"Helping You Navigate the Course to Financial Freedom"
 December 2015
The Big Reveal Begins

By Leslie Beck, CFP®

Like a doctor in a "B" movie unwrapping the face bandages of a severely injured patient, on December 16th the Federal Reserve began the delicate task of revealing just how healthy the US economy has become, almost 7 years after the 2008 - 2009 recession.

With its first .25% hike in interest rates in almost 10 years, the Fed hopes to slowly expose a robust, fully recovered patient, ready to return to normalcy without any further assistance. But like that B movie doctor, the Fed can't be totally sure of how the healing has progressed - to what extent have artificially low interest rates restored, or disfigured, the true economy?

Only a complete unwrap of the bandages, with a return to a market-based interest rate environment, will tell us whether the grand experiment of the last 7 years has worked. Janet Yellen, the Fed's chief physician, promises a slow, pain-free process - like a wise doctor, she wouldn't start the procedure if the patient weren't ready. 

A full return to normalcy could take years, dependent on the ongoing health of our patient, the economy. Banks have already raised some borrowing costs, while payouts on savings are expected to rise but with considerable lag.  The stock market should improve in line with the economy.  As in the movies, the first stage of the removal is tantalizing, but not terribly revealing.

Only a complete unwind will reveal whether our B movie ends as a fairy tale, or a horror story.

In This Issue

Your Digital Will

It's a fact that our legal system often plays "catch-up" with changes in society.  Laws written to protect tangible assets like letters and correspondence, photos, and documents don't always apply when those assets are stored or transformed digitally.  This is especially so if you abandon those digital assets, either through disuse or death.

Recent headlines tell the tale of a young, well-known author found dead in her rented cabin by the landlord.  Her most recent works were stored on her computer and backed up in online "cloud" storage.  Only two people knew her password - one of them was now dead, and the other was Google.

Her father wanted to access her files to see if she left any clues behind about her sudden death.  Google refused to reveal her password, citing its privacy policy.  In addition, even with a court order Google maintained the right to refuse unfettered access to the author's files.  A recent California law denies family access to any emails or digital assets of the deceased, and many social media companies will delete inactive accounts by default.  Her recent works could be lost forever.

In a recent survey conducted by an affiliate of the Wall Street Journal, "over 70% of Americans say their private online communications and photos should remain private after they die".  But privacy could mean different things to different people.  What about family photos?  Critical documents?   Access to online banking and investment accounts? 
That's why it's important to take steps to clarify what your intentions are regarding your digital assets by creating a "digital will".  Four key steps are:
  • Make sure your executor is trust-worthy, tech-savvy, and knows your wishes
  • Disclose in your formal documents (will, estate plan) how you want your accounts handled (deleted, memorialized, etc.)
  • Know the privacy policies of the sites you use, and set up your defaults accordingly
  • Supply your executor with a list of the websites and log-in credentials you want them to have.  There are services that will help you manage and share this information.
The best advice is to treat your digital assets as another piece of your estate, with instructions clearly outlined in your will.  Otherwise your provider's privacy policy could have the final say.

Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA), Member FINRA, SIPC. Supervising office at 678-954-4000. Financial planning offered by Compass Wealth Management LLC. Leslie Beck and Martin Siesta are registered representatives and investment advisor representatives of SFA, which is otherwise unaffiliated with Compass Wealth Management. Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Please note that individual situations can vary.  Therefore, the information presented here should only be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.  For more information visit www.compasswealthmanagement.net