Estate planning for your pet

As my dear friend’s awful cancer journey neared the end, it forced her family to make the gut-wrenching decision to remove her beloved dogs from her home. The two rescue dogs, which had provided so much comfort to her throughout her life and illness, had become hazards for my walker-bound, increasingly confused friend. The family had to scramble to find homes and care providers for the dogs, which added extra stress and trauma to an already unbearably sad situation. Had she known about the possibility, my friend might have been able to mitigate some of the stress and heartache by setting up a caretaker trust for her pets. According to Wisconsin Statute 701.0408, a person can set up a trust to “provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.” In order to set up the trust, you must name both a trustee and a beneficiary, which is nice because the trustee is then required to do occasional check-ins on the pet to ensure that your pet is receiving care according to your wishes. In addition to protecting your beloved pets in the event of your death, you should also consider protecting them in case of your disability. Consider, for instance, the cost of a dog walker or kennel stay and factor that into the amount of coverage you purchase. If you have any questions regarding estate planning for your pets, please call the office. One of our advisors would be glad to run through the available options to give you and your family some peace of mind.

Random Acts of Kindness 2019

Sunday marks the 15th annual Random Acts of Kindness Day, one of the easiest holidays to celebrate. You only have to be kind in order to participate, and that’s as easy as breathing. When it comes to finances, we like to talk about the return on investments. With kindness, those measurements are extraordinarily favorable. One act of kindness can ripple out and burst into waves of happiness, especially in this globally connected society. If you don’t believe me, check out the viral numbers on videos that celebrate simple acts of kindness – a gym teacher braiding his tiny students’ hair, a returning soldier surprising her son at school,  a racer helping her competitor cross the finish line. These acts cost nothing but time and a little bit of effort. Beyond what a random act of kindness does for the recipient, it also has an immediate impact on the participant. Have you ever plugged a meter for a stranger and then just walked away? Shoveled a neighbor’s sidewalk on a dark winter morning when nobody else can see you? Left an anonymous compliment where someone was sure to find it? Scraped off the windows of the car parked next to yours? These small acts can stretch your heart and send happy endorphins cartwheeling through your bloodstream for the rest of the day. So, do yourself a favor on Sunday (and any other day you choose as well). Give a random act of kindness a whirl. Here are a few more ideas to get you started: Step aside and let someone else ahead of you in the grocery line Offer a sincere compliment Leave a nice note on a windshield Help a frazzled clerk Leave an extra tip Buy a few extra items and donate them to the food pantry Leave a little something for your postal carrier Give an extra scarf, hat or pair of mittens to someone who looks very… | Read More »

Thanks for 20 years of intelligence, efficiency and smiles

In the 20 years Beth Bauman has worked for Winch Financial, she has seen the company grow its client base, staff and level of technology dramatically, though her own job description has remained the same. “My main focus is to take care of our clients and make sure they have everything they need,” she said. “That has not changed in all the years I’ve worked here.” One of just six employees when she first started back in 1999, Beth is now a key member of a 22-person staff. Next to CEO Christina Winch and President Sam Winch, Beth has been Winch Financial’s longest tenured employee. On January 4, Beth will celebrate her 20th anniversary. “For 20 years Beth has been one of our most valuable employees,” Christina Winch said. “She is loyal, honest, intelligent, competent and kind. We all love her. She’s a very calming influence on the office and has been incredibly reliable despite any challenges she might have faced along the way.” As the company’s senior client relationship specialist, Beth extends that calming influence and efficiency to the company’s growing client base. She said she still loves her job and it’s the people that make it special. “I like that my co-workers are my friends and family,” she said. “That’s my favorite thing about working here. I also really enjoy our clients.” She begins her days early, works a full day, and runs a busy household, which includes 14-year old Savannah, 12-year old Devon, almost eight-year Violet , six-year old Mason, and her boyfriend Scott. “I get up at 5 a.m. during the week,” Beth said. “I get the kids and myself ready for the day, work from 7 to three and then run the mom taxi as often as necessary.” In her spare time, Beth knits hats, mittens, scarves, washcloths and scrubbies. Her anniversary comes during her busiest time of year at Winch Financial. She is responsible… | Read More »

Time to check your financial and emotional resources

After 2018’s roller coaster ride through the financial markets, the New Year presents an excellent opportunity to take stock of your retirement plan and maybe reallocate a resource or two. Portfolio managers commonly reallocate accounts by shifting investments based on both technical and fundamental indicators and retirement timelines. They do this throughout the year in an effort to find a prudent balance of safety and growth. But, a fresh year also offers inspiration to analyze your emotional resources and distribute them appropriately as well. If you haven’t taken a risk tolerance test in a while, now would be a good time to do that. Any investor’s ability to withstand market volatility can be affected by many variables including age, income level, budget, retirement timeline, personality and family situation. A person confident in his or her ability to absorb risk might view a steep market decline as a buying opportunity and a necessary correction of a healthy market, while another person might look at the exact same numbers and want to flee the equity market entirely in favor of cash and/or treasuries. The financial conundrum we all face is that both reactions could be correct. The age old admonishment to sell down to your sleeping point means a different alarm clock for every investor. Nervous investors with a strict retirement timetable tend to choose the slickest clock with the loudest alarm, while those who have a looser timeline and a mellower attitude might even sleep in. The point is, you have to ask yourself what type of investor you are. If volatility keeps you up at night and you’re willing to forego growth opportunities to lessen the likelihood of losing money, you may want to stick to cash or bonds. (Of course, with that choice you face another kind of risk, inflation, in which you could end up losing value in your accounts because they aren’t earning enough to keep up… | Read More »

Happy #GivingTuesday!

Of all the post-Thanksgiving hashtagged holidays, #GivingTuesday is our favorite. We like the idea of a day focused on charitable giving,  although we do urge caution at this time as well. Before you donate to any charity, we encourage you to look into its status. Is it registered with the IRS as a 501(c) (3)? What percentage of the funds raised go to overhead like salaries and marketing and what percentage funnels directly to the charity’s intent? Have you read the charity’s mission statement to be sure its goals align with yours? Because so many companies, including PayPal and Facebook, offer matching funds, Giving Tuesday offers great incentives to make a financial contribution today. But, we also urge you to pay wisely, especially for online donations. Make sure the address includes the “S” to indicate it is secure as in https:// rather than http://. Don’t donate from a public computer or using an unsecure Wi-Fi connection. If money is tight this year, there are plenty of other ways to participate. You can volunteer your time – sort food for a local pantry, ring bells for the Salvation Army, sign up for a charitable fun run, etc. You could also donate things you already have, which is often a win/win for you and the charity. Take clothes to Goodwill and slightly used coats, hats and mittens to Coats for Kids or check with your local schools or jails to see if they need donated clothing items. Food banks accept unexpired and unopened pantry items. Libraries, the Salvation Army and Goodwill all accept donations of gently used books. Even if you don’t have time today to vet a charity, or collect donations, or ring a bell you can still participate by just being kind. Wave a car into traffic, visit a lonely neighbor, compliment a worker, or call a friend.