About the author  ⁄ Mark Buhrke

Mark Buhrke

Mark grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and spent his junior high and high school years in a small town in Central Illinois. After graduating from Concordia University Chicago with double majors in Computer Science and Business Administration and a minor in Music, he stayed in Chicago until moving to Atlanta in 2002. He’s been helping his clients have more peace and confidence regarding their financial world and estate planning since 1985. He doesn’t bring “the right” answer but he brings 30 years of asking the right questions so that his clients uncover their own “right answers”. Background and qualification information is available at FINRA's BrokerCheck website.

How Much are Your Family Jewels Worth?

interviewed Kathryn Kinev who is the owner of www.jewelcreations.com. Kathryn is a Goldsmith, Platinumsmith, Gemologist, Custom Designer, AND an appraiser. I’ve had clients inherit jewelry, including myself, and the value is some unknown number. I think some of the things I have came from my grandfather but now that both of my parents are gone, we have no way of knowing who owned it. Kathryn has so many years of experience she can look at the pieces and determine the date it was made within an approximate 10 year window. When she showed us an appraisal for just one ring, the appraisal included 4 sheets of paper to detail her research and findings. I was also impressed when she told the story about one of her award winning pieces that she designed. The 6 gems sat on her desk for 2 years as she would look at them and be with them. Then, in the middle of the night, the ...

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Who’s in control of your ILIT?

I recently wrote about the importance of reviewing your estate plan and life insurance values every 3 years. Well, also look at who is in control of the ILIT, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, that you setup many years ago. I have a friend who wanted to review the values of his life insurance policies that are owned by an ILIT and then realized the insurance company wasn’t notified of the death of the trustee of the ILIT nor were they notified who was appointed as the new trustee. He then found out the new trustee wasn’t paying attention to mail from the insurance company and most likely threw away annual statements. Kind of awkward conversations to have. ILIT’s are great planning tools. Not as much now since estate tax laws have changed and the amount of money that can pass from one generation to the next has increased. But as they say, what goes up must come down, as in ...

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What’s Your Biggest Financial Fear?

We’re now hallway through the year. What’s your biggest financial fear? I’ve noticed a lot of people who resist talking to an advisor because they’re afraid of being judged or afraid they aren’t where they feel they should be at this point in their life, regardless of age. There may also be family history regarding the topic of money. Throw away the judgment and book an appointment. Get clear where you are today so you can take action. Fear leads to no action being taken. This initial meeting is really a job interview, from both the client perspective and the advisor perspective. If we have a fit, great. Then let’s get moving and take action. The decisions today will be adjusted over time but at least you’re taking action. What’s that saying about only a moving bike balances. Take that action and move in the direction of breathing easier about your life. If there isn’t a fit with that particular ...

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Review Your Existing Life Insurance Policies Every 3 years

You’ve heard me remind you to review your estate planning documents every 3 years. Add a review of your life insurance as well. Have beneficiaries changed? Do they need to be updated?  Have people come and gone in your life and you’d like someone else to receive the funds? Also run in force illustrations for all of your life insurance policies. Life Insurance policies have different names today so they could have variations of the following words; Annual Renewable Term up to 30 Year Term, Universal Life (UL), Indexed Universal Life (IUL), Variable Universal Life (VUL), Whole Life (WL), Flexible Whole Life, Flexible Premium Whole Life, Variable Whole Life. And there are many other titles, descriptions, and acronyms to describe various life insurance policies. The main reason to review this is changing interest rates being credited to policies in the last 10 to 15 years. This impacts the dividends being paid as well, if the policy pays dividends. I met ...

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Are You Breathing Easier?

Have you ever heard of “Breathwork” or “Rebirthing”? I’ve been doing various forms of breathwork for years. The concept behind it is that when you breathe deeply and rhythmically you oxygenate the body and emotions, feelings and even beliefs that you no longer choose to keep are brought to the surface and released from your body and energy field.  It’s always best to do this with a coach that you trust because some of those emotions and feelings are ones that we’ve labeled bad and we don’t want to feel them. They are the ones that have been stuck for years in our sub-conscious mind.  When they come out, we have to be in a non-judgmental space so we can feel them fully, release them and let them go. We release them so we can Breathe Easier!! It’s kind of like looking at your financial situation. Sometimes we’ve avoided looking at our finances. We may have hundreds of thousands or ...

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After this holiday season, who are you cutting out of your will?

I usually tell clients to read their will around the time of their birthday, every 3 years. This year, it’s January and I’m thinking “Hmmmm. Who wasn’t so nice to me this year around the holidays? Do they need to remain in my will?” All joking aside, it’s good to read your will every few years just to see if there are any additions or deletions to make. It’s also worth paying your attorney for an hour or two of their time to make sure everything is up to date with current tax laws and current state laws that pertain to estate planning that may have changed effective January 1st. For instance, I know Georgia made some change to one of the estate planning documents recently. Always check with your attorney but I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of establishing a revocable trust in addition to having your Will, Healthcare Directive, and Durable Powers of Attorney in place. In states ...

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What a Stupid Question!

So, how many times have you asked someone in the financial world a question and they make you feel stupid? Not only stupid for asking the question, but just plain stupid? That’s what often happens when working with people. There used to be stocks, bonds and cash. There used to be whole life insurance and term life insurance. There used to be disability insurance. There used to be health insurance. Now we have BDC’s and REIT’s and PPL’s and variable life insurance and variable universal life insurance and indexed life insurance and indexed universal life insurance and ETF’s and UIT’s and PPO’s and HMO’s and 401k’s and Roth 401k’s and IRA’s and Roth IRA’s and long term care insurance and then long term care riders and hybrids and properly structured life insurance and improperly structured life insurance . . . You get the point. The financial world of our parents and grandparents doesn’t exist today. It’s become much more complicated ...

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I Take The Blame

When I called one of my best clients to wish him a Happy Birthday, on his 81st birthday I might add, he started the conversation with “I planned to call you today or tomorrow. You’re getting blamed for something here.” I responded, “I am fully responsible! Now what did I do?” He proceeded to tell me that he and his wife have been planning something and every time one of them would question their plans, the other one would just say “Mark would tell us to do this.” And they’re probably right. I would tell them to do it. We then spent the next 25 minutes looking at Google maps of Kuaii and sharing stories about traveling to Kuaii. My clients just rented the house and booked the flights for 10 days on Kuaii with their 2 sons, their 2 daughers-in-law and their 14 year old granddaughter. How awesome!!! I’ll gladly take the blame for this. I say I’ll take ...

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They’re Dead. Now What?

My oldest client passed away this week and it’s been over 5 months since my oldest aunt, my Second Mom, passed away. It’s a sad time, yet a reminder to spend time with those we love and care about. It’s also a time to take care of ourselves. The world just changed, dramatically, for their families and for me. I came into this business through a life insurance company and I remember handling my first death claim for a policy that didn’t have a current agent assigned to it. The son told me that his father had cancelled a couple of other life insurance policies within the prior 2 years and used the cash value to take the entire family on a trip. The memories of that trip meant so much more to him and his mother than them receiving a bigger death benefit that day. So, 1. Tell the people you love that you do love them. Spend time ...

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