May 10

Give your wife security this Mother’s Day

MarketWatch RetireMentorsAbraham Lincoln said that “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Instead of treating your wife to a card, jewelry, and brunch again this Sunday, make it even more meaningful by safeguarding her financial future.

When it comes to financial planning, here are some gifts that you should consider for your spouse this Mother’s Day:

1. Maximize your Social Security and pensions to protect your spouse in the future. Did you know that 80% of married women fall into poverty after their spouse passes away? Social security and a pension are likely some of your largest retirement assets you have. Leave a larger benefit for your spouse my maximizing your income benefits.

2. Properly prepared estate documents will provide security for your loved ones in the event of incapacitation or death. Do not make the mistake of believing that the estate planning process is either expensive or morbid. Leaving your family a mess when a health care crisis or death occurs is what is expensive and morbid. Imagine the hassle of your spouse having to involve attorneys and the court system should you become incapacitated and you have not properly planned. An estate plan should include, at a minimum, your will, your health-care directive, your power of attorney. Discuss trusts and their benefits with your attorney.

Read entire article here.

Apr 18

Death & taxes: Planning for the unavoidable

MarketWatch RetireMentorsWe’re commonly reminded that the two certainties in life are death and taxes. Unfortunately for many retirees, neither certainty is included in their comprehensive financial planning.

While the omission of tax planning most often will slowly erode the value of retirement resources as unnecessary taxation trickles away, avoidance of death planning will typically result in sudden and unexpected financial crises that can rearrange and upend an otherwise secure retirement for a surviving spouse. Each can be costly and leave families living on considerably less than they had hoped for or needed to fulfill a stress free retirement.

It’s important that you recognize these potential sinkholes in your own retirement plan so you can discuss them with your financial adviser and make the necessary corrections.

Read entire article here.

Mar 04

10-point checklist for choosing an adviser

MarketWatch RetireMentorsYour retirement dream is picture perfect. It’s a sandy ocean beach, grandchildren’s weddings or that garden that you have never had the time to grow. The reality is your retirement picture is much like a jigsaw puzzle, and there are many components. A fresh set of eyes can help you put those last pieces in place.

Solid financial planning advice brings your dream together. However, the purchase of an inappropriate financial product can haunt you for years and completely change the picture you’ve always dreamed about.

Families will tell you that there is a night-and-day difference between a comprehensive adviser, with your best interests at heart, and the transaction-based financial salesman, making a commission and moving along. While few financial professionals would define their purpose as a product pitchman, the reality is that very few offer the holistic approach that most retirees seek. Below is a 10-point checklist that you should go through to see if your financial adviser is indeed retirement planning-focused or a mere hit-and-run salesman.

Read entire article here.

Feb 21

5 Ways to use donor-advised funds

MarketWatch RetireMentorsDonor-advised funds offer powerful tax advantages within a comprehensive retirement plan for charitably inclined families.

Most families realize that the Gates, Buffetts, Carnegies, Rockefellers and Fords have successfully used charitable gifting and foundations as a tax reduction strategy, but families fail to best utilize charitable gifting in their own planning. Families, and advisers, have incorrectly assumed great wealth is needed to compensate for additional accounting and foundation expenses and achieve any significant benefit of coordinating charitable gifting and retirement planning.

On the contrary, Middle America can recognize many of the fantastic benefits of incorporating charitable planning with their financial planning by utilizing a simple and tax smart charitable giving vehicle called a donor-advised fund. Created over 30 years ago by community foundations and now available nationally, donor-advised funds are a popular form of family philanthropy in America today, outnumbering private foundations by a margin of 2 to 1. Simple to open and inexpensive to operate, they are a wonderful financial vehicle which astute retirees use to both improve their retirement-planning situation and satisfy their accustomed charitable gifting. Consider these powerful advantages:

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Jan 28

Save on 2012 taxes with RMDs, but act PDQ

MarketWatch RetireMentorsQualified charitable distributions (QCD’s) are back. Solid planning for retirees may allow them the ability to go back and reduce their 2012 taxes using this strategy, but they need to be done PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick)!

Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) early this year which preserves many of the Bush era tax provisions, patching the AMT, and avoiding, or delaying, the “fiscal cliff”. The Bill also renewed popular QCD tax-break provisions, but only in 2012 and 2013. Leave it to Congress to pass a law in 2013 affecting 2012 tax returns. While this tax break applies only to IRA owners taking Required minimum distributions (RMD), those retirees who can use it can get a nice tax break.

RMDs often create extra taxation on those over the age 70 1/2 who must take unwanted taxable income from IRAs. The QCD allows an IRA owner to satisfy all or part of these RMDs tax-free if they transfer funds directly to a qualified charity. Individuals may even contribute more than their RMD’s to charity, should they choose.

Read the rest of the article here.