Do you have questions about estate planning? Not sure if you are saving enough for retirement? Need guidance on insurance and investments? Paul White of Thrivent Financial can help.

PaulFifteen years ago, White became a Financial Advisor for Thrivent Financial. Since then he has earned the following designations through the American College: Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP). The American College is the nation’s leading educator of professionals in the insurance and financial services industry. Due to his achievements, he is a now a financial consultant with Thrivent with an office in Litchfield and a satellite office in Atwater.
As a financial consultant, White can help individuals and families be wise with their money and live generous lives. And it all starts with a consultation.

“It is important to build a relationship with the client, and I like to meet with them and talk about their situation and their needs,” said White. “I do not charge for this service.”

From this meeting, White can form a plan that helps put the client and their family on the right path when it comes to financial planning, retirement planning and financial security.

“To use a sports analogy, I am like a quarterback. I am not a CPA, and I am not an attorney. But just like a quarterback who works with other members of the team, I will work with the CPA, the attorney, the bank agent or whoever I need to in order to help the client,” said White. “I have a good relationship with all of the professionals in the area, and we are all on the same page with the commitment to the client. It is really a team effort.”

And commitment to the client is at the heart of every interaction.

“We want to build a relationship with the client and strengthen that relationship over time,” he said. “Everything we do is for the best interest of the client.”

Programs offered by Thrivent include insurance, annuities, mutual funds, financial guidance, education-funding options, retirement plans and trust and investment services.

One big concern for many seniors in their retirement is estate planning

“Anyone who has a taxable asset has an estate,” said White. “Planning is key. You do not want to create a tax problem for the next generation. We help tie up the loose ends so the transition can go smoothly.”

White encourages those who have already done their estate planning in the past to revisit their plan to make sure the plan still makes sense.

“With the farm and land prices going up quite a bit in recent years, there are more people who are having estate problems for the first time,” said White. “A lot of folks bought their farms when they were younger and have seen the price of their land rise to levels they never thought they would rise to.”

Any estate exceeding $1 million in the state of Minnesota could be assessed some estate tax.

“And it doesn’t take a lot of farmland anymore to reach that point,” he said.

By reviewing the estate plan and making some adjustments, clients can prevent a scenario where the next generation receives a large tax burden along with inherited land.

“We have seen it happen more than once that a family has had to sell a portion of the land just to pay the taxes,” said White.

And it is not just restricted to those with farmland or for those with an estate worth more than $1 million.
“Everyone has an estate,” said White. “It could be a smaller number, but you have an estate. You have things that you’re going to pass on to the next generation. I’m not a CPA, I can’t do taxes for people. And I’m not going to give them legal advice or tax advice. But what I can do is make them aware of the current tax laws and work with them, and their chosen CPA and their attorney, to avoid those pitfalls.”

White said there are a variety of strategies to handle estate planning and oftentimes they are not too complicated. Typically, it takes someone to put a good plan together based on the needs of the clients and then work with the professionals (CPA, attorney, etc.) to make it happen.

“That’s where ‘the quarterback’ comes in,” says White with a smile. White will join the client in meetings with these professionals to make sure all their concerns and questions are answered.

Estate planning isn’t White’s only focus.  This summer, White earned the designation “Retirement Income Certified Professional.” White works specifically with people who have retired or are nearing retirement, making sure they maintain their income through retirement.

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Paul White (right) with some of the participants in the Tournament of Duty golf tournament fundraiser in Atwater. White organized the event and raised more than $9,000 in its first event. The second annual tournament is scheduled for June 28, 2014. Photo by Barb Nelson

Giving Back
Thrivent Financial is a faith-based, not-for-profit organization that is owned by its members. Because of this designation, giving back is a major priority for the organization.

“If Thrivent were a for-profit organization, we would have to pay corporate taxes to the federal government every year, but because we are a not-for-profit organization, the government says they aren’t going to take those taxes. However, what Thrivent would have had to pay in taxes they now have to give back through local Thrivent Chapters, churches and other nonprofit organizations.”

Last year, Thrivent Financial gave back $165 million to local organizations. The biggest recipient was Habitat for Humanity.

“In 2006, we signed a five-year, $125 million agreement to help fund Habitat for Humanity. Thrivent Financial continued that commitment after the first five years passed with $25 million dollars a year,” said White. “We now call it Thrivent Builds.”

Thrivent Builds has been working with the Willmar Habitat for Humanity affiliate to repair and build houses in the area. In addition, they have a worldwide program (Thrivent Builds Worldwide) in which Thrivent members can travel to other countries and work on homes. White has volunteered to go to Guatemala four times, each with a local team of fellow volunteers. He recently returned after a trip with a group of 20 people who built three houses.

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Paul White has traveled to Guatemala four times to help build houses through the Thrivent Builds program. He is pictured (middle) with some of the volunteers laying cement blocks on a new house. Photo by Janet Sampson

“Thrivent Builds Worldwide also commits $8,000 to the local international-affiliate for every house that we worked on to fund other homes,” said White. “In Guatemala, the money goes quite a ways because each house only costs about $4,000 to build. So while we physically worked on three homes we helped to fund six more, resulting in a major impact on nine families.”

Lending a helping hand was a natural fit for White, who cites Thrivent’s commitment to volunteerism as one of the major reasons he became interested in working with the company back in 1999.

“It seemed like a really good fit for me. I liked the financial services area and also wanted to give back,” he said.

Through the years White has been quite active in his church, is a member of the Litchfield Rotary Club, the former president of the Atwater Chamber of Commerce, and on the Litchfield Ecumen Board of Directors, and other organizations, and his efforts were noticed by Thrivent Financial. In 2011, he was named Thrivent’s National Volunteer of the Year.

“That caught me by surprise because I was doing what I always do: helping out in the community,” he said.

As a result of the recognition, White received a $5,000 grant to give to a local charity of his choice. He selected Green Lake Bible Camp in Spicer. He was also given a $25,000 check to be given to the national charity of his choice. That award was given to the Wounded Warrior Project, a cause that has special meaning to White.

“Both of my brothers have served in the military, and the Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful thing for the soldiers who struggle after their time in the military,” he said.

After the initial $25,000 donation, White took it a step further. He organized the “Tournament of Duty,” a golf tournament fundraiser designed to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. The Tournament was held on June 29, 2013, at Island Pine Golf Course in Atwater with a goal of raising $5,000. At the end of the day, slightly over $9,000 was raised. The second annual Tournament has already been planned for June 28, 2014, with the hopes of doubling the number of golf teams participating.

Contact
If you would like to learn more about the services provided by Paul White and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, call 1-800-641-6803. The Litchfield office is located at 403 North Sibley Ave., Litchfield, MN 55355. The Atwater office is located at 126 North 4th Street, Atwater, MN 56209. He can also be emailed at paul.white@thrivent.com.