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Everyone Deserves Access to Estate Planning

Everyone Deserves Access to Estate Planning

We’re granted certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of financial progress. I might have taken some liberties with the third item on the list, but one could argue that finances have a direct impact on level of happiness. That’s not because people need money to be happy. It’s because the financial world can be nebulous and overwhelming, and trying to put all of the pieces together into a coherent plan is often anxiety-provoking. In fact, a recent study found that 55% of those surveyed “feel lost when it comes to a long-term and stable financial plan.”1 I believe that’s because financial literacy is not a core competency in our educational programs. We aren’t taught to create a budget or how to invest. Our vocabulary tests don’t include the terms 401(k) or annuity. And we certainly aren’t encouraged to think about what happens to all of those financial instruments when we die. I can’t augment our school curriculum, but I can help curate and broadcast financial education, particularly in the realm of legacy planning. I can also provide the tools and resources people need to develop a plan. The good news is I’m not alone in my desire to arm people with information that promotes financial progress. The other day, I discovered a highly reputable company that’s based on the same objective. Credit Karma says in its mission statement that “everyone deserves to feel confident about finances.” This company helps people achieve that confidence by offering free access to credit scores, reports and monitoring. They also make it easy (and free) to search for unclaimed money in case their subscribers are owed money they don’t know about. More on this in a minute. I wholeheartedly agree with their approach, and my LegacyShield co-founder and I are doing the same thing for estate planning. We believe that everyone should have access to what they need to create an estate plan. Just as Credit Karma believes you have a right to know if there’s an error on your credit report, we believe you have a right to protect and pass on your legacy. Why an estate plan is important Like balancing a budget or investing in mutual funds, we aren’t taught how to create a plan for our personal and financial belongings. But there are two primary reasons why it’s important. You don’t want your assets to get lost. It was hard enough in the analog age when families spent hours looking in shoeboxes and combing through filing cabinets after a loved one passed. But in the digital age, where the average person has at least 90 online accounts2, it’s near impossible for your family to track down your belongings. That’s why more than $59 billion3 of unclaimed assets are sitting in state accounts. That’s millions of dollars spread across old bank accounts, forgotten 401(k)s and tax refunds, often because the rightful owners haven’t an inkling they exist. In most areas of life, people are fully immersed in the digital age – they pay their credit card balances and deposit checks from their phones. Yet, when it comes to estate planning, many are stuck in the analog era, keeping paper proof of their life insurance policies and a hard copy 401(k) statement. Because those items are so easy to lose, we recommend creating a digital repository for all of your financial records and mementos like photos and stories. By organizing everything you have into one comprehensive list – accounts with usernames and passwords as well as family recipes – you can share an easy-to-follow roadmap with your family when the time is right. This way, your heirs know about your life insurance policy or the unpaid tax refund and can follow up with the institution directly. They know about the recipe for Grandma’s famous lemon frost cake. You’ve worked all of your life to amass the assets you have. You have a lifetime of stories to tell and recipes to share. We believe you deserve to have a plan for passing down money, stories and memorabilia to the next generation. There is another reason beyond leaving a legacy and making sure your family is taken care of. That reason is making sure you are taken care of and your wishes are respected should you become incapacitated. You can do that with the help of three documents: a last will and testament, a health care proxy and a power of attorney. A will tells your heirs what you want to happen to everything you own and value. Who do you want to have your beloved coin collection? Your health proxy designates the person who ensures those wishes are carried out. This person has access to your medical records and makes decisions on your behalf, guided by your living will. A power of attorney does the same thing for the financial side of your life. Many people don’t think of these situations as part of an estate plan, but they become essential if you’re alive but unable to think and act on your own behalf. Our Service The idea behind making financial education and planning tools accessible to everyone is that, when people have access to the right tools, they’re better able to plan for their futures. By giving advisors a way to offer an estate planning service to all of their clients, we’re giving everyone the ability to leave a legacy. When you work with us, you’ll have access to an integrated platform – where you can store and share both personal and financial information – with enterprise-grade security. We’re not the only legacy-planning solution on the scene, but what sets us apart is our belief that people need and want the help of their advisors, accountants and life coaches. We believe financial planning takes a village. It’s the reason we offer our service through advisors – to make sure you have that guidance during every step of the process.  After all, everyone deserves to feel confident about their estate plan. 1 GuideVine study via the New York Post 2 Dashlane 3 Quora
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Toys “R” Us: A Lesson in the Importance of Innovation

Toys “R” Us: A Lesson in the Importance of Innovation

Innovation. Wired has termed it the most important and overused word in America. They’re right on both counts; you can’t read an article about business growth without seeing at least one mention. But there’s a reason it’s ubiquitous. Like most buzzwords, “innovation” has become such a trendy term that, at times, its meaning is a little fuzzy. Allow me to break it down to one elemental concept: To be innovative is to be more effective than your competitors. The how is where it gets hard, mostly because it means something different for every company. Regardless of the ambiguity or uncertainty innovation represents, it is essential that you understand what it means for your business. You’ve heard of the phrase “adapt or die” in the context of evolution – in business, it’s innovate or die. Case in point: After more than 65 years of business – and after rising to the top of its vertical – Toys “R” Us is filing for bankruptcy with $5 billion in debt. According to an article on Money, the toy giant announced its plans to close all 735 of its U.S. stores (and 1,758 locations worldwide, according to Wikipedia). CEO of Bratz Dolls Isaac Larian and other investors have pledged $200 million in a crowdfunding campaign as a desperate last-ditch effort to keep half of the U.S. stores open, and #SaveToysRUs is trending on social media. But, despite this movement, it’s unlikely the campaign will reach its $1 billion goal. Even if it does, it seems a lot like delaying the inevitable. But why? What went wrong? Quite a few things, most of which fall under the category of lack of innovation. While Toys “R” Us certainly faced disruption from online retailers, saying Amazon put them out of business is at best a gross oversimplification of the story. The idea that online is phasing out retail is simply not true. In fact, even Amazon made a big move toward a physical presence with its recent multibillion-dollar Whole Foods purchase. Consumers are telling business leaders that they want brick-and-mortar stores for the experience and interaction, and Amazon listened. If Toys “R” Us had created a store experience that captivated children and connected that to a consumer-centric online platform that let parents and kids decide how and when to engage, the toy giant certainly could have remained successful. Another idea might have been leveraging or partnering with YouTube. In recent years, it’s become popular for kids to post videos of themselves playing with their toys, and Toys “R” Us could have used the platform to spot trends and inform their marketing strategy. But they refused to change, to innovate. They relied too heavily on their past success and failed to realize the world around them was evolving. Innovation is difficult and uncomfortable, but we’re seeing traditional retailers evolve with help from smaller, nimbler partners. It’s much like the story of David and Goliath. David was small but inventive while Goliath, though much stronger, relied too heavily on his size. The traditional retailers who are successful are realizing what they can accomplish by partnering with disruptors rather than competing with or ignoring them. They’re combining their strength of reputation with new ideas and ingenuity for overall effectiveness. The key is to choose that partner wisely. You need an ally who understands your industry and can offer innovation that allows your business to thrive. LegacyShield understands your needs and the industry, and we have the capability to bring the innovation the market is demanding. The world is changing. We at LegacyShield want to help you be a part of that change. LegacyShield is a state-of-the-art platform on which you can offer your solutions, interact with customers and provide a place for them to organize their financial lives.  
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Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience

Delivering an Exceptional Customer Experience

Whether you’re an independent advisor or part of a larger firm, you know how important the customer experience is to your success in attracting and retaining clients. What does an exceptional customer experience look like?
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Transforming the Life Insurance Experience

Transforming the Life Insurance Experience

Innovation and advances in digital technology are happening all around us. And while much of the innovation in the life insurance industry thus far has taken place on the back-end, i.e., improved processing and information gathering, the front end of life insurance still looks very much the same as it always has. Unfortunately, the consumer market has dramatically changed. We are now looking at Millennials being the largest population group, finally surpassing Baby Boomers in 2016 according to a Pew Research Center Study. Why is this critical for the life insurance industry?
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The “I Need It” Trap 

The “I Need It” Trap 

I admit it. I’ve done it. And I’ll bet you’ve done it, too. We’ve probably all at one time or another said, “I need” when what we really meant was, “I want.” There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting something. It only becomes a problem when someone is unable to discern between wants and needs, and financially overreaches to pay for wants he or she believes are needs.
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