February 5, 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 February 5, 2024

Preparing To File Your 2023 Taxes in Retirement

In this Episode of the Secure Your Retirement Podcast, Radon, Murs, and Taylor discuss how to prepare to file for the 2023 taxes. The first things you should be looking at include your different sources of income and tax forms connected to that income. Listen in to learn the importance of working with a professional tax preparer to avoid misreporting different income taxes.

 

Preparing To File Your 2023 Taxes 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. 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?

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.

September 5, 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 September 5, 2023

This Week’s Podcast – Integrated Wealth Management Experience in Retirement

Learn more about the elements of an integrated wealth management experience: a retirement financial plan, specific-to-the-client investment process, and tax planning. You will also learn how we’re involved in every step of the wealth management process, in-house or with a partner.

 

This Week’s Blog – Integrated Wealth Management

Integrated wealth management experiences are our way to help clients have the type of retirement planning assistance that is provided in a “family office.” If you don’t know what this term means or who it applies to, we’re going to cover that in great detail before explaining the concept of integrated wealth management to you.

Integrated Wealth Management Experience

Integrated wealth management experiences are our way to help clients have the type of retirement planning assistance that is provided in a “family office.” If you don’t know what this term means or who it applies to, we’re going to cover that in great detail before explaining the concept of integrated wealth management to you.

Note: Click here to listen to the podcast that this article was based on using Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Amazon Music. 

What is a “Family Office?”

A “family office” caters to what can be considered ultra-high net worth. You have enough assets that you require an entire team to help manage your assets. These offices will help you with:

  • Family businesses
  • Taking care of budgets
  • Paying bills
  • Managing cash flow, credit cards, real estate

Individuals in a family office have assets of $50+ million. Anyone who falls into this category can be their “own client,” meaning that the entire team works for you to manage your wealth. Extensive assistance is offered, including tax and estate planning, to the degree that 99% of people will never require. You’ll also work with attorneys and CPAs.

All these employees work for you, they’re registered with the SEC, and they assist with managing your “family.” If a person has this high of a net worth, they may need to have a chief financial officer (CFO) who will handle hiring or working with certain experts to meet their family’s needs.

Often, with a family office, they have a CPA working with them full-time.

The family office works solely for the family and will handle all their financial and wealth management needs. If a lawyer needs to be hired to work on estate plans, that’s all handled for you behind the scenes.

Integrated Wealth Management Experience

In our office, our average client doesn’t have $100 – $200 million or a billion dollars. We can’t create a family office for these individuals, but we wanted to create a system that offered the same experience as a family office for all our clients.

What we devised is known as our integrated wealth management experience.

What Does an Integrated Wealth Management Experience Look Like?

Instead of working with one individual, we work with many and take on the role similar to a “CFO.” We look at the person’s entire financial picture and beyond to help you secure your retirement. We partner with multiple professionals on a range of services, in addition to in-house wealth management.

For simplicity, we’ll break this down into a few of our in-house and partnered services.

In-House Wealth Management

In-house, we specialize in wealth management. We are financial advisors, and fiduciaries- which means we’re required to put your best interests first. The majority of our clients are people close to or retirement, and we’re big on the retirement-focused financial plan.

In a few words, the retirement-focused financial plan:

  • Analyzes where you are today
  • Outlines retirement goals
  • Identifies changes that need to be made to reach your goals

Reaching your financial goals will often mean investing in some sort of return. We may invest in the market, bonds, annuities, or a wide range of other financial vehicles. We invest for a return that is comfortable for the client and is based on individual risk tolerance.

Next, we offer tax planning. Some of the tax planning is in-house and some of it is done by working with outside experts. We have checks and balances in place to understand:

  • What your taxes look like today
  • What strategies we can implement before the end of the year to lower the tax burden
  • What to do to save you money next year

We can also handle the tax return for you, and we have partnered with CPAs to lead this process. CPAs will also provide a stamp of approval for all the tax planning strategies that we prepare to ensure that everything moves along smoothly.

Our team helps clients understand where their income is coming from and ensures that their retirement-focused financial plan is operating to reach their goals.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is a crucial part of retirement planning that folks really struggle to talk and think about. However, we incorporate this planning into the experience because it provides you with peace of mind that your estate matters are all handled in a legal manner.

Without an up-to-date estate plan, it can be difficult for you to leave assets in your desired way for heirs and beneficiaries. If you’ve had a major life change since you’ve created or looked at your estate plan, it is a good idea to have your estate plan professionally reviewed and updated. 

For our clients, we have a system in place for the state they live in to create a:

  1. Trust
  2. Will
  3. Power of Attorney
  4. Healthcare Power of Attorney
  5. HIPAA form

We believe this aspect of your retirement-focused financial plan is urgent, and strongly encourage our clients to review and update these documents on a regular basis.

Social Security

We work with a Social Security consultant, so our clients have an expert look at avoiding mistakes when filing for Social Security. Some clients have an easy process for Social Security, and we can help them apply for their benefits. However, other clients do not have as easy of a time.

Our consultant is on retainer and will help consider:

  • Complex decisions
  • Divorce
  • Optimizing for certain forms of income
  • Survivorship

She assists us when running the numbers for Social Security to help you make the best decision on when to take your benefits and how to reach your financial goals.

Insurances

Insurance includes many different options, but one of the major ones is health insurance. When you retire, you’re responsible for your own health insurance, which will be Medicare.

Medicare can be overwhelming when it comes to options, plans, and thresholds. We work with our clients and partners to help them find the best Medicare options for their health scenario and budget. We may be able to structure things to avoid IRMAA surcharges on Medicare, too.

Additionally, we help clients during open enrollment to find plans that may be more affordable or a better overall option for them. 

Long-term Care Planning

Speaking of healthcare planning, we also dive into long-term care planning. Hopefully, you’ll never need this level of care, but you just never know what the future will hold for you. We recently had a podcast on long-term care planning.

We’ll analyze your long-term care options and even help you secure the insurance you need to pay for a nursing home or assisted living facility.

Life Insurance

We’ll work through the question of life insurance and how to structure it for you and your family. 

These are just some of the insurance options that we can use to help build our clients retirement-focused financial plan. As we’ve outlined, we do our best to mimic the “family office” so that it works in your best interests.

What Getting Started with Our Integrated Wealth Management Experience Looks Like

If you call us to discuss your options, we already have:

  • Ongoing, up-to-date research to aid in building plan for your goals
  • Multiple estate planning methods in place
  • Many in-house Insurance and Wealth Management strategy options

We’re involved the entire time, working to have all your questions answered. We will do the research with the estate planner or Social Security expert to have your questions answered.

Since we work with the outside experts, you bypass the extra step to make sure your financial, tax, and estate planning professionals are all on the same page when it comes to your retirement-focused financial plan. We’re very much involved with every aspect of your plan to help you make sound financial decisions.

Want to learn more about our Integrated Wealth Management Experience? Schedule a free call with us today.

June 20, 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 June 20, 2023

This Week’s Podcast – Mid-Year Tax Planning – Why So Important in Retirement?

It’s important to look at the previous year’s tax situation because some things, like Roth conversions and qualified charitable distributions, need to be done before the end of the year in order to be reported on your tax returns.

Listen in to learn the importance of coming up with a good tax withholding strategy to avoid tax liabilities and bills during tax season. You will also learn about the tax benefits of donor-advised funds and qualified charitable distributions.

 

This Week’s Blog – Mid-Year Tax Planning – Why So Important?

Why are we talking about tax planning in the middle of the year? Mid-year tax planning allows you to get everything in order before the end of the year to lower your tax obligation as much as possible.

In June of 2023, we’re doing a lot of work to get ready for our tax planning and strategy meetings we’ll be having later this year. A lot of prep work goes into these meetings because it’s one of the most intense that we’ll have all year.

Mid-Year Tax Planning – Why is it So Important?

Why are we talking about tax planning in the middle of the year? Mid-year tax planning allows you to get everything in order before the end of the year to lower your tax obligation as much as possible.

Note: We are not giving specific advice. We’re talking in general terms and advise you to discuss your own tax planning with a professional who can recommend the best method to reduce your tax burden.

In our most recent podcast (listen to it here), we have two members of our team with us, Nick Hymanson, CFP® and Taylor Wolverton

In June of 2023, we’re doing a lot of work to get ready for our tax planning and strategy meetings we’ll be having later this year. A lot of prep work goes into these meetings because it’s one of the most intense that we’ll have all year.

Why Do We Do Tax Planning and Tax Strategy Before the Beginning of the Year?

First, we want to review your tax situation from last year so we can understand potential moves we can make before the end of this year.

For example, Roth conversions or qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) need to be made before the end of the year to be reported on your tax return. Changes to your contributions or account conversions must be completed before December 31st of the year to be claimed on your taxes.

Mid-year tax planning helps us get everything in order to have a discussion with our clients on which strategies we can employ to lower your tax burden.

How Financial Planning Ties into Tax Planning

Financial, tax, and retirement planning are all linked together, or they should be if they’re done professionally. We have clients who first retire and live on cash in the bank, and then they start taking money from an IRA or a required minimum distribution.

In our process, at the beginning of the year, we have a financial planning meeting to update where their income is coming in this year, and we review what happened in 2022 (or the year prior).

From an income perspective, we want to understand where your income came from last year. We want to understand any unique changes that may have transpired this year and your income last year.

During the year, you may have income coming in from multiple sources, and it’s crucial that you have a good tax withholding strategy in place.

Proper tax withholding will allow you to avoid any unexpected tax surprises the following year. Having conversations throughout the year allows us to position our clients to pay less taxes by making smart financial decisions.

For example, if you want to sell a highly appreciated stock, we may recommend holding off until the beginning of the coming year because there are tax advantages.

We perform a full software analysis of our clients’ past year taxes to look for:

  • Filing status
  • Social Security number accuracy
  • Sources of income (interest, dividends, etc)
  • Withholdings 

We look through all these figures with our clients to help you better understand the tax obligations of each form of income. If you want to adjust your withholdings or make income changes, we’ll walk you through this process.

For example, you may not want a refund at the end of the year and want to withhold just enough taxes to be tax-neutral. You won’t pay or receive anything at the end of the year from the IRS.

With a mid-year tax plan, we have a better understanding of the steps that must be taken to reach your goals in the coming year.

Things to Do Before December 31st

Retirees must do a few things before the end of the year by law. Here’s what you need to know:

Donor-advised Funds

Sometimes we learn from a tax return or through a conversation with our clients that they give $10,000 to charity per year. Can you itemize? Sure, but the standard deduction is so high that it often doesn’t make sense to do this.

What’s the Standard Deduction

For your reference, the standard deduction in 2023 is:

  • Single: $13,850
  • Married filing jointly: $27,700 (65+ goes up by $1,500 per spouse)

Itemization won’t make sense if you have less than the standard deduction amount in contributions.

If you do a donor-advised fund, you can stack charitable contributions and use the multi-year contributions as a deduction this year.

Let’s assume that you put $40,000 into a donor-advised fund. You can still make $10,000 contributions to your favorite charity, but you can then take a $40,000 deduction this year to negate your tax burden. Itemizing is the best course of action if you have more deductions than the current standard deduction amount.

We may recommend this strategy if you expect a very high tax burden and want to lower your tax obligation.

Opening a Donor-advised Fund

We use Charles Schwab for our funds, but you can use a custodian of your choosing. A donor-advised fund looks just like any other account held at Charles Schwab, except for a few differences. Checks are written directly to a Schwab charitable account and funds are held directly in this charitable account. You can assign contributions to charities of your choice.

Funds remain in the account and can be withdrawn and moved to the charities in the future. Once you put money into the fund, you cannot reclaim it in the future. You can decide annually on who you want to distribute contributions to.

However, it is very important that Charles Schwab has information on the charity that you want to disperse the money to and that everything is in order for the distribution to be made problem-free.

Qualified Charitable Distribution

Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) are another tactic that you can use if you’re over the age of 70-and-a-half. Age requirements and the time of your distribution are crucial and one of the reasons that people often work with a financial planner.

We can make sure that you’re making the QCD properly and get all the tax benefits that go along with it.

Note. If you have a required minimum distribution (RMD), you can set up the QCD to be taken directly from this. A key benefit is that if the RMD never hits your bank account, you don’t have to pay taxes on it.

Making Out Your QCD Check

In terms of Charles Schwab, we want to make sure that the QCD check is made out directly to the charity and not the account owner. If the check is written to the tax owner, it is considered taxable income.

We need a few things when writing out the QCD check:

  • Name of charity
  • Charity’s tax ID
  • Charity address
  • QCD amount

One important thing to note is that there’s an option to send the check directly to the charity or to the account owner, who can then hand-deliver the check to the charity.

The most important thing is to have the check written to the charity itself with the tax ID.

What You Need to Gather for a Tax Planning Strategy Meeting

Whether you work with us or someone else on a tax planning strategy meeting, you’ll need a few documents to get started:

  • Last year’s tax returns
  • Income for the coming year
  • Changes to income in this year
  • Change to cost of living on Social Security

We really need to know your sources of income and if any changes to this income have occurred in the last year. Cost of living adjustments are a big one and will impact your taxes, but all of this is information necessary for a tax planning strategy meeting.

IRMAA is another thing that we want to consider, and we have a great guide on the topic, which you can read here: IRMAA Medicare Surcharges.

Medicare looks back two years to determine your surcharges, which is something we can plan for with enough time and a strategy in place. We want to manage your Medicare surcharges so that you don’t need to pay more than necessary for your Medicare.

Tax strategy can help you better prepare for your taxes and make strategic moves that will save you a lot of money in the future.

We have a team of people working with us to handle all these moving parts and walk our clients through the process.

Want to learn more about retirement planning?

Click here to view our latest book titled: Secure Your Retirement.

May 8, 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 May 8, 2023

This Week’s Podcast -What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Listen in to learn the importance of understanding your cash flow needs and budget and building some type of plan for your retirement. You will also learn the importance of budgeting for health insurance if you retire earlier than age 65 and the options to consider for long-term care planning.

 

This Week’s Blog – What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Are you considering retiring? After working your entire life, you’ve come to this beautiful ending where you’ve hit all your milestones to secure your retirement and can pursue the things that you truly love to do. Many companies offer early retirement options to their employees, it’s an important time to consider a few things before retirement.

What Issues Should You Consider Before You Retire?

Are you considering retiring? After working your entire life, you’ve come to this beautiful ending where you’ve hit all your milestones to secure your retirement and can pursue the things that you truly love to do.

Many companies offer early retirement options to their employees, it’s an important time to consider a few things before retirement.

In our most recent podcast, we go through all the things we think you should consider before retirement. Even if you’ve spent decades on retirement planning, these are things that you need to sit down and think about before transitioning into retirement.

Want a sneak peek at what we’ll be talking about?

  • Cash flow
  • Healthcare
  • Assets and debts
  • Tax planning issues
  • Long-term care

If you’re not considering all these points already, you need to go through them for yourself to better understand each one.

5 Issues to Consider Before Retirement

1. Cash Flow

Cash flow from your own financial perspective will change a lot when you retire. You’ve spent a lifetime working, receiving a check, and enjoying steady cash flow as a result. When you close out your life chapter of working, your cash flow will change.

Instead of cash being given to you for the hours you put in every week, you’ll take money out of the retirement accounts you’ve built up.

You’ll need to consider:

  • Your cash flow needs.
  • Where will the money come from- Social Security, pensions (we’re seeing far fewer of these), retirement accounts, etc.

Often, many of our clients have income from their careers, but do not have a strict budget in place. You need to spend time learning what your true cash flow needs are every month so that you can determine whether retirement is even a possibility.

If you’re lucky enough to have a pension, be sure to know your options:

  • Single life is often the highest payout
  • Spouse benefits

Are you retiring early? Social Security defines retirement as around 67, but there are benefit implications to retiring “early”. If you retire before 59.5, you are penalized on your IRA withdrawals. There are a lot of things to work through to understand what retiring early truly means.

For example, if you retire early, there is an income limit for Social Security that you need to consider. The limit is $21,240 (currently). If you hit full retirement age, the income limit is bumped up to $56,520.

Keep in mind:

  • Retiring before 55 comes with an IRA penalty
  • Retiring at 55 with a 401(k) doesn’t have a penalty

If you’re married, you also need to consider what that means for you and your spouse. You want to consider that one spouse likely has a higher income than the other. If you have a higher Social Security amount, your spouse will get credit if you’re married for 10 years or longer. The spouse, if they never worked, can receive up to 50% of the Social Security benefits that you have. However, if the person did work and their own benefits were higher, then they will receive the benefits they earned.

We recently had a client who didn’t know this and was shocked when they found out that their spouse would also get benefits. Even if you are now divorced but had been married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years, there may be some benefit there for you in Social Security.

Healthcare is the next big point to consider.

2. Healthcare 

At 65, you qualify automatically for Medicare. Retiring before this age means that you must put a lot of thought into your healthcare because healthcare is very expensive. Medicare will save you a ton of money, but you need to bridge the few years between retirement and Medicare.

We’re seeing costs from $1,000 to $1,500 for people at 62 or so to get private health coverage. That figure is for a single individual and not a couple.

Employers cover your healthcare while you’re working, but when you retire, you’ll need to consider:

  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Healthcare

If you are contributing to an HSA, you will want to think about using this account, too. At age 65, you still need to take IRMAA into account, which is a Medicare surcharge for someone making over a certain threshold. We have a whole episode on this very topic, which you can listen to here or read here

3. Asset and debts 

Many of our clients have the majority of their money in an IRA or 401(k). One of the first things we are asked is, “Should I pay off my house?” If you need to take the funds from a 401(k), the answer is likely going to be: no. You need to pay taxes on your 401(k) withdrawals, and paying off your home can have a significant impact on the money you’ve saved. Instead, small distributions to make an extra payment often work better.

Low mortgage rates, such as 2.8 percent, can often be left because you may make more money with the cash in a brokerage account.

Let’s say that you have $100,000 left on your mortgage and your principal and interest payment is $1,200. If you had this $100,000 in a savings account, it might only net you $600 a month. In this scenario, paying off the house is a wise choice.

Bump your mortgage balance to $300,000, and it may not be beneficial to pay off your mortgage.

Beyond mortgage, you also need to consider risk exposure.

Transitioning to retirement means that you need income for 30-something years from the asset accounts that you have. When you retire, you want to have as little risk exposure as you can with your assets because you don’t want to experience a situation like we did in 2020 when some indexes fell 20% – 30%.

Reevaluating your investments and how you’re invested in the market will help you to limit your risk exposure.

4. Tax planning issues 

If you retire prior to 72 or 73, tax planning can save you a lot of money. 

Imagine retiring at 62 and you have $1 million in assets in your IRA growing at a little over 7% per year. By the time you’re 72, you’ll have $2 million and need to take a required minimum distribution of $80,000 or so per year. If you have Social Security and a pension, these distributions can push you into a higher tax bracket.

We can take a strategic approach to retirement by looking at a Roth conversion. We had a client who retired, had cash in the bank and lived on these funds to allow for significant Roth conversions at a low tax bracket.

5. Long-term care

The least fun part of retirement planning is long-term care planning. You never want to think about yourself in a long-term care situation, but it’s a reality that all of us are at risk of being in at some point.

And long-term care is not cheap.

You need to have a scenario in place where you are prepared to pay for this care. We’re seeing a lot of people pay $8,000 a month for long-term care, with durations being 4 or 5 years. This form of care can cost you $400,000 to $500,000 in total.

Can you afford to take on this financial burden?

You can pay insurance premiums out of pocket, or you can go with an asset-based plan. We’re seeing premiums soaring 50% to 70%, causing many people to be unable to pay for their long-term care.

Instead, you can put $100,000 in a long-term care annuity that grows to $300,000 and can be used for your long-term care. You still have access to this money if you need it and can also name beneficiaries on the account. A beneficiary will receive the total of the account if you pass and never use it, or they may receive any unused funds in the account.

If you pay insurance premiums on long-term care insurance, you will not receive any of these funds back. An annuity can be a great option because if you don’t need to use the funds in the account, they aren’t just going to an insurance company.

We also recommend that you have a will in place or review your will and beneficiaries on all accounts before you retire. If you don’t have all of your estate planning documents in place, you are putting a major burden on your family. You want to go as far as confirming all your beneficiaries and loved ones know the types of documents you have and where these documents are just in case you are ever unable to show them.

P.S. We are working off our own internal checklist titled “2023: What issues should I consider before I retire?” Call the office or email us if you would like a copy of this checklist. We also have a checklist for anyone who is updating their estate plan so that you don’t miss any key points along the way.

Click here to schedule a 15-minute call with us to discuss the things to consider before retirement.

May 1, 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 May 1, 2023

This Week’s Podcast -Maximizing Tax Benefits by “Bunching” Charitable Contributions

Listen in to learn how to bunch your charitable contributions into one year using the donor-advised fund. You will also learn why the donor-advised fund is the most flexible version of giving through the bunching strategy.

 

This Week’s Blog – Maximizing Tax Benefits by “Bunching” Charitable Contributions

Taxes are something very few people are excited to talk about. We know that it’s far more exciting to talk about maximizing tax benefits when trying to secure your retirement. And that’s what this entire blog post is about: saving money by bunching your charitable contributions.?

Maximizing Tax Benefits by “Bunching” Charitable Contributions

Taxes are something very few people are excited to talk about. We know that it’s far more exciting to talk about maximizing tax benefits when trying to secure your retirement. And that’s what this entire blog post is about: saving money by bunching your charitable contributions.

Note: We have a podcast on this very topic, which you can find here.

Why Should I Consider Charitable Contribution Bunching?

If you’re charitably inclined, you can save a lot of money by bunching your charitable contributions together. In the current tax code, whether you’re single or married, you receive what is known as a “standard deduction.”

Before this deduction, people would itemize all of their deductions one item at a time. The IRS decided that instead of itemization, people should have a standard deduction that doesn’t require them to list all of their deductions and saves the IRS time, too.

In 2023, the standard deduction is:

  • Single person: $13,850
  • Married: $27,700

When you take this deduction, you cannot itemize. Anyone who is giving money to charity will not be able to deduct their donation unless it is itemized, which really only makes sense if the figure is higher than the two listed above.

Bunching charitable contributions is one way to use deductions to maximize tax benefits.

Examples of Standard Deduction vs Itemizing Your Deductions

Today, the standard deduction has changed so much from 2017. In 2017, a married couple filing jointly would have a standard deduction of $12,500. With the figure being $27,700 in 2023, it becomes much more difficult to reach the amount of itemized deductions to justify not taking a standard deduction.

For example, let’s assume someone is charitably inclined and gives $10,000 in a calendar year.  The person also has $13,000 in other deductions, bringing their total deduction to $23,000. Since this figure is lower than the standard deduction, it doesn’t make sense to itemize.

However, people like getting tax benefits from giving their money away, and this is where bunching comes into play. A donor-advised fund is the perfect way to leverage bunching, and we’ll be talking about this type of fund more in the next few paragraphs.

Let’s assume that every year, you give $10,000 to charity.

In 2022 and 2023, instead of giving $10,000 each year, why not “bunch” it into an account that allows you to deduct $20,000 in 2022? You don’t even need to give all of the money out in 2022.

When you do this, you can deduct:

  • $20,000 in contributions
  • $13,000 in the other deductions that you have

Adding up all of these figures, you can deduct $33,000 in expenses, which is much higher than the standard deduction. You’ll deduct more from your taxes in 2022 using this strategy and can still take the $27,700 deduction in 2023.

  • How can you bunch all of your charitable contributions into a single year?
  • Do you need to give the full $20,000 in a single year?

For many people giving money to charity, they make a commitment to give a certain amount of money each year. Your church may need $10,000 a year and a lump sum of $20,000 may not be beneficial for them.

Donor-advised Funds and Bunching Charitable Contributions

Donor-advised funds allow you to do a few things:

  • Group deductions in one year
  • Give the funds to the account and not the church (like in the example above)

Charles Schwab, Vanguard and similar custodians will have a donor-advised fund. You will write a check to one of these funds for $20,000 and it will sit in these accounts. If you don’t want to write a check, you can also put stock in the account. Any money in the account can also be invested, which is a nice way to give even more money to charity.

When you put money into the fund, it’s an irrevocable gift to the charitable fund, but you’re in complete control over how to use this fund.

If you want, you can gift $10,000 a year to your church as long as it’s an approved charitable organization. You can log into your fund and request a check sent to the church from your fund.

However, you can bunch your charitable donations every few years by putting the funds into an account that you can control.

You can even decide to:

  • Reduce contributions
  • Give money to other charities

You don’t need to decide who gets the money when you create the fund. Once the money is in the account, you can direct the money as you see fit. Perhaps you want to let the $20,000 sit in the account for a few years and then give $2,000 of it away for 10 years. You have this option.

The only thing that you cannot do is give the funds back to yourself. After all, you’ve been given a tax break and the IRS won’t allow you to take the funds back.

Bunching can be done for two, three or more years. There are strategies around bunching that can save you more money. Typically, two to three years of bunching is what we see with our clients because it helps with maximizing tax benefits.

When you use bunching, you:

  • Save money on taxes
  • Still maintain full control over who gets the money

Donor-advised funds are available from most custodians. We work with Schwab, and they allow us to create one of these funds right online for our clients. Different custodians may have different setup requirements, but they all make it rather easy to set up your donor-advised fund. The process of setting up a donor-advised fund is as easy as opening a checking account.

 You can transfer money or stock into the account, too.

Our clients who are focused on retirement planning save a few thousand dollars by bunching their charitable contributions. If you are committed to donating a certain amount to charity each year, it makes sense to give bunching a try for yourself.

Do you want to learn more about bunching and donor-advised funds?

Click here to schedule a call with us to discuss charitable bunching with a member of our team.

November 14, 2022 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 November 14, 2022 

This Weeks Podcast – Tax Planning Should Be a Part of Your Retirement Plan

Who wants to pay taxes? It’s impossible to avoid paying taxes altogether; what we can do is be more efficient with them.

Tax planning is an essential part of your retirement plan. To plan tax efficiently in your retirement, you have to understand all the different investments you’ve accumulated and the different types of tax structures to them.

 

This Weeks Blog -Tax Planning Should Be a Part of Your Retirement Plan

Retirement planning is on every worker’s mind, but there’s one area that people often overlook: tax planning for retirement. You work hard for your money, and if you take the time to plan out your taxes before retirement, it can keep more money in your pocket.

So, Why Should Tax Planning Be a Part of Your Retirement Planning?….