What Entrepreneurs Should Know About Estate Planning

Planning your estate is not the happiest of things to think about, but it's necessary. Rather than blindly feeling their way through the darkness, J.D. Roth of Entrepreneur outlines the tools available to help with estate planning through his own estate planning experiences.

Aside from the obvious wills and life insurance, most people forget to create a master document when they are considering an estate plan. A master document should include a list of emergency contacts and passwords.

Roth said that the estate planning doesn't stop once you've created the documents. Wills and trusts need updating after major life changes; a marriage, divorce, moving to another state, etc.

Check out Trial & Heirs for their weekly take on estate planning.

How Good Are Your Planners Credentials?

When financial planners have the option to choose from over 300 credentials and certifications, how can consumers be sure they're putting their money in the right hands? Research has proved that consumers are ignorant when it comes to certification importance and relevance, and usually can't tell the difference between a phony credential and a legitimate one.

Because of this, planners and consumer advocates have tried working to streamline credentials, trying to get away from the confusing alphabet soup of credentials. At the very least, planners should be licensed to do business, but doing your own research is probably your safest bet.

Fiscal Cliffhanger for Investors

According to Kiplingers, if all the tax hikes and spending cuts are put into effect, stock prices could fall 10% to 20% by the end of the year. More than half of the cuts would come from 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts.

However, all of this could change if Democrats are persuaded into extending the tax cuts into 2013. If they do, Jeremy Siegel believes we will see a positive effect on stock price and business sentiment.

Only time will tell.

How to Retire Rich: 3 Smart Steps at Ages 40-55

According to a 2009 Edward Jones study, 20% of respondents age 45 to 54 had zero savings for college or retirement. Even more shocking: A more recent study found that 62% of survey respondents had never even heard of a 529 college savings plan.

Everyone knows hindsight is 20/20, but according to Kiplingers, saving early and saving often is critical when it comes to making sure you're not in that 20% of non-savers.

According to the article, making a clear plan early on and talking with your kids about financial realism when it comes to college expectations are two tactics to help guide you to a comfortable and realistic retirement.

Check out Financial Planning's cover story on using 529 plans.

Stocks, Oil Rally as Fed Tries to Boost Economy

With crude oil prices and U.S. stocks rising, so began a domino effect of weakening the U.S. dollar. And with that came the expectation that the Fed would encourage investors to invest more in riskier assets like equities and commodities.

To combat this, the central bank implemented a new stimulus program, projecting it will buy $40 billion of mortgage-backed debt per month until the job market gets less bleak. But this is making investors question the timing. According to Quincy Krosby, a market strategist for Prudential Financial, "The Fed's actions are occurring in conjunction with the European Central Bank's commitments to support the euro and amid talk that China could also deliver a stimulus package."

So if the dollar continues to weaken, which sectors could surge?

Materials, Emerging Market ETFs Rally On QE3

As the dollar dove to a 10-month low and the Fed prepared for QE3, basic materials and emerging market exchange traded funds made a quick move to the top of the investment "leader list," leaving treasury and fixed-income ETFs in the dust. But this shouldn't be surprising as the United States, like China, is in a period of economic stimulus, which normally boosts commodity prices, as we've seen with copper at its highest price in the past four months.

Insurance Roars Back Into Style

Deficits DO matter. Following the Fed's plan to buy $40 billion in mortgages monthly until the job market perks up, it goes to show that "insurance" is still in style.

But where will that monetary influx and influence go? According to Michael Santoli, not toward stocks, but rather spread across the risk spectrum in junction with high stock prices. As Santoli said, "Indeed, stock prices at multiyear highs might seem to some asynchronous with an underperforming economy," he points out there's nothing wrong with stock prices when you look at it in the context of high-grade corporate bond yields.

10 Stocks Least Addicted to the Fed's QE3

In this Smart Money piece, mutual fund and money managers were polled to see what stocks they thought would be most resilient once the QE3 hubbub dies down. Amongst the list of 10 stocks immune to the Fed's latest round of quantitative easing are unsurprising power players such as Google, Facebook and Apple Inc. Rounding out the list are Johnson & Johnson and scattered gold mining and holding companies.