The Keys to Protecting your Assets

If conversations about managing and protecting your assets make you feel inadequate and intimidated, you’re not alone. We sought the advice of three scouted financial advisors to help guide us away from feeling out of our element in the world of personal finance towards becoming confident money managers. Read on for some quick tips to ensure you’re keeping your assets safe so that you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes along with taking some financial responsibility. To find a scouted financial advisor near you, browse The Scout Guide Directory.

Plan for your future and theirs. While many things are simply out of our control in terms of the future, there are a few things we can do to set ourselves up for success when it comes to our financial well-being. Our experts agreed across the board that looking ahead towards retirement, the coming of age of dependents, and eventual end-of-life planning, is not only prudent but an essential exercise for the financially wise.

  • Set up a college savings plan. If you’re a parent, grandparent, or guardian, setting up a college savings account is a great way to focus on future planning. While it may seem like a distant thought to those with younger kids, it is truly never too early to start saving. Taking this advice a step further, Lis McNealey Davies, financial advisor and owner of The Arlington Group in Columbus, Ohio, recommends adding children as contingent beneficiaries to the accounts you are setting up for them. “It’s a wonderful way to educate kids on money management skills,” she shares. 
  • Make a healthy 401(k) your priority. Contributing aggressively to a 401(k) or other retirement account now is a sure-fire way to set yourself up for financial success later. McNealey Davies recommends setting up or rolling over your 401(k) as one of the top priorities when starting a new job.
  • Ensure your beneficiary status is up to date. We all go through changes in life, whether that be marriages, deaths, or births, and with these major life events comes the need assess whether or not your beneficiary still makes sense. The only thing worse than having an out of date beneficiary is not designating one at all, notes Patti Brennan, president and CEO of Key Financial, Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
  • Look ahead to your golden years. Your retirement years should be spent relaxing and enjoying time with friends and family, not worrying about your assets. All three of our experts agree that the following should be in place before that point: 
    • An updated will and power of attorney.
    • Lists of assets to trusted family members, friends, or financial advisors. 
    • Life and long term care insurance.
    • A transfer on death (TOD) designee for all accounts.

Be on the defensive. In an era when most of our lives and finances are conducted behind a screen, it’s no wonder there’s been an uptick in sophisticated cyber scams. Protect yourself from criminals by securing a financial advisor that can act as a “gatekeeper,” your first line of defense in keeping your assets and information safe, Brennan explains. Because this problem has become so pervasive in the past decade, seeking out a professional is paramount, as companies like Key Financial have specific protocols in place to safeguard clients against breaches in cybersecurity

Investing in insurance is crucial. While insurance can sometimes be an afterthought, the protection it affords is essential to your financial well-being. “I look at insurance as a long-term investment,” explains Tierney Aldridge, personal insurance advisor at Denver Agency in Denver, Colorado, and Scottsdale, Arizona. “People work hard to create wealth and legacy for their families and that should be safeguarded,” she says. Here, Aldridge recommends important policy types:

  • Home. When protecting your home, look at the market value versus the replacement cost value. It’s important to note replacement cost is what it would take to rebuild your home to its current standard. Due to increased labor costs, supply chain disruptions, and advancements in technology within our homes, replacement cost values have skyrocketed, leaving many underinsured. If families haven’t had their home values assessed for five to 10 years, it’s time for an audit.
  • Auto. The average cost of an accident across the country is much higher than the average yearly earnings of an individual, so having adequate auto liability coverage is essential. It may be wise to look into uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, a sometimes overlooked add-on, as this covers the huge expense of medical bills and lost wages.
  • Collections. For valuables like art, wine, and jewelry, it is wise to look into insuring them  separately on a valuable articles policy. This coverage is generally broader and will provide coverage for damage and miscellaneous disappearance. “Keep an updated inventory of beloved items,” Aldridge recommends. “For larger value items, have them appraised every three to five years to ensure the value is accurate.”
  • Liability. By increasing deductibles, applying cost savings to higher liability limits, families can protect themselves from financially catastrophic events. Excess liability or umbrella liability policies are affordable ways to protect assets and future earnings by extending the liability limits above homeowners and auto liability.

TSG TIP 444 from Lis McNealey Davies, financial advisor and owner of The Arlington Group in Columbus, Ohio; Patti Brennan, president and CEO of Key Financial, Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania; and Tierney Aldridge, personal insurance advisor at Denver Agency in Denver, Colorado, and Scottsdale, Arizona. The Arlington Group appears in The Scout Guide Columbus. Key Financial, Inc. appears in The Scout Guide Main Line & Philadelphia. Denver Agency appears in The Scout Guide Denver and The Scout Guide Phoenix & Scottsdale.