2023 Tax Planning to Tax Preparation in Retirement

Taylor Wolverton sat down with us to discuss prepping your taxes in 2023. Taylor helps our clients with a focus on tax planning, and she shares a wealth of information in our recent podcast that you’ll find invaluable.

We’re going to be covering all the insights she provides in the podcast below, but feel free to listen to the episode, too.

Waiting until the last minute to file your taxes is stressful. The earlier you begin, the less anxiety and stress you’ll experience.

What do you need to be thinking about when preparing to file your 2023 tax return?

Gather Tax Forms

  • Report all 2023 Sources of Income; to name a few:
    • W-2 from your employer
    • Self-employment income and all amounts reported on 1099-NEC (nonemployee compensation)
    • 1099-INT for interest income 
    • 1099-DIV and/or 1099-B for investment income
    • 1099-R for IRA/401k/annuity/pension account distributions
    • SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits
    • Documentation of rental income
    • Any other income that applies to your situation

With money market interest rates around 4% – 5% this year, the interest reported from those accounts will likely be higher than you’re used to. If you made transfers to and from accounts in 2023 to take advantage of higher interest rates or for any other reasons, be sure that you track down your tax forms from both institutions. 

Rental Properties

Rentals are popular and allow you to make an income from properties you own throughout the year. We have many clients with rentals who will need to report this source of income on their tax return. Supply your tax preparer with as much documentation as you have available; deducting expenses associated with your rental property will lower your overall tax bill.

If you have an Airbnb or long-term rental, consider the following:

  • Work with a CPA/professional tax preparer to not avoid misreporting information
  • Maintain documentation on your rental income
  • Maintain documentation for all expenses relating to the rental
    • Include mortgage interest from your form 1098

Standard Deduction vs Itemization

Everyone who files a tax return can at least take the standard deduction. If you had certain expenses during the year that add up to a value greater than the standard deduction, you can use that value as an itemized deduction instead. If those expenses add up to less than the standard deduction, you’ll take the standard deduction since that will offer the greatest benefit in lowering tax liability.

Itemized deductions include:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate property taxes on primary home
  • Personal property taxes
  • Charitable donations (subject to dollar limitations)
  • Medical expenses (subject to dollar limitations)

It can be a lot of work to gather the above information, but especially if you’ve just started working with a tax preparer that is new to you, it may be worth submitting all of these documents to see the outcome. If you took the standard deduction last year and these items haven’t changed much, you probably don’t need to supply all of these documents. Every person is unique and there’s no right or wrong answer for everyone.

Note: For the year during which you turn age 65, your standard deduction increases. Verify your date of birth with your tax preparer to be sure you are receiving the additional standard deduction; otherwise, you may be unnecessarily overpaying taxes.

Reporting QCDs on Your Tax Return

Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) are something we talk a lot about because they’re such a valuable tool for anyone who is charitably inclined. You can donate to whatever charities you’d like to support while reducing your tax bill in doing so. As an example, let’s assume you’re in the 22% tax bracket and made a $1,000 QCD. As long as you meet the requirements, you’ll save an immediate $220 in federal tax. 

Overview on QCDs:

  • Must be over age 70.5 when the donation is made
  • Donation must be distributed directly from your IRA and be sent to a 501(c)(3) charitable organization
  • Limited to donating $100,000 through this method in 2023
  • The donated IRA distribution is completely federal and state tax free because you won’t claim the distribution as income on your tax return

QCDs are reported as normal distributions on form 1099-R from your IRA. For that reason, you will need to be the one to provide the additional context to your tax preparer by letting them know the dollar amount of the QCD. For example, let’s assume you took $50,000 in distributions from your IRA and also made a QCD of $5,000 from the same IRA account in 2023. Your 1099-R will show $55,000 in distributions with no specification that $5,000 went to charity. You need to be the one to let your tax professional know to input the $5,000 as a QCD. Otherwise, it may be reported as a fully taxable distribution which negates the whole purpose of QCDs and may result in an unnecessary overpayment in taxes. 

Reporting Roth Conversions and Contributions on Your Tax Return

Like QCDs, tax forms reporting Roth conversions will not differentiate Roth conversions from normal distributions. It is true that whether it was a distribution to your checking account or a conversion to your Roth IRA, the distribution is taxed the same; however, not specifying that it is a conversion can have other consequences. 

If you’re under age 59 ½, you cannot take a normal distribution from an IRA without penalty (unless you meet certain exceptions), but you are eligible for Roth conversions at any age. It will be helpful for your tax preparer to know the additional context around the dollar amount of the Roth conversion to eliminate any unnecessary penalties that would otherwise attach to early distributions from an IRA. 

The second important specification is not just that it was a Roth conversion, but WHEN it was processed. If the WHEN is not communicated to the tax preparer, it could put you in danger of owing unnecessary underpayment penalties. For example, one of our clients did a Roth conversion in November and paid estimated taxes in November. Since the IRS is a pay-as-you-go system, they want you to pay taxes at the same time you’re receiving income/distributions, so the timing is another detail that will be important for your tax preparer to be aware of.

Context matters!

Reporting Contributions on Your Tax Return

Roth IRA contributions will not impact your taxes and are not reported on tax returns at all. You will receive a form 5498 from the account you contributed to, but oftentimes, this form isn’t available until May. You don’t need to delay submitting your tax return until you receive this form as it is just to show the contributions that you made.

If you do have any questions and are a client of ours, feel free to give us a call and we’ll help clarify anything that we can.

Want to schedule a call with us?

Click here to book a call or reach us at (919) 787-8866.

January 29, 2024 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for January 29, 2024

Cybersecurity Safety in Retirement

Listen in to learn the importance of staying informed and taking precautions when using the internet instead of avoiding it. You will also learn the importance of having strong passwords, changing passwords when you suspect maliciousness, setting up two-factor authentication, and more.

 

Cybersecurity Safety in Retirement

On the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we had a very special guest to discuss cybersecurity safety in retirement. You’ve worked your entire life to retire one day, and with how everything is digitally connected, it’s scary how in a split second, someone can steal your identity.

Retirement planning in the digital age really requires a discussion on cybersecurity and what you can do to protect yourself.

Cybersecurity Safety in Retirement

On the Secure Your Retirement podcast, we had a very special guest to discuss cybersecurity safety in retirement. You’ve worked your entire life to retire one day, and with how everything is digitally connected, it’s scary how in a split second, someone can steal your identity.

Retirement planning in the digital age really requires a discussion on cybersecurity and what you can do to protect yourself.

Joseph O’Donnell of Terrapin Technology Group was happy to sit down with us and answer a lot of the questions that we had about cybersecurity.

Note: Our employees and firm must go through training to protect our clients and maintain our license. We all train in cybersecurity to better protect clients and reduce the risk of working with us financially.

Phishing Emails – A Growing Concern

Phishing emails, voicemails, or text messages can be fraudulent. Scammers hope that you “take the bait” when they call or send these messages. For example, you may receive an email that appears to be from someone you know asking for money or from your child asking for your bank account password.

The emails may match up to the person’s email and look 100% real.

But someone may have hacked into your child’s email account and is now trying to “phish” for you to take the bait so that they can steal your identity and/or money.

Phishing emails often have:

  • Threat
  • Urgency

You may click on a link that looks like Amazon, enter your credit info, and then submit that information to the hacker without even knowing it.

It’s common for these emails to say things like:

  • Someone accessed your credit card account. Can you verify it?
  • Your Amazon package is missing. Please log into your account. 

In either case, links in these messages never lead to a legitimate website.

Determining What is Phishing and What’s Not?

Text messages, calls, and emails have become so convincing that it’s very challenging to know what’s real and what’s not anymore. Even tech-savvy people and those trained in cybersecurity may be tricked into handing over their information.

How do you tell what’s real or not?

If you think, “I have an anti-virus, I’ll be fine,” you’re not safe. Phishing emails do not fall under the umbrella of the anti-virus. Phishing emails are difficult to protect against because human responses are involved. If there’s a “threat,” such as you’re over balance, it’s a threat in the sense of urgency.

If you find yourself receiving an urgent message like the examples we’ve shared, it’s important to:

  • Step back from the computer or email app
  • Call the bank or lender directly (not using the info provided in the email)

You should consider everything as being unsafe when it comes to emails like this and fall back to traditional phone calls or other forms of communication.

The minute you trust an email, it’s a foothold for the hacker to have you:

  • Send information
  • Fill in your passwords

Even if you receive a call saying, “Your Amazon card has been charged $3,220,” hang up and call Amazon. You always want to call:

  • The number on the back of your credit card
  • The number of your bank

Never, ever click on the link in the email or call the number in the email because these can all be made to look legitimate, but in reality, be very elaborate fakes.

The “I Fear All the Problems of Being Online, So I’m Just Not Going to Be Online” Attitude

We have clients in all age groups who are afraid to be online and tell us that they’re just not going to participate because the risks are too high. This response is similar to driving a car: you may be in an accident, but do you stop driving?

Often, you continue to drive or ride in cars but remain diligent and take necessary precautions, such as:

  • Insurance
  • Braking early
  • Checking each direction twice

Your best security is to be informed because even if you don’t use the Internet, when you go into stores to use a credit card, there is a data point created on you.

Plus, staying off the Internet also makes it more difficult to find information or interact with the world.

Fraud happens online and offline, and we’re seeing more texts and phone calls come in that are phishing for your information. You may receive a very convincing call about your bank account and provide things like your last four digits of your Social Security Number. But what’s really happening is:

  • The person is logging this data
  • The person plans to call your bank using this data
  • The person wants to steal your identity or transfer your money to themselves

Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are scammers who will leverage anything they can for financial gain of some sort.

Navigating Data Breaches and What Happens If You’re a Victim

Data breaches happen a lot. If you become a victim, there are often millions of other names on the list who are also at risk of their identities being sold. We also only have so much time. While you may know that you should have different passwords for all your accounts, it’s not uncommon for people to use the same passwords across multiple accounts because it’s easier.

The problem?

One password can unlock multiple accounts in a data breach if you reuse the password often. Even Joe has reused the same password across multiple accounts, and when that happens, you risk the password hitting the dark web at some point.

23andme had a recent data breach, due to a weak password, and it had a cascading effect on other people’s information being stolen. The hacker used the person’s password, which was likely a:

  • Kid’s name
  • Password1234
  • Anything else that’s easy to guess

If you do receive a notice to change your password or are notified of a data breach, be sure to change this password on all accounts that it’s associated with. Hackers may know your 23andme password, but if it’s the same as your bank and email account, they can also gain access to these accounts.

Whether the account is your Facebook, email, bank, or something else, be sure to enable two-factor authentication.

Yes, it’s an extra step to take, but it will safeguard your account.

If you don’t know what two-factor authentication (sometimes multi-factor, MFA or 2FA) is, it’s when the website will send you a text to verify that the person logging in is really you. Since a hacker won’t have your phone, it’s one of the best security measures that you can take.

Effectively, two-factor authentication will require you to enter your email and password, and then it will:

  • Call your phone, or
  • Send an email with a password, or
  • Send the code on an authentication app, or
  • Send you a text

Hackers are stopped cold in their tracks when you have two-factor authentication in place.

Using Password Managers

You may have heard of LastPass, Bit Warden, 1Password, Google’s password manager and others. These managers allow you to use sophisticated, complex passwords on multiple accounts and you only need to remember the password to the manager.

If you do use a password manager, you want to be sure that the data is encrypted.

Joe doesn’t recommend that you use a browser password manager unless it’s for something that isn’t really important, such as your New York Times account or something like that.

Cybersecurity is a topic that we’ll be discussing throughout the year to help you protect your accounts and identity online.

Click here to schedule a call with us to talk about securing your retirement.

January 22, 2024 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage. Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for January 22, 2024

Don’t Gamble Your Retirement

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs discuss the risk and reward concept in retirement investing and how your age and life experiences will impact it. You will also learn how to avoid uncertainty and unpredictability with an investment strategy and the importance of a good long-term strategy and a diversified investment portfolio.  

Don’t Gamble Your Retirement

For a moment, you might be up and doing pretty well, but just like the stock market, things changed quickly. Risk and reward are crucial in retirement planning. You can roll the dice on investments and certain things a little more when you’re younger, but many want to limit rolling the dice when you’re 5 or 10 years away from retiring.

Don’t Gamble Your Retirement

We were recently at a conference in Las Vegas, and it made us think about the retirement gamble. Gambling isn’t for everyone. Someone will hit a jackpot, but others simply aren’t good at it.

Murs went into the casino, and within ten minutes, he had lost the $100 he had set aside.

For a moment, he was up and doing pretty well, but just like the stock market, things changed quickly. Risk and reward are crucial in retirement planning. You can roll the dice on investments and certain things a little more when you’re younger, but many want to limit rolling the dice when you’re 5 or 10 years away from retiring.

When Does Risk Change in the Retirement Gamble?

Risk doesn’t matter as much when it’s money that you have set aside. If you put $10,000 into crypto using money that wasn’t going to be for retirement and whether you lose it or it triples, the outcome will likely feel different because you used money that was set aside. However, risk should be tamed the closer you get to retirement because you don’t want to have to be in the workforce for an additional year or two or more due to too high of risk.

Your risk tolerance can change at any time, but we often see two main circumstances where it changes:

  1. Life experiences and milestones
  2. Age

We have some clients in their 80s that are rather aggressive investors, and they’re often business owners who have dealt with ups and downs regularly.

Other clients are much younger and more conservative in their investments because they’ve been burned on investments in the past. These clients don’t want to deal with losses like they did in 2008.

Of course, the stock market is risk and reward, but there’s a stark difference between the risks of certain stocks. One stock may be in a dying industry, while another is a major grocery chain with less risk.

There’s no absolute wrong or right answer to the risk that you’re willing to take. We help our clients manage risk based on their tolerance so that they can be confident in their retirement strategy.

Uncertainty in Your Investments and Retirement

When people sit down and really start retirement planning, it’s common to have some uncertainties. You’ve never lived through retirement, and you don’t have experience knowing how to transition to using your retirement funds to:

  • Pay the bills
  • Derive income
  • Address taxes

You can have predictability and certainty in your retirement plan. Rules, just like at the casino, can help you manage your money so that it lasts the rest of your life. Plans allow you the freedom to leverage advanced tax strategies and have a steady stream of income from retirement that allows you to live the life you want without running out of the money you worked hard to invest and save.

Instant Gratification vs a Good, Long-term Strategy

Picture back in 2020, during the pandemic, there were MEME stocks, such as Bed Bath and Beyond and FOMO (fear of missing out). You would see on the news that investors were riding on the coattails of certain stocks, and everyone would follow the crowd.

Ultimately, these people who followed the crowd lost a lot of money because many of these stocks were being over-inflated.

People had a lot of fun with these trends, but as a long-term strategy, these trends ended up failing. A long-term plan is your best choice for retirement. We believe in multiple “buckets” in retirement so that all your money isn’t tied to the market.

For our longtime listeners and readers, you know we often discuss a few main buckets:

  1. Growth
  2. Safety/income

Safety/income buckets may make a 4 – 6% return in the next few years, and they’re not tied to the S&P 500. You can be confident that this money will be there for the next 10 – 20 years.

Growth buckets are separate from the safety and income buckets.

We can act like we’re in the casino with a growth bucket, still investing wisely, but your safety/income bucket is secure, and you can ride the ups and downs of the market. Volatility is here to stay in the market and it’s important to have a long-term strategy in place that allows you to secure your retirement and still make a nice return on investments.

Diversification in Retirement

You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket or bet everything you have on one investment. A savvy gambler will put money on multiple games, and that’s what you should consider doing in your retirement.

For example, if your growth bucket has a high level of diversification, you hedge against losses and still have your safety/income bucket to rely on.

If the market goes down, you don’t have to stress or the emotions of the S&P 500 being down 20% because you have the money in your safety bucket to maintain your lifestyle. Your safety bucket allows you the freedom to let the stock market go back up again because history shows us that it will go back up if enough time passes.

It’s easy to see stocks down and sell because you’re down hundreds of thousands of dollars. But you’re less likely to sell at a loss and make a rash decision like this when you have other money to rely on.

Psychological Aspects of Investing

Investments are a gamble. Sometimes, people get stuck, and they say well, “I lost $1,000, but I have a good feeling this stock is going to rise.” Behavioral finance shows that sometimes people make decisions they may later regret based on what’s happening at the moment.

A sound strategy allows you to take a step back and avoid making rash decisions because you lost money in the stock market.

It’s inevitable that you will lose money in the market – periodically – but these losses are very likely to turn around. Going into the market with a plan of action and staying the course (with tweaks along the way) is better than making rash, costly decisions.

We don’t want you to gamble with your retirement.

Work with someone who will help you with investing, tax planning, Social Security and all of the other aspects of retirement. It’s helpful to have a professional in your corner who can help you navigate the different aspects of retirement.

We don’t have all the answers, but we have people on our team who can help.

Click here to schedule a 15-minute call with us.

January 8, 2024 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for January 8, 2024

Understanding Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment in Retirement

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs have our in-house Medicare specialist, Shawn Southard, discuss the Medicare Advantage open enrollment. With an education background and a servant’s heart, Shawn is passionate about helping people find the right Medicare plans. Listen in to learn about the benefits of a Medicare Advantage plan and the reasons for the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period.

 

Understanding Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment in Retirement

Medicare is such an important part of your life as you age and secure your retirement, but it’s often overlooked in retirement planning. You may have to pay IRMAA surcharges and really need to begin planning to get the most out of your benefits. We’re happy to have had Shawn Southard on our podcast this past week to discuss Medicare Advantage Open and what it means for our listeners and clients.

 

Understanding Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment in Retirement

Medicare is such an important part of your life as you age and secure your retirement, but it’s often overlooked in retirement planning. You may have to pay IRMAA surcharges and really need to begin planning to get the most out of your benefits.

We’re happy to have had Shawn Southard on our podcast this past week to discuss Medicare Advantage Open and what it means for our listeners and clients. Shawn works in-house for us and will be helping all our clients with their Medicare needs.

Throughout the year, there are a lot of Medicare-related things that pop up that we really need to focus on. 

Note: Every month, we plan on having Shawn on the show to discuss questions that our listeners may have.

Medicare Open Enrollment Period

Medicare has quite a few enrollment periods that are easy to overlook. You can enroll when:

  • You turn 65 years old
  • You’re working past 65, retire and leave your health plan.
  • Annually, from October 15 – December 7 (this is when 95% of beneficiaries make changes to their plans)
  • January 1 – March 31st for Medicare Advantage policyholders, who can change plans or disenroll if they wish.

Medicare Advantage Open enrollment is what anyone reading this blog or who watched our episode will need to think about in January until the end of March.

What is a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Medicare Advantage plans, at a very high level, are often organized into parts by letters. But before we go into that, original Medicare is broken into:

  • Part A: Hospital coverage
  • Part B: Medical coverage
  • Part D: Prescription Drug coverage, optional but will incur lifetime penalty if not enrolled when eligible.

Part C is the Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage helps round out your Medicare. These are private plans that go through the insurance companies and are approved by Medicare. Each plan must offer the same Part A and B coverage as your original Medicare plan, but it is a private plan.

The Advantage plan offers additional benefits, such as:

  • Preventative Dental 
  • Preventative Vision
  • Hearing Exams

An Advantage plan may also combine your prescription coverage into the plan, but you’ll need to review each plan to learn more about the coverage offered.

Why Join a Medicare Advantage Plan Over Original Medicare?

A lot of you may be thinking, “Why would I switch from original Medicare to an Advantage plan?” One of the main reasons to make the switch is that original Medicare is only for things that are deemed medically necessary.

Medicare Advantage plans add in coverage for:

  • Annual physical exams
  • Dental cleanings
  • Eye exams
  • Hearing exams

Original Medicare plus a Medigap plan is an option, but this option comes with a premium that ranges from $130 – $150 per month.

Medicare Advantage has many great plans that have $0 premiums.

For a retiree, an Advantage plan often makes a lot of sense because they’re on a fixed income. 

Why Someone May Not Choose a Medicare Advantage Plan

Advantage plans seem very advantageous, but they’re also not for everyone. A downside of Medicare Advantage is that they are network plans:

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), smaller network
  • Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), larger networks

You’ll need to go to someone in your network if you have an Advantage Plan. Original Medicare doesn’t have networks, so it’s easier for you to travel. You don’t need to worry about the provider being in network as long as they accept Medicare.

Medicare Advantage HMO requires you to stay in network. A PPO does have out-of-network options, but you may pay more for the services.

You need to consider the following when choosing a Medicare path (Original Medicare/Medigap or MedAdvantage):

  • Health
  • Lifestyle
  • Budget

Medicare is complex, and it’s easy to make a costly mistake along the way because of the amount of misinformation that exists. It is in your best interest to consult with a Medicare specialist before making any changes to your plan.

Why Someone May Want to Switch Medicare Advantage Plans

Since we’re in the enrollment period where someone can switch Medicare Advantage plans, the question arises: why would you switch plans?

Often, a person wants to switch Advantage plans because:

  • Doctors that they have been going to are no longer in their network, so they switch to a plan that allows them to retain the same doctor that they know and trust.
  • They plan to move and the new service area does not have their providers in network.

Shawn helps our clients choose the right plan for their medical needs and lifestyles. He has a strong educational background as a high school teacher and corporate trainer. In fact, his background as an educator is why he joined our team. He aims to educate each client, based on their individual needs, to find the best Medicare path.

Shawn needs to know your health/medical conditions, any prescription drugs you are taking, and your lifestyle (such as traveling) to help you select the right type of Medicare plan for you. 

Medicare is complex – especially if it’s not something you work with every day.

If you want to have an in-depth discussion about your Medicare situation and ensure that you’re on the right pathway, feel free to reach out to Shawn.

Click here to schedule a 15-minute call with us.

January 2, 2024 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage.

Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for January 2, 2024

What Are You Getting for the Fee You Are Paying in Retirement?

Listen in to learn about the three major types of financial advisors and what each offers you. You will also learn about categories of our Wealth Integrated Management System: specialized investment strategy, a retirement-focused financial plan, tax strategy, estate planning, and other ever-evolving elements to cater to our clients’ needs.

 

What Are You Getting for the Fee You Are Paying in Retirement?

You may already have a financial advisor or are shopping for one, but you may not know what you’re getting for the fee that you’re paying. We’re going to try our best to outline multiple categories of fees to help you get your head around what different advisors may charge and why.

Reviewing 2023 in your Retirement

Listen in to learn the different episodes with information about what you need in retirement, including a power of attorney, estate planning, retirement income strategies, and more. You will also learn about the episodes on long-term care planning options, plus the basics of continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

Reviewing 2023 in your Retirement

Every week, we have podcasts come out, and as new listeners find us, it can get very tedious to find all the resources we provide. This week we have prepared an End of 2023 wrap up to highlight some of the episodes from this year. 

Reviewing 2023’s Episode List

What Are You Getting for the Fee You Are Paying in Retirement?

You may already have a financial advisor or are shopping for one, but you may not know what you’re getting for the fee that you’re paying. We’re going to try our best to outline multiple categories of fees to help you get your head around what different advisors may charge and why.

What are You Getting for the Fee You Pay an Advisor?

Fees vary greatly from one type of advisor to another. We’re not going into this saying one fee is good or one is bad. For example, if I said I bought a $3,000 car, what would you think? You would assume it’s not the latest model on the market and doesn’t have a backup camera, lane assist, or any of the fancy features a higher-end vehicle might have.

A $50,000 car will have all the bells and whistles, but you may not need all those features.

Financial advisor fees are very similar. Lower fees often mean that you’re doing more, and the advisor is doing less for you. But if you don’t need some services or don’t mind having a hands-on approach to retirement planning, then the lower fees are perfect.

With this in mind, let’s dive into the meat of the fee world.

Fees in the World of Financial Advisors

You may come across the following fees when working with a financial advisor:

Transactional Fee

An hourly fee is exactly what it sounds like. You pay an hourly rate in a pay-as-you-go type of scenario. The planner may also have a set fee for certain services. In many cases, you’ll meet with this person once or twice per year, and then you are responsible for executing the plan.

If you’re the type of person who does the following, transactional fees may be good for you:

  1. Does their own taxes
  2. Paints their own house
  3. Does their own yard work

Many people don’t want to build their own portfolio and would rather spend time with their family, but for others, it makes more sense to have a transactional fee.

Assets Under Management Fee

In an assets under management fee structure, you’re charged a percentage of the assets that you entrust under the advisor’s management. Fees can range anywhere from .3 or .4% to 2 or 2.5%.

So, if you have $1 million in assets that the person controls, your fee at a 2.5% rate would be $25,000 per year. 

Fees vary by region, investment strategy, types of assets and advisor.

Commission-based

In some scenarios, the advisor may be paid a commission for insurance products that they sign their clients up for or for stock purchases.

Assets Under Management Fees are the Most Common

As a financial advisor, we see that assets under management is the most common fee structure. While the range can be great, we see most advisors charging 0.75% – 2% fees, and the more assets under management, the lower the fee percentage will be.

What do you get for these fees?

Full-service or Concierge Service

You’ll pay the highest fee for this type of service, but you enjoy the most hands-off experience possible. You’re working with a specialist who handles your retirement planning and strategy for you.

In our business, we call this the integrated wealth management system and cover things like:

  1. Investment-How do we invest for a return with good risk management in place?
  2. Retirement-focused financial plan-We cover where you are today, Social Security, and whether you will have the money you need to reach your retirement goals. 
  3. Tax strategy-As you accumulate wealth, you have money in multiple buckets, and we want to pay attention to withdrawals and how that will impact you today and in the future. Minimizing your tax burden is really the goal for us in this regard. We can save some clients thousands of dollars by finding tax mistakes or employing other tax-saving strategies.
  4. Estate planning– In this category, we’re talking about wills, trusts, power of attorney, life insurance and more.

We also cover things like continuous care scenarios or long-term care, and it just keeps evolving. Our in-house Medicare Specialist works with our clients to help them onboard for Medicare, find the best solutions for them and really ease our clients’ minds in the long term.

If you’re not sure which fee structure is best for you, consider the following:

  • Lower fees mean that you take a hands-on approach
  • Higher fees mean that you take more of a hands-off approach

For our fee, we try to cover everything for our clients, from tax planning to Medicare and estate planning. You may not need this high of a level of service, but it’s often the difference between 0.75% and 2%.

So, when searching for a financial advisor, be sure to know exactly what you’re getting for your fee because it can be substantial.

Schedule a call to talk to us about our financial planning services.

Reviewing 2023: Retirement Podcast Resource List

Every week, we have podcasts come out, and as new listeners find us, it can get very tedious to find all the resources we provide. This week we have prepared an End of 2023 wrap up to highlight some of the episodes from this year. 

Reviewing 2023’s Episode List 

Finding an episode on your respective listening platform will vary, so we’re going to provide: 

  • Title 
  • Episode number 
  • Date 

We’ll also link to the location on our website where you can listen to each podcast to make it a bit easier to find. 

Ep. 193 – Navigating The Decision to Retire Now or Work Longer – January 16, 2023 

If you’re wondering if you can retire or if you’re ready to retire, you’ll love this episode. It can be an overwhelming process, so we take some time to outline important considerations such as: 

  • Budgeting 
  • Health and Age 
  • Goal and Interests 

This episode helps you think through your financial readiness to secure your retirement. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 197 – 10 Reasons Everyone Needs a Power of Attorney in Retirement – February 13, 2023 

Anything can happen at any time. A Power of Attorney, particularly a Durable Power of Attorney, is one that we’ve seen come up a lot this year with clients. Disability or incapacitation can happen at any time. 

We outline 10 very important reasons to have your Power of Attorney documents in order, including: 

  • Protecting Privacy 
  • Dealing with Tax Matters 
  • Having Someone to Manage Your Finances 

A Power of Attorney is up there in importance with your will and HIPAA authorization. 

You’ll learn the ins and outs of Power of Attorney documents in this episode. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 201 – Do You Need a Trust in Retirement? – March 13, 2023 

We did quite a few episodes on trusts this year because they’re such an important part of retirement planning. We’ve partnered with professionals in this area so that our clients can easily have a trust put in place for them. 

In this episode, we interview Andres Mazabel at Trust & Will. He addresses the common question, “Do I Need a Trust?”, to really help you understand if a trust is right for you or not. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 204 – Social Security Spousal Benefit in Retirement – April 3, 2023 

Social Security has a lot of complications, which is why we brought Heather Schreiber on to explain how spousal benefits work. In our example scenario, one client has worked their entire life, and his spouse did not. 

His spouse assumed that without working, she wouldn’t have Social Security, but we explained how she would receive $1,700 a month in benefits. 

For many couples, an additional $1,700 in benefits is completely finance-altering. If you’re close to Social Security age, this is certainly a good episode to listen to. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 208 – Maximizing Tax Benefits by “Bunching” – May 1, 2023 

If you’re charitably inclined, you can leverage “bunching” and donor-advised funds to save money on your taxes. In the episode, we discuss how you can bunch multiple years of contributions into one so that you can take a larger deduction. 

Utilizing this strategy has saved some of our clients hundreds or thousands of dollars. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 217 – You Have Enough to Retire, but How Do You Create an Income – July 3, 2023 

Creating income is challenging when you’re in the accumulation phase of life transitioning into the retirement phase. In this episode, we discuss how to put assets into buckets and methods that you can follow to have a consistent income. 

We talk about sequence of return risks and how to really have fun in retirement. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 219 – Annuities or CDs – What You Should Consider – July 17, 2023 

Last year, interest rates rose. For annuities and CDs, interest rates were favorable and therefore quite attractive to many people. In this episode, we cover what you need to think about when deciding between an annuity and a CD. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 223 – Protecting Against Cybersecurity Threats – August 14, 2023 

Cybersecurity is something that you may not expect to see on this list, but it’s a crucial topic that demands attention. Around this time of year (the holiday season), threats increase dramatically. 

You may receive spam and phishing threats from many directions, including texts and emails. 

We outline 14 items for you to consider to help protect yourself from these threats going into 2024. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 224 – Long-Term Care Planning Options – August 21, 2023 

Long-term care planning is something no one wants to think about, but it’s something that you really must dive into before you need it. Our guest Jessica Iverson talks with us about how this form of planning has evolved, the breakdown of increasing costs, and alternative options that are available. 

You do have options where you’re not stuck in a “use it or lose it” scenario, which is what we cover in great detail in this episode. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 226 – Integrated Wealth Management Experience in Retirement – September 4, 2023 

In this episode, we look at what integrated wealth management means and how it works in our practice. You will be interested in this episode if you want to know how we address: 

  • Income and tax planning 
  • Estate planning 
  • Long-term care 
  • Social Security 
  • Medicare 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 231 – Social Security Taxation – How it Works in Retirement – October 9, 2023 

Many people are shocked to learn that they must pay taxes on their Social Security. We had our enrolled agent, Taylor Wolverton, CFP® walk us through: 

  • The factors and math behind Social Security Taxation 
  • How Social Security Taxation can impact your Retirement Planning 
  • How to know if you’ll be taxed on Social Security 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 234 – Roth IRA – 5-Year Rule – Your Retirement – Part 2 with Denise Appleby – October 30, 2023 

Denise Appleby was our special guest during this episode, and she discusses Roth IRAs in such great detail that it’s a must-listen. We go over the rules for Roth accounts and conversions from start to finish in a nice and easy manner. 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 235 – The Art of a Risk-Adjusted Portfolio in Retirement – November 6, 2023 

Risk in retirement exists, but you can use a risk-adjusted portfolio to hedge those risks. We explore determining risk tolerance and some of the strategy behind investment styles. We also take some time to define terms like: 

  • Core 
  • Tactical 
  • Structured notes 
  • Fixed income 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 236 – Rae Dawson – The Basics of a CCRC – November 13, 2023 

Note: Rae was also on for Episode 236 on November 27 (listen here) for Part 2. 

Rae teaches a class on Continuous Care Retirement Community (CCRCs) at Duke University, and joined us on the podcast to dive in on the basics, such as: 

  • When’s the best time to join a community? 
  • Should you do an upfront or rent-only scenario? 
  • What to think about when choosing a CCRC? 

Listen to the episode here. 

Ep. 239 – Anne Rhodes – Estate Planning– Simplified – December 4, 2023 

Anne Rhodes from wealth.com helped us simplify estate planning in retirement. She works closely with us and our clients to explain: 

  • Legal documents you need 
  • Reasons to have a trust vs a will 
  • What certain documents do  

Listen to the episode here. 

We look forward to our new schedule going into 2024 where we’ll continue to provide relevant insights every Monday with a more structured format. 

Click here to schedule a call with us to discuss any of the topics above in greater detail. 

December 11, 2023 Weekly Update

We do love it when someone refers a family member or friend to us.  Sometimes the question is, “How can we introduce them to you?”   Well, there are multiple ways but a very easy way is to simply forward them a link to this webpage. Here are this week’s items:

Portfolio Update:  Murs and I have recorded our portfolio update for December 11, 2023

End Of Year Issues to Consider in Retirement

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon and Murs discuss the retirement issues to consider as we approach the end of the year. As the year ends and another begins, it’s important to have a checklist to ensure you have things closed out for 2023 and things set up for 2024. Learn about tax planning strategies to look at, such as threshold tax brackets, qualified charitable distributions, donor-advised funds, and more. You will also learn the benefits of having a Health Savings Account (HSA) and contributing to 529 accounts at the end of the year.  

End Of Year Issues to Consider in Retirement

Can you believe that we’re close to the end of 2023 already? Before the year wraps up, it’s a good idea to address end-of-year items and work your way through a checklist of sorts. You can also reference this list in 2024, so if you’re seeing this post after the end of the year, it’s still going to be relevant to you.

End Of Year Issues to Consider in Retirement

Can you believe that we’re close to the end of 2023 already? Before the year wraps up, it’s a good idea to address end-of-year items and work your way through a checklist of sorts. You can also reference this list in 2024, so if you’re seeing this post after the end of the year, it’s still going to be relevant to you.

We’re going to walk you through:

  1. Things to do before the end of 2023
  2. Things to do for a good start of 2024

Note: We do have an actual checklist that you can work through. If you want to get that checklist, feel free to schedule a call with us or send us an email.

To Listen to this CLICK HERE

End-of-Year Issues to Handle Before 2023

You’ll want to work on your assets and debt issues. First, look at your unrealized investment losses. For example, perhaps you’re holding onto Apple stock and it’s a loss right now. You can sell the stock as a loss and leverage what is known as tax loss harvesting.

You can use these losses to:

  • Offset gains
  • Reduce your ordinary income by up to $3,000 a year
  • Losses beyond $3,000 will carry forward to offset income in future years

If you have capital gains, you can erase some of these gains by using tax loss harvesting. You can sell the stock and buy it back after a period of time. 

Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

RMDs are something we talk a lot about on our podcast, and we have quite a few articles on the topic that you can review:

That being said, you’ll want to do a few things in terms of retirement planning with your RMDs. Based on your age, typically, if you’re in your early 70s, you’ll want to take your distribution before the end of the year.

Not sure if you need to take an RMD?

Discuss it with your financial advisor because distribution ages will vary based on when you were born

If you inherited an IRA or 401(k), you automatically have RMDs that you need to consider. Anyone who recently inherited one of these accounts will need to be sure that the account is empty within 10 years. You will need to consider whether (or not) you want to take an RMD on these accounts before the end of the year.

Tax Planning

The end of the year signals a lot of tax planning items that you’ll need to check off your list. A few of the most important things to consider are:

Do you plan on your income increasing significantly in the next year?

You can consider maximizing your Roth contributions going into the end of the year. If you’re over the age of 50, Roth IRA contributions max out at $7,500, and the Roth 401(k) maxes out at $30,000 in 2023 and will go up in 2024.

If you’re 59 1/2 or older, you can consider accelerating your IRA withdrawals since you’re in a lower tax bracket this year. You may also want to consider converting some of this money into a Roth account to leverage tax-free growth.

The annual deadline for Roth conversions is December 31st, however, you should get started on these before the beginning of December to give plenty of time for the process to be completed in your intended year.

Threshold Tax Brackets

Your adjusted gross income can push you into a higher tax bracket or impact your Medicare surcharges. Going back to tax loss harvesting, you may be able to leverage these losses to keep charges lower or avoid going into a higher tax bracket.

You need to be aware of your potential adjusted gross income.

If you’re reading this, reach out to your financial advisor and:

  • Ask what your adjusted gross income may be
  • Plan ahead, because your income amount now impacts your surcharges in the future

Medicare IRMAA surcharges will certainly impact your budget because you’re required to pay more for Medicare if surcharges are higher.

Are you charitably inclined?

If you like to donate to charity, it’s also an opportunity to help offset your tax burden. A lot of unique strategies can be employed in this realm. People who give money to charity can leverage:

  • Qualified charitable distribution, for anyone who is over 70 1/2. You can use one of these distributions to lower your tax burden. For example, if you take money from your IRA and have the check written straight to an approved 501(c)(3) charity so that it is never deposited to your bank account, the donated amount will not be reported as taxable income to you.
  • Anyone who reaches the age of RMDs (70 ½ or older) can also use this strategy. For example, if your RMD is $20,000, you can funnel $10,000 to charity using the same method above and only have $10,000 of your RMD be taxable.
  • Bunching contributions or setting up a donor-advised fund is also an option. For example, if you donate $10,000 a year to charity, it’s possible that you may not exceed the standard deduction and therefore, will not receive any tax benefit for your $10,000 donation. So instead, you can combine multiple years of donations together. If you were to combine 3 years of donating $10,000 a year into a one-time donation of $30,000, you can deduct the entire $30,000 in the year the donation occurs. This would give you a greater chance of exceeding the standard deduction and receiving a greater tax benefit by doing so.

Did you in 2023 or will you in 2024 receive a windfall?

If you receive a windfall, such as inheritance, lump sum payment, stocks, Roth conversion or some other major influx of money, you may need to make an estimated tax payment. If you don’t make one of these payments, the IRS can assess a penalty against you.

An estimated tax payment alleviates the penalty because if you’re within a certain percentage of what you owe, the IRS will be satisfied, and you can make any remaining payments at the time your taxes are filed.

A tax or financial advisor can help you with these estimated taxes.

Have there been any changes to your marital status?

If you got married or divorced, or your spouse passed on, it can have an impact on your taxes. Married filing single and married filing jointly are two very different things. Consulting with a tax professional about your situation can help you decide on how to handle your filing status this year.

You Have a Little Extra Money in the Bank

If you’ve had a good year and have made more money than expected, you may want to save some money. One thing that’s common is to put money into a Health Savings Account (HSA) if you are on a high-deductible health insurance plan.

For 2023, you’ll be able to put money into an HSA up to:

  • $3,850 if you’re single
  • $7,750 if you have a family health insurance plan
  • $1,000 extra if you’re over 55

These numbers will change in 2024.

The beauty of an HSA is that you can let the money in the account grow tax-deferred and then use the money for your medical needs. If you leave the money in the account until you’re 65, it can also act as a retirement fund.

401(k)

If you didn’t max out your 401(k), you can put up to $22,500 in the account in 2023 and an extra $7,500 if you’re over 50.

Roth IRA

If you’re eligible, you can put money into a Roth account. You can pull the money out of this account if you need it in the future.

529 Account

If you have kids or grandchildren and want to fund their college education, you can put money into a 529 account for them. You can fund this account with a gift exclusion of $17,000. There’s also a strategy to get up to $85,000 out of your estate and into one of these accounts, but you should work with a tax professional on this strategy.

Insurance

If you met your deductible for your insurance this year, try to get any of your medical needs met now because you won’t be paying for it. Working to get these procedures done now before you must pay your deductible again is an efficient means of using your insurance.

Depending on when you read this, don’t forget that open enrollment takes place in November and December.

Evaluate your Medicare and Supplement programs because there may be advantages to switching.

Estate Planning

Whether it’s the beginning or end of the year, you’ll want to focus on your estate plan. Review all your beneficiaries, including on your:

  • 401(k)
  • IRA
  • Brokerage account
  • Savings account

Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but we’ve covered some main points that are really important going into the final weeks of the year.

Click here to request a checklist with all these key items.