Family Planning

 

Reaching the part of life where planning really matters, the earlier you establish a strategy and begin to implement it the more prepared you will be when the time comes and it is put to the test.

There are many vehicles available to help in the transition from one style of living to the next. There will be expenses to incur, affairs to get in order for those that are following behind you, and assets to translate into the most effective forms of value.

We have put together a team to help you evaluate your current financial climate and how to maximize the benefits of what you have accumulated and established throughout the years of your life. You will be able to discover the many ways to position yourself, and your family, to provide the most comfort and security possible in the time of need, whether current or future.

Please contact your Assisted Living Services Of Florida advisor immediately to get FREE dedicated help for you and your loved one to get established in the most timely and efficient manner.

Annuities And CD Alternatives

 

The average number of seniors that are in bankruptcy has already surpassed the 178% bankruptcy rate for Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 between the years of 1991 and 2007.

According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the average American married couple requires approximately $197,000 to cover health care costs, which does not even take into account the overall cost for nursing home care.

Extraordinarily high healthcare costs are a major problem, but an annuity (when properly used) can help seniors alleviate the high costs that are associated with healthcare for the elderly.

What is an annuity?

 

In short, it’s a agreement between you, the annuity owner, and your insurance company. Your insurance provider will return your payment/investment and will agree to give you either a constant stream of income or a one-time financial payout at a pre-designated time in the future (usually after you retire from the workforce).

The type of annuity you require solely depends on numerous dynamics, the most important being your age.

What are the types of annuities?

 

There are several types of annuities:

  • Immediate annuities – By using an immediate annuity, you will begin to receive payments instantly after making your first payment. Immediate annuities are the prime choice for individuals who require instant income from their annuity.
  • Fixed – Has two forms: single premium and flexible premium.  Single premium allows one lump sum and no additional.  Flexible premium allows fuure additional deposits.
  • Fixed indexed -Fixed has two forms: single premium and flexible premium as above.  Then there are crediting methods to derive interect credits.
  • Variable annuities – These are not guaranteed, have sub accounts like mutual funds and their value changes daily with the stock and bond market
  • Deferred annuities – With a deferred annuity, you will receive payments at a later date, usually after you retire. Some deferred annuities from one month to a year, will allow for orderly withdrawal payments that will begin 30 days after the purchase of your annuity, up to approximately 10% per year on the average. With a deferred annuity, you have the luxury of either investing a lump sum or making periodic payments that are either fixed or adjustable. This money will grow tax-deferred until you opt to begin receiving payments. Studies have revealed that deferred annuities encompass the bulk of all annuity sales in the United States, and are without question appropriate for the long-term costs of healthcare for the elderly.

What are the advantages of annuities?

 

All-new guidelines from the United States federal government state that deferred annuities can be used as a form of payment for healthcare for senior citizens very simple. Thanks to the Pension Protection Act of 2006, seniors can use annuities to pay premiums for long-term care insurance.

Without question, this is a huge tax-advantage for annuity users. Before 2006, the IRS considered annuity payments as gains, and were taxed according to conventional income tax amounts. However, with this new pension act, those withdrawals are completely tax-free.

Are annuities guaranteed and if so how?

 

Fixed annuities are guaranteed by the insurance company that issues them, reinsurance from other companies, reserves of the issuing company and the Florida life and health guarantee association.

Are all policies fully protected?

 


There are limits to FLAHIGA
coverage set by the Florida Legislature through the FLAHIGA Act. A policy must meet coverage requirements, and there are limits to the amounts FLAHIGA pays as a maximum. If your insurance company fails, the maximum amount of protection provided by FLAHIGA for any one person is:

Life Insurance Death Benefit: $300,000 per insured life
Life Insurance Cash Surrender: $100,000 per insured life
Health Insurance Claims: $300,000 per insured life
Annuity Cash Surrender: $250,000 for deferred annuity contracts per contract owner
Annuity in Benefit: $300,000 per contract owner

Some annuities have a provision to provide liquidity for long term care confinement, home health care, and terminal illness, and some have an ‘income doubler’ that doubles your lifetime income if you are confined to a LTC facility.

The simple way to use annuities

 

The simplest method of using annuities to pay for continuing health care is to ultimately purchase a “hybrid” insurance policy which includes annuities, as well as life insurance which includes long-term coverage. By doing so, you can use the proceeds for healthcare costs if you need them and for other needs if you do not.

Please contact your Assisted Living Services Of Florida advisor immediately in order to speak with a certified financial expert who will help you and your family get positioned properly and effectively for the future.

 

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Estate Planning


Estate planning is NOT solely for individuals that are rich and/or own an abundance of properties. Quite literally, estate planning is for everyone, and regardless of your financial situation, there are certain assets that are in your name. No matter how many assets you own or how little, you have an estate.

You need to plan your estate properly, and for it to function in your best interest, you need to detail instructions that state the following:

  • Who receives what in your estate.
  • When they receive it.

Planning and providing these details in every aspect of your estate, everyone will receive exactly what you have in mind for them.

Instructions To Include In Your Estate Plan

  • Words of wisdom and advice.
    • You need to include final advice to every one of your family members. This advice could be anything; from telling your grandchildren the importance of a college education for telling your children to continue working hard.
    • Estate planning is not just about passing along your wealth; it is also about passing along your values.
  • The naming of a guardian as well as an inheritance manager for children that are minors.
  • A method of providing for loved ones that have special needs without interfering with their government benefits.
  • Insurance plans.
    • Always include a life insurance policy as a way to help your family monetarily after your death.
    • Take out a disability income insurance policy as a replacement for your income in the event that you cannot work because of an injury or illness.
    • Put in place a care insurance policy that will help to pay for your disability in the event that you have a prolonged sickness and/or injury.
  • A plan of action that will transfer the assets of your business to family members (or member if the case may be) of your choice after your death, disability, or even retirement.

As stated, (and as you can now see), creating an estate plan is for everyone. Unfortunately, many people do not create an estate plan until it is too late, and when something happens to individuals that have not created an estate plan, the state usually decides what to do with their assets; and for most families they are not pleased with the results.

If you do not have your own personal estate plan:

  • Disability: If you cannot conduct business as usual as the result of a physical or mental condition, the court will have full control of your assets. They will decide how your assets will provide care for you by a conservatorship or a guardianship. This can become quite expensive not to mention time-consuming, it can be nearly impossible to end even if you recover.
  • Death: In the event that you die without an estate plan, the state will distribute your assets according to probate laws in your state. In most states, if you are married and have children, both your spouse and each of your children will obtain a share of your estate. Unfortunately, the share your family receives is at the state’s discretion (and truthfully, the share they give them may not be enough for them to live on). For minor children, the court controls their inheritance. In the event that both parents die simultaneously, the court been appoints a guardian of their choosing without knowing which guardian you would choose. Therefore, your children’s future is solely in the hands of your state’s court.

Creating Your Estate Plan: Should I Choose a Will or Living Trust?

 

To begin creating your estate plan, you must first create a will or living trust. If you decide to create a will, realize that while it does indeed provide instructions for distributing your assets accordingly, it does not avoid probate. All assets that are titled in your name and/or directed in your will have to go through your states’ probate process before the assets can properly be distributed among your heirs. From state to state, this process will vary greatly. Unfortunately, due to legal fees, court costs, and executor fees the process can also become very expensive.

On the average, the entire probate process can take anywhere from nine months to two years and even longer. Additionally, probate files are also open to the public. Moreover, any family members that feel they deserve a portion (or larger portion) of your assets have the ability to come forward and ask for share of your estate.

Who Controls The Entire Process

 

Due to all of the headache and “red tape” that a will entails, many families prefer to use a revocable living trust. By going this route, a revocable living trust will avoid probate at the time of your death. Additionally, a revocable living trust can also prevent complete control of your assets in the event that you are incapacitated; if you need to bring together all of your assets into one plan while at the same time ensuring maximum privacy and the ability to change your plan at any time.

The trust will also not die with you. If your assets are supposed to go to a minor, they will remain in your trust until they reach the age you wanted to inherit your assets. Additionally, your trust can also carry on long after your passing as a way of providing for loved ones with special needs. It can also protect your assets from a beneficiaries’ creditors as well as family members that are irresponsible.

Organize and Update Your Asset’s Records

 

If you passed on tomorrow, would your family know where your titles, insurance policies, and financial records are stored? More than likely they would not, yet even if they did these records may have errors on them.

By planning your estate now, you have the luxury of finding your records, locating titles, and analyzing them to discover whether or not any of them have errors on them. In short, estate planning helps you to ensure that every detail regarding your assets is accurate.

Additionally, you need to ensure that you are constantly revising and changing your estate plan as your family and financial income changes. In short, estate planning should never be a one-time event!

Is Estate Planning is Expensive?

 

Can’t afford to plan your estate? Start with what is affordable to you. For example, if you’re a single adult or have a young family, begin by writing a will, purchasing term life insurance, and obtaining a power of attorney for your assets along with decisions pertaining to healthcare.

As your needs begin the change in the state of your financial situation begins to improve, develop your plan further by obtaining the help of an attorney. They will be able to guide you through the entire process so you can know that all of your documents are properly prepared.

Begin Planning Today


The best time to begin is now. It may sound cliché, but none of us knows what tomorrow holds for us. In the near future, we may very well be deceased or unable to make decisions for not only our family, but also ourselves. Too many families find themselves unprepared when the unthinkable happens, and unfortunately, during the period of their grief they are forced to decide what will become of your estate as a whole.

Don’t let this happen to your family. No matter your age or financial situation, at least create a plan of action that will divide your assets accordingly. By doing so, you will have the peace of mind to know that no matter what happens to you in the future; your family is going to be taking care of accordingly.

 

Please contact your Assisted Living Services Of Florida advisor immediately to get FREE dedicated help for you and your loved one to get established in the most timely and efficient manner.

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Irrevocable Trusts

 

An irrevocable trust is a trust that can’t be changed or terminated without the express approval of the beneficiary. After the grantor moves all of the assets into the trust, his or her rights of ownership are completely removed from the assets as well as the trust.

This is the direct opposite of a “revocable trust,” where the grantor is allowed to make changes to the trust.

Why An Irrevocable Trust

 

Without a trust, all assets not having a named beneficiary will go through and be tied up in probate.
The major reasons for establishing an irrevocable trust is for tax and estate considerations . The way an irrevocable trust will help protect estate assets is how it removes all applications of ownership, and removes the trust’s assets away from the grantor’s taxable estate.

Assets of the following types are able to be held in a trust:

  • A business
  • Investment assets
  • Cash
  • Life insurance policies
  • Real Estate
  • Patents and copyrights
  • Valuable works of art, furniture or antiques
  • Valuable collections of stamps, coins, or other object
  • Precious metals

When do you need an irrevocable trust?

 

You should have an irrevocable trust in the form of an ILIT (irrevocable life insurance trust) when your gross estate including life insurance death benefits exceeds $2,000,000 effective January 1, 2013.

How much life insurance should i have in the ILIT?

The rule of thumb formula is: gross estate minus $2,000,000 divided by 2 = inheritance tax coverage needed.

Veterans

 

If you are a veteran with assets and want to qualify for veterans aid and attendance benefits or if you want to qualify for Medicaid to obtain long term care or assisted living benefits paid by Medicaid and not your estate.

Transfer of assets must occur 5 years prior to application to Medicaid in this case to qualify.  The other alternative to qualify for Medicaid when you have assets is to do a QIT qualified income trust, and this is expensive in attorney fees, approximately $9,000 but may be worth it depending on the care situation needed.

 

Please contact your Assisted Living Services Of Florida advisor immediately in order to speak with a certified financial expert who will help you and your family get positioned properly and effectively for the future.

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Revocable Trusts

 

A revocable trust (otherwise known as a “living trust”), is frequently used as a way to avoid probate and ultimately saving taxes after death. The revocable trust offers various advantages over a traditional will; however, there are multiple factors one must consider before ultimately deciding if a revocable trust is in your best interest in relation to your overall estate plan.

What is a Revocable Trust?

 

A revocable trust (otherwise known as a “trust agreement”) is a document that is created by you, and exists as a way for you to manage your assets during the course of your life, as well as assign your remaining assets after your death. The individual who creates a trust agreement carries the title “grantor” or “settlor.” The individual that is responsible for the administration of the trust assets also carries the title of “trustee.” You have the option of serving as a trustee, or you can alternatively appoint another person, bank, or trust company to act as your trustee. This trust is always “revocable” since you have the option of modifying or terminating the trust at any time during the course of your life; the only exception being if you are incapacitated.

Over the course of your life, the trustee will invest as well as manage the trust property. Almost all trust agreements give the grantor the option to withdraw money and/or assets from the trust of the time in any amount they desire. In the event you are incapacitated, the trustee is then authorized to continually administer your trust assets, pay bills, and fully make investment decisions.

By doing so, this bypasses the need to hire a court appointed guardian of any aspect of your property, which in turn is one of the biggest advantages of having a revocable trust.

After your death, the trustee (or, in the event that you were the initial trustee, your successor) is ultimately responsible for paying all claims and taxes, to which they will distribute your assets to each of your beneficiaries as stated in the trust agreement.

Each of your assets (e.g. bank accounts, real estate property, investments, etc.) must be formally transferred to the trust before you die to obtain the maximum benefits from the trust. This process, known as “funding the trust,” requires the changing of ownership from the assets of the trust. In the event that certain assets fail to be transferred properly, these assets have the potential to be bound by probate.

When do you need a revocable trust?

 

If you want to avoid probate on assets without a named beneficiary or your gross estate including life insurance death benefits exceeds $1,000,000.

Under funding for RT, the purpose is not just to avoid probate but also to minimize inheritance taxes.  In an estate over 1 million, without a RT, everything over 1 million is subject to inheritance tax of approximately 50%.

An RT allows 2 million for a married couple to pass to heirs without tax then over 2 million the couple should add the ILIT (IRREVOCABLE LIFE INSURANCE TRUST).  The cost of an ILIT is approximately  $1,000 in attorney fees.

What is Probate?

 

At its core, probate is the court supervised management of a descendant’s estate. This process, created by state law, is in place to transfer assets from the descendant’s name to his/her beneficiaries. In each case, a personal representative is appointed to administer the estate. This process always ensures that creditors, taxes (as well as expenses) are always paid before the distribution of the estate to beneficiaries. This personal representative is always accountable to the court, as well as the state beneficiaries for his/her actions during the course of this event. In the event that probate states contain less than $75,000 of assets that are non-exempt, it is up to Florida law to provide a conventional probate process that is known as “summary administration.”

Are All Assets Subject to Probate?

 

No. Assets that are owned by descendent in his/her individual name are subject to probate. Any assets that are owned jointly as “tenants by the entirety” via a spouse, or “with rights of survivorship” via a spouse or any other person will therefore pass to the surviving owner without the need for probate. Additionally, this is the case for assets with designated beneficiaries (e.g. life insurance, retirement accounts, annuities, bank accounts, investments, etc.) that has been designated as “pay on death” or “in trust for” a pre-designated beneficiary. Assets that are held in trust will also elude probate.

How Can a Revocable Trust Completely Avoid Probate?

 

It is possible for revocable trusts to avoid probate. This is possible via affecting the overall transferal of assets throughout the course of your life to the trustee. This in turn avoids the requirement of using the probate process to transfer your assets after you die. The trustee then has the instant authority to administer the trust assets at the moment of your death: therefore, appointment by the court is not needed.

The “funding” of revocable trusts is essential to effectively avert probate. Individuals that wish to not entirely fund their trusts more often than not require both a probate administration and a trust administration to successfully allocate the assets. Because the revocable trust may not fully avoid probate, a “pour over” will is required to successfully transfer any and all probate assets to the trust after death.

How to Know if Assets are Titled Properly to a Revocable Trust?

 

Your account statement as well as your stock certificate, your title, and/or deed shall reference the trust. Alternatively, it may reference yourself as the trustee. Additionally, you may also choose to fund your trust by naming said trust as a beneficiary of life insurance or another type of arrangement. Your attorney as well as your financial advisor can assist you with the overall transfer of assets to your trust. In the event that your trust will own real estate, it is vital to have the deed prepared by an attorney. The attorney will then consider the overall impact of surviving mortgages, as well as title matters and homestead limitations when the deed is prepared.

Can the Trust Hold Title to my Homestead?

 

In various circumstances, your homestead property can be shifted to your trust. Most Florida counties have in place special requirements that maintain the homestead tax exemption. Moreover, special language may be needed in the trust agreement as well as the deed. However, homestead property runs the risk of losing its exemption from creditors when the title is seized in a revocable a trust, resulting in the bankruptcy law on this point being unsettled. Your attorney has the ability to recommend you on whether or not placing your homestead into your trust is to your benefit. If it is, they will inform you of the requirements for a binding transfer.

Do I Benefit by Avoiding Probate?

 

If you avoid probate, this may decrease the price of managing your estate as well as any time delays that are associated with the probate procedure. However, many of the costs and time delays that are associated with probate (e.g. filing a federal estate tax return) will be necessary with a revocable trust. The management of the revocable trust after death is nearly parallel to that of a probate administration. The trustee is responsible for collecting and valuing the trust assets, determining creditors and beneficiaries, paying taxes and expenses, and allocating the trust estate. The trustee is also entitled to a fee for the management of the trust, as is the private representative of the estate.

Alternatively, evading probate in various states is advantageous. Due to the nature of real estate, probate is required in every state where you on real estate. This can be avoided by reassigning possession of the real estate to your trust during the course of your life.

How are Creditors Satisfied?

 

Florida’s trust law fails to have a explicit method for finding and compensating creditors after death. Creditors have approximately two years from the descendant’s death to file a claim against the estate. The trustee may understandably be reluctant to distribute the trust assets to the beneficiaries until he/she is ultimately content that every claim has been paid. Therefore, various clients opt to create a probate estate in addition to the trust administration an order to take full advantage of the probate claim procedure. The probate law will then let the time for creditors to file claims against the estate (usually three months from the date of notice), but also provide a procedure for opposing claims.

Does the Trust Provide Protection From Creditor Claims?

 

In Florida, trust assets are never protected from the claims of your creditors. During your life, the assets present in your revocable trust shall be treated in the same way as if the trust were possessed via yourself, and are thus subject to your creditor in the same way as if you actually own them in your personal name. If the trust assets continue to remain in the trust after you die, the interests of the beneficiaries may be protected for various types of assets, which includes assets that are owned by a spouse as “tenants by the entirety.” Therefore, utmost consideration must be given to these assets when you decide how to fund your revocable trust.

Does the Trust Provide Protection From the Elective Share?

 

Florida law requires that a surviving spouse is permitted to a minimum percentage of the descendant’s estate (usually about 305 of the estate). This percentage usually includes certain assets that have been passed outside of probate. Usually, assets that are held in a revocable trust are subject to the elective share. Some exceptions are present to the elective share, meaning the right to receive an elective share can ultimately be renounced by the spouse. Thus, it is in your best interest to refer with your attorney in regards to the application of the elective share in your particular situation.

Who Pays Federal Income Tax on Trust Income?

 

In most cases, revocable trust is ignored for federal income tax purposes during the grantor’s lifespan. Income and deductions are reported directly on your your individual income tax return. The trust will then use your social security number as its tax identification number.

A revocable trust becomes a completely separate entity for federal income tax purposes when it becomes irrevocable. The trustee must then file an annual fiduciary income tax return. Additionally, tax income, deductions, as well as credits are thus determined in much the same way as for an individual. Trusts are also allowed a deduction for distributions to beneficiaries. By doing so, the trespasses on income as well as deductions to beneficiaries to be taxed on their personal income tax returns. Finally, income that is not distributed to the beneficiaries is ultimately taxable to the trust.

Is it Possible for Revocable Trusts to Actually Keep Estate Taxes?

 

Many times, revocable trusts are credited with keeping estate taxes, which is not completely accurate. Your interest as well as your power over the trust assets will cause the trust to be included in your taxable estate after your death. The trust can be drafted in an effort to minimize the effect of estate taxes; however, the same estate planning tactics are also available to people who choose to use a will in addition to those that choose a revocable trust.

What are the Trustee’s Responsibilities?

 

The role of the trustee is never easy. The powers and duties a trustee have will solely depend on the instructions in your trust agreement. In general, your trustee will:

  • Dispense trust income and/or principal to each beneficiary as stated in the trust agreement.
  • Make the right decisions in accordance to taxes concerning the trust.
  • Keep accurate and up-to-date records of all trust transactions.
  • Issue statements of account and tax reports to each trust beneficiary.
  • Answer any and all questions you and any beneficiary has concerning any aspect of the trust. 

Your trustee may have broad powers or very limited powers; this solely depends on the nature of the trust. In any case, your trustee is a fiduciary and likewise must always follow a strict standard of care when performing trust responsibilities.

Who May Act as Trustee or Successor Trustee?

 

Choosing the trustee is one of the most important decisions in this process, and likewise may affect the way you are taxed. Of course, you are able to name nearly anyone as your trustee, but different than  the appointment of a personal representative of a probate estate, the trustee does not have to live in Florida or even be related to you. Additionally, you can name yourself or any other individual, or even corporate trustees such as a bank or trust company.

An individual trustee can also be a family member or a friend, or even a professional advisor. Many individuals choose to appoint family members or friends as successor trustee, as they will assume responsibility for the trust management and distribution after their death (and can likewise be trusted). If a family member or friend is chosen, it is to your benefit to place consideration into the person’s qualifications, the potential for conflict with other beneficiaries, and the overall burden you may be placing on that individual. The trust agreement should also allow these individuals to hire qualified professionals to assist them in their duties as the trustee.

How do I Know What I Need?

 

A thorough review with your estate planning attorney is in order. Revocable trusts should  be enforced as an overall portion of an estate strategy. Possession of assets shall also correlate between an individual as well as trust. Any and all decisions must also be prepared regarding which shall be funded, which transfers must occur, and what asset allocation must be occasionally reviewed to understand whether or not everything is going as smoothly as possible. Tax considerations must also be discussed with qualified professionals. The trust agreement should also reflect your family economic and tax goals. A revocable trust is in place to help you accomplish your goals when properly prepared and implemented.

Please contact your Assisted Living Services Of Florida advisor immediately in order to discuss your options and begin to take advantage of them today.

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Real Estate

 

The transition into an assisted living facility can be stressful on the whole family. Family planning can play a vital role in the efficiency of the move. There are so many responsibilities and details to tend to, to make sure you are taken care of. One of these may include a house, or an apartment, or maybe even some commercial properties for a business or some other kind of real estate asset.

These investments may have been planned for for such a time, or rather may be just the right source of funding that will help to finance the move and make things comfortable and easy flowing.

There are options

You may have more choices than you think, when it comes to selling your house or property fast to help pay for assisted living. Speaking with a real estate pro will help you understand the market and how to use it to your benefit instead of be subject to the elements and it’s climate.

We all know that real estate is not the fastest paced sale to raise money for any situation. Especially with the market the way it has been, there may be some strong feelings about parting ways when looking at the potential loss of value.

 

Move Out And Move In Quickly

 

You need an expert, someone who is deeply involved in the market who can help you get the most money, and the fastest, for your property. You don’t have time, the mentality , or the budget to sit on your parents house for two years in order to squeeze every last cent out of it. The money is needed, and you might even have a loan that is based upon the property sale and you are on a deadline.

 

Please contact your Assisted Living Services Of Florida advisor immediately to get connected with the person that will help you list and sell your home quickly to give you peace of mind for the move.

 

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Wills

 

will or testament is a legal declaration where an individual, called the testator, determines by name that another individual or individuals will take care of and manage his/her estate and takes care of the transfer of property at the time of death.

Normally a will has only been applied to real property, where “testament” has been known to apply to personal property (this is where the popular title of the document known as “Last Will and Testament” has come from), however today, this distinction is very rarely observed. A will may also create a testamentary trust where only after the death of the testator will it go into effect.

Types of wills generally include:

  • Nuncupative (non-culpatory)
  • Holographic
  • Self-proved
  • Notarial
  • Mystic
  • Serviceman’s will
  • Reciprocal/mirror/mutual/husband and wife wills
  • Unsolemn will
  • Will in solemn form

Who can create a will

Contrary to what most perceptions may be during, you do not need an attorney to help in drafting a will. As long as the testator is over 18 and has a sound mind, he/she can do it them self.  Requirements may differ and depends upon the jurisdiction where the testator lives.

Please contact your Assisted Living Services Of Florida advisor immediately to get free financial guidance that will help you prepare for the future.

 

 

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