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Posts Tagged ‘ News ’

Another Role for Life Insurance…
The Wealth Replacement Trust

The Problem:

There can be significant tax advantages in giving appreciated assets to a charity. Examples include real estate and securities. If you were to sell an appreciated asset, the gain would be subject to capital gains tax. By donating the appreciated asset to a charity, however, you can receive an income tax deduction equal to the fair market value of the asset and pay no capital gains tax on the increased value.

For example, Donor A purchased $25,000 of publicly-traded stock several years ago. That stock is now worth $100,000. If she sells the stock, Donor A must pay capital gains tax on the $75,000 gain. Alternatively, Donor A can donate the stock to a qualified charity and, in turn, rece

ive a $100,000 charitable income tax deduction. When the charity then sells the stock, no capital gains tax is due on the appreciation.

When a donor makes substantial gifts to charity, however, the donor’s family is deprived of those assets that they might otherwise have received.

A Potential Life Insurance Solution:

In order to replace the value of the assets transferred to a charity, the donor establishes a second trust – an irrevocable life insurance trust – and the trustee acquires life insurance on the donor’s life in an amount equal to the value of the charitable gift. Using the charitable deduction income tax savings and any annual cash flow from a charitable trust or charitable gift annuity, the donor makes gifts to the irrevocable life insurance trust that are then used to pay the life insurance policy premiums. At the donor’s death, the life insurance proceeds generally pass to the donor’s heirs free of income tax and estate tax, replacing the value of the assets that were given to the charity.

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What Is a Living Will?

“Living will” is a term commonly used to refer to a legal document available in most states that allows an adult to state in advance whether or not life-sustaining medical procedures should be used to prolong life when there is no chance for a reasonable recovery.

Why Should You Consider a Living Will?

Reasons to consider a living will include:

  • A belief that adults have the right to control medical decisions regarding their care, including the right to refuse or withdraw life-sustaining treatment.
  • Concern about the suffering and loss of dignity that can occur when life-sustaining measures are used to prolong an inevitable death.
  • Easing the emotional pain the family might otherwise have to suffer in making such a difficult decision.
  • Relieving a doctor’s and hospital’s fears of liability in withholding or withdrawing treatment.
  • Language concerning organ donation can be included in a living will.

How Do You Implement a Living Will?

While the validity of a living will is determined by state statute, the requirements generally include that the document be:

  1. In writing,
  2. Dated
  3. Signed 
  4. Witnessed by two people who are not related to the declarant and are not heirs of his or her estate.

In addition, doctors and their employees, as well as hospital employees, are generally not acceptable witnesses. Consult your doctor or attorney for more information about the availability of a living will in your state.

Once a living will has been executed, copies should be given to close family members, the primary doctor and the family attorney.

A living will can be revoked at any time by destroying the document and any copies or by signing a notarized revocation of the document.

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Need retirement income you can’t outlive? Have coffee with Meg. Take a video break and learn how Meg uses a single premium immediate annuity (SPIA) to alleviate concerns about outliving her retirement assets and being unable to meet monthly expenses.

Retire with Confidence

People are living longer than ever before, meaning  that unpredictable market performance, higher  healthcare costs and rising inflation could impact  your retirement nest egg. Social Security is in  question, and you may or may not have a pension.
The reality is, many individuals simply may not be  able to maintain their standard of living — or worse  — may run out of money during retirement.

 Live Comfortably with Retirement Income- Consider the risks that can affect your retirement and life:

  • Lifespan - Living longer and outliving your retirement money.
  • Inflation – Cost of living increases that erode your retirement buying power.
  • Fluctuation – Market volatility that impacts your retirement assets.
  • Experience – Life events that require retirement plan flexibility.

At what rate can you safely withdraw from your portfolio to address these risks?

  • According to the Journal of Financial Planning the safe withdrawal is 2.52%.

Contact www.TimBarton.net

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You might know that you can move money from your employer’s qualified retirement plan to an IRA when you leave the employer.  But do you know you may be able to take advantage of this opportunity while still employed by the company?  There can be big benefits to this move.

What is an In-Service Withdrawal?

Basically, some companies allow active employees to move funds from an employer-sponsored qualified plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), while still contributing to the plan. When handled as a direct rollover, an actively working employee (usually age 59½ or older) then can buy an Individual Retirement Annuity (IRA) without current taxation. Of course, if a withdrawal is not rolled over to a qualified plan or IRA, it is considered taxable income (and may be subject to a 10% federal penalty if less than age 59½). But done right, there can be advantages to making this move.

What are the Benefits of an In-Service Withdrawal?

Using an in-service withdrawal to fund a deferred annuity in an IRA can offer these potential benefits:

  1. You may be able to gain more control over the retirement funds.
  2. You may be able to protect your retirement funds from market volatility.
  3. You may be able to choose options you feel better suit your retirement needs.
  4. You may be able to ensure yourself a guaranteed income stream in retirement.

What are the Next Steps?

  1. Talk to a Pro: Talk to your financial professional and see if taking an in-service withdrawal to fund an individual retirement annuity may benefit you.
  2. Talk to a Plan Administrator: Talk to your employer’s plan administrator about eligibility and requirements. They can tell you if the plan allows in-service withdrawals, and about any rules, such as withdrawal limits, fund types, transfer timing, etc.

Importance of Direct Rollover

As you consider an in-service withdrawal, it’s important to be certain your financial professional and plan administrator handle it properly — as a direct rollover.

With a direct rollover, your funds transfer from the plan trustee directly to another qualified retirement plan or IRA. By doing so they are not subject to tax withholding.

If your funds transfer to you, the plan participant, plan administrators must withhold 20% for federal income tax purposes, even if you intend to roll all the funds over within the 60-day time limit. This is a critical detail; one you don’t want to dismiss.

Added Considerations: Get the Complete Picture

  1. Talk with a tax advisor about potential tax implications before moving money out of your retirement plan.
  2. Use the proper paperwork. Most qualified plans have specific forms for direct rollovers.
  3. Some qualified plans may cease matching contributions for a period after taking an in-service withdrawal.
  4. The tax code allows the following to be rolled over from a qualified plan as an in-service withdrawal: Employer matching and profit-sharing contributions Employee after-tax contributions (non-Roth)
  5. Employee pre-tax and Roth contributions after age 59½
  6. The tax code does not allow rolling over the following before age 59½:
  7. Employer safe harbor match or safe harbor non-elective contributions
  8. Employee pre-tax or Roth contributions
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What Is the Marital Deduction?

The marital deduction (I.R.C. Sections 2056 and 2523) eliminates both the federal estate and gift tax on transfers of property between spouses, in effect treating them as one economic unit.  The amount of property that can be transferred between them is unlimited, meaning that a spouse can transfer all of his or her property to the other spouse, during lifetime or at death, and completely escape any federal estate or gift tax on this first transfer.  However, property transferred in excess of the unified credit equivalent will ultimately be subject to estate tax in the estate of the surviving spouse.

The 2010 Tax Relief Act, however, provided for “portability” of the maximum estate tax unified credit between spouses if death occurred in 2011 or 2012.  The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 subsequently made the portability provision permanent.  This means that a surviving spouse can elect to take advantage of any unused portion of the estate tax unified credit of a deceased spouse (the equivalent of $5,000,000 as adjusted for inflation; $5,340,000 in 2014).  As a result, with this election and careful estate planning, married couples can effectively shield up to at least $10 million (as adjusted for inflation) from the federal estate and gift tax without use of marital deduction planning techniques.  Property transferred to the surviving spouse in excess of the combined unified credit equivalent will be subject to estate tax in the estate of the surviving spouse.

If the surviving spouse is predeceased by more than one spouse, the additional exclusion amount available for use by the surviving spouse is equal to the lesser of $5 million ($5,340,000 in 2014 as adjusted for inflation) or the unused exclusion of the last deceased spouse.

What Requirements Apply to the Marital Deduction?

To qualify for the marital deduction, the decedent must have been married and either a citizen or resident of theU.S. at the time of death.  In addition, the property interest (1) must be included in the decedent’s gross estate, (2) must pass from the decedent to his or her surviving spouse and (3) cannot represent a terminable interest (property ownership that ends upon a specified event or after a predetermined period of time).

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5 Reasons People Give

August 7, 2014 by

According to the Giving USA Foundation, individual giving accounted for 72% of all contributions to charitable organizations in 2012. 

Source: Giving USA Foundation™ – Giving USA 2013 Highlights

People give to charities for a variety of reasons. They give:

  1. Because they have compassion for the less fortunate.
  2. From a belief that they owe something back to society.
  3. To support a favored institution or cause.
  4. For the recognition attained by making substantial charitable donations.
  5. To benefit from the financial incentives our tax system provides for charitable gifts.

Regardless of your reasons for giving, a careful review of the various ways to structure charitable gifts can help make your gifts more meaningful, both to you and to the charities you choose to support.

A charitable gift is a donation of cash or other property to, or for the interest of, a charitable organization. The gift is freely given with the primary intention of benefiting the charity.

Whether given during lifetime or after death, charitable gifts are eligible for a tax deduction, but only if made to a qualified charitable organization. For example, you may have a relative who has fallen on hard times, someone you choose to help with gifts of cash. While you may be motivated by charitable intentions in making these gifts, you cannot deduct them for either income tax or estate tax purposes.

In general, qualified charitable organizations include churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations, colleges and other nonprofit educational organizations, museums, nonprofit hospitals, and public parks and recreation areas. Gifts to these types of organizations qualify for a federal income tax deduction if made during your lifetime or, if made after your death, can be deducted from the value of your estate for federal estate tax purposes.

On the other hand, examples of non-charitable groups include labor unions, social clubs, lobbying organizations, chambers of commerce, for-profit groups and individuals. Gifts to any of these are not eligible for a charitable tax deduction.

If in doubt about an organization’s qualified status, ask the charity for documentation of its tax-exempt status. Alternatively, the IRS provides a complete listing of approved charitable organizations in Publication 78, Cumulative List of Charitable Organizations (http://www.irs.gov). (search Pub 78)

Don’t forget to check how much of your contribution is used for the charity’s mission verses how much is paid out in other expenses such as administration, salary, employee benefits and fundraising.  http://www.charitynavigator.org/ is a good site to research a charity.

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At this point in our lives we’ve raised our own kids and hopefully the values we struggled to impart before they left home have become part of their family lives.  Now they’re raising  our grandchildren and like us, when we were new parents our kids will try to bring all of their life lessons into the mix.  The hard part, at times,  at least for me, is to keep my mouth shut not give unasked for advice.  Anyone else have that problem?

This narrows my options to – just setting the best example I can no matter the subject matter.  When it comes to money and finances.  Money does not grow on trees.

  • Young children can  understand the concept of money.  When I take them out and we’re going to buy a little something like an ice cream I give them the money to pay for it.   This teaches them money is exchanged for things we want.
  • Save all my “change” for grandkids. I split up this money into 3 coin purses for each kid marked 20% for savings,  10% sharing, and all the rest for whatever they want. (with parent’s permission of course)   The savings is used for their bigger desires/wants. The sharing can be used to buy things like ice cream, candy bars and other treats for family on outings or they will deposit it into Salvation Army kettles or other charitable containers found at the checkouts.  Elementary school age is a good time to start.
  • Demonstrate to the grandkids how to reach a savings goal.  Show them how saving X amount of their money each month and in how many months this money will equal an amount needed to buy a computer game, book or whatever.
  • When the grandkids are coming for a barbeque, a couple like to help cook.  We plan a menu, make a list of needed ingredients, figure out the budget (money to purchase listed items) and go to the store.  As we pick things out we discuss pricing,  brand names and how to evaluate the best deal.
  • Needs versus wants concept is very important throughout life for all of us.  As they age and gain understanding there are  things associated with my hobbies that reflect needs versus wants which make  good subject matter for discussion with my grandkids. Particularly an activity they have an interest in, like fishing for example.

These are just few examples of actions and conversation points  I use to demonstrate how to use money with my grandkids.  Actually I did the same things with their parents as they grew up and remember how I appreciated any support from other adults.  As a grandpa I just wait for the “teachable” moment or when the conversation flows that way.  To be effective today’s kids are no different than yesterday’s kids- the brains shut off during “the talk”.

Need more ideas?  Download my PDF booklet

“Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees…  Teaching Kids about Money”

 

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Return of Money Trumps Return on Money

Gallup March 31,2014

“United States investors are generally a cautious group when thinking about risk versus return options for their retirement savings.”

Nearly 2 thirds (66%) of investors surveyed by Gallup said a guarantee that their initial investment was secure even if that meant lower growth potential; outranked having high growth potential that carried some risk of losing their initial investment.

The Takeaway – In 2013 – Interest guarantees and income guarantees increased annuity sales 5% higher, to 230,100,000,000 industry wide. According to LIMRA, 2/24/2014

Retirees who take income from an annuity are happier than those who adopt a different approach according to “Annuities and Retirement Happiness” (September 2012)  The report from consultants Towers Watson, concluded-

“…while workers and retirees might have very different needs, almost all of them can benefits from annuitizing some portion of their of their retirement income (beyond Social Security).

Non-Spousal? Non-Problem

Business partners? Yes.     Father and sons? Yes.  Charitable donors and donees? Yes.    Non-spousal joint annuitant structuring provides added  flexibility for income solutions.

 

 

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Is it time to take some risk money off the table?
Not if you believe the market will always go up and that all the risk of future downturns have been made illegal.

This graph certainly looks good.  As of June the Bull market has been around for 64 months that’s the third longest bull market in a half a century. The 1990′s bull lasted 9 years with much higher gains. Are we in the early stages of a new phenomena where the market never goes down?

Cause for concern

Investors still sell low & Buy High

To get an idea of the temperature of financial attitudes we can check the ”Advisor Confidence Index”  It shows financial advisors are strongly optimistic about the economy and markets.  Eerily just like they were in 2007 and more disturbing is the confidence of the small investors who are choosing to invest now.

I do not give investment advice nor can I see into the future, but I do study behavior and in the past the average investor  almost always buys high and sells low.  There is are no indications that has changed.

Perhaps it’s time to consider a lateral transfer of your gains to safety.  www.FixedindexAnnuity.com

 

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The US Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that funds held in inherited IRAs are NOT “retirement funds”  and therefore are not protected in bankruptcy. It is clear that IRAs are exempted but, before the Clark case decision, whether an inherited IRA was subject to the same protection had varying precedent. The decision in Clark is another reason why naming a qualified trust as beneficiary of an IRA is beneficial.

This decision covers both Roth and Traditional IRAs.

An inherited IRA is a traditional or Roth IRA that has been inherited after its owner’s death.

Justice Sotomayer delivered the opinion-

If the heir is the owner’s spouse, as is often the case, the spouse has a choice: He or she may “roll over” the IRA funds into his or her own IRA, or he or she may keep the IRA as an inherited IRAs spouse inherits the IRA, he or she may not roll over the funds; the only option is to hold the IRA as an inherited account. Inherited IRAs do not operate like ordinary IRAs. Unlike with a traditional or Roth IRA, an individual may withdraw funds from an inherited IRA at any time, without paying a tax penalty. Indeed, the owner of an inherited IRA not only may but must withdraw its funds: The owner must either withdraw the entire balance in the account within five years of the original owner’s death or take minimum distributions on an annual basis. Relying on the “plain language of §522(b)(3)(C),” the court concluded that an inherited IRA “does not contain anyone’s ‘retirement funds,’” because unlike with a traditional IRA, the funds are not “segregated to meet the needs of, nor distributed on the occasion of, any person’s retirement.”

 

 

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Long-term care insurance purchased today can help provide you with the financial security you need and deserve in your retirement years. By acting today, you will have protection to help pay for whatever long-term care needs a long life brings!

Long-term care refers to help with daily activities needed by people with disabilities or chronic, longer-lasting illnesses, such as help with eating, bathing and dressing. Long-term care also includes assistance for those suffering from cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Other types of insurance, such as health insurance and disability insurance, do not typically pay for these services. Long-term care can be provided in a variety of settings, such as your home, an assisted living community or in a nursing home.

A typical long-term care insurance policy helps cover the cost of long-term care services, including:

  • Assistance in your home with daily activities, such as bathing, dressing, meals and housekeeping services.
  • Visiting nurses and/or home health aides who come to your home.
  • Services available in your community, such as adult day care.
  • The cost of an assisted living community.
  • Nursing home care.

While the good news is that people are living longer, the bad news is that increased life expectancy also increases the odds of needing long-term care services, which can be expensive.

Without long-term care insurance to help meet the cost of needed long-term care services, you run the risk of depleting a lifetime of savings. With long-term care insurance, you’re in a better financial position to make the choice of what long-term care services you receive and where you receive them. PLUS, qualified long-term care insurance receives favorable income tax treatment…the benefits from qualified long-term care insurance, for the most part, are not taxable income to the recipient, up to a per diem limit ($330 for 2014).

Eligible premiums paid for qualified long-term care insurance can be applied toward meeting the 7.5% “floor” for medical expense deductions on your federal income tax return. The amount of eligible long-term care premium that can be applied to the 7.5% floor depends on your age:

If you are this age by the end of the year: This is the maximum eligible long-term premium for tax deduction purposes in 2014*:
40 or less $370
41 – 50 $700
51 – 60 $1,400
61 – 70 $3,720
More than 70 $4,660

* The maximum eligible long-term care premium is adjusted each year for inflation.

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According to Insurance News the cost of health care in the United States is approximately $9,000 per person.   As a country we spend $2.8 trillion or about 17.2% of gross domestic product on healthcare.  Some think the cost is too high but remember for the most part this spending is going to create maintain good U.S. employment.

$2.8 trillion spending breakdown

  • $882 billion hospitals
  • $565 billion physicians
  • $263.3 billion prescription drugs
  • $76.4 million services i.e. physical therapy, optometry or chiropractic care.

Private Insurance companies pay the most of the nation’s healthcare bills – $917 billion followed by:

  •  Medicare $572.5 billion
  • Medicaid $421.2 billion
  • Patients paid $328.2 in out of pocket costs on their health insurance plans.

What do we get for all this spending?  The longest life expectancies in the history of the world.  Not only is life expectancy long they are, for the most part high quality and active.  Which is why poll after poll of seniors has shown their number 1 fear is Outliving Their Money.

 

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In a recent United States Tax Court case, Bobrow v Commissioner, the Tax Court ruled that all IRAs of a taxpayer should be looked at in aggregate when it comes to the one-rollover-per-year rule. Prior to this ruling it was widely accepted, as well as published in IRS publication 590, that the one-rollover-per-year applied to each IRA independently.

Following the court decision the IRS issued Announcement 2014-15, stating their intention of enforcing the new aggregated one-rollover-per-year rule. However, they are allowing a grace period until January 1, 2015 before enforcement will begin.
As a reminder, the one-rollover-per-year rule applies only to indirect (60-day) IRA to IRA rollovers. Information on the IRS website implies that the limit will apply separately to indirect Roth IRA to Roth IRA rollovers. It appears that traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs would be aggregated for purposes of the rule.

Please also keep in mind:

  • There is no limit on the number of rollovers between an IRA and a qualified plan.
  • There is no limit on the number of IRA to IRA transfers.
  • It appears that there is no limit on the number of indirect traditional IRA to Roth IRA conversions.

 

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A married couple may file a joint tax return and be treated as one taxpayer, so that taxes are paid on the couple’s total taxable income. While a married couple may file separate returns, this usually results in higher taxes than filing jointly. The so-called “marriage penalty” results when the combined tax liability of a married couple filing jointly is greater than the sum of their tax liabilities calculated as though they were two unmarried filers.

Beginning with the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA 2001), various tax bills took steps to alleviate the marriage penalty through 2012. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 finally made the following marriage penalty relief provisions permanent.

Marriage Penalty Relief – Standard Deduction Increase

The following standard deduction schedule applies to a married couple filing jointly:

Calendar Year 2013 and later:

  • Joint Return Standard Deduction as a % of Single Return Standard Deduction - 200%
  • (in 2014, $12,400 married/$6,200 single)

Marriage Penalty Relief – Expansion of 15% Tax Bracket

The following schedule applies to the size of the 15% tax bracket for joint filers as a percentage of the 15% tax bracket for singles:

Calendar Year 2013 and later:

  • Top of 15% Joint Bracket as a % of Top of 15% Single Bracket – 200%
  • (in 2014, $73,800 married/$36,900 single)
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On March 28 I wrote a post about a U.S. tax court altering the rules on IRA to IRA  rollovers and wondered when the IRS would officially change the rules and start enforcement.  Previously according to publication 590 and several IRS letter rulings a taxpayer could rollover each IRA account IRA to IRA once per year- per account.  The tax court changed this long standing precedent by limiting each taxpayer to one 60 day IRA to IRA rollover per year.  No matter how many IRA accounts a taxpayer owns they are now limited to only one rollover per year.

On January 1, 2015 the IRS will begin enforcing this new interpretation.  In order to avoid scrutiny a taxpayer should do all IRA rollovers as institution to institution direct transfers.  These direct transfers will remove all IRS questions and prevent a taxpayer for enduring audit, extra paperwork, penalties and unintentionally taxation of IRA funds.

For more background please read the previous post-    IRA Rollover Rules Altered by Tax Court http://retire.areavoices.com/2014/03/28/ira-rollover-rules-altered-by-tax-court/

Going forward a taxpayer should consult a well informed professional prior to doing any IRA rollovers.

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The January 2014  Bobrow tax court ruling  is an IRA game changer with huge ramifications for IRA owners.   The tax court has ruled the once a year IRA rollover rule applies to all of someone’s individual retirement accounts and not to each separately.  This ruling is stunning in that it changes the Internal Revenue Service’s long standing position in private letter rulings and  IRS Publication 590 that the once a year rule applies to each IRA separately.

According to IRC Section 408(d)(3)(B) IRA owners can roll over only 1 distribution within a 1 year period, 365 days not calendar year.   The 365 days starts on the day the IRA owners receives the money. Until this January 2014 court ruling it was clear the owner of  IRAs could rollover each IRA separately once per year.  If the owner wanted they could rollover each IRA once per year.

This a significant departure from everyone’s previous understanding thus making it prudent to only do one IRA to IRA rollover per year.

If an IRA owner needs to rollover more than one IRA account it is best to use the trustee to trustee transfer commonly  referred to as a direst transfer or institution to institution transfer.  These are the preferred methods to avoid tax trouble.

Is the IRS going to look back on taxpayer IRA rollovers?  Unknown at this time.  If they did -  taxpayers who  rolled over more than one IRA in a 365 day period could be required to pay the 6% penalty for excess contributions if the money was moved into another retirement account.

To avoid the above tax problems always  do direct transfers.  These  avoid comingling  IRA funds with regular “nonqualified” account funds (checking or saving account).  If a rollover is coming from a 401(k) or other tax qualified plan it is common practice for the institution to send the funds to the owner.  Make sure the check is made payable to “new institution FBO owner’s name” This check can be forwarded to the new institution without the comingling of funds.

 

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Sneaky Powerball Scam

March 26, 2014 by

A sneaky Powerball phone scam is targeting state residents.  The callers telling their targets that they are eligible for unclaimed Powerball prizes and asking them to pick some numbers. Later, the scam callers contact the consumers again claiming that they won a third or fourth prize for millions of dollars and an automobile.

A bogus promise of fictional prize winnings is a common scam. What’s different about these calls from more traditional scams, however, is that these scammers are not asking for money to cover “taxes” or “fees” on the bogus prizes or for personally identifying information like Social Security numbers. Instead they are “casing” the chosen victim for future scams, asking them general financial questions about their investments and the values of their homes.

The only time you would receive a call from the Lottery is if you have entered and won a Lottery “mail in” drawing.

Because these Powerball calls have not included the usual scam red flags of requests for money, sensitive personal data or bank or credit account numbers, it is a challenge to persuade potential victims that these calls are fraudulent.

Even if the caller does not ask for personally identifying information in these initial contacts, they are still gathering data that allows them to build a profile that they can use for future scams. If a targeted person freely and eagerly answers the scammer’s questions, that scammer now has two important pieces of information: the overall wealth of the target and a sense that the victim will be an easy and receptive target for future scams. These profiles are valuable for scammers and may be sold and shared among these criminals.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.

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With advances in medical treatment and technology, many people now survive critical illnesses that would have been fatal in the past.  As a result of this increased life expectancy senior Americans have the opportunity to watch grandkids grow into adulthood and start families of their own.  Enjoying some great grandkids is a real possibility.

Some unhappy news; many retirees will at some point become critically ill as the following statistics demonstrate.  The need for planning in order to avoid becoming destitute is more important than ever.

Cancer:

  • Men have a slightly less than 1 in 2 lifetime risk of developing some form of cancer. For women, the lifetime risk is a little more than 1 in 3.
  • Between 2002 and 2008, the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers was 68%, up from 49% in 1975 – 1977.
  • It is estimated that over 1.6 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2013.

(Source: Cancer Facts and Figures 2013; American Cancer Society)

Heart Disease:

  • An estimated 80 million Americans have one or more types of heart disease.
  • Each year, an American will suffer a heart attack about every 34 seconds.
  • The lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease at age 40 is 2 in 3 for men and more than 1 in 2 for women.
  • It is estimated that the total costs of cardiovascular diseases in the U.S. was over $448 billion in 2008.

(Source: Heart Disease Facts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2013)

Stroke:

  • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the U.S.
  • It is estimated that Americans paid about $38.6 billion in 2010 for stroke-related medical costs and lost productivity.

(Source: Stroke Fact Sheet, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 2013)

Will you have sufficient funds available to pay for:

  • Any insurance co-payments and deductibles;
  • Alterations to your home and/or automobile to meet any special needs;
  • Out-of-town transportation and lodging for medical treatment;
  • Treatments not covered by traditional health insurance; and/or
  • Shorter-term home health care during your recuperation?

Surviving critical illnesses increase our life expectancies, we will live longer than ever before.  At the same time, fortunately annuity ownership is rising  An annuity is the only guaranteed financial  hedge against longevity.  More than ever a retiree’s goal should be lifetime income not just income for 20-30 years.

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Seems there are daily changes taking place in ObamaCare/ACA so it is no wonder there is so much confusion surrounding the purchase of  health insurance.  Even the WI Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) is not totally correct with their press release this morning:

The second deadline is March 31, 2014, which is when ACA open enrollment ends. Health insurance applications submitted between March 16, 2014, and March 31, 2014, will have an effective date of May 1, 2014. If you don’t enroll by March 31, 2014, you may not be able to purchase private health insurance until the next open enrollment period starts. The only way you can buy a health plan outside open enrollment is if you qualify for a special enrollment period. The next open enrollment period will be November 15, 2014, to February 15, 2015.

The bold statement in the OCI quote above is not accurate and I called to let OCI know this morning.  They agreed with my point, said they would review it but may or may not correct it.

Private insurance companies still offer private health insurance for sale and it does not have to be purchased on the government exchange.  By law it is true an insurance company can not sell an “Obamacare qualified health plan” after March 31st.

If the ACA enrollment deadline is missed there is a short term solution.  One section of the health insurance market not affected are short term or temporary health insurance policies.  These policies are designed for people who for whatever reason need medical insurance on a temporary basis.  Temporary polices are not ”qualified” so people carrying one would be subject to the Obamacare  tax penalty.  Those who purchase temporary health insurance policies should carefully read what is not covered, for example preexisting condition are usually not covered.  New health conditions occurring after the effective date are covered.

Check out short term medical coverage and premiums here – http://buyinsuranceontheweb.mymedicalquotes.com/HomePage.aspx

Short term policies can be purchased for one month or up to a year and can be renewed for a second year.  There are no networks, an insured can go to any doctor or medical facility.

Some early retirees without major health issues are using short term medical policies to fill the gap from their retirement date to their Medicare eligibility date.

It is advisable to carry qualified coverage when you can.

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At retirement, if you have a pension, you have to make a difficult decision that could negatively impact your future financial security and that of your spouse.  Most people with company pension plans give this decision little thought and simply select the first payout option listed on their pension estimate; Joint and Equal Survivor Option.

For example, assume your maximum lifetime pension benefit is $2,000 monthly.

With the joint and equal survivor option, you’ll receive a significantly lower lifetime pension payment. Your surviving spouse, however, will continue to receive 100% of your pension benefit if you die first.

  • For as long as you live, you receive 75% of $2,000 the maximum life income option benefit.  Your benefit is reduced to $1,500 per month, for life.
  • If you die first, your spouse will receive a lifetime monthly pension benefit equal to 100% of your benefit, or $1,500 per month.
  • If your spouse dies first you will continue to receive $1500 per month.  There is generally no going back to the maximum $2,000 benefit. 

Second choice is  – Joint and One-Half Survivor Option:

If you elect the joint and one-half survivor option, you’ll receive a lower lifetime pension payment. On the other hand, if you die first, your surviving spouse will continue to receive a lifetime pension benefit equal to 50% of your pension benefit prior to your death. For example:

  • For as long as you live, you receive a monthly pension benefit of $1,700 or about 85% of the maximum life income option benefit.
  • If you die first, your spouse will receive a lifetime monthly pension benefit equal to 50% of your benefit, or $850 per month.
  • If your spouse dies first, however, your monthly pension benefit remains at $1,700.

Next choice is – Life Income Option:

If you receive your pension benefit under the life income option, you receive the maximum lifetime pension payment. If you die first however, your surviving spouse receives nothing after your death. For example

  • For as long as you live, you receive a monthly pension benefit of $2,000.
  • If you die first, however, your spouse will receive a monthly pension benefit of $0.
  • If your spouse dies first, your monthly pension benefit remains unchanged at $2,000.

At retirement, you will have to decide how your pension benefit will be paid out for the rest of your life:

  • If you elect to receive the maximum retirement check each month for as long as you live, with the condition that upon your death, your spouse gets nothing.
  • If you elect to receive a reduced retirement check each month, with the condition that upon your death, your spouse will continue to receive an income.
  • This pension decision is permanent.
  • The decision you make will determine the amount of pension income you receive for the rest of your life.
  • The decision is generally irreversible.
  • In making this decision, many people unknowingly purchase the largest death benefit (life insurance) they will ever buy and one over which they have no control.

How Can Retirement Income Protection Help Solve the Pension Benefit Dilemma?

Federal law allows a pension plan participant to waive the “joint and survivor” annuity payout requirement, with the written consent of his or her spouse.  This means that, with your spouse’s consent, you can elect to receive the MAXIMUM life income annuity payout at your retirement.

  • However, what happens to your surviving spouse’s income and lifestyle if you should die first?

The solution, you maintain sufficient life insurance to replace the pension income lost at your death, assuring that your spouse will have an adequate source of income after your death.  This is a death benefit you control and if your spouse predeceases you the life insurance can be surrendered paying you back part or all of your premiums;  Depending on when death occurred.

In making this important decision, you should evaluate the risks associated with retirement income protection funded with life insurance:

  • Your income after retirement must be sufficient to ensure that the life insurance policy premiums can be paid and coverage stay in force for your lifetime. Otherwise, your spouse may be without sufficient income after your death.
  • If your pension plan provides cost-of-living adjustments, will upward adjustments in the amount of life insurance be needed to replace lost cost-of-living adjustments after your death?
  • Does your company pension plan continue health insurance benefits to a surviving spouse and, if so, will it do so if you elect the life income option?
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