News Stories and Articles
Three Retirement Loopholes Seen Likely to Close
There are plenty of tips and tricks to maximizing your retirement benefits, and more than a few are considered “loopholes” that taxpayers have been able to use to circumvent the letter of the law in order to pay less to the government. But as often happens when too many people make use of such shortcuts, the government may move to close three retirement loopholes that have become increasingly popular as financial advisers have learned how to exploit kinks in the law...Read More (Simple, free registration may be required)
The Charitable IRA Stretch For Kids, Siblings, Parents
You’re widowed and have a large individual retirement account. Do you leave it to charity or your kids? Maybe both. Using a trust described in the following article may mean your children receive much more than if it was left directly to them.
The once obscure technique of leaving an IRA to a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT) is getting new buzz, what with some politicians (most notably, President Obama) wanting to limit IRAs left directly to nonspousal heirs to a five-year life. “If you don’t trust Congress, this is a great answer to get you nearly all the benefits of the stretch locked in at a nominal cost for a good cause,” says Michael Jones, an estate planner in Monterey, Calif. and author of Inheriting an IRA. Read more.
Does Your State Have an Estate or Inheritance Tax?
In addition to the federal estate tax, which is fourth highest in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), many U.S. states levy their own estate and inheritance taxes. While estate taxes are charged against the estate regardless of who inherits the assets, inheritance taxes are levied on the transfer of assets to heirs, based on the relationship of the inheritor to the deceased. In the case of inheritance taxes, spouses, children, or siblings often have different exemptions, which we list in detail in table 35 in the 2015 edition of our annual handbook, Facts & Figures. Currently, fifteen states and the District of Columbia have an estate tax, and six states have an inheritance tax. Maryland and New Jersey have both. Read more.
Back-to-School Education Tax Credits
If you, your spouse or a dependent are heading off to college in the fall, some of your costs may save you money at tax time. You may be able to claim a tax credit on your federal tax return. Here are some key IRS tips that you should know about e tax credits. Read more.
There’s More to Estate Planning Than Just the Will
Wills, health care directives, lists of passwords to online accounts. By now, most people know they should prepare these items — even if they haven’t yet — and make them available to trusted family members before the unthinkable, yet inevitable, happens.
But the information family and friends will need when a loved one dies goes far beyond those much-talked-about documents, and having them can make the end of life just a little less painful for those who remain behind. Read more (simple registration required but no fees).
Is Your Loved One OK At Home Alone?
Maybe you have noticed an increasing pile of unopened mail and bills on your mom’s table. Or maybe your dad, who has always had an incredulous memory, now frequently struggles with keeping track of his car keys. When you bring up the subject, you often get the reply, “Everything is fine. There’s no need to worry.”
For your mom or dad to admit the need for help would mean that he or she can’t take care of himself or herself anymore. As people age, admitting the need for help and accepting assistance is not easy but necessary to ensure an individual’s safety and to provide peace of mind to the family members.
Here are 5 signs that your loved one may need help at home. If you check any one of these items, it can be an indicator that your mom or dad needs additional help or support. Read more.
15 Ways to Retire Early
The word “retirement” and number “65″ are as linked in the American psyche as “bacon and eggs.” Then again, that all depends on how fast you want your eggs, right?
Retiring early — or leaving the work force for the golf course, if you like — might sound like an unattainable goal. That’s especially true if you look at the challenge from a pure cash paradigm. But there are many ways to make it, so long as you take numerous approaches into account.
Yes, 65 is the standard — but what’s 21st century life all about if not exceeding standards? Here are 15 major financial and lifestyle moves you can make to achieve this goal. Read more (simple registration required but no fees).
Avoiding Probate: Is It Worth It?
When you die, your estate goes through a process that manages, settles, and distributes your property according to the terms of your will. This process is governed by state law and is called probate. Probate proceedings fall under the jurisdiction of the probate court (also called the Surrogate's, Orphans', or Chancery court) of the state in which you are domiciled at the time of your death. This court oversees probate of your personal property and any real estate that is located in that state. If you own property located in a state other than the state in which you are domiciled at the time of your death, a separate "ancillary" probate proceeding may need to be initiated in the other state. Read more.
US Workers Miss Billions in Retirement Matches
U.S workers are losing at least $24 billion in retirement plan contributions each year by failing to take full advantage of company matches, according to recent research by 401(k) adviser Financial Engines. One in four retirement plan participants misses out on some or all of the match, costing themselves an average $1,336 annually, said the firm, which reviewed the savings records of 4.4 million employees at the 553 companies using its services. The missed amounts ranged from less than $100 to more than $20,000 for some highly paid, richly matched workers. The rate of match-missing echoes those of previous studies, such as one last year by retirement plan provider TIAA-CREF that found 23 percent of those who contribute to a plan fail to get the full match. Read more.
Transformation of the Aging Industry
Ed. Note: The following is an opinion piece and has some points I found very interesting. A bit of a longer read and one man’s opinion, but interesting conclusions.
Unprecedented population aging is coinciding with exponential technological changes. The effects on the older population and the economics of the aging industry will be worth watching.
There’s something happening here.
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
Through their cautionary protest song, "For What It’s Worth," Buffalo Springfield and rock legend Stephen Stills reflected and amplified the zeitgeist of 1967: the social and cultural turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War era. This stanza addresses confusion and trepidation over escalating divisiveness within the nation’s borders. In some odd ways, this protest ballad can be renewed and reinterpreted today as the nation confronts population aging. Read More.
7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People
I often teach about happiness and what has become exceedingly clear is this: There are seven qualities chronically unhappy people have mastered. According to Psychology Today, University of California researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky states: “40 percent of our capacity for happiness is within our power to change.”
If this is true and it is, there’s hope for us all. There are billions of people on our planet and clearly some are truly happy. The rest of us bounce back and forth between happiness and unhappiness depending on the day. Throughout the years, I’ve learned there are certain traits and habits chronically unhappy people seem to have mastered. But before diving in with you, let me preface this and say: we all have bad days, even weeks when we fall down in all seven areas.
The difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there. Read more (simple registration required but no fees).