UNCERTAINTY

That could easily become our buzz word these days.  Especially given what we have been through in the past couple of years.  But, life is full of uncertainty. 

We were coasting along in 2019 and then 2020 saw the pandemic force us to change almost everything.  We experienced isolation, social distancing, masks, uncertainty of where the pandemic would take us.  But it also caused uncertainty in the economic portion of our world.  WOW.  Our financial positions were affected and many people were fearful of “losing it all”. 

Fast forward to May, 2022 and you see so many changes as a result of Covid.  Businesses closed, many office workers have changed their work style to either working at home or having a hybrid mix.  The real estate market shot through the roof, mortgage interest rates tumbled to very appealing rates.  Supply chain issues developed affecting us in more ways than we can imagine.

But where are we today?  Gas prices are hovering close to $5.00 a gallon, grocery prices are increasing (or the quantity you get in a package is decreasing), supply chain issues still are in existence and there is the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.  And now the stock market is declining.  And we are back to being reactive and wanting to protect our hard earned assets.  But, what should we do? 

While I may have many years in working with estates, I will be the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to the stock market – nowhere near what I would even consider to be knowledgeable.  Yes, I know how it works and the impact of the market.  But as to investing, don’t ask me.  During my career I have received much unsolicited advice as to where to invest.  Some of it seemed practical, but some, maybe not so. 

So, where am I going with all of this?  Don’t be reactive to what is going on with the economy today.  We cannot control where it is going and the only thing we can do is what is best for ourselves.  And that varies from person to person.  Depending upon where you are in life, you may wish to consider enlisting the help of financial professionals to provide oversight on your brokerage/retirement accounts.  That is their job and they study the market almost every minute of the day that the market is open – not only in the US but worldwide.  Let them take some of the anxiety and stress away from yourself.  Rather than depending upon your thought to be “best” choices in the market, let someone knowledgeable and intimately familiar with the market assist you. 

Where are we going to end up with this newfound world we are living in?  Who knows?  But, there is only so much we can control.  Take charge of what you can control and leave uncertainty to those who are better able to help and provide guidance. There are many qualified financial professionals who can help you.  If you are new to seeking assistance of a financial professional, don’t interview just one.  Interview two or three.  Ask acquaintances if they have anyone they might recommend.  Look at qualifications of the professional.  Someone with a designation of Certified Financial Planner requires demonstration of their knowledge and continued education on an annual basis. 

Educate yourself and make a wise choice.  Know the differences and weigh the advantages and disadvantages between having a dedicated financial team vs. an online account.  (For example – if you needed to tap your account in an emergent situation, how quickly would the funds be available?  How easily will it be to request a cash distribution?)

And remember, you get what you pay for.  So, if you are being thrifty and self-directing your assets, your success or failure depends only upon your knowledge.  Are you willing to take those chances and live with the outcome?

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About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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