: Women often live longer than their partners — meaning that they might find themselves having to determine their partner’s financial destiny and decide how their finances will be allocated to family members, taxes, and charities.

Also, women today lead dynamic and complex work lives, building fulfilling careers but also having to step out of the paid workforce for periods of time to raise their children or take care of their parents. Such variances in employment can potentially impact a woman’s financial well-being. Therefore, estate planning plays an important role in ensuring every woman’s long-term economic security. 

Today, we’ll be taking the topic of estate planning a step further and discuss why you should frequently revisit your estate plan. 

Estate Planning: Not a “Set It and Forget It” Matter

You should revisit your estate plan every three to five years, and also after major life events, such as birth, marriage, or death. You shouldn’t just revisit your will — you should review everything in your estate plan, including the following:

  • a last will and testament;
  • revocable living trust;
  • a durable power of attorney;
  • a healthcare power of attorney;
  • living will;
  • life insurance beneficiaries;
  • retirement plans’ beneficiaries;
  • and business plans.

There are several reasons why you might want to update your estate plan — from moving to another state, to wanting to incorporate philanthropic giving in your estate plan, to wanting to include your growing family. Updating your estate plan requires serious thought — LegalZoom provides a great list of questions you might want to consider. These include: 

  1. Is there a new marriage? 
  2. Is there a new domestic partnership or a common law marriage? 
  3. Have you changed the guardian you chose for your children? 
  4. Is there a new baby or an adopted child?  
  5. Do you want to disinherit a spouse or a child? 
  6. Do you want to add or change beneficiaries, including a charity?  
  7. Have you divorced since your estate plan was made? 
  8. Do you have a blended family? 
  9. Has one or more of your beneficiaries predeceased you? 
  10. Do any of your beneficiaries have special, or changed, needs that you want your estate plan to address? 
  11. Have you moved to a new state? 
  12. Do you want a new trustee for your trust? 
  13. Have you received an inheritance or additional assets?  
  14. Do you want a new person to have power of attorney? 
  15. Do you have a living will? 
  16. Did you open a business or do you currently own one? 
  17. Are there new tax laws in place?

By answering these questions, you can ensure your wishes are clearly defined and will be carried out in the future.

Estate Planning with The Humphreys Group

In a survey by Wells Fargo, one in six older Americans said their financial documents are out of date. Many said they put off these tasks because of a lack of urgency. Yes, it can feel easier to procrastinate than have to take the time to review your estate plan, especially since it’s such an emotionally charged topic. But by putting it off, it will only create more problems later on.

The Humphreys Group understands the role of emotions in estate planning. We provide wealth management for women that blends empathy with expertise — because we know that both carry an equal amount of weight when it comes to handling money matters. 

If you’d like to discuss updating your estate plan, reach out to our team todayWe look forward to hearing from you.

The Truth About Gender Stereotypes and Mathematics

Published in: Resources |

Back in 2005, Larry Summers — then, the president of Harvard University — was asked to speak about the underrepresentation of women in science and engineering. In his remarks, he suggested that women have difficulty finding success in these fields because of innate gender differences in our mathematical abilities — he called it our “intrinsic aptitude.”

This prompted a massive outcry, in and outside the world of academia. Even after issuing an apology, the comments led to his resignation the following year. Summers likely didn’t know it at the time, but he was echoing one of the oldest gender stereotypes in the book.

And although we have decades of research disproving it time and again, one need look no further than James Damore’s 2017 Google memo — which asserts that “women are biologically less capable of engineering” — to confirm the stereotype is still alive and well.

We are officially adding our voices to the chorus: The idea that women are inherently bad at math — and anything it involves — is a myth!

Looking at the Numbers

Of all the myths we’ve chosen to bust, this is probably the one you’re most familiar with. For generations, women have been told they aren’t as skilled at math as their male peers, and as a result, they’ve been steered toward pursuing careers in the humanities rather than science, technology, engineering and finance.

People who echo Summers’ claim say research is on their side, but since the 1980s, a litany of studies have thoroughly debunked this notion. One well-known meta-analysis found that female students have consistently earned slightly higher grades than their male counterparts in all fields of study since 1914.

Yes, you read that correctly — for more than a century! And when you look at a combined high school grade point average for math and science specifically, girls have been outperforming boys for at least 25 years.

Although the gender differences are generally small, one team of researchers stated the sheer consistency of female achievement suggests their findings “should not be ignored.”

To be clear, although we earn better grades, boys still do receive higher math scores on standardized tests like the SAT, ACT and advanced placement exams. But the gap has grown smaller over time — in the early 1980s, there were 13 boys for every girl who scored above 700 on the SAT math exam. That ratio has now shrunk to about three to one. Clearly, it won’t be long before this gap is closed entirely.

When We Reinforce Gender Stereotypes, Everyone Loses

The bad news is that despite their impressive gains in test scores, girls are still internalizing the message that they aren’t as smart as the boys around them. Researchers at Dartmouth College and Northwestern University found that reminding women of gender stereotypes before an exam not only heightened their anxiety but also caused them to underutilize the regions of the brain associated with mathematical learning.

Even the mere acknowledgement of gender can hamper girls’ achievement — when female students were asked to identify their gender before taking an AP calculus exam, they performed worse than the female students who were asked to identify it after the exam. This little box is estimated to keep nearly 5,000 female students a year from earning advanced calculus credit!

Unfortunately, the consequences of these stereotypes endure long into adulthood. When those female students become adults and start to face questions about personal finance and investing, they often assume those topics require high-level mathematical expertise and doubt their ability to handle it. A 2016 survey found that when tested on financial literacy and diversification, women were much more likely than men to choose the answer “do not know.” But when researchers removed this option as a potential answer, the chances of women choosing the correct response increased significantly.

So, how do we make sure this myth stays in the past, where it belongs?

In Our Experience

Mathematical expertise is not an innate characteristic; it’s a skill set that improves with effort and practice. Even if you still have nightmares about your high school algebra class, you are capable of learning about the fundamentals of investing.

That said, you don’t have to know it all. The financial media is full of superfluous terminology and analysis, which can give a lot of women the false impression that they’re too dimwitted to understand the field. In truth, there are only a few key principles you need to understand to be a good investor.

On a personal note, Diane Bourdo, president of The Humphreys Group, was an English major as an undergrad and refined the art of avoiding math and science during her tenure at the University of Wisconsin. Fast forward to a few years later, and she discovered the absolute joy and certainty of calculus! The precision of math came as a relief after so many years of free-form essay exams.

Want to learn more about money myths? Download our free eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money and/or reach out to us today.

Rewriting the Rules: Dispelling the Myths Around Women and Investing

Published in: Resources |

When a Washington, D.C-based nonprofit held a series of investment seminars for women nurses at a local hospital, only one or two nurses showed up. But when the nonprofit team changed the names of the seminars, emphasizing the words “financial security” instead of “investing,” suddenly the room filled up with attendees.

This story highlights that women are interested in investing. They just see the concept in a different light or associate it with a different name.

That’s right: The idea that women aren’t interested in investing is a myth.

The Investing Industry Was Created “By Men, For Men”

Sallie Krawcheck, Wall Street veteran and CEO of Ellevest, likes to say that the investing industry was created “by men, for men,” and therefore defaulted to their preferences and characteristics. She points out how the industry places special importance on trading to beat a market index, rather than doing so to accomplish a specific goal, and is overrun by the financial media, which closely resembles sports networks.

Until recently, most firms seemed to focus primarily on male clientele and often relied on financial jargon that men seem to have a higher tolerance for. And then there’s the industry symbol of a bull — a figure that is literally masculine by definition.

Given all this, it makes sense that women haven’t been particularly enthralled with what most investment firms are offering.

Other Industries Have Also Historically Omitted the Female Perspective

The investment world isn’t the only industry that’s designed this way, of course. Design, business, media and technology have also historically omitted the female perspective. Some female entrepreneurs argue that as a result, men move through the world unaware that it’s been designed for their comfort, while women move through the world encountering small, daily points of friction or discomfort. The pain points they encounter in the investment world are especially detrimental, however, because their financial wellbeing impacts their livelihood.

Fortunately, now that women’s economic influence is growing, it appears investing is the next hurdle they are ready to jump. In 2015, Merrill Lynch found that just over 50 percent of women said they wanted to participate in making changes to their investment approach — nearly mirroring the 55 percent of men who said the same.

And when Fidelity asked what women would most like to learn with 60 minutes of professional financial advice, the first choice listed by women in every age group was “learning more about how to invest my money.” It’s clear that women are more ready than ever to carve out their place in the world of investing.

Like the nurses who attended the educational workshops referenced earlier, we’ve also found that women become especially engaged in financial planning when they realize investments can serve as a vehicle to care for their families, reflect their values and give them peace of mind.

Call it what you will — investing, financial security, asset management — but when women make this connection, chances are they’ll enjoy it more than they ever expected.

Keep The Conversation Going About Money Myths

If you’d like to learn more about money myths and how we can rewrite the rules, download our free eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money. Also consider attending one of our Conversation Circles, where we have authentic discussions about money and everything that comes with it — our fears, our successes, our memories, and the attitudes, behaviors and legacies we’ve adopted over the years.

Easing Tensions Around Family Inheritances 

Published in: Resources |

At The Humphreys Group, we know how much our early personal experiences, family histories, and backgrounds can affect how we view money in adulthood. This is especially true when it comes to handling family inheritances.

Sibling Dynamics and Family Inheritance

Let’s say your grandparents tended to show favoritism toward your older sister. Or your brother got a new car for his sixteenth birthday, and you didn’t. Or your parents always went to your sister’s soccer games, but not yours. This longstanding sibling tension and resentment can play itself out in family inheritance discussions 

As Amy Castoro, a family wealth coach and president and chief executive of the Williams Group, aptly said in the New York Times, “So if one son is designated as the executor of a parent’s estate, the other son or daughter are looking at him saying, ‘That guy cheated at Monopoly our whole life. Why would I trust this guy now?’” 

In a 2019 TD Wealth survey, nearly half of estate planning experts identified family conflict as the biggest threat to estate planning. Designation of beneficiaries was the most common cause of conflict. Other sources of conflict included not communicating the plan with family members and working with blended families. 

How Gender Plays a Role in Family Inheritances

At The Humphreys Group, we also know that family conflicts can arise from issues related to gender, too.

Parents might have gender biases around who manages the inheritance or legacy, thinking their sons are more up to the task. But, as we’ve noted in our eBook Rewriting the Rules: Telling Truths About Women and Money, women are smart and responsible with money, and they have the financial confidence and insight needed to be a trustee. Unfortunately, these gender biases and unfair treatment can start when we’re youngSeveral studies reveal jarring differences in the ways parents talk about money with their sons vs. their daughters.

But it doesn’t just stop at hidden gender biases. Women are also more likely to be their parents’ caregivers, and it can be frustrating when they don’t see their unpaid caregiving work reflected in their parents’ inheritance plans. 

Tips On Navigating Inheritance Tension

So how can family members navigate these challenges? Here are some tips.

1. Parents should clearly communicate their plan. Why do most generational wealth transfers fail? It’s often because of poor communication. Don’t leave your arrangements a surprise until your death. Have a family meeting — quarterly or annual meetings — so your family members completely understand how much of the wealth they will or will not receive. Explain what you’re trying to accomplish with your estate plan. 

2. Listen to each other and respect one another. This applies to both the heirs and the executors. Listen, don’t interrupt, don’t be judgmental, and try seeing things from their point of view

3. Parents should draft an estate plan. If you pass away without a will, then all the decisions are left up to the state in which you reside. By drafting an estate plan, you can ensure the assets are divided the way you want.

4. Hire a financial advisor or other professional to mediate and facilitate these conversations. With an unbiased, objective financial advisor involved, you will be able to create a broad plan that covers everyone’s concerns.

5. Revisit your planIt’s important to revisit your estate plan when there’s new tax legislation or a change in your family situation — such as a birth, death, marriage, or divorce. Keep everyone up to date on these changes. 

Want to further discuss how to navigate difficult conversations about estate planning? Reach out to our team today, or attend one of our Conversation Circles, where we have authentic, personal conversations about money — beyond the numbers.

Policy News: Paycheck Protection Program Changes

Published in: Resources |

Since the March 27 passage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as part of the massive CARES Act, the Small Business Administration (SBA), which administers the program, has approved some 4 million loans totaling $511 billion through May 23. At that time, according to an article released by the AICPA, about $138 billion remained available for additional lending to small businesses. 

As with any government program that rolls out as quickly as the PPPapplicants reported numerous glitches and uncertainties while navigating the application process through their approved business lenders. Additionally, many questions surrounded certain aspects of the loan forgiveness provision, one of the principal attractions of the PPP. In its original form, the program offered forgiveness of the loan as long as at least 75% of the proceeds were used for payroll purposes (including certain employee benefit programs). But many small businesses and industry groups advocated for greater clarity in how the provisions of the loans would be interpreted and enforced. They also wanted to see some changes in the terms of the program. 

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA)

In response, the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) of 2020 was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Trump on June 5. Reacting to advocacy by industry groups, the bill makes some significant changes to the existing PPP, including:

  • Extending the period of time for borrowers to expend the funds from eight weeks to 24 weeks, or December 31. Borrowers who choose to retain the eight-week period have the option to do so;

 

  • Lowering the requirement that 75% of funds be used for payroll purposes in order to receive forgiveness to 60%. However, the new law requires that the entire 60% be expended on payroll expenses in order to receive forgiveness; formerly, the amount forgiven was reduced by however much the expenditures were less than 75%;

 

  • Borrowers have the entire 24-week period to restore their staffing levels to pre-COVID-19 levels. Previously, the deadline was June 30;

 

  • The new program provides two exceptions by which employers can still achieve full forgiveness of the loan even if they do not restore their employment to pre-pandemic levels: In addition to previous guidance, which provided that employees who refused a good-faith offer to return to work at their previous wage levels could be excluded from calculations for forgiveness, the new law provides adjustments for employers who are unable to find enough qualified employees to reach pre-pandemic levels and also for businesses that can demonstrate inability to return to pre-pandemic levels of operation because of economic hardships imposed by the pandemic;

 

  • The repayment period has been extended from two to five years (still at a 1% interest rate);

The new law allows for delayed payment of payroll taxes.

There is also a new, 11-page application for loan forgiveness. Additional information is available on the SBA website here. 

These changes have been generally welcomed by industry observers. However, uncertainties still remain. In a June 8 interview with ThinkAdvisor, attorney Veena Murthy indicated that the SBA should clarify whether, in addition to retaining the eight-week period for expending loan funds, employers can also retain the eight-week period for completing the rehiring process. “If the point of the law was ‘flexibility,” she says, then keeping the eight-week period should mean the borrower can also keep other aspects related to that period on which they’ve been making decisions all along.” 

Additionally, questions have arisen about certain enforcement policies that will be used by the SBA. On June 1, the SBA released statement in the Federal Register stipulating that loans of any size may be audited at the SBA’s discretion. If the documentation reveals that the recipient may not be eligible for the program, for the loan amount granted, or for the amount of loan forgiveness applied for, the SBA can direct the lender to refuse the application for loan forgiveness. It is likely that this wording is intended to signal that the SBA will be on the alert for possible fraud and that borrowers with good documentation who made an innocent mistake in their application will receive the benefit of the doubt. But this still points to the importance of applicants maintaining complete documentation for both the application and the communications around it. We’ll be sure to update you with additional information that may be released regarding PPP changes, and how they may affect business owners specifically. 

An Operational Update

As you may know, offices in San Francisco have been given the go ahead to reopen, with certain safety and social distancing protocols in place. You will hear more from us on this issue in the coming weeks, but our reentry into our physical offices will be delayed for the time being. We are actively talking about this process and are trying to address certain obstacles — public transportation chief among them. While we are eager to work together in person again, our priority is the safety of our team and our clients. In the meantime, we will continue to be fully available via Zoom and online. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have about this, or any other matter.

Why Women Need a Will in Place

Published in: Resources |

It can be hard for everyone — both parents and children — to talk about wills, especially now during COVID-19 when stress and anxiety is so high. But it’s important to have this conversation. An estate attorney can walk you through the process of establishing a will, trust and other important estate documents.

What Happens When You Don’t Have a Will?: An Overview

If you’re a parent, the most important purpose of a will is that it enables you to designate a personal guardian for your children. Without a will, it’s up to a judge to appoint their guardian. The judge must always act in the best interests of the children and will do their best to learn about your wishes before making a decision — but when the wellbeing of your children is at stake, it’s worth saving them the guesswork.

When it comes to your assets, if you die without a will in place, they will be subject to your state’s laws of intestacy, which serve as default rules of distribution after death. Typically, these laws distribute property to your spouse and/or your blood relatives. While that’s all well and good for some, there’s a decent chance you won’t agree with some of the distributions your state directs. If you wish to provide some of your assets to an old friend, for example, or donate to charity, these distributions cannot be made without a will in place.

What’s more, if you have no surviving spouse or children, the intestacy laws will look to your next of kin to distribute property. If your only remaining family members are distant relatives, the state will view them as next in line to inherit your assets … and most people don’t typically envision their hard-earned savings going to their second cousin twice removed.

The Financial and Emotional Costs of Not Having a Will

Not having a will may actually be more expensive in the long run. Without a clear indication of your wishes, delays and legal costs are likely to add up as your estate makes its way through the legal system. Unfortunately, not having a will also opens the door to potential family disputes, further complicating the process and adding another emotional layer to what is likely already a difficult time for your family. 

You Can Always Change Your Mind

If you’re not familiar with the legal or financial world, the process of establishing a will can seem intimidating. Creating a will can also be daunting if you’re unsure of what kind of legacy you want to leave.

If you’re feeling indecisive, rest assured that your will isn’t set in stone until your death. You can always change your mind and create a new will in the future, which can supersede the old one. One way to get past paralysis in making such big decisions is to just think about what you want to happen in the next 5 years. That can make it less daunting for parents and make it easier for them to move forward.

If you have any questions about creating a will or updating your estate plan, reach out to our team today.