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Protecting What’s Yours (While You’re Alive)
Whether due to disability, dementia, or simply enjoying an exotic vacation, there are many ways you can end up unavailable to make critical financial or health care choices for yourself or your loved ones. If you’ve not documented your desires in advance, it can add extra stress for everyone, plus the outcomes may not be what anyone had in mind! In this article learn about three key planning tools you can use today to protect yourself and your assets.
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Dollar Cost Averaging:  A Measured Approach to Investing
There are 2 ways to enter a swimming pool.  You can walk yourself in slowly.  Step by step. Inch by inch. Gradually edging yourself into the water so as not to be shocked by the cold. Or? You can dive right in without hesitation.  Putting money to work in the capital markets is no different, leaving investors faced with the decision: is it better to wade or plunge? 
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"Your Retirement Choices:" A Guide to Making Decisions Regarding Your Pension Benefits
One of the most important letters you may receive is a letter titled “Your Retirement Choices.”   This cheery title sits atop a letter that companies send when it’s time for you to make a decision regarding your accrued pension benefits and is usually sent close to your expected retirement date – although sometimes there is an opportunity to claim benefits early.
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Tax Diversification - Proactive Steps to Reduce Taxation in Retirement
If you’ve worked with us for any length of time, you’ve certainly heard the term diversification once or twice as it relates to investments.  You may not be as familiar with the term “tax diversification” but know that it is a relevant concern that we consider when recommending your savings options.
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IRS increases qualified retirement plan limits for 2019
As you prepare for the new calendar year, one resolution that we often make it to is to take steps towards enhancing our financial future.  As we work with clients towards putting plans in place, we are often asked what are the biggest influencers on reaching retirement goals.  The number one influencer on achieving long term goals  is making regular savings a priority.  Achieving market-like returns along with regular savings is what helps achieve long term financial goals.  Regular savings, versus ad-hoc lump sum contributions to savings also helps smooth out the influence that timing has on the achievement of goals.Additionally, tax-deferred savings (IRA, 401k, 403b etc.) and tax free savings (Roth IRA, Roth 401k) also have significant benefits and are often the first priority for dollars allocated towards savings.The IRS reviews qualified plan limits each year and increases them periodically to keep up inflation.  Generally, the IRS will increase ...
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Letter From the Heart
Too often, financial and especially estate planning focuses on the legal, tax and investment structure and forgets to address practical and personal issues.  Problems may then occur when a loved one passes away and in the midst of the heartache and grief, with little or no direction, the family is left to make difficult short term decisions about funeral arrangements, followed by the big issues of sorting out the longer term financial picture.  What would your family do in such an event?  Would they know the location of your most important documents?  Would they know who to call for help? A few years ago, as we worked through the planning process with a new client, the above thoughts really hit home and we were asked to develop a system that would organize and pass along valuable financial and personal information to her family.  The attached questionnaire became a guide for her and we believe it can prove to be equally as important to you.  We know t...
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The Benefits of Company Sponsored Retirement Plans
As a business owner, establishing a retirement plan at your company can serve many purposes.    Having a plan will provide your employees an opportunity to reduce their taxes and save for retirement.   It can be an important tool in retention of existing employees as well as attracting new employees.It also has quantifiable benefits for the business and the business owner.  In particular, salary deferrals can be shielded from tax and employer contributions can be utilized as expenses for the business.   A business with a small number of employees can take particular advantage of these breaks and often has a wider array of feasible plans to choose from.   The establishment of a retirement plan has become particularly attractive given the reduction in deductible items for many high-earners brought about by the most recent tax legislation.Plans range from the SIMPLE IRA, which allows $12,500 annually to be deferred from tax ($15,500 those over 50), a 3% match...
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529 Savings Plans

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529 Savings Plans
529 Savings plans were introduced in 1996 as a convenient way to save for future college education expenses.   They are used widely, but misunderstandings about their design and use also exist widely.The primary benefit of 529 plans are that they provide tax free growth of contributions as long as the funds are used for qualified college expenses.  More recently, laws changed allowing for 529 plans to be used for k-12 education as well, with the limit annually per student being $10,000 for grades prior to college.  Setting up a 529 plan can be especially valuable if funds are deposited early and have time to benefit from tax-free growth.  Some states also allow for a reduction in state income tax during the year the funds are contributed.Potential asset growth within a 529 plan comes from a set list of mutual fund investments inside the plan.   The fact that the assets are permanently segregated from your spendable assets allows for the growth to occu...
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Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)
Socially Responsible investing (SRI).   Sustainable investing.  Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) investing.  Impact investing.  Whatever you call it – and however you define it – the desire to manage investments in a way that aligns with personal values continues to grow. According to a report from the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, the market size of sustainable, responsible and impact investing in the United States in 2016 was $8.72 trillion, or one-fifth of all investment under professional management. Since 1995, when the US SIF Foundation first measured the size of the US sustainable and responsible investing market, to 2016, the SRI universe has increased nearly 14-fold, a compound annual growth rate of 13.25 percent.SRI has been around since the 1970s but over the last 40+ years it has evolved.  Initially, the approach was to avoid investing in companies whose products or services were considered objec...
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Should You Consider a Roth Conversion?
Roth IRA Conversions are a source of interest and confusion for many investors.   A Roth IRA conversion involves moving assets already in a Traditional IRA or other retirement account* into a Roth IRA.   The growth of assets in a Roth IRA and the distributions from a Roth IRA after age 59 ½ are tax free.   Some investors who have assets in a Traditional IRA may benefit from transferring their assets to a Roth IRA in a conversion.   Upon completion of this conversion an individual will have a tax liability related to the amount converted.  That amount will be taxed at ordinary income rates up to 37%, like your salary.  The 10% penalty applicable to early (before age 59 1/2) IRA distributions does not apply to Roth conversions, so they can be completed at any age. Normally contributions to a Roth IRA may be limited if income levels are too high.   However, there are no salary restrictions that would prevent someone from completing a Roth conversi...
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