Estate Planning

Understanding Generational Wealth

By Dean Barber

May 27, 2021

Understanding Generational Wealth

Key Points – Understanding Generational Wealth:

  • Understanding Generational Wealth by the Numbers
  • Having Difficult Family Conversations
  • What is Most Important to You?
  • 21 minute read | 37 minutes to listen

Did you know that 60% of families waste their generational wealth in the second generation? And 90% of families have little to nothing left at the end of the third generation? Join Dean Barber and Bud Kasper as they talk about generational wealth planning and how you can make sure that the money stays in the family.

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Article: 5 Ways to Set Your Kids Up for Financial Success

Download: Estate Planning Guide

Understanding Generational Wealth

Dean Barber: Thanks for joining us here on America’s Wealth Management Show. I’m your host, Dean Barber, along with Bud Kasper. All right, so we’re going to change how we do the show here a little bit today. 

A Change of Pace for Today’s Show

We’re going to talk about a difficult subject, and it’s a subject that nobody likes to discuss. Still, it’s one of the most critical subjects that needs to be talked about when working with your financial advisor.

I want to set the stage here by saying, if you’re working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, this should be addressed.

Bud Kasper: Right.

Dean Barber: Right. If it’s not getting addressed with your financial planner or financial advisor, whatever they call themselves, they aren’t doing financial planning for you.

Bud Kasper: Of course, the subject you’re talking about here is the end of life management.

End of Life and the Transfer of Wealth

Dean Barber: Right. It’s the end of life, the transfer of wealth, and everything that goes around that.

Bud Kasper: Yeah. It’s a division of property, using resources to minimize the tax consequences that could exist, and it’s something, Dean, that has to be done well in advance of the inevitable when God takes us off this earth.

Putting it Off Because It’s Uncomfortable

Dean Barber: Right. Many people put it off, Bud, because they don’t want to face the fact that death is not a question of if, but it’s only a question of how and when. Right.

Bud Kasper: Right. Exactly, yeah.

Dean Barber: We see far too often, and even celebrities that you know have significant amounts of wealth go without a properly constructed estate plan. 

It’s not just the estate plan, the healthcare directive, the living will. It’s all the things that go along with a proper estate plan. Many things can go wrong if your wishes aren’t well communicated with your family members.

Bud Kasper: It’s a difficult subject because now people have to face the fact of who’s going to get what and, “Well, I don’t want Johnny to have more than Susie,” and all this. Therefore, they wrestle with those types of events. 

I also find that with a good number of clients that I work with anyway, many are charitably inclined.

They want their money to go to some of the things they supported while they were alive, that they feel very passionate about, and wish to fund those into the future through the wealth they created over their lifetime.

Understanding Generational Wealth by the Numbers

Dean Barber: Right. So what started this whole discussion and why Bud and I wanted to bring this to the airwaves here is because we’ve witnessed it before, and it’s not good. Here are some facts. 60% of generational wealth is gone by the end of the second generation, 60%. 

90% of generational wealth is gone by the end of the third generation. And for the small business owners, only 30% of small businesses make it to the second generation, and only 3% make it to the third generation.

Now, this could be a lack of planning, a lack of communication. 

Still, it could also go into some things that when people inherit wealth, especially if they’re in their 20s or 30s, it tends to have a more negative impact on them than it positively impacts them because they get this sense of entitlement. They maybe don’t have to do anything. They lose their purpose in life. A properly constructed estate plan deals with these very issues. 

Saving Lives, Saving Dignity

When we talk about financial success, there are also other end-of-life planning issues. I want to give you some quotes from Saving Lives and Saving Dignity, a book written by Dr. Alan Molk, MD, and Dr. Robert Shapiro, MD. Alan is 70, just getting ready to retire, ER, physician. He spent 40 years working in the emergency room.

Bud Kasper: Wow, he’s in the trenches.

Dean Barber: He’s got some unbelievable stories. There are some good ones in there, some bad ones, and we’re going to have him on the podcast late summer.

If you don’t listen to The Guided Retirement Show, I encourage you to get out and subscribe on YouTube or your favorite podcast app. Lots of great episodes out there.

The Numbers on End of Life Family Planning

The data from his book says that 90% of the people admit that talking to loved ones about end-of-life issues is important, yet only 27% have done so. 60% of people say it’s essential not to burden their loved ones with tough end-of-life decisions, but 56% have not communicated their wishes.

70% of people say they prefer to die at home, yet 70% of people die in hospitals, nursing homes, or long-term care facilities. 80% of seriously ill people want to talk to their doctor about the prognosis and end-of-life concerns, but only a mere 7% have done so. 

This is where it gets crazy. 82% say that putting their wishes in writing is important, but only 23% have actually done so. 

I know that’s true, Bud, and so do you, because our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professionals go through all these things. We say, “Where’s your estate plan? Let’s review it. That estate plan needs to be redone at least every other year.” The way that you think changes. Your wealth changes. Things in your kids’ or grandkids’ lives are going to change. It has to be updated.

All right, we laid out some good information here, to begin with, Bud. Now, we need to get in and talk about how to put this stuff into practice.

Proper Estate Planning for Generational Wealth

People who have done an excellent job on their estate planning have had conversations with their children along with their trusted advisors. That makes all the difference in the world. So talk about the family meetings you like to have because I do too because I think that’s critical.

Bud Kasper: The reality is, if you want to do the right thing for your beneficiaries and let’s assume the vast majority of the time that’s children, you need to approach these subjects! You plan so there isn’t a surprise, and the discomfort of having to talk about money when you don’t have mom and dad there, or you’ve lost one of the two of them at that particular point in time.

Bring it out on the table, get it clarified, understand what’s going to happen because, as you stated, Dean, it’s inevitable. It’s going to happen. And the best thing you can do for your family is to understand how your wealth can benefit them in the future.

Dean Barber: Right. And, Bud, part of it’s the wealth, but the other part of it is the psychology of losing a loved one.

Bud Kasper: Absolutely.

The Family Needs to Have Hard Conversations

Dean Barber: You need to discuss end-of-life wishes; what kind of life-saving measures should the doctors take? What do you want to have happen? If you have a terminal illness, what measures do you want the physicians to take? 

That conversation needs to be had with your children. Then you need to have the documents that are part of a well-crafted estate plan included so that your kids have copies of those. Or the kids know where to get that information.

It’s Incredibly Important to Discuss Things With Your Beneficiaries

Now, Bud, I feel that I am a very healthy 55-year-old, married to a very healthy 53-year-old wife. We have five children from 20 to 30 years old. We have had multiple conversations with our children in a group, and we’ve told them, here’s what’s going on. Here’s how assets will transfer. Here are our wishes because you don’t know when it’s going to happen.

Bud Kasper: Right.

Dean Barber: You and I have both witnessed it, people dying way before-

Bud Kasper: Expectations.

Dean Barber: The expectations, or somebody’s getting Alzheimer’s disease and not being able to communicate those wishes.

Bud Kasper: It’s very serious.

Dean Barber: Those documents need to be in place. And those conversations need to happen whenever your children are old enough to understand what’s happening.

Bud Kasper: Yeah.

Dean Barber: Even if they’re in their 20s and you’re in your 40s or 50s or whatever, it’s critical because you don’t know when it’s going to happen.

Bud Kasper: It is. You need to know who will be the directors or the trustees because somebody has got to take the responsibility to quarterback the passing of wealth to another generation.

In that process, often, those people are caught off guard, especially if you haven’t had the conversation in advance. They may say, “I would’ve never wanted this responsibility. I wish they hadn’t done this way.” 

Isn’t it better to know that in advance so you don’t put that person in a quandary where they aren’t comfortable with having to deal with this?

It Can Be a Very Difficult Time

Dean Barber: Right. And, Bud, I don’t know what personal experiences that you have, but I had to watch my mom care for my grandmother because she developed Alzheimer’s, right? And my grandmother made my mom promise her that she would never let her go into a nursing home because that to her was the-.

Bud Kasper: The worst thing that could happen.

Dean Barber: Just a total loss of dignity. Right?

Bud Kasper: Uh-huh

Dean Barber: I’m just, I’m not me anymore. Let me go.

Bud Kasper: Yeah.

Dean Barber: Okay?

Bud Kasper: Yep.

Dean Barber: So Mom literally cared for my grandma until probably the last four or five months in her life until she physically couldn’t do it anymore. She got to a point where she just couldn’t help her anymore. Right?

Bud Kasper: Mm-hmm

Dean Barber: And she even started to get violent; my grandma did.

Bud Kasper: Oh, yeah.

Dean Barber: And so that last four months, she did have to put her in a nursing home. It was the hardest thing she’d ever done, but literally, she tried, and it almost killed my mom trying to do that, right?

Bud Kasper: Yeah. My wife’s father had the same situation where towards the end, the difficulty of control was there, and it was not a happy occasion.

It’s All Part of the Planning Process

Dean Barber: Right. So you have to think about how you want to address that if that happens. And they now have in-home nursing care, and it’s more expensive than the nursing home itself, but you can buy insurance that can cover that. Right? So if that’s important to you, that needs to be part of your estate plan; risk management is part of your estate planning process.

I want to go back to what we were talking about in the opening of the show, Bud. If you’re talking to a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, they should be addressing all four pillars of wealth management. They should address estate planning, risk management, taxes, and manage investments.

Those are the four pillars of wealth management. If you have a financial advisor and they’re not addressing all four of those, then more than likely, what you’re dealing with is a financial salesperson. That’s not at all what you need, especially as you near or are in retirement.

Finding a Partner You Can Trust with the Right Skills for the Job

Bud Kasper: I don’t blame those financial salespeople because you should know in advance whether or not they have the skillsets to help you through these challenges.

Now we’re talking about the estate plan part of it. So their responsibilities, their skill sets, don’t revolve around comprehensive financial planning. Know the limitations so that you can solve them because it’s inevitable.

Dean Barber: Right. But I don’t necessarily want to put that onus onto the individual, the consumer. I want to put it onto our industry. All right? 

It’s Not All About the Investments

Our industry has caused people to believe through messaging, especially from the investment industry, that it’s all about the investment. It’s all about the underlying expense of the investment, or it’s all about the performance of the investment. Look at anything talking about finances, and it’s all about investments and this and that.

So they don’t talk very frequently, or not at least with as much passion as what we do about the holistic approach of looking at every aspect of your financial life and making sure that everything’s buttoned up. 

Then, everything is then communicated to your children during a family meeting, “Look, here’s where the money is. Here’s how it’s going to be distributed. This is what end-of-life wishes are. Here’s a copy of the will. This is a copy of the trust. Here’s a copy of the advanced directives and all the things that go in with that.” Those family meetings need to happen at least every other year.

Roth Conversions and Legacy Planning

Bud Kasper: Last year was our biggest year regarding the number of Roth conversions, converting money from a traditional IRA over to a Roth IRA, paying the tax in the year that you do the conversion. When converted, that money becomes one of the best ways to leave a legacy to the people you love the most. 

So here’s a case of using the skillsets of planning to utilize a tax strategy. When they receive the money, there are no taxes due on what otherwise would have been a BDA, beneficiary designated account, there would still be a tax on that asset.

Communication is Key

Dean Barber: That’s an absolute. So now you’re starting to see taxes come into play when it comes to estate planning.

Bud Kasper: Absolutely.

Dean Barber: Insurance comes into play; your trust or your will or how your assets are titled all come into play. And it’s easy to have things missed. It is, especially if you don’t have a company looking at the whole thing. If you’re sitting here communicating one thing to an attorney, and you have an investment person, and then you’re trying to communicate to the investment person what the attorney said. Then you’ve got a tax person, you’re trying to communicate to the tax person, and then you’ve got an insurance person. They all talk a different language, and it gets really, really confusing.

What’s Most Important to You?

Let’s talk about giving from warm hands instead of cold hands and how you can do that without fear of running out of money.

Bud, I would say that when we do our prioritization exercise with a new client, what we find when we say, “Okay, talk to me about the most important thing in your life. What is it that’s the most important to you?” Inevitably there’s one subject that always makes it into the top five. And that is, “Spending time with people that I care about.”

Bud Kasper: Right.

Dean Barber: So then we have a conversation, “Well, who do you care about?” 

“We care about our kids and our grandkids. That’s who we want to spend more time with.” 

“Well, what’s stopping you?”

Dean Barber: It’s either they’re busy, they live across the country or-

Bud Kasper: Sometimes, it’s the price tag.

Giving from Warm Hands

Dean Barber: When we talk about giving to your children or grandchildren, we don’t just talk about giving at the end of your life. We talk about giving from warm hands instead of cold hands and giving experiences versus just giving money. 

I’ve given this example many times on the radio about how I personally and, Bud, I know you do too, you purposefully set out in advance a couple of years, so you’re always two years ahead in planning a family vacation. That includes all the kids, all the spouses, and grandkids.

Bud Kasper: Right.

Dean Barber: You foot the bill for your family, and I foot the bill for my family. What we’re doing there is, yes, we’re spending some of the money that they may inherit in the future, but we’re creating a family tradition. We’re making life experiences. Those memories are going to be far more impactful to your kids and your grandkids than getting a pile of money when you’re dead.

Bud Kasper: Sure. It’s not just impactful from the immediate gratification of being together, but it sets the course for them to do the same thing moving forward so that this tradition makes a tighter-knit family.

It’s About Priorities

Dean Barber: I had a comment come in here because I told this same story a few weeks back, and they’re like, “Well, you think maybe Dean’s making too much money if he can afford to take his whole family on vacation every year?” I’m like, “No.” Do you know what the truth is? We sit down as a family and talk about what’s important. Then we put priorities on the important things. We make sure that those things happen, right?

Bud Kasper: And budget for it.

Dean Barber: And budget for it! If that means that there’s a sacrifice somewhere else of something that’s not as important as that, then talk about it. Right?

Bud Kasper: Yes. 

Dean Barber: That’s the whole point of working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, one that will go through all those aspects. They need to have that honest conversation with you about what’s important in your life, what you want to accomplish, and what resources you have. And, as we have discussed today, what you want to happen when you’re gone. 

Those conversations are critical to the crafting of a well-thought-out financial plan. And it all begins with that conversation. And then that conversation has to continue through the life of the relationship with that CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.

Confidence in Your Ability to Achieve Your Goals

Bud Kasper: Right. And in the same token, you want to have as the person, let’s say, that’s the giver, that you have confidence that you have the financial well-being to do this. It’s no different than budgeting for a car or a house. It’s just that you have to make that a priority. By the way, the frequency of it is, of course, going to be dictated by you and the available funds.

Dean Barber: Right.

Bud Kasper: So maybe it’s every three years. Who cares? As long as you’re still doing it.

Building Priorities into Your Plan

Dean Barber: Yes. But when you build the plan and understand what’s important. Then you research to find out what it’s going to cost and look at the available resources. Sometimes in life, there are trade-offs. 

So if you want to do a couple of independent vacations, just you and your spouse every year, but you’d also like to weave in some family vacations, you can try putting all of those budget items into the plan and see if it works.

If it doesn’t work, then you say, “Okay, well, maybe we scale back on one of the individual vacations because we’d instead do something with the entire family.” Or you might say, “You know what, they’re a pain in the rear. I don’t want to have them around anyway!” But that’s just generally not the case.

You Have to Start the Conversation

The point is if you don’t have that conversation with your spouse and then with your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, you’ll never know what you can do. 

I’ve had many couples, Bud, when we go through, we have this conversation, and I say, “What if we budgeted in a family vacation? That way, you can tell your kids two years in advance that they just need to get the time off. They need to plan for it. Here’s where you’re going. Here’s what their financial requirement’s going to be, if any. And they’ll be happy to go.” 

People will say to me, “Dean, you think, can we do that?” So I reply, “I don’t know, let’s put it in the plan, and let’s find out.”

Bud Kasper: Right. When you say that, Dean, I want people to understand that what we’re doing is vetting the expense and the time away, et cetera, so we have a clear understanding that it’s a reality. We can do this.

The Plan Provides Clarity

Dean Barber: So many times, if those conversations are happening and you don’t have the plan set up to test that within the plan, what happens is one spouse wants to do it, and the other spouse says, “We can’t afford it.” Okay? 

So you wind up fighting over it, you wind up with animosity, and then you never do anything because one of you said, “We can’t afford it.” They almost always win. There’s that fear that you might need the money in the future, and if you do that, you might run out of money.

Bud Kasper: Good point.

Dean Barber: So your plan has to work, and you have to be able to see that you’re not going to run out of money, even if you do those things. Because the last thing anybody wants is to die on a mattress stuffed full of money that they could have enjoyed, that they could have had those family experiences, the things that they wanted to leave, that emotional legacy. And in many cases, that’s far more critical.

Bud Kasper: Yeah. Over the 35 or 36 years that I’ve been doing this, I can’t tell you the number of times that it’s just that way, that someone passed away with a great deal of money and lost out on time with the family that they could have certainly afforded.

More Resources on Family Wealth

Dean Barber: There’s no question. All right. So here’s the deal. I want you to pick up a copy of our Estate Planning Guide here. Also, the latest article written by Jason Newcomer 5 Ways to Set Your Kids Up for Financial Success. What we’re talking about today is the essence of planning because, for most people, there’s nothing more important in their life than family.

Bud Kasper: Right. One of the other things that crossed my mind in the statement that you made with that, Dean, is that inside our family here at Modern Wealth Management are the number of CFP® Professionals. We are all talking to each other, exchanging ideas, relating experiences. 

Dean Barber: Well, remember when Shane Barber, one of the partners here at Modern Wealth Management, wrote the article about how many days you have left. And he gave some different ages and said, “This is how long is left in your life. And how many days you’re going to have left. What are you going to do with those days?” 

To me, that’s what financial planning is about. It’s about living your one best financial life. You have to gain total clarity about where you are from a financial perspective and what you want to do. That gives you confidence and ultimately lets you feel like you’re in control. 

The Sobering Statistics of Generational Wealth

Dean Barber: Earlier, we discussed some sobering statistics that 60% of families waste away the wealth that they inherit within the next generation. And 90% of the money is gone by the end of the third generation. The values that matriarch and patriarchs tried to instill are also gone.

Bud Kasper: Yeah. But you know, Dean, that’s controllable as well.

Dean Barber: It is.

Bud Kasper: Because through a proper trust in the number of distributions that would go out in any given timeframe will eliminate the loss of the entire wealth.

Dean Barber: No question about it.

Bud Kasper: Right.

Dean Barber: No. But there’s a lot of ways to do that. I mean, again, it’s about talking about what’s important to you, to your spouse—and then relaying that information down to your kids and your grandkids. 

What Does Ed Slott Think?

A good friend of ours, Ed Slott, is considered by the Wall Street Journal to be America’s IRA expert.

Bud Kasper: And he is.

Dean Barber: You can catch him on episode 31 of The Guided Retirement Show™, by the way. He’ll also be joining us next season.

Ed, when he wrote his very first book, The Retirement Savings Time Bomb–and How to Defuse It, talked about using life insurance so that you had permission to spend more of your own money.

So, instead of trying to preserve the entire principle of what you have, you have permission to spend that principle down if you have a life insurance policy that you know will transfer wealth to the next generation.

Bud Kasper: It will replace it.

Why Life Insurance?

Dean Barber: Right. So what we were talking about in the last segment of doing these family vacations and those types of things, and people are saying, “Well, I want to preserve. I want to preserve.” 

Well, let’s spend some of it now. Let’s make sure that we’ve got life insurance. But you have to plan this ahead of time. This is not something you go out and buy at 70 years old.

You plan this ahead of time to have those conversations, and you get that plan in place. So that, “Hey, here’s, the wealth is going to transfer.” And guess what? Life insurance transfers better than any other asset because it’s tax-free.

Bud Kasper: Tax-free. That’s right.

Bud Kasper: Yeah, and I think the other consideration with that is people understanding that you can get what’s called Paid-Up Insurance. I did that as well. You accelerate the payments for a specific amount of time, so you don’t have the payment when, let’s say, you’re ready to retire, so you don’t have that additional expense.

Bud Kasper: Let me tell this quick story, if you don’t mind, Dean.

Dean Barber: Go for it.

Paid-Up Insurance Example

Bud Kasper: I’ve shared with you this before. I have a wonderful couple that’s been with me for a long time. They had two sons and wanted to make sure that they had at least a million dollars worth of their wealth when they would pass. 

And so, in consideration of all the planning ideas that we came up with at the time, insurance came out to be a pretty darn good solution. Because we did something in what’s referred to as an ILIT trust, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, funded it with life insurance, and followed that route.

So, they paid additional premiums for a specific period until they could have it fully funded, which they could do in approximately 12 years.

Now they’re done. They don’t have the expense anymore. They know their two sons are going to get a million dollars of money and tax-free money. 

What did it do? It allowed them the freedom to use all the other money that they saved for their lifetimes to do something for themselves. You know what? They’re still going to have more money to leave to their family. But that psychologically fit them to a “T” in terms of getting that guaranteed.

The Four Pillars

Dean Barber: Well, you wrapped in all the aspects of a well-crafted plan. You wrapped in the estate plan. Right? Trust work. You wrapped in taxes. Right? You wrapped in risk management, and you covered the investment. 

So those are the four pillars of a well-crafted plan. If your financial advisor isn’t talking to you about this holistic approach to financial planning, you need to speak with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. 

Generational Wealth Across American Households

Dean Barber: All right. So we have an article here that comes out of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that talks about generational and age household wealth trends and wealth inequality. It shows that the millennial generation is catching up to where the boomers were or the gen x-ers were at the same age. 

So this is comparing boomers, gen x-ers, and millennials when they were between the ages of 30 and 32. The numbers, Bud, they’re pretty sobering.

Bud Kasper: Yeah, they are. What it shows is at that particular period of their lives, making an equal comparison, if you will, that the boomers had $223,000 of household wealth, the Gen X-ers were $184,000, and the millennials are at $163,000.

When you look at that, they’re a bit behind, but they’re catching up. I think there are so many ways people can save, and I believe they are learning that.

Dean Barber: Well, let me tell you where I think that the gap is.

Why is there Such a Large Generational Wealth Gap?

What you’re talking about is from the age of 30 to 32, for all of those different generations. The baby boomers, Bud, when they got out of college, immediately got married and bought a house, and started having kids.

So they started building equity in real estate from day one. Gen x-ers were very similar to that, but the millennial generation has this idea of freedom, and I don’t want any responsibilities.

Bud Kasper: But, that’s changing.

Dean Barber: I don’t want to take care of a yard. But not until they’re in their 30s. Most millennials, the vast majority, are not buying homes until they get into the early 30s.

Bud Kasper: Yeah. But let’s be a little bit of positive spin on that, as well. And that is, they’re living longer, too.

Dean Barber: I get it, Bud. But what saying is that I think that’s where the gap is. I think that’s the gap.

Bud Kasper: Sure.

Dean Barber: Because they haven’t built any equity in real estate.

The Millennials are Catching Up

Bud Kasper: Yes, but I think, as it says in this article, millennials are catching up. I believe they are. And you know why? Because I believe they are more attuned to the opportunities of ways to secure wealth and grow their money, if you will.

Dean Barber: Right.

Bud Kasper: More so than the steady Eddie type of approach I would have had as a boomer.

Dean Barber: But in the CEO group that I sit in, Bud, for a full day every month, we talk about the millennials. And we talk about millennials that are employees, and what is it that they’re looking for? 

For most of them, they’re more concerned about the quality of life, freedom at work, being able to get fulfillment out of work, being able to work from home if they choose to work from home. They want that flexibility. And they value that more in most cases than they do a higher salary.

Bud Kasper:  Interesting.

Passing Down Generational Wealth Takes Planning

Dean Barber: The point is this, that if you don’t do your job as the person who’s going to transfer wealth to the next generation, and if you’re not working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, you’re going to mess it up. You’re going to mess up something that could be beautiful, and it’s going to turn into something ugly.

Get our Estate Planning Guide here. Read the latest article, 5 Ways to Set Your Kids Up for Financial Success. 

As always, you can schedule a complimentary consultation with a Modern Wealth Management CFP™ here. If you don’t take action and do those things, start having these conversations with your spouse and ultimately with your children. 

We appreciate you joining us here on America’s Wealth Management Show. 

Bud and I are very passionate about this subject because there’s nothing more important in life than family. And if you do your planning right, it can be even that much better.

Bud Kasper: Absolutely.

Dean Barber: Talk to you next week. Same time, same place.

As always, you can experience our Guided Retirement System™ by clicking here to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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