Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Life Plan Insurance – When Life Changes So Should Your Insurance Coverage

Like all aspects of your finances, your life plan insurance needs can change. We should regularly review your insurance coverage to ensure it offers the best possible protection. When life changes so should your insurance coverage. Your evolving insurance needs depend on your current and changing life situation and your financial goals. Our review should be based on an exploration of the key aspects of your life plan and life plan insurance needs. Here are three to consider.

1. Life events - Some of the key developments that can call for life plan insurance changes can include marriage, divorce and a change of income. For example, perhaps you need to increase insurance coverage because your family is larger and you want to leave more for your heirs. Alternatively, perhaps you no longer have a need for as much insurance because you’ve built up wealth, paid off your mortgage and your kids have finished their schooling.

A review of your life plan insurance might even reveal how we can save you money on life insurance coverage. So for instance, if your health has changed for the better by losing a great deal of weight, your high cholesterol has dropped or you’ve quick smoking — we might be able to take advantage of the breaks on life plan insurance premiums some insurers offer under those circumstances.

2. Beneficiaries may change over the course of your life. One thing we should always review is your beneficiaries. Since they’re the ones who receive the proceeds of your policy, it’s important that we always make sure they’re who you want them to be and that you’re taking care of them in the best way possible.

You may want to make beneficiary changes as you go through life, to accommodate new children or grandchildren or even to leave insurance proceeds to your estate so they can be distributed through your will. It depends on your current and changing situation and your financial goals.

3. Your financial situation circumstance could affect your life plan insurance needs. We should explore your insurance coverage in relation to your overall financial picture. Remember, insurance is just one part of a long-term financial strategy, which means the coverage that’s right for you depends on other aspects of your financial life.

If your life insurance policy includes an investment component, we can explore how it fits in with your overall plan. We’ll examine its investment performance and consider the best ways to use the cash value.

Together, we can determine whether the types of policies and the levels of coverage you already have are still appropriate for you and your family. If changes are appropriate, we’ll make recommendations. Let’s discuss your life insurance coverage at least once a year. Then you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re well covered.

For more information about life plan insurance and keeping your insurance coverage current please contact Gary Mandel by calling (416) 849-1653 or by visiting  

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Beneficiary Designation – Should Your Life Insurance Beneficiary be an Individual beneficiary or your Estate?

Your beneficiary designation will determine who benefits from your estate in the event that you pass away. When buying life insurance, most people assume it’s best to name an individual beneficiary — for example, a spouse or a child. However, there are times when it makes more sense to have the proceeds of your policy go to your estate. This means making your beneficiary designation your estate and not an individual.

Here are the ins and outs of leaving your life insurance to your estate. Naming an estate as your beneficiary designation can be a good choice when you want the proceeds to meet non-traditional life insurance needs — meaning, other than to provide for a spouse or children - or needs that go beyond individual beneficiaries.

When your beneficiary designation is your estate, the proceeds of the policy are distributed according to the terms of your will, along with your other property. Your insurance proceeds are brought together with all your other assets.

Consider whether you think you’ll need to change your estate plan as you move through life. Naming your estate as your beneficiary means changes can be made more simply: through your will. You won’t have to worry about changing beneficiaries on insurance policies.

Here are some other reasons you might want to consider naming your estate as your life insurance beneficiary. You can use this strategy to:

Leave money to charities. You can specify in your will how much of your estate goes to each charity and change your instructions at any time, without naming charities as life insurance beneficiaries. Set up a trust. Leaving cash to an estate can sometimes make it easier, as the will can dictate the setup of trusts for children. This can be useful when you want to specify how money left to children is to be spent or to make provisions for children to receive funds when they reach a certain age.

Pay expenses. You can use life insurance proceeds to pay costs associated with your estate. These can include final expenses, debts and tax liabilities. There are a couple of caveats you should be aware of when considering naming your estate as the beneficiary of your insurance policy. They include the fact that policy proceeds (along with the rest of your estate) may be reduced by the cost of probate — the legal process that validates the authenticity of a will. Probate can also delay distribution of assets and your estate may be subject to legal claims from creditors.

However, under the right circumstances, the advantages of naming an estate can outweigh these considerations. If you name your estate as a beneficiary, it’s important to make sure your will is always up to date.  Together, we can explore when and where insurance proceeds will be needed and determine whether naming your estate as beneficiary makes sense for you. For more information about beneficiary designations and whether to name an individual as your life insurance beneficiary or your estate contact Gary Mandel by calling (416) 849-1653 or by visiting

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Retirement Planning in Canada - How to Talk to Your Parents About Their Retirement Plans

At some point, you’ll need to have “the talk” with your parents about their finances and their financial future. Retirement planning in Canada is the only way for them to keep their financial future on a solid foundation and for you to prepare yourself to provide the help they might need as they grow older.

Helping your parents make a retirement plan is about their needs, not yours, and retirement planning is not always an easy discussion to have. Parents may see your attempt to discuss their retirement plans as an intrusion - especially in families where talking about money is taboo. They may even fear that you’re trying to take control of their money. But it’s important because one or both of your parents may become ill or incapacitated and unable to manage their finances in the future.

In addition, the health care in Ontario leaves much to be desired and so if your parents want to retire in comfort, a strong retirement plan will be key. Retirement planning in Canada could consider their life insurance needs, long term care planning, critical illness coverage and more. It all depends on your parent’s health, financial circumstances and future desires.

They should be aware that without thoughtful planning, how they are cared for at that time could be entirely out of their control. It’s about their needs, their comfort and how they want to be cared for.

Don’t wait for a crisis. Talking to your parents and planning ahead for their retirement will help make sure their wishes are carried out, and potentially eliminate squabbles among family members if your parent’s wishes aren’t clear.

Retirement planning in Canada is really important and helping your parents see the benefits when making their retirement plans can make the conversation much easier.

You can avoid problems and alleviate worries concerning their retirement planning by showing your parents the benefits of sharing their financial information. Let them know that it will be easier for you to help them in the future if you have the information now. Stress that it’s important for them and their family, financially and emotionally. Some discussion points when discussing retirement planning in Canada include:

• Do your parents have up-to-date wills? If so, where are they kept?

• Do they each have powers of attorney (both for property and health care)?

• Who are the executors in their wills, and has this decision been reviewed lately?

• Will they have enough funds to continue living comfortably? To plan, they need to provide details of assets, liabilities, income and expenses, and details of financial accounts — or at least where accounts are held. As well, contact information for financial and legal advisors is necessary.

Don’t be afraid to seek expert advice. We can prepare you for a talk with your parents about finances. And if it will help, we can be part of the discussion. For more information about retirement planning in Canada and helping your parents make their retirement plans contact Gary Mandel by calling (416) 849-1653 or by visiting

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

What Are Segregated Funds? We Make Sense of Segregated Funds, an Emerging Market and High Yield Investment

Many investors think of emerging markets only as stock market investing opportunities. But did you know that in recent years emerging bond markets have produced consistently strong returns? Currently, a growing selection of Canadian segregated funds can help you benefit from these returns and at the same time increase the diversification of your fund portfolio.

More to choose from and contrary to what many believe, emerging market bonds aren’t as risky as they once were and have proven to be a high yield investment.

Segregated funds don’t have to be confusing. A large percentage of emerging market bonds are higher-quality “investment grade,” unlike a decade or so ago. According to a major U.S. financial institution survey, 56% of emerging markets bonds is now investment grade, up from 17% in 1998. Plus, the difference in yields between emerging and developed markets can be considerable — often double or more for similar government bonds. For example, according to Bloomberg data, as of January 31, 2011, 10 year U.S. treasuries yielded 3.4%; meanwhile, 10 year government of Brazil bonds yielded 13%. That can make a significant difference in your portfolio’s fixed-income returns.

Certainly, part of that yield difference stems from the fact that emerging market bonds must pay higher interest to compensate investors for the risk of investing in emerging countries. Many emerging countries have environments of chronically higher interest rates, in which bonds must compete for investors’ cash. Latin American economic powerhouse Brazil, where central bank rates are among the world’s highest, is an excellent example.

Foreign-exchange risk must also be factored into your decision. Yet Brazil, like several other emerging economies, has had its sovereign credit ratings upgraded in recent years. The reason is emerging market governments and central banks have become much better at managing economies
and tempering boom-and-bust cycles.

In fact, some emerging economies fared better than their developed counterparts during the recent recession and have since returned to much higher growth rates. Finding opportunity in segregated funds emerging debt markets can be difficult to navigate. We recommend the professional money management of segregated funds that invest in emerging market bonds.

The selection of segregated funds available to Canadians is growing in recognition of the fact that emerging market securities are in demand and that they offer Canadians an alternative to traditional developed country bonds or corporate bonds.

Emerging market bond funds usually focus on bonds issued by governments, although some may hold debt issued by corporations. They typically aim for a combination of income and capital growth through potential appreciation in bond prices. We should look for funds that diversify holdings among geographic markets and bond types to help maximize returns and manage risk. You can also get exposure through international funds that hold debt securities of both developed and emerging markets.

We’ll be pleased to show you how emerging market bond funds can help boost your fixed-income returns, improve the diversification of your overall portfolio and help you reach your financial goals.

For more information about segregated funds and high yield investments please contact Gary Mandel by calling (416) 849-1653 or visit