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Should Estate Planning Be a Family Affair?

Over the last few years, there have been quite a few headlines that have brought estate planning to the forefront. Remember the unfortunate situations with Prince, Robin Williams or even James Gandolfini – when they passed they did not have solid estate plans in place, which inevitably led to a nightmare for their loved ones who were left to deal with lengthy legal battles and familial disputes. Below, we take a look at a couple of reasons why these plans are usually overlooked, and best practices that not only individuals should consider, but entire families as…


Is the Three-Legged Stool of Retirement Broken?

The three most common sources of retirement income are traditionally known as the three-legged stool of retirement which is made up of pensions, Social Security, and personal savings. For decades, retirees and investors have been able to rely on these three legs for support. However, in recent years, the stool has become broken, forcing investors and soon-to-be retirees to lean on some legs more than others or even to look to other sources for retirement income security.

These days, it’s common to find many people that lack in all three areas. According to the Insured Retirement Institute, approximately 72…


‘Tis the Season… To Evaluate Your Investments

As the end of the year approaches, everyone is busy prepping for the holiday season. It’s a celebratory time of the year to enjoy with family and friends. It is also a good time of the year to evaluate your investments to see if there are any changes that you can make to help ease your tax liability come April. Here are some year-end tax-tips to consider*:

Consider tax-loss harvesting. If you have a security in your portfolio that may be at a loss from the original amount purchased, consider selling it to “harvest” the loss. This loss can be…


Social Security Strategy

Deciding when to begin taking social security benefits is an extremely important decision in your retirement planning process. The optimal age to begin receiving your benefits depends on factors such as your income needs, life expectancy and your desired date of retirement. You are eligible to receive full social security benefits at your full retirement age which varies depending on your date of birth as shown below:

Year of Birth                                   Full Retirement Age
1943-1954                                         66
1955                                                  66 and 2 months
1956                                                  66 and 4 months
1957                                                  66 and 6 months
1958                                                  66 and 8 months
1959                                                  66 and 10 months
1960 or later                                      67

                                                                                        Source: ssa.gov

According…


Roth 401(k) – Is It Right for You?

First, let’s define a Roth 401(k) and how it works. It is an employer-sponsored investment account that is funded with after-tax money up to a contribution limit. The amount you are able to contribute each year is dependent on your age. In 2016, the maximum annual contribution limit for people below age 50 is $18,000. For those over the age of 50, you may contribute up to $24,000 through a “catch-up” contribution. Of course, each employer may establish lower limits, based on their needs and testing requirements. Below are some commonly asked questions about the Roth 401(k).

What’s the difference…


Retirement Savings Made Simple

Saving for retirement is never easy, but with a little assistance it doesn’t have to be the difficult journey that many make it out to be. In the 2016 American Century National Survey of Plan Participants, more than 80% of retirement plan participants replied that they would like their employer to give somewhere between, “a slight nudge” and “a kick in the pants” to save more for retirement. Nine in ten participants said it would be at least somewhat important to tell their younger selves to save more.

There are a number of benefits for both the employee and employer…


Balancing Student Loan Debt and Retirement Savings

Student loans may have gotten you through college, but they can be a heavy burden to carry into the adult world. About seven in 10 graduates leave college with loan debt along with their diplomas — and the average amount owed in 2014 was just under $29,000. Maybe you’re feeling pressured to pay off your loan as fast as possible and postpone retirement planning for later. Actually, though, when you crunch the numbers, it may make sense to rethink your priorities.

Why worry about retirement now?

Retirement might seem far off, however, when you consider that it may last…


Reporting Updates for Post-Employment Benefits Other than Pensions

In 2015, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) released a new reporting standard specifically related to post-employment benefits (OPEB) other than pensions. This new standard, GASB Statement No. 74, “Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefit Plans Other Than Pension Plans,” revised the reporting requirements previously mandated under GASB 43. Public OPEB plans are required to comply with the new requirements beginning with the first plan fiscal year after June 15, 2016. Most of GASB 74 applies to plans administered through trusts in which contributions are irrevocable, trust assets are dedicated to providing OPEB to plan members and trust assets are…


Tips to Maximize Your 401(k)

Most employers today provide a 401(k) savings plan to their employees, but statistics show that most employees are not taking full advantage of this critical employee benefit. There are a multitude of reasons people are not saving enough through employment plans. Some struggle because life is expensive and if you are raising a family there are a lot of competing expenses. Others simply don’t take the time to study their 401(k) or 403(b) plan and rank savings in a plan as a top priority.

Budgeting life expenses after you earmark your savings is a much more effective approach than going…


New DOL Guidelines for Selecting a 401(k) Provider

Under a sweeping new regulation, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has broadly redefined the meaning of providing investment advice under The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This represents the largest change in the 40-year history of ERISA. As a result, financial advisors are more likely to become an ERISA fiduciary.

According to the new Department of Labor directive, when selecting a plan service provider, plan fiduciaries should “engage in an objective process designed to elicit information necessary to assess the qualifications of the provider, the quality of services offered, and the reasonableness of the fees charged…

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