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Outsmarting Investment Fraud

Avoiding Investment Scams
The current financial crisis has not only battered the portfolios of many investors, it has also placed a spotlight on investment fraud. In turbulent economic times, ongoing schemes tend to unravel as wary investors begin demanding their cash. And the opportunity for new fraud can rise, as fraudsters look for any hook to exploit those who hope to recover their losses.




Successful Strategies for Charitable Gifting

A gift to charity may prove to be a great financial favor to you. Charitable gifting has many income and estate tax benefits. There are many different decisions that you have to make regarding giving. However, with these strategies, you can find an option that is right for you and your family, while still meeting your philanthropic goals and supporting the organizations that matter the most to you.




A Guide to 2013 Tax Law Changes: With Minnesota State Tax Changes

When President Obama signed the fiscal cliff bill into law on January 2, a host of major federal tax changes ensued. Some were long planned, and others occurred to a greater or lesser degree than anticipated. Here are the details on those tax changes and many others – the details taxpayers absolutely need to know of 2013.

The bad news is that Americans are going to see significant tax increases this year. The good news is that some of the tax breaks 2010-12 were preserved, and a couple of expired tax perks have even been brought back. Estate and tax planning professionals will also be able to assist their clients with more certainty, as some provisions that were once temporary are now permanent.




10 Things to Know About Planning Your Retirement Income

Historically, the United States had three strong legs of the retirement stool: a well-funded Social Security system, substantial corporate pensions with retiree health benefits and a strong personal savings rate. Unfortunately, the booming population coming of retirement age has changed all that. Now, the responsibility for providing for retirement income has largely shifted away from the government and employers to individuals.

State and local government pension plans are typically underfunded, cutting back on benefits and raising retirement ages. In the private sector, only 42% of Fortune 1000 companies still maintain a defined benefit plan in which participants continue to accrue retirement benefits.1 As for retiree health plans, the percentage of large employers that sponsor them has dropped from 46% in 1991 to just 8% today.




Estate Planning Checklist

You have spent your life working hard to create a secure and comfortable lifestyle for your family and loved one, so one of the greatest gifts you can leave your survivors is an organized estate. Estate planning is a task that many people tend to put off. However, the time you spend now will help your loved ones to cope later and will leave your financial affairs in good order.

Here is a checklist to help you get started on organizing your estate, no matter where you are in your estate planning goals. Depending on your individual situation, you should also address you plans with your loved ones and the executor of your will, and, as with any serious or complicated decisions, consult with your legal, financial, and tax advisers.




Tackling the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 in 5 Easy Steps

What is the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012?
This act addresses the expiration of certain tax provisions centered around what are called the Bush-era tax cuts. It tackles the tax revenue side of a Congressional deficit reduction plan, was passed by the United States Congress on January 1, 2013, and was signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 2, 2013.




The 10% Average Market Return Lie, And What It Means To Investors

Talk to almost any financial advisor, and they will tell you that the stock market, “long‐term”, averages a 10% rate of return. They love to point to the past 70 years, in an attempt to prove their case. If you ask them to define “long‐term”, they will almost certainly say, “10 years or longer”.

And you know what? Over the last 70 years, the market has averaged a 10% return per year. But here’s my question. We have market data going back to 1896, so why are we using just part of the data and not all of it?