01-24-19 Columns

Insurance can protect your aspirations You probably already know that life insurance can protect your family if something were to happen to you. But you might not realize the many ways in which insurance can help you preserve your plans for the future – whether for yourself, the next generation, or those charitable groups you support. Specifically, life insurance can potentially help you address several areas, including the following: Help in covering final expenses – The proceeds of a life insurance policy can provide immediate funds at the time of your death to pay for your funeral costs, your debts and your final income taxes. Transfer wealth (with potential tax advantages) – Some wealth transfer vehicles carry significant tax consequences. But the proceeds from life insurance are typically free of income tax, so if your death benefit is $1 million, your heirs will receive the full $1 million. (Consult with your tax advisor about all potential tax consequences beneficiaries might face.) Provide charitable gifts – You can use life insurance in various ways to support charitable organizations. One option is to donate a policy you may no longer need. Either you or the charity would continue paying the premiums, but the charity would become both the owner and beneficiary of your policy. Alternatively, you could purchase a permanent life insurance policy and donate it to the charity, which could then use the policy’s cash value when you’re alive and receive the death benefit when you die. Help fund a revocable living trust – Depending on your situation, you might want to establish a revocable living trust as part of your estate plans. A revocable living trust helps you avoid the time-consuming, expensive and public process of probate. And, among other benefits, a living trust allows you to distribute your financial assets over time, and in amounts that you specify – which may be quite appealing, if, for example, you’d rather not give your children a large amount of money at once. Life insurance can help fund your living trust – you just need to name the trustee (which may well be yourself while you’re alive) as the owner and beneficiary of the policy. However, you will need to consult with your legal advisor before creating and funding a living trust. Help cover long-term care costs – You may never need any type of long-term care, but if you do, you’ll find it quite expensive. It now costs, on average, more than $100,000 per year for a private room in a nursing home, according to the 2018 Cost of Care Survey, produced by Genworth, an insurance company. Medicare typically pays little of these costs, so the burden will fall on you. To avoid using up your financial assets – or, even worse, having to rely on your adult children for help – you may want to purchase insurance. Some life insurance plans offer long-term care coverage, either through a special “rider” or by accelerating your death benefit, but you might also want to consider a traditional long-term care insurance policy. As you can see, one of the most flexible tools you have is life insurance. Start thinking soon about how you can put it to work. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation. Edward Jones is a licensed insurance producer in all states and Washington, D.C. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Key objectives in the House The first bills of the 2019-2020 legislative session have been introduced and represent key policy objectives for the term. The Civil Asset Forfeiture reform bills were introduced by State Representatives Jason Wentworth and David LaGrand and are House Bills (HBs) 4001 and 4002. They seek to protect the civil liberties of Michigan residents while still allowing law enforcement to crack down on convicted criminals. The bills allow law enforcement to seize property based on probable cause, but would require a criminal conviction through due process before law enforcement agencies could take ownership of the property. With this reform, an individual’s personal property can easily be returned if they are found not guilty. The Pension Tax Repeal legislation has been introduced by State Representative Joe Bellino and is HB 4006. It is long past time we repeal this tax on our seniors living on fixed incomes. We can afford to help those who worked hard for decades and have contributed more than their fair share to our state and our economy. We have lost too many parents and grandparents to other states because of this unnecessary burden. Our seniors shouldn’t have to struggle to pay for groceries, medication, utilities, or other necessities because of this tax. A new committee has been formed in the State House to specifically handle auto-insurance reform. The committee will focus on tackling what has been the number one issue for most Michigan residents for years. Together with efforts in the Senate, we will work to find a responsible and affordable solution to this escalating problem. Other objectives for the House include further repairing our roads and bridges, fighting the opioid epidemic, and increasing government transparency. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns. You can reach me toll free at 1-800-577-6212, via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.

Preventing government shutdowns Since 2013, the federal government has shut down on four separate occasions and we are currently facing the longest government shutdown in history. This is unacceptable. It is the basic duty of Congress to ensure that government services remain uninterrupted for millions of Americans. That is why I joined a group of my colleagues in introducing H.R. 2221, the Government Shutdown Prevention Act. If passed, this bill would prevent federal agencies from being unnecessarily shuttered by providing automatically continued funding for any federal appropriation that is not completed before the end of the fiscal year. The Government Shutdown Prevention Act would also incentivize lawmakers to stop dragging their feet by implementing a five percent spending penalty on the day the continuing resolution begins and reduced by two percent 60 days after the first day of the fiscal year and by an additional two percent each subsequent 60-day period. This legislation is the least we can do. I will continue working with my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure that the government is fully funded. To learn more about my work for veterans and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

It’s not too late to get a flu shot! If you haven’t had your flu vaccine yet, it’s not too late! Flu – more formally known as influenza – is a serious viral disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. Although every flu season is different, flu has resulted in anywhere from 9.2 million to 35.6 million illnesses; 140,000 to 710,000 hospitalizations; and 12,000 to 56,000 deaths every year since 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Flu viruses are spread through tiny droplets by people infected with flu who cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu also is spread by touching a surface or object that has flu viruses on it. Although influenza viruses circulate year-round, flu activity peaks between December and February most years, but activity can last as late as May in the United States. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick and spreading it to others. The vaccine typically is redesigned each year to contain flu virus strains expected to be prevalent during the upcoming flu season. The strains have been inactivated so that they don’t cause you to get sick with flu, but will trigger your immune system to produce antibodies that can protect against influenza disease. When more people get vaccinated, less flu can spread through a community. It can take about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body. Typically, children and older people are most at risk for influenza. Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza among people ages 6 months and older. You also can reduce the spread of the flu and reduce its effects by taking such practical measures as washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when you’re sick. And, although antiviral drugs are not a substitute for vaccines, they can help to treat influenza. For more information about influenza or the flu vaccine, talk to your doctor or call the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121 or visit www.bchdmi.org.

Senate Bill 1: Reforming auto no-fault Throughout my campaign and in the first several weeks serving as Southwest Michigan’s state senator, I have talked about our priority to fix Michigan’s costly auto insurance system. Last week, Senate Republicans took action by introducing the first bill of the year to do just that. Michigan drivers pay the highest auto insurance premiums in the nation, by far. All over Michigan auto insurance is a burden on all of our budgets. And, while these costs strain many, some forgo auto insurance entirely, compounding the problem. This is a problem we all share. That is why I have made it my priority to drive down the cost of auto insurance for Southwest Michigan families and why I believe now is the time to get it done. I am confident that Senate Bill 1 will bring much needed reforms that will lower auto insurance costs. The bill will give drivers more choice in what they pay for, ensure accident victims receive medical care, help lower the number of people without auto insurance, and reduce fraud in the system. These are reasonable changes that will provide relief to families’ pocket books by lowering insurance rates. SB 1 was sent to the Insurance and Banking Committee, of which I am a member, and I look forward to working on this bill through the committee process to make sure it is the best it can be. This is a problem we all share, and fixing it is our top priority. By working together, we can get it done. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the important issues facing Southwest Michigan. You can reach me at 517-373-6960 or SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov.

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