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  • Writer's picturePeter Mu, CFP® ChFC®


Updated: May 12, 2020

During our planning process we ask a lot of documents from our clients. A LOT. What we can read from these documents tell us a story not only about your finances but about who you are and how you make decisions. This helps us construct a whole picture about you and tailor our services to fit your needs.

Here are some of the documents and why we ask for them.

Tax return (1st 2 pages Federal)

Your tax return tells us your deductions, expenses, contributions to tax-deferral and other retirement accounts. This helps us figure out if you are taking full advantage of the deductions available to you and whether a conversation with a tax professional is necessary. Your interest payments also review the taxation on your investments and performance. This helps us analyze if the investments are appropriate for your situation.


Your W2 tells us your retirement contributions, deductions and withholding.

Pay stub

Many important protection benefits such as group health, long term disability, group term life and EAP programs are provided by your employer and paid through payroll deduction. Your pay stub tells us how much and whether you pay with before or after tax deduction. This can make a huge difference in the benefits you receive.

Corporate benefit, employee handbook or benefit statement

This is the place where your employer spells our all the ancillary benefits available to you working at the firm. In our planning conversation we will be covering many of these areas. If you already have certain benefits in place we would take to full advantage.

Long Term Care (LTC) Contract

According to and research conducted by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, most Americans turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. If you already have a LTC insurance that's great news!

Individual and Group Disability Policies

The leading causes of disability is illness(1), not accidents. If you have implemented a disability income insurance policy, or if your employer provides one for you, lets review and discover if the coverage is appropriate for your current situation.

Personal debt and mortgage statement.

Long term debt management and short term debt elimination is critical to wealth building. There are a lot of myths around this area. I’ve been asked a lot whether to pay down mortgage or to save and invest. A lot of cultural, historical and family traditions all contributes to our decisions. Let's review what you have and optimize your approach.

Auto, home owner, and umbrella insurance statement

Protecting what you already have, and what you already invested your life to accomplish is critical. There is more than just your “stuff” that you have to lose. If you are a highly accomplished and highly compensated professional, your ability to produce income is one of your most important assets. Lawsuits can threaten the very foundation of living a good life. We will review your coverage, conditions for satisfaction, deductibles and payment to determine if the coverage is optimized.

Life Insurance contract

We all make promises to others whether expressed or implied. Each time we appreciate the love from our parents, or tell our children that they can be anyone they wish to become when they grow up, we are making a promise that we will do whatever we can to make that happen. Life insurance makes sure that those promises are fulfilled no matter what.

Modern life insurance also provide important living benefits that may be most important to you. In California a permanent life insurance policy may be the best way to implement Long Term Care while having a cost recovery method. The cash value can produce retirement income and may have added tax benefits as well. It is worthwhile to explore your options and work with what you already have.

Investment, brokerage account statement including holdings and earning statement

Stock market is an important wealth creation tool. We will examining how you’ve invested, the philosophy and the tools you’ve used, the performance and your experience so far. We will make sure that the allocation you have for each of the pool of money is appropriate for its purpose and is properly managed on a regular basis.

Any 529, 401(k), 403(b), college savings IRA, ROTH IRA account information

Tax advantaged vehicles are important to long term wealth building. They offer both current and future tax benefits. Optimizing opportunities you have at hand, balancing the pros and cons are key to producing the best out come. We will examine what’s available for you and what’s missing.

Family Trust

Trust is critical for all families event if you don’t own real estate. Other than specifying the conditions, the how, when and who gets your assets a trust package often also include a Will, which specifies the guardian of your minor children, a durable Power of Attorney and an Advanced Health Care Directive. That’s “pull the plug” document. Getting these in order in advance is our responsible way of ensuring our families receive the best support during the most trying times. If you already have a Trust set up that's great. It may be appropriate to designate your trust as the beneficiaries or maybe it’s time for a review.

Your family budget

Creating a future that works (at least in terms of finance) is nearly entirely a cash flow based conversation. While much of what you hear today from the financial service industry is all asset based (invest with us, we are better, faster, easier, we have a mobile phone app, we have ETFs, our fees are lower….) in a sea of sameness, Wealth Cairn strive to be different. We will create a road map that work with your current cash flow to build a future that produces a level of cash flow YOU can call living a good life.

At last, this is a starting point. As you can see the nuance of optimizing a family’s finance is not a simple task. Much to do, so little time. Yet you are here now and I am glad. Let’s work!

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