Why Millennials, Gen-Xers Should Worry About Estate Planning

group of friends meeting in the city center
Failing to plan wisely for your own death or disability can create serious consequences for your loved ones.

If you don’t have a valid will in place, the state will decide how your possessions and assets are distributed. That could tie up your estate in a complicated process that leaves less in the end for your survivors. Or, if you are rendered mentally disabled, who will be responsible for your care? If you go into a coma, who would pay for your medical care? All these decisions will dictated by the court if you don’t plan in advance. By failing to create a will, you are leaving the fate and financial security of your family at the mercy of strangers.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that estate planning is only for the elderly and the rich. Nobody likes to think about the prospect of being old, disabled, incapacitated, or about dying, especially when you’re still young and healthy. But this is actually the right time to pause and think about your finances, your possessions and your family. Regardless of your age or financial status, It is important to have an estate plan if you wish to protect your family against every adversity even when you aren’t around. Don’t make your busy schedule an excuse and put off the plan until you’re richer or older, because this can create unintended consequences for your family.

The biggest mistake millennials make is that they associate estate planning with the elderly and the affluent. They feel that they have enough time to plan such serious stuff. Millennials rarely know what an estate plan is and why it is necessary for families with children. This is why young professionals often don’t have their financial affairs in order. An estate plan protects your spouse and children from financial difficulties and provides you with complete peace of mind. It plays a crucial role in deciding how your assets are distributed upon your death. It allows you to decide who will receive your property and financial assets if you die an unnatural death. If you think singles can escape the hassle ofestate planning, you are mistaken! Everybody has assets and belongings that should be designated in advance.

Drafting the will is important, but it’s only half the battle. It is definitely a good start but not enough to safeguard your family. If you don’t want to subject your family to potentially drawn-out probate court proceedings, you need to plan your estate. Probate can be financially draining and mentally taxing for your family. Once you have a will, you need to have it reviewed every year by a legal professional to ensure that it complies with the changing life situations and ever-evolving laws. Set up a consultation with an experienced and certified financial adviser and know what’s best for you.

People typically start planning with their first child, but the right time to start is as soon as you start earning. If you are single, you need to protect your earnings. If you are married, the financial security of your spouse is your responsibility. If you have children, you need to create an estate plan to protect their future in case you die an unexpected death. The rules governing inheritance are strict, and if you don’t take them seriously, you could be inviting some serious trouble for your surviving family members.

Now that you’re convinced that estate planning is essential for every age, the next rational move you should be making is to schedule a consultation with a certified and credible financial planning professional or a lawyer who specializes in estate planning and probate, such as Blossom Wealth Management. (The author is the co-founder of this firm; it’s one of many that can help.) Downloading a standard format from a legal site and drafting your own will will probably leave you with a document that doesn’t fully address the complexity of your own situation. Laws vary by state and only an experienced lawyer can recommend the right course of action.

Estate planning will ensure that your assets are inherited by your family and not handled by the court in the event of your death. Make an estate plan today and save your family from the costly and time-consuming court procedures, and give them the gift of a secure future.

It’s Cash Over Mobile Payments This Holiday Season

human hands exchanging money  ...

Chances are you’ll be spending about $805 this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.

But chances are high you won’t be using mobile apps to pay for presents and party favors.

According to Bankrate.com, mobile payments just aren’t catching on with U.S. consumers of age groups. “Just 14 percent of U.S. adults who use a smartphone or a similar handheld device plan to use services such as Apple Pay or Android Pay even once this holiday shopping season, including 19 percent of millennials,” Bankrate states. “Among those who don’t plan to make mobile payments, the top reasons were ‘not secure enough’ (36 percent) and ‘other payment methods are more convenient’ (31 percent).”

About 70 percent of shoppers will use cash or debit cards to pay for holiday purchases. 22 percent will use credit cards, Bankrate reports.

What’s interesting about consumers and mobile payments is that the most common fear linked to digital payments — angst over security breaches — might be overblown. “The most common misconception surrounding mobile payments is that they are not secure,” says Mike Cetera, an analyst at Bankrate. “Truth be told, fraud is much more likely to occur on ordinary credit and debit card transactions. And of course cash can be lost or stolen without any consumer protections.”

Other experts say Americans will use mobile payments this holiday season, but with strict limits. “Currently, the vast majority of payments using mobile wallets are for low priced goods below $20,” says Bob Bentz, president of Purplegator, a mobile-first digital agency located in suburban Philadelphia. “That could be because restaurants such as McDonald’s (MCD) and Panera (PNRA) are well-known users of proximity mobile payments or that users are reluctant to pay for more expensive good with mobile wallets.”

Bentz does see clear sailing ahead for mobile payments, once consumers grow used to the technology. ” Digital wallets and mobile payments just make sense and their added convenience and security will ultimately lead to greater use,” he says. “People carry their smartphones everywhere they go. Now, in addition to being their primary device for music, taking pictures and accessing the Internet, the smartphone can now also be their wallet.”

Is there really a need for having all those plastic cards in a wallet when the mobile phone can pay for things?

James Goodnow, a Phoenix-based attorney and recently named one of “America’s Most Techiest Lawyers” by the “ABA Journal,” says that level of acceptance won’t be happening anytime soon. “14 percent of Americans using mobile to buy holiday purchases actually seems high as the validity and security of mobile payments is still really an unknown,” Goodnow says.

“People are skeptical, and the early adopters are really the ‘beta-testers’ — there’s no track record yet. Combine this with last season’s highly publicized Target security breach — which included my information — and it’s easy to see why people are hesitant to jump onboard,” he says.

Some mobile technologies offer better consumer protections than others, and eventually they will drive digital payment growth. “Apple Pay actually makes simple financial transactions more secure,” Goodnow says.

“The Apple Pay mobile payment system on your iPhone requires a fingerprint for security verification. Apple Pay on your Apple Watch requires the device to be on your wrist so the heart rate sensor can sense the rightful owner’s heartbeat. A stolen wallet is thus a treasure trove until someone shuts those cards down, but if someone steals my phone or watch, they can’t use my Apple Pay without my fingerprint or heart rate,” Goodnow adds.

While technology firms work out the security kinks, and as consumers grapple with security concerns, mobile payments shouldn’t be a huge factor this holiday season, if Bankrate (RATE) is right.

Given the hoopla surrounding digital commerce, and the prevalence of smart phones, that’s a surprising takeaway this holiday season.

Maybe, just maybe, mobile’s big breakthrough will come in 2016, or even 2017 — but it’s just not happening in 2015.

Is the Force With the New Star Wars Credit Card?

Force Friday: May The Force Be With Shopping District In SeoulAs fans all over the world eagerly await the December release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we are continuously reminded that the global Star Wars phenomenon isn’t just about movies.

Sure, it all starts with the movies, which have earned billions of dollars at the box office. However, it extends far beyond the movie theater. There are novels, comic books, video games, lunchboxes, clothing of all shapes and sizes, breakfast cereals, action figures, bobbleheads and even a Darth Vader refrigerator — all of which you can buy with a Star Wars Visa credit card. But is this card something that Star Wars fans should add to their collection or something they should avoid like a confrontation with Darth Vader? Let’s break it down …

The card is part of Chase’s Disney Visa card program and is available in three different Star Wars-themed designs: one featuring Darth Vader, another with Yoda and another with R2-D2 and C-3PO. It also comes with rewards aimed toward fans of the films, including:

  • 10 percent off purchases $50 or more when you use the card at the Disney Store or DisneyStore.com. (Reminder: In 2012, Disney bought Lucasfilm, the company that created the Star Wars franchise under founder George Lucas.)
  • 10 percent off select Star Wars merchandise purchases $50 or more at select locations at Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California.
  • An “Imperial Meet ‘N’ Greet” at Disneyland or Disney World with Darth Vader himself. (Just make sure you don’t make him mad while you’re there.)

Some details with the card vary based on which version you get. You can get the Star Wars designs on either the Disney Rewards Visa card or the Disney Premier Visa card. Some of the differences between the two include:

  • The premier card comes with a $100 statement credit after you spend $500 in the first three months. The rewards card offers a $50 statement after your first purchase.
  • The premier card has a $49 annual fee, while the rewards card has no fee.

The APR — 15.99 percent — is the same on both versions of the card, as is the introductory offer of zero percent interest on purchases for six months.

But is it worth applying for?

The Verdict

No credit card is a great fit for everyone. It’s all about finding a card that matches your lifestyle, and the Star Wars card is no different.

If you’re a huge Star Wars fan, and you’ve got a trip to Disney World or Disneyland in your immediate future, the card might work for you. It’d be fun to have the Dark Lord of the Sith on your card. The APR is reasonable. The discounts can help you save when you’re buying your new Kylo Ren lightsaber or your Lego Millennium Falcon. Plus, an Imperial Meet ‘N’ Greet sounds like good geeky fun. However, I would suggest getting the rewards card rather than the premier card. Even though the sign-up bonus is bigger with the premier card, the $49 annual fee makes that bonus a little less powerful.

For everyone else, I’d say you’d be better off shopping around. Today’s credit card marketplace is so crazy competitive that — if you have good credit — you should be able to find cards that can give you more bang for your buck. Here are some that I’d recommend:

  • Discover it: Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. That means if you’ve earned $200, they’ll double it to $400. They also offer 5 percent cash back on purchases in rotating categories (including Amazon.com through the end of the year) and 1 percent cash back on everything else. Unlike the Star Wars card, there’s no annual fee. In addition, there are no late fees for your first late payment, and they promise that paying late won’t raise your APR. Other perks of the card include free monthly FICO scores and zero percent APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. The card’s standard APR is 10.99 to 22.99, depending on your credit score.
  • Chase Freedom: From the same bank that brought you the Star Wars card comes this cash back card. It offers a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in purchases in the first three months and doesn’t come with an annual fee. As with the Discover it card, you earn 5 percent cash back on purchases in rotating categories (including Amazon.com through the end of the year) and 1 percent cash back on everything else. Plus, you pay zero percent interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. Once that introductory period is over, APRs range from 13.99 to 22.99, depending on creditworthiness.
  • Citi Double Cash: This card gives you 1 percent cash back when you buy and 1 percent cash back when you pay — meaning you’re basically getting 2 percent cash back on every purchase. That’s one of the higher rates on the market and can help compensate for the fact that there’s no sign-up bonus with the card. However, there’s also no annual fee, no categories to opt-in for and no caps. Its APR range (12.99 to 22.99) is comparable to the Chase Freedom card, and its 15-month zero percent offer is identical to that card.

In short, there are better options out there than the Star Wars Visa card. Even though the card isn’t exactly from the Dark Side, you’d still be better off shopping around.