100% Expert Wealth Management
with zero percent sales pitch
Every Wealth Management conversation begins with a comprehensive assessment of your financial goals and objectives, and when-where-and-how you'd like them to occur. Next, we'll create a detailed Financial Plan to determine the savings and rate of return that's necessary for your investments to achieve your goals, and create a written Investment Policy for efficiently taking you from here to there (for more detail see "Investment Management").
Along the way, we'll guide you on matters pertaining to taxes, risk, and cash management. And, with your short, mid and long-term plans in place, we can forecast a glimpse of future generations and craft a strategy to fulfill your legacy goals as well.
Here's the process in greater detail.
The conversation of "risk" at many financial companies results in an insurance policy or annuity. At FirsTrust, we see risk as an actual issue, not a sales opportunity, and lend an unbiased evaluation and professional perspective to the subject from many critical angles:
These are important conversations to have - with an experienced, unbiased professional.
Our clients tell us some of their greatest concerns surround cash management.
First and foremost, they want to make sure their money doesn’t run out before they do; so we generate a variety of what-if scenarios to project income, and stress-test the ability of their resources to generate cash flow under multiple scenarios and over different periods of time.
Additionally, they want a reliable and consistent “flow” of cash, which is achieved by creating a sustainable process for moving cash and funding their accounts upon regular intervals.
But our clients also want to be tax efficient, so we also spend a lot of time “sourcing” their spendable income from their accounts in a manner that generates the least amount of tax burden. For many retired clients, this involves an ongoing efficiency analysis. Should your income come from investments that producer dividends and interest, or is there a more tax efficient way to generate cash flow? Should you defer withdrawals from your IRA or retirement account? Can your income be derived from capital gains at a lower tax rate?
Retirement planning begins with good math, and running some what-if scenarios will give you a good idea where you stand. The goal is to determine when you might have enough to retire under various spending scenarios and lifestyle conditions. Next, account for all expenses, especially those that could potentially grow over time to become a burden on cash flow such as future medical care - for yourself and your elders. If college education funding is a goal, this may also become an item on your cash flow projections. The next step is to conservatively evaluate all sources of income, including Social Security, and determining when to begin to receive them. Fundamentally, it makes sense to evaluate a debt reduction strategy prior to your target retirement date. Finally, as you get closer to retiring, it is important to adjust the risk exposures in your investment portfolio to make sure no last-minute market fluctuations send you back to the drawing board.
For us, tax planning evaluations take place constantly. It’s a core discipline that applies to every aspect of effective wealth management, and there’s no separating them.
Income tax planning should be more than just a year-end exercise, especially if you're retired. Should you always defer withdrawals from your IRA or retirement account? Are there deductible losses that should be used before they expire by year-end?
Investment tax considerations arise constantly, and properly re-balancing your portfolio involves an assessment of opportunities to capture gains, and sell losses, in a manner that results in minimal tax.
Estate taxes , as of this writing, are considered one of the most outrageous tax invasions ever enacted by Congress, and FirsTrust has full-time Trust & Estate Tax specialists whose job is to remain fluent with the country's most cutting edge techniques for reducing, or eliminating, our clients' exposures to state and federal gift and estate taxes. (more below)
Many years ago, when the amount a taxpayer could exempt from estate tax was only $600k, estate planning was largely about avoiding taxes. Today, with a combined exemption amount above $11 million, our estate planning specialists help clients focus their attention on some of the non-tax benefits of properly planning for the transition of wealth.
Basic Estate Planning
In the event of your medical incapacity, it is important to have properly-executed documents appointing a Financial Power of Attorney to handle your financial affairs and a Medical Directive directing medical affairs on your behalf. In addition, most people prefer to execute a Living Will instructing the physicians of your life sustaining decisions so that a loved one never has to make that difficult decision for you.
At the center of your Estate Plan is usually a Living Trust. With careful, expert planning, this type of trust can do much more than just avoid probate and direct the inheritance of your property; it can also:
Advanced Estate Planning
There are countless domestic and international asset protection strategies to guard your families’ assets against loss to creditors, predators, lawsuits, and divorcing spouses. So, when creating a trust, LLC, or partnership for these purposes, the world is your oyster; don't be surprised if the best combination of entities and laws isn't available in your own state of residence.
Each state and country's laws is different, many offer unique and valuable planning opportunities, and you are free to select those that are most favorable for your specific goals. When planning for strategic tax and asset protection objectives, the solution-process should include asking; “What’s the best type of entity to own the assets?”, and then, “Where should the entity be located?”. Our independent estate planning specialists have helped client design, establish and manage irrevocable trusts, Limited Liability Corporations, Companies and Partnerships, when appropriate, in a strategically beneficial “situs” such as Delaware, Alaska, South Dakota, Nevada, as well as several foreign countries and offshore jurisdictions.
Privacy: Privacy is one of the principal concerns among affluent clientele, and virtually every advanced planning jurisdiction that we recommend guarantees your family's privacy by law.
Serving as Trustee: In most cases, you can retain control over your estate plan and outsource the administrative duties.
Reducing taxes: Our clients don’t buy life insurance to cover an estate tax that can be eliminated through strategic planning.
Saving money: Even basic estate planning can eliminate the need for the expensive and time consuming probate process.
(See our Investment Management tab)
Watch this 2-minute video to see how we can help you achieve your financial objectives.