SilverBlog

Wisdom from our industry experts and our SilverLink magazine.

 
 

Blog Category: Private Client Services

Charitable contributions are a vital part of our social fabric. While they are intended to help recipients, they can also benefit donors when the right charitable giving strategies are used. It may seem convenient to simply write a personal check to a charity, but that should be a last resort for most taxpayers. When you write a check, you’re sending off money that was likely taxed before making its way into your bank account – money that’s worth 100 cents on the dollar.

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As a Retirement Plan Advisor, I conduct a lot of employee education meetings. I’m asked many questions, but two keep coming up: “What is a Roth 401(k)?” and “Should I use it for my retirement savings?”

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When determining a home’s value, homeowners tend to think about “market value” or what it might sell for. This number can fluctuate considerably and is primarily dependent on what buyers believe a home is worth. When insurance carriers determine a home’s value, they look at the numbers from a much different angle. Replacement cost coverage is based on the total cost of reconstruction. This number is usually steadier than a home’s market value, with a typical annual increase of 4% to 5%.

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Life insurance can enjoy favorable treatment under federal tax law. When structured properly, beneficiaries can receive death proceeds 100% tax-free, even passing free of probate and federal estate taxes. Furthermore, cash values can grow tax-free within the policy, and tax-free loans can be taken against the cash values. But favorable life insurance taxation isn’t guaranteed. When policies are structured improperly there can be significant consequences.

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There has been a lot written about when to collect Social Security benefits. Despite this, most retirees remain confused – and rightly so! This area of financial planning is very complicated with general rules and a host of exceptions to those rules. Moreover, searching for advice at your local Social Security office may result in conflicting recommendations on the best strategy.

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For years the retirement plan industry has focused on protecting plan administrators through outside fiduciary support. Discussions have often centered on investment assistance through a 3(21) or 3(38) fiduciary, but it’s also important to consider administrative assistance through a 3(16) fiduciary. Too much emphasis has been placed on investment returns and fees when the vast majority of errors occur in the day-to-day management of the plan. These errors can involve loans, tracking eligibility, processing distributions and approving hardships.

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Are you considering surrendering an annuity contract or purchasing a new one? Annuities have been the brunt of considerable criticism lately and consumers are getting mixed signals. There are TV commercials that joke that death is a better option than purchasing an annuity, but the fact is over $200 billion was deposited into annuity contracts in 2017. So who’s right? Is there a middle ground where sometimes annuities make sense while other times they don’t?

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Summer has a distinct sound – hamburgers sizzling on grills, music playing at outdoor festivals and bats crashing into baseballs. You’ll also likely hear the crack of thunder, the howl of strong winds and the clink-clink-clink of hail (probably bouncing off your roof or car). Inclement summer weather is unavoidable in many areas of the country, and people are often left with a sinking feeling as they are forced to listen to their homes and automobiles weather a severe storm. If you’ve ever experienced this, your first thoughts were probably about the deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies.

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We get it – life insurance can be confusing. With so many different coverage options, it’s often difficult to know what is right for you or fully understand the policy you’ve already purchased. In very broad terms, there are two types of life insurance contracts: 1) term insurance; and 2) permanent insurance policies, such as universal life insurance.

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Attention Plan Sponsors
The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is taking action to better protect investment plan participants from advice that could be motivated by undisclosed conflicts of interest. On June 9, 2017, the DOL enacted new fiduciary regulations that address a wide range of investment recommendations. While aimed at financial professionals (such as advisors and recordkeepers), the new rules will also affect plan sponsors, and those working with advisors and vendors who are not acting as fiduciaries will be the first to feel the impact.

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