What Happens When You're Gone: Administrating An Estate
Scavenger Hunt was a very funny 1979 movie about settling the will of fictional game maker “Milton Parker”. Various groups of potential heirs- family, servants, and other acquaintances- had to play Mr. Parker’s final game, a scramble to find items on a scavenger hunt list to accumulate the most points in order to be sole heir of his fortune.
After many humorous adventures acquiring the items it looked as though Mr. Parker’s greedy sister would win but the other groups gave their items to the more deserving granddaughter who won and shared the fortune with all but the greedy sister.
It was a lesson in how people can come together under adverse circumstances, overcome greed, and be happier for it. Unfortunately in real life the loss of a loved one is very serious and settling an estate can often be very difficult for those left behind.
Administering an estate is a demanding and complex business that can take months or years to complete. Executors (also called personal representatives) must know how to locate and place a value on all of your assets such as bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate, and personal property and to determine and pay all debts and claims against your estate.
The executor must work with your attorney to open the estate, manage, maintain and protect your property and investments while the estate is being settled, calculate and pay all taxes and file tax returns, distribute your assets as directed and give an accurate final accounting if required.
Your executor should not be emotionally involved in the situation. For an already distraught relative or friend the job can be overwhelming. In addition, a relative or friend acting as executor might create family conflicts, jealously, or mistrust. Appointing a neutral, unbiased third party eliminates the potential for this type of trouble.
Your executor must be competent and experienced in settling estates and should be trained in investments, tax law, business, and accounting.
Your executor must always be available. Will an individual executor be in good health and nearby when needed possibly many years later? An executor who lives in a different city or co-executors who live in separate states will find it difficult to complete the tasks on a timely basis.
Your executor is held legally and financially responsible and must have the resources to correct or compensate for any errors.
MutualWealth Management Group will always be available to carry out your wishes as expressed in your will efficiently and effectively unaffected by inexperience, biases or family pressures.
In order to have the professionals in our MutualWealth Management Group administer your estate, contact your attorney and have MutualBank named as your executor or personal representative; or contact us and we will help you gather the information you need before visiting your attorney.
This blog was brough to you by David Riggs, Vice President and Trust Investment Officer with the MutualWealth Management Group.
Deer Need Banking Too
Not too long ago I saw a post on MutualBank’s Facebook page of a picture of three deer at our Bethel Financial Center in Muncie and the caption read, “Deer need banking, too.” I thought this was a pretty neat picture and post. I know it’s the time of year for deer to be out and about. Deer have been on my mind recently, believe it or not, and the above-mentioned Facebook post was just one of the reasons. And no, I’m not a hunter. You see, I just turned 36 and I remember 20 years ago finally snagging my driver’s license. My Dad gave me a lot of advice but not necessarily about driving. I grew up in one of ‘those’ families who let their kids drive at an early age, dating back to sitting on Dad’s lap and him working the pedals with me at the wheel. Looking back, I’m sure Dad probably had a hand ready to take the wheel, but he chose to give me that experience and showed me trust even at an early age.
You’re probably reading and thinking what in the heck does this have to do with banking. Well, not much, but it does have a lot to do with experience, advice, and learning. The advice Dad gave me at 16 still runs through my head today. One piece of Dad’s advice was, “When it starts to rain, oil raises to the top of the pavement and the road will get slick.” Another was, “Keep an eye out for other drivers. At night, don’t rely on looking for headlights, look harder and make sure there are no cars coming when you turn on to a busy road.” Receiving my license in a rural town in Indiana during harvest season led him to give me one additional piece of advice, “When it is harvest season, deer are scared because of all of the farm equipment. Many deer are in the fields and will run across the road to get away from the tractors. Keep an eye out for deer.”
I recently told Dad as we were driving late at night, “Dad, you know one thing I never forget is you telling me during this time of year, keep an eye for deer.” We chuckled and had a moment that is kind of cool for a young man, at one time a little boy, to share with his father. It was special to let him know that his seemingly insignificant advice wasn’t insignificant at all. Just a few moments later as we approached a curve there stood three deer right beside the road. We both emphatically said – “look there, right there they are!” We again chuckled at my coincidental earlier comment. I listened to my Dad’s advice.
A few weeks later I was teaching a customer service class at MutualBank. A piece of this two-day training is lunch with our COO the first day and our CEO the second day. During our CEO’s presentation he talked about experience as a key component to growth and development. That’s when he made a comment that struck me and it brought all of my driving experience and my Dad’s advice to the forefront of my mind. Dave, our CEO said, “I had a mentor, the President before me, who said, ‘Dave, you can only get 10 years experience in 10 years’.” This comment, this simple truth, was profound. It’s true. Dad had several years of experience that he imparted on me as I started driving. As simple as it may be, it made a difference to me. Sometimes we need a mentor, someone to guide us and give us advice to help us grow personally and professionally. I’ve had several influential individuals, like my Dad, my previous managers, current manager, co-workers and friends who have given me great personal and professional advice. I’m thankful after 14 years of working at MutualBank for the advice, experience, and opportunities I have been given.
If you are looking for a great organization that believes in its employees and gives them opportunities to gain experience, then I would encourage to look at working at MutualBank. We are defined by core values of Character, Compassion, Class, and Competition. I can relate each of these to my personal and professional life and even to that great advice my Dad gave me as young driver hitting the road for the first time alone. Ready to grow, learn, and work for a great organization? MutualBank might be the right fit for you!
This blog is brought to you by Chase Batt, Assistant Vice President and Training Manager at MutualBank.
Plan Is Not A Four Letter Word: Budgeting for 2014
Well, yes, technically, it IS a four letter word. But I think you know what I mean.
In today’s world, people cringe at the word “budget”. It is synonymous with “belt-tightening”, “frugalness” etc. All words that make the American consumer love for spending groan. Insert eye-roll here.
A high percentage of the American people live paycheck to paycheck. Some don’t know what most of their money is spent on.
With a little planning and budgeting, looking ahead and making solid changes can be pretty simple to do. Here are a few tips to help in this process.
- Make a detailed list of expenses. If you use a checking account, this is as easy and sitting down with your bank statement through eStatements or Online Banking and looking at the month in a snapshot. List all recurring debts such as loan payments, utilities, credit cards bills. Also add up trips to the grocery, etc.
- Add up your monthly income, after deductions. This includes taxes and another other deductions you have, such as 401K, insurance, etc.
- Deduct number one from number two. This is your disposable income. If you have a negative number, you need to look at number 1 again and see if there is something you can cut, or if you are overspending in areas such as grocery, eating out, etc.
- Once you get a manageable figure, you can then look at your budget. There are lots of good budgeting tools free on the internet that you can use to figure out where your money is going.
The key to this is making it work for you. Not all budgeting programs work for everyone. Make sure you give yourself some grace. Changes to lifestyle don’t happen overnight. Allow yourself some “free” money. Get your kids involved. Make it a game. There are lots of things to do with this so you can get a better handle on your finances.
Remember, planning may not be something that comes naturally to all, but it can be learned.
This blog is brought to you by Debra Jones-Price, Financial Center Manager at MutualBank's Bethel Financial Center in Muncie, Indiana.
Do You Have The Right Partners?
There was a book written in 1995 entitled The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do about It. The author premises that many businesses fail due to a lack of proper management of the company. This comes as a result of the owner being pulled in too many directions while trying to help his or her business truly succeed. At its core, the author suggests that more companies need someone who will work "on" the business instead of "in" the business.
So, what does this look like?
For many companies this means that the owner needs to find good partners to work with. Does the company have a trusted CPA advisor that he or she can turn to with accounting questions? Is there good legal advice that can help in situations whereby good counsel can ultimately save a company money through better contracts? And, does the company have a good relationship with a Business Banker?
What can your Business Banker do for you?
For starters, the Business Banker can provide a wealth of knowledge. Often, the lender has had experiences with others who may be in similar lines of business. As such, he or she can use the past to help the business owner by asking some tough questions. Tough questions, such as:
- How much more were your sales this year?
- Help me understand the growth in your inventory category on your balance sheet.
- Does that growth imply stale inventory, excess capacity or stocking up for incoming sales that are anticipated in the fourth quarter?
Business Bankers have access to a variety of resources as well that can help the company owner understand how his or her company compares to others in the same industry throughout the country with the same sales volumes or history. This comparative data can help drive additional analysis of process, procedures, and sales tactics, all good discussions to be having with your banker.
And that's not all your Business Banker can do for you. He or she can introduce you to other clients that might have synergistic opportunities. For example, if they have a body shop client, they might be able to introduce that client to all of their various insurance agents with whom they work. "I'd like to introduce you to Bob. He has a great body shop business and I know that he can help your clients with their car repair needs." The body shop client benefits, the insurance agent has another good source for taking care of his or her clients, and of course, the additional business ultimately benefits the bank's client which is good for the bank. When was the last time that you asked your Business Banker for a referral?
Finally, the Business Banker ultimately has his or her clients' interest at heart. If the relationship (and I use the word "relationship" intentionally here) is not beneficial to both parties, then ultimately, it is not good for either. It is in the bank's and the client's best interests to have a "mutual admiration society" between each other. When a bank's client is happy and feels good about the service and advice he or she is getting from the bank's lenders, then they win. And if the bank's client wins, then ultimately, the bank wins as well. Both should feel this is a great relationship and that they are mutually looking out for one another's interests.
So, as a business owner, do you have the right banking relationship to help you focus "on" and not "in" your business? If not, then ask the tough questions of your banker.
This blog is brought to you by Senior Vice President and Business Banking Manager, Chris Caldwell.
Health Savings Account (HSA) Tips and Benefits
Autumn always represents a time of change in Indiana. Leaves change colors, temperatures cool down, and the humidity finally drops to a tolerable level. For many companies, autumn also brings changes in health insurance. Open enrollment opportunities provide employees the chance to explore new health care options to maximize their benefits and protect against hardship. In addition, changing health care laws have brought the topic of health insurance to the forefront of many consumers’ minds.
One health insurance option that has steadily gained popularity over the years is the Health Savings Account (HSA). In fact, research conducted by wealth and investment management company Devenir showed that HSA numbers across the country reached 9.1 million accounts in July of 2013. Paired with a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), the HSA presents a more affordable option for employers and an excellent way for employees to save money for healthcare expenses.
Thinking about opening an HSA? Here are a few tips and benefits:
- A High Deductible Health Plan is defined by the IRS as having a minimum deductible of $1,250 for singles and $2,500 for families (limits applicable for tax year 2013).
- Contribution limits are capped at $3,250 for singles or $6,450 for families into your Health Savings Account for tax year 2013. In 2014, these limits increase to $3,300 for singles and $6,550 for families.
- HSA owners over the age of 55 are eligible for an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution in 2013.
- Deductions do not have to be itemized on your federal income taxes to deduct your contributions to an HSA.
- HSA funds can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. (Consult a tax advisor for items considered as qualified medical expenses.)
- Once the HDHP deductible is met, the health insurance covers medical expenses as defined in the policy.
- Over time, if medical expenses are low and contributions are made regularly to the HSA, the account can accumulate significant assets that can be used for health care tax free or used for retirement on a tax-deferred basis.
- HSAs also have an advantage over the Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) since deposits are not necessarily tied to expenses in a particular plan or calendar year. (No use it or lose it policy.)
- HSA funds are automatically rolled over for future medical expenses or may be used to reimburse qualified expenses from prior years, as long as the expense was qualified under an HDHP at the time that the expense was incurred.
High Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts are great options for many consumers, but the choice of health insurance should not be made alone. Excellent resources include your employer’s Human Resources department, an insurance representative, or a professional tax advisor.
This blog was brought to you by Jared Matchette, Deposit Product Analyst at MutualBank.
Be On Guard!
Scammers are everywhere. It's easy to be tricked into sharing personal information with someone who shouldn't receive it. We have learned that customers of some banks and credit unions in Indiana are the target of scammers. Currently, MutualBank customers are not targeted, but it's important to be on guard.
What you need to know is that we will never call or email you asking for you to identify personal information. This includes information about your accounts, your personal identifying information, your debit or credit card information. If someone is calling or emailing you asking you to take action or provide information, please hang up immediately.
These kinds of scams are often called "Social Engineering". Check out our blog from 2012 called "Social Engineering...Don't Be Fooled and Keep Your Information Safe". This will help you protect your information and bank accounts if scammers target you.
If you have accidentally provided information about your debit or credit cards or your bank accounts to someone, please contact us immediately.
Call us at (800) 382-8031 or stop by a Financial Center near you.
Learn more about what to do if you believe you're victim to debit card fraud.
Email Phishing - Protecting Your Information
Whether you own a small business or use your home computer for financial activities, you need to be aware of Email Phishing which can ultimately lead to identity theft and corruption of your small business and home computers.
What is Email Phishing?
Phishing emails are crafted to appear as if they have been sent from a legitimate organization or known individual. These emails often attempt to entice users to click on a link that will take the user to a fraudulent website that appears legitimate. – United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)
Common forms of Email Phishing
Phishing emails are becoming very personalized posing as your cable company, utilities, credit cards, mobile phone carrier, banks, and many more entities that you do business with on a regular basis. The most common threat of Email Phishing right now is malware. If you click on a link inside of an email that was intended for phishing; your computer can become infected with malware. The malware will attempt to steal your personal information, usernames and passwords to systems such as online banking.
Trigger events that can lead to Email Phishing
Here are some trigger events that fraudsters may try to leverage with Phishing Emails.
- Natural disasters (Hurricanes, tornados, etc.)
- Political elections
- Economic conditions
- Tax season
Here are some steps to take in order to protect you against Phishing.
- Most importantly, do not give username and password information (such as online banking systems) out to anyone. Many phishing emails try to trick you into entering username and password information into a phony web site.
- Make sure that email spam/junk filters are turned on and configured properly. Consult with your email provider or IT specialist for assistance.
- Do not click on links or open attachments in suspicious looking emails. Delete them immediately and tag them as spam/junk within your email system.
- Log into your known sites from your web browser to verify if an email is legitimate as the links in emails can be easily spoofed to go somewhere other than where it looks like it will go.
- Be leery of unsolicited emails asking for personal information or presenting links to click on in order to update account information, track orders, overdue bills, cancelled ACH/Wire transactions, etc.
- If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Do not email sensitive information in email unless it is encrypted. Banks and other businesses should provide secure email systems to communicate regarding account information.
- Do not store usernames/passwords, account information, SSN numbers, or other personal information in your email systems as if you do become infected with malware it will attempt to scan your email for this information.
- Make sure that you have anti-malware/virus programs installed on small business and home computers and they are always updated and perform frequent scans.
- Make sure that you keep other programs such as Java, Adobe programs, Internet browsers, and other online programs updated with the most current patches.
- More information about Email Phishing and Cybersecurity
- Here are some good web sites to obtain more information about email phishing.
Learn more about Phishing through information from the FTC and from the United States Government.
Remember, you can call us anytime. Let us know if you have questions or concern for your bank accounts. Call 800-382-8031or email email@example.com.
This blog is brought to you by John Mickle of Risk Management and Compliance with MutualBank.
When You Need Us, We Will Be There.
It was an ambush! As soon as I hit the top of the stairs, a flying set of bouncing pigtails sandwiched around a Cheshire Cat smile hit me with all of the boundless enthusiasm a third grade girl can muster. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she beamed as she stuck out her tiny hand and vigorously shook mine. “I love the Boys & Girls Club! It’s my favorite place!”
The energetic greeter was representing the Boys & Girls Club of Elkhart, which the MutualBank Foundation helped launch with a seed grant. This past school year there were more than 500 young people enrolled in after school programming.
I am proud to say I was a part of the start-up team and Kathy Sears, a
Business Banker in our Elkhart office, currently serves on the board of directors.
There are many things I enjoy about my career with MutualBank, but one thing stands out above all the others. When we say "Go ahead … live a better life!"
- we mean it. No matter how big we grow or how far our footprint expands, we remain a community bank.
I came out of the non-profit world to join the MutualBank team in Elkhart County nearly six years ago and I still have a heart for service. I quickly discovered I was not alone. Our team is blessed with a bevy of servant leaders.
Many of us are in places you have come to expect to find your neighborhood bankers. We have board representatives with the chamber of commerce,
economic development committees and community foundations. MutualBank has a strong financial and volunteer presence with the United Way in all of our
Financial education, especially for young people, is a growing passion for our team. Chrystal Hurd, a Financial Center Manager at Western Avenue, leads an innovative program for grade school students in South Bend. Myra Nissley, a Teller Team Leader at our Syracuse Financial Center, visits schools in Syracuse. Georgette Miller, Financial Center Manager at Baldwin Avenue in Marion, volunteers with Jobs for America’s Graduates in Marion.
We are helping communities Go ahead in health and welfare. Chris Caldwell, Senior Vice President and Business Banking Manager, is board chairman for the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana. Robyn Palmer, Client Relationship Manager for Elkhart County, holds the same position for
Combined Community Services in Kosciusko County and Jim Tinkey, Vice President and Business Banker is a long time member of the
K-21 Health Foundation in Warsaw.
Many more of our Mutual teammates roll up their sleeves and work behind the scenes. Among them, Jaime Faulkner, Communications Coordinator, cooks for the Muncie Mission and Martha Oprea, Trust Compliance Officer with MutualWealth, is a regular in the kitchen at the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
We have an appreciation for the arts. Chuck Viater, North Region President serves the South Bend Symphony Orchestra, Gary Kern, CIO for Information Systems is active with the Muncie Civic Theatre and Lila Piper, Area Manager in Grant County, lends her time and talents to the Community School for the Arts in Marion.
There are many, many others. MutualBank volunteers have helped build Habitat homes and have braved cold winter nights in a tent with the local Boys Scouts. They have walked in the Relay for Life and driven for Meals on Wheels. You will find them at college football games and at the local little league park.
Go ahead … live a better life! And when you need us, we will be there.
This blog is provided by Vince Turner, Regional Manager for Elkhart and
MutualBank Movie Credits
When we visit the theater and enjoy a movie it is easy to overlook the number of hours, hard work, and individuals involved behind the scenes making the magic on screen look so easy. We see the end product, enjoy the experience, and leave feeling like we just watched life unfold on the big screen, but yet we don’t see the editing, the filming, or camera operators (to name a few). Much of the work involved behind the scenes of a movie success is the same within a company. There are hundreds of employees and hours of hard work required to be a sustainable and successful organization.
MutualBank has a lot of stars that play an important role in creating a positive experience for customers. Each employee plays a pivotal role in the operations of the Bank. Many of these individuals are often behind the scenes doing their jobs to make service seamless to customers. It’s very similar to a movie except for the scrolling credits at the end. There are no scrolling credits at the end of the day to give acknowledgements to the employees for a job well done. I can assure you, however, they are there working very hard to make MutualBank the best Bank it can be.
In lieu of these credits MutualBank has a formal employee recognition program. This program is made up primarily of the “Kudos” recognition which is sent by peers, managers, executives, including the President and CEO and it can be received by the same group of individuals. “Kudos” recognizes someone for doing a good job, simply doing his or her job really well, or assisting a co-worker in a time of need.
The “Kudos” each quarter are then compiled and reviewed by a committee. Recipients are selected from these quarterly “Kudos” based off their teamwork, cooperation, and caring attitude to receive a prestigious “Kudos of the Quarter” award. This award includes a special trophy and cash. The “Kudos of the Quarter” has been awarded 146 times in its history.
During the first quarter of 2013 three employees received recognition. Two individuals received the “Kudos of the Quarter” and one individual received the “Go Ahead of the Quarter”, a recognition program similar to its “Kudos” equivalent but recognizes sales and service to customers. Phrases like “you dropped everything to help me”, “you saved me”, and “thank you so much” permeated throughout. These three individuals do not have face-to-face customer contact, at least very minimal if any, and yet they are recognized for their outstanding efforts to make MutualBank a well-ran organization, behind the scene.
So why am I telling you this? I’ve been lucky enough to receive the “Kudos of the Quarter” and I know how special it feels when you are presented with the award. Everyone at the Bank works extremely hard. To earn the recognition is an extraordinary achievement. One of our most recent recipients wrote a thank you note and said, “With all the Kudos the Bank has, I’m sure this is a hard decision every quarter. I appreciate this award and my wish is that every co-worker can experience the honor.”
Another reason I share about our own ‘scrolling credits’ is because it’s something special MutualBank does that has made it a great place to work its near 125 years in existence. Our values as a company are identified by our brand to help people live better lives. How we do that both internally with our teams, and externally with our customers is what keeps that brand alive and sets us apart from others. Recognition of those actions serves both as a thank you and inspiration to others. It also helps to give meaning to our contributions to the Bank and the community.
Sound like a cool place where you might enjoy working? See if you’re fit by
viewing our career opportunities.
This blog is provided by Chase Batt, Assistant Vice President of Human Resources and Training Manager.
Community Banking and Small Businesses
View Archived Posts
Sometimes when I’m writing these blogs I find myself challenged with what to say. Do I blather on about the importance of working with your CPA and attorney as you are making business decisions? By the way, that is critically important so please, please, please . . . talk with your professional advisors to ensure that you are doing the right thing for your business. Do I blather on about the importance of mentors? If you haven’t read that blog I would encourage you to do so as I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having someone to mentor me throughout my career and the great opportunity you may have to do the same for someone coming up in your particular field or industry.
No, today I’m taking proverbial pen in hand (okay keyboard) to talk about the importance of community banks to the small business lending arena. I’m not going to spout all sorts of data as the Internet has given us a tool where we can pull any statistic that we want but to really understand the underlying numbers becomes almost impossible. Instead, what I’d like to do is share some anecdotal kinds of things that I’ve been hearing lately.
One small business owner told his lender that he truly appreciated all her help. He was sure that it was going to be difficult doing business with MutualBank because it is difficult doing business with any bank. However, what he found was a lender and a bank that were easy to do business with. As a point of example, he said “it was a nice experience to have somebody pick up the phone, talk to me and make it happen” when he called the bank’s help desk.
Another client recently reported back to me that he found working with his lender to be one of the main reasons that he continues to do business with MutualBank. His lender fully understands his company’s needs, accurately ascertains what is going on within the business, and asks the right questions to help his company succeed (and thus we helped him personally as well). As he said, “you don’t get that with the big banks”.
Am I biased; sure, I work for a community bank, and always have. But, I will tell you that small business owners want and need a business advisor, not just an order taker. When the business banker is asking the critical questions, it is aimed at helping the business succeed. Does the bank need to make a profit, absolutely; it is our only way of surviving. However, do we need to make a profit at the expense of the business because we didn’t do right by the company to whom we are lending money – absolutely not!
We are here to partner with every one of our business clients. We want to help them with a vast array of products and services that will help them achieve their goals and dreams. So, if you are feeling boxed in by your current bank, call MutualBank and talk with us, we want to help you grow your business the way you want, with our business bankers right there to help you all along the way.
Feeling boxed in? See how MutualBank is different below:
This blog is brought to you by Chris Caldwell, Senior Vice President and
Business Banking Manager.