Basic estate planning documents may not communicate your intentions. There are three degrees of estate planning: advanced, basic, and none at all. Basic is better than none, but elementary estate planning can still leave something to be desired. While appropriate documents may be in place, they may not be able to fully convey what you really want to do with your estate.   Have you communicated your wishes to your heirs, in writing? Cut-and-dried, boilerplate legal forms will hardly do this for you. In a wealth transfer strategy (as opposed to a basic, generic estate plan), you share your values and

The individual 401k plan is probably your biggest retirement asset but is neglected the most. The bull market that we are currently enjoying turned eight years old last March.  That has been a good thing for your 401k account.  The bad news is that the average length of a bull market is just under 5 years. A bull market behaves a lot like an escalator.  It climbs slow and steady over time. But bear markets behave a little differently.  They behave almost like an elevator.  They can almost free fall and have huge losses in short amounts of time. If

They are low, unless you show the I.R.S. some conspicuous “red flags” on your return. Fewer than 1% of Americans have their federal taxes audited. The percentage has declined recently due to Internal Revenue Service budget cuts. In 2016, just 0.7% of individual returns were audited (1 of every 143). That compares to 1.1% of individual returns in 2010.1,2 The rich are more likely to be audited – and so are the poor. After all, an audit of a wealthy taxpayer could result in a “big score” for the I.R.S., and the agency simply cannot dismiss returns from low-income taxpayers

Your 2017 Financial To-Do List

Things you can do for your future as the year unfolds. What financial, business, or life priorities do you need to address for 2017? Now is a good time to think about the investing, saving, or budgeting methods you could employ toward specific objectives, from building your retirement fund to lowering your taxes. You have plenty of options. Here are a few that might prove convenient:   Can you contribute more to your retirement plans this year? In 2017, the contribution limit for a Roth or traditional IRA remains at $5,500 ($6,500 for those making “catch-up” contributions). Your modified adjusted

Managing Money Well as a Couple

What are the keys in planning to grow wealthy together? When you marry or simply share a household with someone, your financial life changes – and your approach to managing your money may change as well. To succeed as a couple, you may also have to succeed financially. The good news is that is usually not so difficult.  At some point, you will have to ask yourselves some money questions – questions that pertain not only to your shared finances, but also to your individual finances. Waiting too long to ask (or answer) those questions might carry an emotional price.

 Millennials have good reasons to obtain coverage now. Do you plan to buy life insurance before you turn 40? Maybe you should. You may save money in the long run by doing so. At first thought, the idea of purchasing a life insurance policy in your thirties may seem silly. After all, young adults are now marrying and starting families later in life than past generations did, and you and your peers are likely in excellent health with a good chance of living past 80. In fact, LIMRA – a life insurance research and advocacy group – recently surveyed millennials

Saving $1 Million Dollars for retirement

How can you plan to do it? What kind of financial commitment will it take? How many of us will retire with $1 million or more in savings? More of us ought to – in fact, more of us may need to, given inflation and the rising cost of health care. Sadly, few pre-retirees have accumulated that much. A 2015 Government Accountability Office analysis found that the average American aged 55-64 had just $104,000 in retirement money. A 2016 GoBankingRates survey determined that only 13% of Americans had retirement savings of $300,000 or more.1,2 A $100,000 or $300,000 retirement fund

attitude

We may need to change them to better our financial prospects. Our relationship with money is complex & emotional. When we pay a bill, go to the mall, trade in a car for a new one, hunt for a home or apartment, or pass someone seemingly poor or rich on the street, we feel things and harbor certain perceptions.  Are our attitudes about money inherited? They may have been formed when we were kids. We watched what our parents did with their money, and how they managed it. We were told how important it was – or, perhaps, how little

debt

$1.1 billion has been garnished from retirement benefits to pay back old student loans. Do you have a federal student loan that needs to be repaid? You may be surprised at what the government might do to collect that money someday, if it is not paid back soon enough.   If that debt lingers too long, you may find your Social Security income reduced. So far, the Department of the Treasury has carved $1.1 billion out of Social Security benefits to try and reduce outstanding student loan debt. It has a long way to go: of that $1.1 billion collected, more

Money Habits

Financially speaking, what do some households do right? Why do some households tread water financially while others make progress? Does it come down to habits? Sometimes the difference starts there. A household that prioritizes paying itself first may end up in much better financial shape in the long run than other households. Some families see themselves as savers, others as spenders. The spenders may enjoy affluence now, but they also may be setting themselves up for financial struggles down the road. The savers better position themselves for financial emergencies and the creation of wealth. How does a family build up