Craig has been serving his clients for over a decade and is a founding partner of Mergent Group. As a CFP® professional, he believes that this symbol stands out as a mark for providing the best possible financial advice for clients.
Craig came from the aviation industry, which he believes is very similar to the principles of planning since going from one place to another, especially long journeys, require detailed planning and resources so that the destination can be reached with adequate reserve.
Attention to detail, good listening skills and great empathy are symbols of appreciation by his clients. He is effectively supported by a team of specialists in the investment and administration areas whose teamwork and professionalism help him build long-term relationships with his growing client base and provide excellent customer service.
Craig is a proud recipient of Excelsior College's Bachelor of Science degree and the University of Georgia's Graduate Certificate of Financial Planning. His focus is on professional Aviators, Doctors and health practitioners, and special needs families. He is an active member of the Dallas Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, and regularly gives talks to non-profit groups such as the YMCA and AARP.
Craig has been a professional aviator for over 25 years obtaining his first license in High School, and has been a member of the Aircraft Owner's and Pilots Association since 1986. He has been passionate about aviation his entire life and if you ask will be happy to tell you about aviation. He is currently rated as an Airline Transport Pilot, and has qualified on the Boeing 737, 727, Learjet 60, and Challenger 604/605. He has operated as a Captain, and an Pilot Instructor with examiner authority (simulator) for the FAA, European, and Hong Kong aviation authorities.
Craig is happily married to his lovely wife Rene and has two great sons. Away from the business, Craig enjoys spending time outdoors with his family, flying, and participates in the Dad's club of his son's school.
BS, Interdisciplinary Studies, Excelsior College
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The death benefit is the amount the insurance company pays at the death of the insured. In a term policy, it is normally a fixed number. In a policy that accumulates a cash balance, it can fluctuate based on the design. Understanding the basics of insurance is difficult at best, and normally life insurance should be considered in most cases an income replacement policy. In other cases, it is used for legacy and estate tax uses, and to fund buy/sell arrangements. It can be term or permanent, meaning for the lifetime of the insured in the latter case. So what is the cash value? It is the excess amount of premium paid to the policy that is above the normal expenses found in the policy. The cash value is designed to help "pay up" the premium for future years if there is enough. The cash will accumulate at an interest rate set by the company and can fluctuate. There are also other ways the excess balance can accumulate interest via variable or index accounts. Depending on the policy, the actual cost of the policy is the outstanding death benefit. For example, in a cash value policy, if the death benefit is $100,000, the cash value is $20,000 (assuming the cash builds inside the policy), then the amount of actual insurance is $80,000. So, the costs are based on the actual insurance the company has to pay at death. If you died, essentially the company pays the $20,000 to your beneficiaries (your interest) and the $80,000 comes from insurance. This is how most polices work. It can be confusing, but an educated planner will fully analyze your policy if there are any questions. I can do this fairly easily.
It is mostly a mindset and discipline. What has happened in the past is planners structure debt payments for clients, and they just get into more debt. In other words, some people just don't listen. Giving advice becomes moot because the client does not follow it and planners don't want to see their plans stop. Therefore, getting people to see more than "immediate gratification" (purchasing on credit) or out of necessity is usually the reason for telling people to "get out of debt before buying or investing." It is great in theory because it convinces the person to not use credit because it is a detriment to their finances. But here is the argument, if compounding is the most powerful force in the universe, and you save early, then there will be a nice nest egg at the end! Just the act of saving is the same as the act of paying off debt. It needs to be habitual. I tell people to put away an affordable amount of money per month no matter what the debt load. Get in the habit. Have a disciplined method of getting out of debt, acknowledge the det is there, and then have a plan to reduce it over time.
That is really a planning question based on how you want to take care of what makes you feel comfortable. First, if the money you received is taxable, make sure you reserve enough to cover the tax bill. Second, I would suggest the credit cards be paid if they are all revolving debt. That means accrued interest on a daily basis on the outstanding balance. Third, on the home, that requires a little more thought since it really involves cash flow and your current situation. Usually I don't currently recommend that immediately if there is a need for other areas. On your CD idea, you are probably used to seeing that as a savings vehicle. Unfortunately, the traditional CD right now is a substandard vehicle for keeping up with basic inflation and it may lock your money up for a time that you may need it. Without knowing your personal situation, I would recommend talking to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(TM) to help you make your decision.
I am not a lawyer, so my answer would need to be verified with a proper attorney qualified in estate planning. That being said, the answer lies in the purpose of each document. The living trust only covers your property that is titled in the trust. For instance, a fully owned vacation home in another state may be titled in the trust to ease estate planning. The key is titling of assets. The will takes care of any estate items that are not titled. For instance, you can't put a beneficiary on your home if it is owned by you. The home usually has to pass through the will (there are exceptions). Think of a will as a way to tell the state you live in that any property that you own is to go to a person you want and there is no other way to do it. The will will not affect any titled property in a living trust. For community property, that is usually for divorce purposes.
A 401(k) is an ERISA protected plan that has lots of benefits at your former employer. The Fidelity advisor should show you the pros and cons of the movement, as required by new regulations. You should consider the fees and expenses, investment options, and risks of having a 401(k) with an employer versus an IRA. If you are going to roll it over to a Fidelity IRA, at least find out what value you may receive. If you will be paying a fee, what services will you be receiving for that fee? It is okay to have expert advice on your account, more importantly, are you getting more? Can you get a comprehensive plan done covering longevity risk, heath care risk, estate planning, tax planning, etc? How do you want to take care of your family? Ask if the planner is an independent fiduciary, are they working in your best interest at all times and is it written somewhere? Don't be afraid to ask. Check with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(TM) practitioner to get a complimentary consult with your situation. They are required by ethics to give you the best option for you. Hope this helps!