KFA Blog

The Dress Rehearsal No One Gets: ONE SIMPLE STEP

The Rehearsal for what will happen when you are no longer here
By:  Michelle Smalenberger, CFP® - Vice President and Financial Advisor

Have you ever caught yourself curiously considering any of the following questions?

“Who will attend my funeral?”

“Will there be money to leave to my heirs?”

“How will that money be spent?”

“Will my loved ones be taken care of?”

“What does the process REALLY look like after I am no longer here?”

The truth is that every day we are responsible and in control of the decisions we make.  We choose to get up and go wherever the day may lead.  But none of us knows the day when we can longer choose to get up and go.  Does this sound morbid, sad, or make you feel fearful?  It is reality that not even one person has naturally remained alive in their physical body forever. 

Letting this reality sink in for a moment can now lead to refreshing action to live with clarity, purpose, and refreshing conversation.  There are pieces of this Dress Rehearsal that will never happen, but one that doesn’t have to be unclear is that of your financial remains.  I work with many clients before, during, and after a loved one has left our lives.  I can assure you that by making this one area of your life clear you help yourself while you are living and your loved ones for a day in the future.

Where should you start?  Below are steps for a Dress Rehearsal to gain clarity and find points of pain.  If you can answer these with a resounding “Yes, I have these in place” or “Yes, I have done this”, then you are making great strides for the future:

Schedule a meeting with the person you have selected to act for your financial matters after you pass away.  If it’s your spouse, then it may be as simple as making the time for this exercise.  Then do the following:

1)  If something happened to me RIGHT NOW, do you know where to find needed information to act on my behalf?

2)  If you really want to know how good your system is and this is a loved one, maybe let them search where they would go to see if they can find what is needed.  (You must trust the individual in this position.)  The idea here is that organization to one person is different to another person.

** While you are reading this, your stomach may drop then I would suggest you let them see what they can find.  IF you do feel this, it may be a good indication that you should strongly consider the individual you have in this position.  If you don’t like the thought of them going through your personal belongings while you’re alive, would you after your death?  It may be ok, but please consider these individuals carefully.

Characteristics of a qualified person:

-       A spouse or loved one who is aware of the financial transactions that happen regularly in your household  (expenses, income, maybe investment and assets too)

-       A family member you trust that has experience handling an estate or financial affairs of another person

-       A family member you trust that may work as a Financial, legal, or tax planning profession

-       Consider the age of the individual and the life events they may be dealing with while also managing your financial affairs

-       Consider their ability to manage multiple items at once to get things done

-       Consider if this person has similar life affairs so they will be educated on what to do

Make sure you have clear lists or notes of instruction.  If you have a financial advisor it could be as simple as leaving their contact information in a place that’s easy to find for responsible individuals to call when it becomes necessary. 

The largest takeaway is that if you leave things to chance, there is a high likelihood that your wishes or goals will not be carried out as you wished.  By doing some advance planning and organization you save yourself and your loved ones time, hassle, and even money.  Disorganization can cost you money if things are not handled properly.

Planting seeds of fear is not necessary for us to call people to action.  What can be helpful is reading someone else’s account and experience to share that there is value in planning ahead.  Read the following article of one family’s experience in the Wall Street Journal of getting involved when they were acting later than hoped... Click HERE.

As always, we can help you get organized, create a financial plan, and maintain that into your future!  Please call if we can be helpful to you or someone you know.

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In Search of the Perfect Graduation Gift

By:  Lisa Thuer - Senior Trading and Research Specialist


Are you in search for that perfect gift for the new graduate? Do you give them money? Or do you give them a dust collector to sit on their shelf which does just that and collects dust? Why not help them start their nest egg and watch it grow. There are various ways in which you can help them. A recent article from Charles Schwab entitled Help Your College Grad Become an Investor includes four ideas that are easy and won’t break the bank to start saving.


1) Match savings contributions

2) Fund an IRA

3) Give stocks with youth appeal

4) Automate investing


Overtime with the graduate’s long time horizon, they can accumulate a nice nest egg without sacrificing much at all and wouldn’t it be nice for them to actually be able to choose a few companies they like and watch them grow?


If we can be of help with setting this up or giving you ideas, please feel free to contact one of our team members at 847-934-7777.

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Quarterbacking Your Planning Team

KFA's Michelle Smalenberger, CFP® teamed up with attorney Heather Walser, Partner in Lavelle Law's latest podcast, Quarterbacking Your Planning Team.

You’ve probably spent considerable time developing plans for accomplishing your financial and estate planning goals, but what have you done to ensure that the plans you’ve set in place will be executed properly? By working in conjunction with a team of advisors, instead of just one, you can take advantage of the specialized knowledge of many professionals instead of relying on the knowledge of just one. Tune in to hear the who, when, what and why of a successful planning team. 

Listen HERE



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Lisa Thuer Participates in Prestigious Leadership Summit

For Immediate Release


Lisa Thuer, Local Trading and Research Specialist, Participates in
Prestigious BlackRock Leadership Summit for Women Advisors


Palatine, Illinois, March 1, 2016 –  Lisa Thuer, a Palatine, IL-based trading and research investment specialist at Kabarec Financial Advisors, recently participated in an exclusive Leadership Summit organized by BlackRock – the world’s largest investment manager – for leading female financial advisors.


At this distinctive two-day event, held February 10-11 in San Francisco, a select group of women-advisors met with top BlackRock investment professionals to discuss the outlook for investing in 2016, timely investment themes, and how to further empower women as leaders in the financial advisory profession.


“In addition to the opportunity to build my knowledge of how to help my clients make good investment decisions in uncertain times, the BlackRock leadership summit provided a unique forum for sharing insights with my peers regarding the experiences of women in financial advisory,” said Thuer.  “The meeting gave me fresh appreciation of the strengths of women as financial advisors and renewed my commitment to supporting the advancement of other women in our profession.”


Speakers at the BlackRock summit included Hollie Fagan, head of BlackRock’s Registered Investment Advisors business; Martin Small, head of U.S. iShares, the firm’s exchange traded funds (ETF) business, and Susan Colantuono, CEO/Founder of Leading Women, a premier consulting firm supporting corporate initiatives to advance women. 


For over 7 years, Lisa has been a critical member of the Kabarec Financial Advisors team.  Her main areas of focus are placing all investment trades and maintaining the asset allocation to ensure our clients’ objectives and risk tolerance are reflected in their portfolios.  As a key contributor in the firm’s investment committee, Lisa spends much of her time becoming aware of any news regarding our investments and the impact it will have on our portfolios as well as researching new investment ideas.



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Medicare Insurance


Medicare is an essential benefit available to eligible Americans starting at age 65 and it is critical that you understand your Medicare options. You should enroll in Medicare three months before your 65th birthday so your coverage will begin the first day of your birthday month. Failing to enroll in a timely manner can result in financial penalties that can last the rest of your life. When you enroll in Medicare you automatically receive Part A which covers hospitalization but not doctor’s fees. This makes enrolling in Medicare Part B essential, part B will cover a portion of doctor visits, ambulance fees, blood tests, and other healthcare related expenses. You must pay a monthly premium for part B which is usually around $104 for the majority of the population. However, your premium cost is dependent on your income level and may costs as much as $300 a month for those with high incomes. An alternative exist for part A and part B which may be advantageous for those in higher income levels.

Medicare part C is an alternative to Medicare parts A and B. Often referred to as Medicare Advantage, it is privatized Medicare and provided by companies such as BlueCross BlueShield and Humana. Under federal law, Medicare Advantage must provide all of the benefits covered in Medicare Part A and B and most Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare part D. Medicare part D is a prescription drug plan that helps you pay less or nothing for prescription drugs. It is very important that you select some type of prescription drug coverage when you begin Medicare or you will be penalized for lack of coverage the remainder of your life. Even purchasing a policy with minimal coverage qualifies to meet this.

At Kabarec, we recommend having Medicare parts A, B, and D or Medicare Advantage with part D included. It is important to review the pros and cons of Medicare Advantage, often your selection of hospitals and doctors is severely limited by choosing Medicare Advantage over original Medicare. Medical costs are often your largest medical expense during retirement and being properly insured is critical to your financial success.  

In addition to the basic parts of Medicare we suggest adding a supplemental policy.  Supplemental Medicare plans offer great value and are necessary to pick up any additional medical costs not accounted for in original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. The most common supplemental Medicare plan option is plan F. For example, if you go to the doctor and you are charged $100 part B will pay $80 and you are left to pay $20. If you have plan F you would pay nothing, plan F picks up on excess costs uncovered by part B. In addition to this benefit, plan F covers 80% of medical costs covered outside of the United States –coverage in foreign countries is not provided without a supplemental policy like plan F. There are 6 supplemental Medicare policies which you can consider, plan F is the most comprehensive but in many cases an alternative plan may fit you best.

Medicare does not replace the need for long term care insurance and for additional information you can visit medicare.gov.

Your KFA team understands how important your health is to you and should you have questions we can help provide answers.

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