A Certified Retirement Financial Advisor, Darcy Bergen serves as a managing partner and president of Bergen Financial Group, an Arizona practice known for creating financial strategies for seniors and retirees. Leveraging his knowledge and expertise, Darcy Bergen offers financial advice to clients, especially in retirement planning, risk management, social security planning, wealth transfer strategies, wills and trusts, and estate planning.
Estate planning is making prior arrangements, through the assistance of an attorney knowledgeable in estate law, to determine how a person’s assets or “estate” will be preserved, managed, and distributed in the event of that person’s death. Estate planning also includes the settlement of estate tax, which happens before bequests are made to the heirs. The basis of the estate tax is the value of the decedent’s estate. Here’s how the estate is valued.
First, the estate's value is computed as of a specific date. The date can either be one of two options: the date of the decedent’s death or the alternate valuation date, which is six months after the decedent’s death. If the latter is chosen, all assets sold or distributed within the six months after the decedent’s death are valued as of the date the assets were sold or distributed.
Second, a list containing all assets that the decedent owned, including those they have an interest in, is prepared. This list may include cash, bank accounts, real properties, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, investments, insurance, and anything else that has value.
Third, actual valuation is made. If the decedent owned an asset in its entirety, the entire value of that asset is included in the estate. If the decedent owned an asset jointly with their spouse, only 50 percent of the value of that asset is added to the estate.
Fourth, all claims against the estate are deducted, including all regular bills that have accrued, outstanding mortgages, tax obligations, and charitable gifts.
Experienced financial executive Darcy Bergen serves as the president of Bergen Financial Group, a company he founded in 2003. Well-versed in wealth management and financial planning, Darcy Bergen is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT).
Established in 1927, MDRT is a global network of more than 66,000 insurance and financial professionals who excel in providing financial services to their clients. Every year, the MDRT hosts a global conference to tackle some of the pressing issues that face the financial services industry. This year’s event will be held September 1-4 at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, Australia.
The 2019 MDRT Global Conference will feature sessions on relevant topics, such as financial services, wealth management, retirement, work-life balance, and best practices in business. MDRT members will share the innovative solutions they have implemented within their organizations. Special sessions will be included for networking and socializing. To learn more about the event, visit www.imdrt.org.
Alternatives to Annuities
Financial advisor Darcy Bergen possesses more than two decades of experience in financial planning. Darcy Bergen has also appeared on several media outlets to inform the public on retirement options, including viable alternatives to annuity products.
While fixed index annuities are reliable retirement savings vehicles, some clients may prefer alternative low-risk assets or wish to diversify their portfolio with similar options. Some alternatives to annuities include:
- Managed payout funds (MPFs). While both annuities and MPFs offer a predictable income, MPFs have lower fees and more liquidity since shares can be sold at any time. Unlike annuities, many MPFs have minimum yields that keep pace with inflation.
- Laddered bonds. In this strategy, clients purchase bonds with sequential maturity dates and reinvest the proceeds into new bonds. Bondholders receive steady returns and have the option to sell bonds on lower rungs of the ladder for liquidity.
- Variable life insurance. Though this strategy is not a savings vehicle, it is another option for retirees who want the stability of an annuity. In addition to a death benefit, variable life insurance policies have a cash value that can be invested.
Types of Universal Life Policies
The longtime managing partner of Bergen Financial Group, Darcy Bergen focuses on key retirement planning areas, including social security and risk management. Darcy Bergen organizes several financial workshops for seniors that discuss important insurance products, such as universal life policies.
Universal life insurance premiums go toward a death benefit, similar to a term-life policy, and investments. If a policy is purchased early in life, the investments may grow large enough to cover the premium costs, making the policy self-sustaining. The invested portion can be cashed out at any time and used for large purchases, such as college tuition or a house.
There are two different models for universal life policies. Traditional plans offer a guaranteed minimum interest rate that can rise depending on the performance of the economy.
Meanwhile, indexed plans are exposed to derivative market products. In a high-performing market, an indexed policy may pay out a high-interest rate, which usually ranges between 10 percent and 12 percent.
Downsizing after Retirement
Experienced financial advisor Darcy Bergen specializes in retirement planning and risk management. As the president of Bergen Financial Group, Darcy Bergen advises clients who are undergoing major lifestyle changes, such as retirement and downsizing.
Downsizing is a good option for retirees looking to simplify their lifestyle and reduce their financial liabilities. Buying a smaller home in a planned community can also remove maintenance responsibilities, which can bring peace of mind to older homeowners. In certain situations, downsizing can leave homeowners mortgage-free with more money to invest.
However, downsizing doesn’t always mean a smaller space or a less expensive home. For example, people who want to retire in the city center may pay more for a smaller space that comes with more convenience and less maintenance. Additionally, some retirees may move to a more expensive area to be closer to other family members or to live in a warmer climate.
Before downsizing, homeowners should work closely with a financial advisor to determine the advantages. In some cases, rather than downsizing right away, homeowners may be better off paying a high mortgage for a few years and selling in a better market. Moving costs, realtor fees, and other expenses should also be considered.