RESOURCES

VEHICLES

RETIREMENT

SERVICES DEFINED

LIFE INSURANCE

VEHICLES

What is an Annuity and How Does it Work?

What is an Annuity and How Does it Work? An annuity is a contract between you, the purchaser or owner, and an insurance company, the annuity issuer. In its simplest form, you pay money to an annuity issuer, and the issuer pays out the principal and earnings back to...

Distributions from Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

Introduction A withdrawal of money from an employer-sponsored retirement plan is generally referred to as a distribution. When you have money in a plan maintained by your current or former employer, you need to be aware of your distribution options for several...

401(k) Withdrawals: Beware the Penalty Tax

You've probably heard that if you withdraw taxable amounts from your 401(k) or 403(b) plan before age 59½, you may be socked with a 10% early distribution penalty tax on top of the federal income taxes you'll be required to pay. But did you know that the Internal...

Personal Residence Trust

Qualified Personal Residence Trust A qualified personal residence trust (QPRT, pronounced "Q-Pert") is a specialized form of grantor retained interest trust (GRIT). It is an irrevocable trust into which you transfer an interest in a personal residence, and in which...

Advantages of Trusts

Advantages of Trusts What is a trust? A trust is a legal entity that is created for the purpose of transferring property to a trustee for the benefit of a third person (beneficiary). The trustee manages the property for the beneficiary according to the terms...

Should I be investing more aggressively?

Answer: There's no way to know the answer to that without reviewing your individual circumstances and financial goals. However, if you are investing too conservatively, it can have a profound effect on your long-term financial security. That's particularly true for...

Why do people buy annuities?

 Why do people buy annuities? Annuities are insurance-based financial vehicles that can provide many benefits sought by retirement-minded investors. There are a number of reasons why people buy annuities. Deferral of taxes is a big benefit, and so is the ability to...

Handling Market Volatility

Conventional wisdom says that what goes up must come down. But even if you view market volatility as a normal occurrence, it can be tough to handle when your money is at stake. Though there's no foolproof way to handle the ups and downs of the stock market, the...

RMD’s

What Are Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)? Required minimum distributions, often referred to as RMDs or minimum required distributions, are amounts that the federal government requires you to withdraw annually from traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored...

Have You Checked Your Retirement Plan Lately?

It's generally a good idea to review your employer-sponsored retirement savings plan at least once each year and when major life changes occur. If you haven't given your plan a thorough review within the last 12 months, now may be a good time to do so. Have you...

Deciding When to Retire: When Timing Becomes Critical

Deciding when to retire may not be one decision but a series of decisions and calculations. For example, you'll need to estimate not only your anticipated expenses, but also what sources of retirement income you'll have and how long you'll need your retirement...

In-Service Withdrawals from 401(k) Plans

You may be familiar with the rules for putting money into a 401(k) plan. But are you familiar with the rules for taking your money out? Federal law limits the withdrawal options that a 401(k) plan can offer. But a 401(k) plan may offer fewer withdrawal options than...

Rollovers 2

Rollovers In general, a rollover is the movement of funds from one retirement savings vehicle to another. You may want, or need, to make a rollover for any number of reasons--your employment situation has changed, you want to switch investments, or you've received...

Rollovers 3

Rollovers from Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans In general If you withdraw cash or other assets from an employer-sponsored retirement plan ("employer plan") in an "eligible rollover distribution," (defined below) you can defer paying tax on the distribution by...

Eleven Ways to Help Yourself Stay Sane in a Crazy Market

  Keeping your cool can be hard to do when the market goes on one of its periodic roller-coaster rides. It's useful to have strategies in place that prepare you both financially and psychologically to handle market volatility. Here are 11 ways to help keep...

ESTATE PLANNING

Retirement Planning

Retirement Planning Employee/individual contribution limits Elective deferral limits 2016 2017 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, 457(b) plans, and SAR-SEPs 1 (Includes Roth 401(k) and Roth 403(b) contributions) Lesser of $18,000 or 100% of participant's compensation Lesser...

Government Benefits

Social Security Social Security Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) 2016 2017 For Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries 0.00% 0.30% Tax rate--employee 2016 2017 FICA tax -- Employee 7.65% 7.65% Social Security (OASDI) portion of tax 6.20%...

Coverdell education savings accounts

Education Planning Coverdell ESAs 2016 2017 Annual contribution limit $2,000 $2,000 MAGI phaseout range for Coverdell education savings accounts 2016 2017 Single--phaseout threshold amount $95,000 $95,000 Single--completed phaseout amount after $110,000 $110,000...

Inheriting an IRA or Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plan

What is it? When the account owner of a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) or employer-sponsored retirement plan dies, the remaining funds in the account pass to the named beneficiary (or beneficiaries). Unlike many other inherited assets, these IRA or...

Investment Planning

Tax on long-term capital gains Generally long-term capital gains taxed at maximum rate of: 2016 2017 Taxpayers in top (39.6%) tax bracket 20% 20% Taxpayers in 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35% tax rate brackets 15% 15% Taxpayers in tax rate bracket 15% or less 0% 0% Tax on...

Dealing with Periods of Crisis

What is it? By definition, a crisis is a turning point, a time when you have to make crucial decisions (often suddenly) that will affect your future. Although smart planning is the key to effectively dealing with periods of crisis, you may find yourself suddenly...

Leaving a Legacy

You've worked hard over the years to accumulate wealth, and you probably find it comforting to know that after your death the assets you leave behind will continue to be a source of support for your family, friends, and the causes that are important to you. But to...

Charitable Giving 2

When developing your estate plan, you can do well by doing good. Leaving money to charity rewards you in many ways. It gives you a sense of personal satisfaction, and it can save you money in transfer taxes. A few words about transfer taxes The federal government...

Getting Help from a Financial Professional

 Getting Help from a Financial Professional  Are you suddenly on your own or forced to assume greater responsibility for your financial future? Unsure about whether you're on the right track with your savings and investments? Finding yourself with new...

Individual Income Tax Planning

Adoption credit Adoption credit 2016 2017 Maximum credit $13,460 $13,570 Phaseout threshold amount $201,920 $203,540 Completed phaseout amount after $241,920 $243,540 Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) Maximum AMT exemption amount 2016 2017 Married filing jointly or...

Death of a Family Member Checklist

Death of a Family Member Checklist Losing a loved one can be a difficult experience. Yet, during this time, you must complete a variety of tasks and make important financial decisions. You may need to make final arrangements, notify various businesses and government...

Minimizing Estate Taxes

The act of giving away your property, either during life or at death, will probably be subject to one or more of several types of taxes (collectively referred to here as estate taxes), either on the federal level, state level, or both. These tax liabilities may be...

How do I talk to my elderly parents about their finances?

Answer: Talking to your parents about money is always difficult, especially when the money you're talking about is theirs. They belong to a generation that was taught to keep their information private and not to share their concerns openly. Even if they need help,...

How can I tell if a nursing home provides high-quality care?

Answer: You may have heard horror stories about the quality of nursing home care. However, there are good nursing homes as well as bad ones. Here are some points to consider when evaluating nursing home care: The quality of health care: Make sure that the nursing...

What types of nursing care does long-term care insurance cover?

Answer: It depends on the policy. Long-term care insurance (LTCI) policies define three levels of long-term care. Because some LTCI policies pay for only certain forms of care, it's important to understand these definitions: Skilled care: Continuous round-the-clock...

RETIREMENT

Social Security Myths

Myth: Social Security will provide most of the income you need in retirement. Fact: It's likely that Social Security will provide a smaller portion of retirement income than you expect. There's no doubt about it--Social Security is an important source of retirement...

Eleven Ways to Help Yourself Stay Sane in a Crazy Market

  Keeping your cool can be hard to do when the market goes on one of its periodic roller-coaster rides. It's useful to have strategies in place that prepare you both financially and psychologically to handle market volatility. Here are 11 ways to help keep...

Rollover 1

Can I roll a retirement plan distribution into an IRA? Answer: If you're asking this question, you probably have a 401(k) or other retirement plan through a former employer. The short answer is yes--most retirement plans allow you to roll your plan funds over into an...

Medicaid Planning Goals and Strategies

Medicaid Planning Goals and Strategies Why is Medicaid planning important? Aging is inevitable, and a gradual (or not so gradual) inability to function independently is a great concern for many people. While the prospect of entering a nursing home is a daunting one,...

Lifetime (Noncharitable) Gifting

What is lifetime (noncharitable) gifting? Gifting can be a powerful estate planning tool, allowing you to transfer your wealth to others during your lifetime. Lifetime gifts have many advantages over gifts you might leave in your will (these are called bequests,...

How Earnings Affect Social Security

If you begin to receive Social Security retirement (or survivor's) benefits before you reach full retirement age, money you earn over a certain limit will reduce the amount of your Social Security benefit. In 2017, your benefit will be reduced by $1 for every $2 of...

Social Security Survivor Benefits

When you think of Social Security, you probably think of retirement. However, Social Security can also provide much-needed income to your family members when you die, making their financial lives easier. Your family may be entitled to receive survivor benefits based...

Claiming Survivor’s and Death Benefits

What is it? After the death of your spouse, you may be eligible to receive survivor's benefits and death benefits from government sources, from your spouse's employer, and from retirement plans. Social Security benefits Social Security survivor's benefits If your...

4 Questions about Social Security

https://youtu.be/s1Yv6KbiWgs Four Common Questions about Social Security As you near retirement, it's likely you'll have many questions about Social Security. Here are a few of the most common questions and answers about Social Security benefits. Will Social Security...

How a Retirement Plan Works

How a Retirement Savings Plan Works Employer-sponsored retirement savings plans, such as 401(k), 403(b), and 457 plans, present an ideal opportunity to build a nest egg for retirement. You contribute to the plan via payroll deduction, which can make it easier for you...

Tax-Advantages Savings Vehicles

The Benefits of Tax-Advantaged Savings Vehicles Taxes can take a big bite out of your total investment returns, so it's helpful to look for tax-advantaged strategies when building a portfolio. But keep in mind that investment decisions shouldn't be driven solely by...

Social Security Survivor Benefits

When you think of Social Security, you probably think of retirement. However, Social Security can also provide much-needed income to your family members when you die, making their financial lives easier. Your family may be entitled to receive survivor benefits based...

Does my 16-year-old have to pay Social Security tax on her earnings?

Does my 16-year-old have to pay Social Security tax on her earnings? Answer: Like most wage-earning employees, your 16-year-old will most likely have to pay Social Security tax on her earnings. Of course, every rule has its exceptions. In this case, there are three....

Capital Gains Tax

Capital gains tax is imposed on gains realized from the sale of capital assets such as a home, an investment, or a business interest. Special maximum tax rates generally apply to long-term capital gains; these rates are typically lower than the rates that apply to...

Paying the Bills: Potential Sources of Retirement Income

Planning your retirement income is like putting together a puzzle with many different pieces. One of the first steps in the process is to identify all potential income sources and estimate how much you can expect each one to provide. Social Security According to the...

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