will

Where do things proceed from that point? Every day, people die intestate. In legalese, that means without a will. This opens the door for the courts to decide what happens with their estates.  When no valid will exists, state intestacy laws dictate how assets are distributed. These laws divide an estate evenly (or equitably) among heirs. Any assets held in joint tenancy go to the joint owner. Assets held in a trust transfer to the trust beneficiaries (with spouses getting a share of those assets in some states). Community property goes to a spouse or partner in community property states.1

Millennial Women saving money

The available data is more encouraging than discouraging. Women 35 and younger are often hard-pressed to save money. Student loans may be outstanding; young children may need to be clothed, fed, and cared for; and rent or home loan payments may need to be made. With all of these very real concerns, are they saving for retirement?     The bad news: 44% of millennial women are not saving for retirement at all. This discovery comes from a recent Wells Fargo survey of more than 1,000 men and women aged 22-35. As 54% of the millennial women surveyed were living paycheck to

NEW HOME SALES GO ONE WAY, RESALES ANOTHER Rising 6.1% in February, new home sales reached a 7-month peak. The Census Bureau said that this gain occurred with just 5.4 months of inventory on the market, less than half that available in 2006 during the height of the last residential real estate boom. In contrast, the National Association of Realtors reported a 3.7% retreat for existing home sales last month, with increasing mortgage rates, high prices, and limited supply as major factors.1      A GAIN FOR DURABLE GOODS ORDERS A Census Bureau report noted a 1.7% improvement in February, following

Estate planning

Too many people make these common errors. Many affluent professionals and business owners put estate planning on hold. Only the courts and lawyers stand to benefit from their procrastination. While inaction is the biggest estate planning error, several other major mistakes can occur. The following blunders can lead to major problems.     Failing to revise an estate plan after a spouse or child dies. This is truly a devastating event, and the grief that follows may be so deep and prolonged that attention may not be paid to this. A death in the family commonly requires a change in the terms

FED HIKES, LEAVES 2017 FORECAST UNCHANGED As expected, the Federal Reserve raised the target range for the federal funds rate by a quarter-point last week to 0.75-1.00%. “The simple message is, the economy is doing well,” Fed chair Janet Yellen explained to the media following the move. The central bank’s dot-plot table still projects two more rate increases during the balance of 2017, with three rate hikes envisioned for both 2018 and 2019.1      INFLATION PRESSURE EASEs February’s Consumer Price Index displayed only a 0.1% gain, compared to 0.6% in January. Core consumer prices moved 0.2% higher. The small February

Health illness

What it is, why people opt for it. Ever hear of critical illness insurance? This isn’t standard-issue disability insurance, but a cousin of sorts. With people living longer, it is a risk management option entering more people’s lives. The notable wrinkle about this type of insurance is that the insurer issues you a lump sum while you are alive. Insurance for a prolonged health crisis. You buy critical illness insurance to help you out in case you are diagnosed with, suffer from, or experience a serious, potentially life-threatening health concern. Now, what does an insurer define as “serious” or “life-threatening?”

Insurance

What kind of coverage do you need, and why? Do you own a small business? Are you starting one? What kind of insurance should you have? Truthfully, you should consider (and preferably have) three kinds of insurance for your business and its assets.  Liability insurance. Absolutely essential. If you run a small business, especially one that provides services of some kind, you will inevitably be sued someday or at least threatened with a suit. Liability insurance will help you if your services or products cause harm to someone or their property. In such cases, liability insurance pays for some or

Interest rate

Monetary policy is normalizing due to economic improvement. On March 15, the Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point to a range of 0.75-1.00%. The increase was widely expected, and it represented a vote of confidence in the economy.1 This was the central bank’s second rate hike in three months, and Wall Street took it in stride, with the S&P 500 rising nearly 15 points on the day. One reason for that may have been the Fed’s latest dot-plot forecast, which remained as it was when the last interest rate adjustment was made in December. The Fed

Taxes IRA

With the tax filing deadline approaching, have you considered contributing to an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA)? IRAs are one of the most powerful retirement savings tools available to you. Even if you’re contributing to a workplace retirement plan, you may want to consider having an IRA as well. You may be eligible for a full or partial federal tax deduction with a traditional IRA. This can be especially valuable if you are already contributing the maximum to your workplace plan, such as a 403(b) or 457(b). There’s still time to make an IRA contribution for the 2016 tax year. The deadline

How Much of Your Retirement Savings Should You Withdraw Each Year? When Fidelity Investments asked more than 1,000 pre-retirees to guess the percentage that retirement planners would recommend, 19% said 7-9% a year. (A typical recommendation might be 4%.) Additionally, another 19% of pre-retirees responding to the investment company’s Retirement IQ survey thought they could safely draw down their retirement funds at a rate of 10-15% a year. At that pace, they could risk outliving their money by their mid-seventies.    If interest rates were a few percentage points higher in this bull market, such large annual withdrawals might be

Some solopreneurs think they will “work forever,” but that perception may be flawed. About 20% of Americans aged 65-74 are still working. A 2016 Pew Research Center study put the precise figure at 18.8%, and Pew estimates that it will reach 31.9% in 2022. That estimate seems reasonable: people are living longer, and the labor force participation rate for Americans aged 65-74 has been rising since the early 1990s.1,2  It may be unreasonable, though, for a pre-retiree to blindly assume he or she will be working at that age. Census Bureau data indicates that the average retirement age in this

Will it apply to your retirement savings distribution? If you receive a distribution from your IRA or workplace retirement plan, what will you do with it? You will probably want to arrange an IRA rollover – a common and useful financial move designed to take these invested assets from one retirement account to another, without tax consequences. The I.R.S. may give you just 60 days to do it, however.    The clock starts ticking on the day you receive the distribution. If assets from your employee retirement plan account or your IRA are paid directly to you, you have 60 calendar

COMPANIES HIRED READILY IN FEBRUARY U.S. firms added 235,000 net new jobs last month, and the latest Department of Labor employment report showed the largest growth occurring in the construction and education/health care sectors. The DoL also revised January’s job gains upward by 11,000 to 238,000. Payroll expansion has averaged 209,000 per month since December. The headline (U-3) jobless rate ticked down 0.1% to 4.7%, and the total (U-6) jobless rate, counting the underemployed, fell 0.2% to 9.2%.1      FED FUTURES MARKET: MARCH RATE HIKE A GIVEN The CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, which tracks the prices of 30-day Fed Fund

Scam

Tax season is in full swing… and tax scams are everywhere.   How can you can tell if a crook is claiming to be the I.R.S. in an effort to steal your money or personal information? Watch for these giveaways.      The I.R.S. will never call you to demand immediate payment of income taxes. Anyone owing federal taxes first receives a written notice from the agency, in the form of a bill.    The I.R.S. never leaves a taxpayer with no chance of appeal. Taxpayers are perfectly within their rights to question and contest I.R.S. claims that they owe federal taxes.    The I.R.S.

Building an Emergency Fund

Everyone should aim to have a cash reserve.  We all would love to have a little extra cash on hand for emergencies. Saving up that cash can be a challenge – but with a little effort, that challenge can be met.        Imagine a 30-year-old couple with no real savings. Let’s call them Kurt and Diana. Together, they earn about $8,000 a month, but their household finances are being squeezed by education debt, rent, and the high cost of living in an affluent metro area. They have about $300 in the bank between them, and they just learned they have a

March 2017

THE MONTH IN BRIEF  February was a great month for stocks and a historic month for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The blue chips closed at record highs for 12 straight trading sessions, a feat unmatched for 30 years. The S&P 500 gained 3.72% for the month. Readings on consumer confidence and purchasing manager indices remained impressive, and a key home price index hit a 30-month high. The latest Consumer Price Index showed mounting inflation pressure, and the Federal Reserve hinted at an oncoming rate move.1,2       DOMESTIC ECONOMIC HEALTH   In January, inflation spiked to a degree unseen

YELLEN: RATE MOVE MAY HAPPEN THIS MONTH  In Chicago Friday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said that if hiring and inflation indicators continue to meet the central bank’s expectations, an interest rate hike “would likely be appropriate” at its March policy meeting. She also noted that, barring unforeseen events, the pace of tightening in the near term “likely will not be as slow as it was during the past couple of years.” After these statements, the Fed futures market put the chance of a March rate increase at 82%.1       RISING CONFIDENCE, TEMPERED SPENDING   At a mark of 114.8, the Conference