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Creating a retirement strategy: Do more than invest

By Uncategorized

Across the country, people are saving for that “someday” called retirement. Someday, their careers will end. Someday, they may live off their savings or investments, plus Social Security.  They know this, but many of them do not know when, or how, it will happen. What is missing is a strategy – and a good strategy might make a great difference.

A retirement strategy directly addresses the “when, why, and how” of retiring. It can even address the “where.” It breaks the whole process of getting ready for retirement into actionable steps.

This is so important. Too many people retire with doubts, unsure if they have enough retirement money and uncertain of what their tomorrows will look like. Year after year, many workers also retire earlier than they had expected, and according to a 2022 study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, about 47% do. In contrast, you can save, invest, and act on your vision of retirement now to chart a path toward your goals and the future you want to create for yourself.1      

Since it’s impossible to predict the future, some people dismiss having a long-range retirement strategy. Indeed, there are things about the future you cannot control: how the stock market will perform, how the economy might do. That said, you have partial or full control over other things: the way you save and invest, your spending and your borrowing, the length and arc of your career, and your health. You also have the chance to be proactive and to prepare for the future.

A good retirement strategy has many elements. It sets financial objectives. It addresses your retirement income: how much you may need, the sequence of account withdrawals, and the age at which you claim Social Security. It establishes (or refines) an investment approach. It examines financial implications and possible health care costs, as well as the transfer of assets to heirs.

A prudent retirement strategy also entertains different consequences. Financial professionals often use multiple-probability simulations to try and assess the degree of financial risk to a retirement strategy, in case of an unexpected outcome. These simulations can help to inform the financial professional and the retiree or pre-retiree about the “what ifs” that may affect a strategy. They also consider sequence of returns risk, which refers to the uncertainty of the order of returns an investor may receive over an extended period of time.2

Let a retirement strategy guide you. Ask a financial professional to collaborate with you to create one, personalized for your goals and dreams. When you have such a strategy, you know what steps to take in pursuit of the future you want.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

EBRI.org, 2022
Investopedia.com, October 4, 2021

 

Couples Retiring on the Same Page

By Uncategorized

What does a good retirement look like to you? Does it resemble the retirement that your spouse or partner has in mind? It is at least roughly similar?

The Social Security Administration currently projects an average retirement of 18 years for a man and 21 years for a woman (assuming retirement at age 65). So, sharing the same vision of retirement (or at least respecting the difference in each other’s visions) seems crucial to retirement happiness.1

What kind of retirement does your spouse or partner imagine? During years of working, parenting and making ends meet, many couples never really get around to talking about what retirement should look like. If spouses or partners have quite different attitudes about money or dreams that don’t align, that conversation may be deferred for years. Even if they are great communicators, assumptions about what the other wants for the future may prove inaccurate.

Are couples discussing retirement, or not? According to a recent survey by Fidelity, seven in ten couples say they communicate at least very well with their partner about financial issues. Couples that do communicate with each other are more than twice as likely to report that they expect to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. They are also more likely to report their financial household’s financial health as “excellent” or “very good.”2

If you’re having trouble building a retirement strategy with your significant other, working with a financial professional may help. According to the same survey, couples that work with a financial professional are more likely to talk about money with each other, feel confident about their finances, and agree on their visions of retirement. This may explain why nearly half of all Baby Boomers work with a financial professional.2

Be sure to talk about what you want for the future. A few simple questions can get the conversation going, and you might even want to chat about it over a meal or coffee in a relaxing setting. Dreaming and strategizing together, even on the most basic level, gives you a chance to reacquaint yourselves with your financial needs, goals and personalities.

To start, ask each other what you see yourselves doing in retirement – individually as well as together. Is the way you are saving and investing conducive to those dreams?

Think about whether you are making the most of your retirement savings potential. Could you save more? Do you need to? Are you both contributing to tax-advantaged retirement accounts? Are you comfortable with the amount of risk you are assuming?

If your significant other is handling the household finances (and the meetings with financial professionals about a retirement strategy), are you prepared to take over in case of an emergency? When one half of a couple is the “hub” for money matters and investment decisions, the other spouse or partner needs to at least have an understanding of them. If the unexpected occurs, you will want that knowledge.

Speaking of knowledge, you should also both know who the beneficiaries are for your retirement plans, workplace retirement accounts, and investment accounts, and you both need to know where the relevant paperwork is located.

A shared vision of retirement is great, and respect for individual variations on it is just as vital. A conversation about how you see retirement today can give you that much more input to prepare for tomorrow.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

SSA.gov, 2022
Fidelity.com, 2021

The Behavior Gap and Your Financial Health

By Uncategorized

“It turns out my job was not to find great investments but to help create great investors,” writes Carl Richards, author of “The Behavior Gap.” From increasing our budget mindfulness to taking a steadier approach to investing, Richards has drawn attention to how our unexamined behaviors and emotions can be to our detriment when it comes to living a happy and financially sound life. In many cases, we make poor financial decisions when experiencing panic or anxiety due to personal or widespread events. 1

The Behavior Gap Explained. Coined by Richards, “the behavior gap” refers to the difference between a wise financial decision versus what we decide to do. Many people miss out on higher returns because of emotionally driven decisions, creating a behavior gap between their lower returns and what they could have earned.

Excitement When Stocks Are High. Whether in a bull market or witnessing the hype from a product release, many investors may feel tempted to increase their risks or attempt to gain from emerging investments when stocks are high. This can lead to investors constantly readjusting their portfolios as the market experiences upswings.

Fear When Stocks Are Low. In response to market volatility, investors may feel the need to choose more secure investments and avoid uncertain or seemingly unsafe investments. When stocks are low, a typical response may be to sell and effectively miss out on potential long-term gains.

Short-Term Anxiety and Focus. As humans, viewing aspects of our lives through the lenses of current circumstances is normal. However, one emotional response to any event is letting the moment consume us. Many may find it difficult to think long-term and remember. However, making a rash decision can inhibit the long-term benefit of maintaining a balanced perspective without reactionary behavior.

The market can go up or down at any given point, or it can remain the same. One thing we can control is how we handle our financial strategy. Remembering the likelihood of recovery over time — and the market’s nearly inevitable up-and-down movement — can provide a more logical angle to calm the nerves.

If you’re experiencing financial anxiety in response to the markets, take a breath and remember the potential for long-term gains. Of course, you can and should always reach out to your financial professional for further clarification.

……..

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. Investment Company Institute, 2020

What is an Annuity? Here’s What You Should Know.

By Uncategorized

Individuals hold about $2.5 trillion in annuity contracts; a tidy sum considering an estimated $12.2 trillion is held in all types of IRAs.1

Annuity contracts are purchased from an insurance company. In exchange, the insurance company makes regular payments to the buyer — either immediately or at some future date. These payments can be made monthly, quarterly, annually, or in a single lump sum. Annuity contract holders can opt to receive payments for the rest of their lives or a set number of years.

The money invested in an annuity grows tax-deferred. The amount contributed to the annuity will not be taxed when the money is withdrawn, but earnings will be taxed as regular income. There is no contribution limit for an annuity.

There are two main types of annuities. Fixed annuities offer a guaranteed payout, usually a set dollar amount or a set percentage of the assets in the annuity. Variable annuities offer the possibility to allocate premiums between various subaccounts. This gives annuity owners the ability to participate in the potentially higher returns these subaccounts offer. It also means that the annuity account may fluctuate in value.

Indexed annuities are specialized variable annuities. During the accumulation period, the rate of return is based on an index. Annuities have contract limitations, fees, and charges, including account and administrative fees, underlying investment management fees, mortality and expense fees, and charges for optional benefits. Most annuities have surrender fees that are usually highest if you take out the money in the initial years of the annuity contract. Withdrawals and income payments are taxed as ordinary income. If a withdrawal is made before age 59½, a 10% federal income tax penalty may apply (unless an exception applies). The guarantees of an annuity contract depend on the issuing company’s claims-paying ability. Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency.

Variable annuities are sold by prospectus, which contains detailed information about investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses. You are encouraged to read the prospectus carefully before investing or sending money to buy a variable annuity contract. The prospectus is available from the insurance company or your financial professional. Variable annuity subaccounts will fluctuate based on market conditions and may be worth more or less than the original amount invested when the annuity expires.

Case Study: Robert’s Fixed Annuity. Robert is a 52-year-old business owner. He uses $100,000 to purchase a deferred fixed annuity contract with a 4% guaranteed return.

Over the next 15 years, the contract will accumulate, tax-deferred. By the time Robert is ready to retire, the contract should be worth over $180,000.

At that point, the contract will begin making annual payments of $13,250. Only $7,358 of each payment will be taxable; the rest will be considered a return of principal.

These payments will last the rest of Robert’s life. Assuming he lives to age 85, he’ll eventually receive over $265,000 in payments.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. Investment Company Institute, 2020

Should You Downsize for Retirement?

By Uncategorized

You want to retire, and you own a large home that is nearly or fully paid off. The kids are gone, but the upkeep costs haven’t fallen. Should you retire and keep your home? Or sell your home and retire? Maybe it’s time to downsize.

Lower housing expenses could put more cash in your pocket. If your home isn’t paid off yet, have you considered how much money is going toward the home loan? When you took out your mortgage, your lender likely wanted your monthly payment to amount to no more than 28% of your total gross income, or no more than 36% of your total monthly debt repayments. Those are pretty standard metrics in the mortgage industry.1

What percentage of your gross income are you devoting to your mortgage payments today? Even if your home loan is 15 or 20 years old, you still may be devoting a significant part of your gross income to it. When you move to a smaller home, your mortgage expenses may lessen (or disappear) and your cash flow may greatly increase.

You might even be able to buy a smaller home with cash (if finances permit) and cut your tax liability. Optionally, that smaller home could be in a state or region with lower income taxes and a lower cost of living.

You could capitalize on some home equity. Why not convert some home equity into retirement income? If you were forced into early retirement by some corporate downsizing, you might have a sudden and pressing need for retirement capital, another reason to sell that home you bought decades ago and head for a smaller one.

The lifestyle reasons to downsize (or not). Maybe your home is too much to keep up, or maybe you don’t want to climb stairs anymore. Maybe a condo or an over-55 community appeals to you. Maybe you want to be where it seldom snows.

On the other hand, you may want and need the familiarity of your current home and your immediate neighborhood (not to mention the friends close by).

Sometimes retirees underestimate the cost of downsizing. Even the logistics can be expensive. Just packing up and moving a two-to-three-bedroom home will cost about $1,250 if you are resettling locally. If you are sending it long distance, you can expect the journey to cost around $5,000, if not more. If you can’t sell or move everything, the excess may go into storage, and the price tag on that may be around $90 a month. In selling your home, you will probably pay commissions to both your agent and the buyer’s agent that add up to 6% of the sale price.2,3,4

Some people want to retire and then sell their home, but it may be wiser to sell a home and then retire if the real estate market slows. If you sell sooner instead of later, you can always rent until you find a smaller house that could save you thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars over time.

Run the numbers as accurately as you think you can before you make a move. Downsizing always seems to have a hidden cost or two, but for many retirees, it can open a door to long-term savings. Other seniors may find it cheaper to age in place.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations.

1. nerdwallet.com/blog/mortgages/two-ways-to-determine-how-much-house-you-can-afford/ [4/26/22]

2. investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/061914/downsides-downsizing-retirement.asp [9/16/21]

3. moving.com/movers/moving-cost-calculator.asp [4/27/22]

4. gobankingrates.com/saving-money/home/why-still-wasting-money-storage-units/ [8/31/21]

 

 

The Behavior Gap and Your Financial Health

By Uncategorized

“It turns out my job was not to find great investments but to help create great investors,” writes Carl Richards, author of “The Behavior Gap.” From increasing our budget mindfulness to taking a steadier approach to investing, Richards has drawn attention to how our unexamined behaviors and emotions can be to our detriment when it comes to living a happy and financially sound life. In many cases, we make poor financial decisions when experiencing panic or anxiety due to personal or widespread events. 1

The Behavior Gap Explained

Coined by Richards, “the behavior gap” refers to the difference between a wise financial decision versus what we decide to do. Many people miss out on higher returns because of emotionally driven decisions, creating a behavior gap between their lower returns and what they could have earned.

Excitement When Stocks Are High

Whether in a bull market or witnessing the hype from a product release, many investors may feel tempted to increase their risks or attempt to gain from emerging investments when stocks are high. This can lead to investors constantly readjusting their portfolios as the market experiences upswings.

Fear When Stocks Are Low

In response to market volatility, investors may feel the need to choose more secure investments and avoid uncertain or seemingly unsafe investments. When stocks are low, a typical response may be to sell and effectively miss out on potential long-term gains.

Short-Term Anxiety and Focus

As humans, viewing aspects of our lives through the lenses of current circumstances is normal. However, one emotional response to any event is letting the moment consume us. Many may find it difficult to think long-term and remember. However, making a rash decision can inhibit the long-term benefit of maintaining a balanced perspective without reactionary behavior.

The market can go up or down at any given point, or it can remain the same. One thing we can control is how we handle our financial strategy. Remembering the likelihood of recovery over time — and the market’s nearly inevitable up-and-down movement — can provide a more logical angle to calm the nerves.

If you’re experiencing financial anxiety in response to the markets, take a breath and remember the potential for long-term gains. Of course, you can and should always reach out to your financial professional for further clarification.

……….

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations

  1. BehaviorGap.com, May 16, 2022

Why don’t all affluent people become wealthy?

By Uncategorized

Perceptions, hesitations, & poor decisions are all factors.

Why do some people let their potential for lifetime wealth slip away? Some people are better off economically at 30 or 40 than they are at 50 or 60. In some cases, fate deals them a bad hand. In other cases, bad decisions and inaction are to blame.

Some buy depreciating assets instead of allowing assets to appreciate. They rack up debt and live beyond their means. What are they spending so much on? It isn’t just consumer staples. It’s not unusual for a family to “keep up with the Joneses.”

Contrary to the bumper sticker, the person who dies with the most toys does not necessarily win. In fact, that person may leave a pile of debt and little else behind. Today’s hottest cars, clothes, flat screens, phones, and tablets may be tomorrow’s junk and clutter.

Some never prioritize a retirement strategy. For many, there are opportunities to invest, whether it be through a traditional individual retirement account or a workplace retirement account. In the case of workplace retirement accounts, some companies offer matching contributions, which may be an opportunity to heighten your savings power. That being said, not everyone takes advantage of these opportunities.1

Once you reach age 72, you must begin taking required minimum distributions from your 401(k) plan and traditional IRA in most circumstances. Withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Some never build up an emergency fund. Financial challenges will arise, and a rainy-day fund can help you meet them. Striving to save for that rainy day also helps to promote good, lifelong saving habits.

Some invest without a strategy. Chasing the recent hot trend is a behavior that may lead to frustration instead of financial freedom. Instant wealth seldom comes from an overnight winner. These ideas don’t stop people from hazardously assigning an excessive portion of their assets to one investment.         

Some accept a “forever middle class” mindset. Some people define themselves as middle class and accept that definition all their lives. The danger is that this can amount to a kind of psychological barrier, a sense that “this is it” and that “getting rich” is for others.

Behavior & belief may count as much as effort. It takes some initiative to create lifetime wealth from present-day affluence, but a person’s outlook on money (and view of its purpose) can influence that effort – for better or worse.

……….

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations

  1. CNBC.com, March 4, 2022

Getting (Mentally) Ready to Retire

By Uncategorized

A successful retirement is not merely measured in financial terms. Even those who retire with small fortunes can face boredom or depression and the fear of drawing down their savings too fast. How can new retirees try to calm these worries?

Two factors may help: a gradual retirement transition and some guidance from a financial professional.

An abrupt break from the workplace may be unsettling. As a hypothetical example, imagine a well-paid finance manager at an auto dealership whose personal identity is closely tied to his job. His best friends are all at the dealership. He retires, and suddenly his friends and sense of purpose are absent. He finds that he has no compelling reason to leave the house, nothing to look forward to when he gets up in the morning. Guess what? He hates being retired.

On the other hand, if he prepares for retirement years in advance of his farewell party by exploring an encore career, engaging in varieties of self-employment, or volunteering, he can retire with something promising ahead of him. If he broadens the scope of his social life, so that he can see friends and family regularly and interact with both older and younger people in different settings, his retirement may also become more enjoyable.

The interests and needs of a retiree can change with age or as he or she disengages from the working world. Retired households may need to adjust their lifestyles in response to this evolution.

Practically all retirees have some financial anxiety. It relates to the fact of no longer earning a conventional paycheck. You see it in couples who have $60,000 saved for retirement; you see it in couples who have $6 million saved for retirement. Their retirement strategies are about to be tested, in real time. All that careful preparation is ready to come to fruition, but there are always unknowns.

Some retirees are afraid to spend. They fear spending too much too soon. With help from a financial professional, they can create a strategy.

Retirement challenges people in two ways. The obvious challenge is financial; the less obvious challenge is mental. Both tests may be met with sufficient foresight and dedication.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Major Risks to Family Wealth

By Uncategorized

All too often, family wealth fails to last. One generation builds a business—or even a fortune— lost in the ensuing decades. Why does it happen, again and again?

Often, families fall prey to serious money blunders, making classic mistakes, or not recognizing changing times.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for real-life advice. Make sure to consult legal and tax professionals before modifying your overall estate strategy. 

Procrastination. This is not just a matter of failing to create a strategy but also failing to respond to acknowledged financial weaknesses.

As a hypothetical example, say there is a multimillionaire named Alan. The designated beneficiary of Alan’s six-figure savings account is no longer alive. He realizes he should name another beneficiary, but he never gets around to it. His schedule is busy, and updating that beneficiary form is inconvenient. Alan forgets about it and moves on with his life.

However, this can cause significant headaches for those left behind. If the account lacks a payable-on-death (POD) beneficiary, those assets may end up subject to probate. Using our example above, Alan’s heirs may discover other lingering financial matters that required attention regarding his retirement accounts, real estate holdings, and other investment accounts.1

Minimal or absent estate management. Every year, some multimillionaires die without leaving any instructions for distributing their wealth. These people are not just rock stars and actors but also small business owners and entrepreneurs. According to a recent Caring.com survey, 58% of Americans have no estate preparations in place, not even a will.2 

Anyone reliant on a will alone may risk handing the destiny of their wealth over to a probate judge. The multimillionaire who has a child with special needs, a family history of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, or a former spouse or estranged children may need a greater degree of estate management. If they want to endow charities or give grandkids an excellent start in life, the same idea applies. Business ownership calls for coordinated estate management with consideration for business succession. 

A finely crafted estate strategy has the potential to perpetuate and enhance family wealth for decades, and perhaps, generations. Without it, heirs may have to deal with probate and a painful opportunity cost—the lost potential for tax-advantaged growth and compounding of those assets.

The lack of a “family office.” Decades ago, the wealthiest American households included offices: a staff of handpicked financial professionals who supervised a family’s entire financial life. While traditional “family offices” have disappeared, the concept is as relevant as ever. Today, select wealth management firms emulate this model: in an ongoing relationship distinguished by personal and responsive service, they consult families about investments, provide reports, and assist in decision-making. If your financial picture has become far too complex to address on your own, this could be a wise choice for your family.

Technological flaws. Hackers can hijack email and social media accounts and send phony messages to banks, brokerages, and financial professionals to authorize asset transfers. Social media can help you build your business, but it can also expose you to identity thieves seeking to steal both digital and tangible assets.

Sometimes a business or family installs a security system that proves problematic—so much so that it’s silenced half the time. Unscrupulous people have ways of learning about that, and they may be only one or two degrees separated from you.

No long-term strategy in place. When a family wants to sustain wealth for decades to come, heirs will want to understand the how and why, and be on the same page. If family communication about wealth tends to be more opaque than transparent, then that communication may adequately explain the mechanics and purpose of the strategy.

No decision-making process. In some high net worth families, financial decision-making is vertical and top-down. Parents or grandparents may make decisions in private, and it may be years before heirs learn about those decisions or fully understand them. When heirs do become decision-makers, it is usually upon the death of the elders.

Horizontal decision-making can help multiple generations commit to the guidance of family wealth. Financial professionals can help a family make these decisions with an awareness of different communication styles. In-depth conversations are essential; good estate managers recognize that silence does not necessarily mean agreement.

You may attempt to reduce these risks to family wealth (and others) in collaboration with financial and legal professionals. It is never too early to begin.

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations

  1. SmartCapitalMind.com, February 4, 2022
  2. Yahoo.com, January 18, 2022

Roth IRA Conversions: What are the benefits?

By Uncategorized

If you own an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), perhaps you have heard about Roth IRA conversions. Converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA might be a sound financial move depending on your situation.

But remember, this article is for informational purposes only, not a replacement for real-life advice. A professional should be consulted before attempting this type of strategy. Tax rules are constantly changing, and there is no guarantee that the tax treatment of Roth or Traditional IRAs will remain the same as it is now.

Also, Roth IRA conversions have come under much scrutiny during the past few years. Congress has considered legislation that would prevent high-income Americans from Roth conversions. While no action has taken place, it is possible that Roth rules may change in the future.

Why go Roth? Every Roth IRA conversion is based on a belief: the belief that income tax rates will be higher in the future than they are now. If you hold this belief, then you may want to consider a Roth IRA conversion.

Once you are 59½ and have had your Roth IRA open for at least five calendar years, withdrawals of the earnings from your Roth IRA are exempt from federal income taxes. In addition, once five calendar years have passed, you can withdraw your Roth IRA contributions tax-free and penalty-free.1

Under current I.R.S. rules, if you are the original owner of a Roth IRA, you never have to make mandatory withdrawals from your account. And you can make contributions to a Roth IRA as long as you continue to have earned imcome.2

Currently, if your federal tax filing status is married filing jointly and your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $204,000 or less, you can contribute a maximum of $6,000 to your Roth IRA, $7,000 if you’re age 50 or older. The maximum contribution is also available to single filers with an AGI of $129,000 or less. Depending on how high your AGI is, the amount you are able to contribute may change.3

Why not go Roth? There are many reasons, but here are two to consider: you have to be prepared for the taxable event and time may not be on your side.

A Roth IRA conversion cannot be undone. The I.R.S. regards it as a payout from a traditional IRA prior to that money entering a Roth IRA, and the payout represents taxable income. That taxable income stemming from the conversion could have tax consequences in the year when the conversion occurs.4

In many respects, the earlier in life you convert a regular IRA to a Roth, the better. Your income may rise as you get older; you could finish your career in a higher tax bracket than you were in when you were first employed. Those conditions relate to a key argument for going Roth: it is better to pay taxes on IRA contributions today than on IRA withdrawals tomorrow.

On the other hand, since many retirees have lower income levels than their end salaries, they may retire at a lower tax rate. That is a key argument against Roth conversion.

You could choose to “have it both ways.” As no one can reliably predict the future of American taxation, some people contribute to both Roth and traditional IRAs – figuring that they can be at least “half right” regardless of whether taxes increase or decrease.

If you do go Roth, your heirs may receive tax-free distributions. Lastly, Roth IRAs can prove to be very useful estate management tools. If I.R.S. rules are followed, Roth IRA heirs may end up with a tax-free inheritance from the account. In contrast, distributions of inherited assets from a traditional IRA are taxed.1

Under the 2019 SECURE Act, most non-spouse beneficiaries of a Roth IRA are required to have the funds distributed to them by the end of the tenth calendar year following the year of the original owner’s death.5

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This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Investment advice offered through American Wealth Management (“AWM”), a SEC-registered investment adviser. Certain personnel of AWM may also be registered representatives of M.S. Howells & Co. (“MSH”), Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker-dealer, and therefore, may offer securities through MSH. AWM and MSH are not affiliated entities. M.S Howells does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor regarding your individual situation.

Citations

1 – U.S. News, January 27, 2022
2 – Internal Revenue Service, November 27, 2021
3 – Internal Revenue Service, November 5, 2021
4 – Investopedia, February 2, 2022
5 – Forbes, December 14, 2021