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Conversations are essential, especially concerning the end of life. I am currently reading the book “Being Mortal – Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande. Recently on PBS, Frontline chronicled Dr. Gawande and others about how the medical profession deals with the end of life with patients and their families. You can view the feature here: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/being-mortal/ While none of us want to think about the end of our lives or those of family members, one of the main focuses of the show was on patients at the very end of life and being able to have conversations about their preferences as the end drew near. Frontline’s documentary brought to light that for some patients, emphasis was placed on the quantity of their remaining days, rather than the quality of their last days, which can make the end of life even more difficult. This scenario can sometimes place physicians, patients and family members at odds so it is important the patient, or family members advocating on their behalf, have a voice in end of life choices and Read on! →
The protection of your personal and financial data is paramount in today’s society. From healthcare and income tax scams to the recent Anthem Insurance data breach, to general email phishing scams, it seems that no one is exempt nowadays from this growing issue. In today’s digital world, where information is at our (and not to mention, potentially dangerous hackers’) fingertips, it is imperative to know how to prevent becoming the latest victim of a financial scam, and how to check up on your credit to know if a breach on your identity has occurred. The key is to be aware of the potentially harmful schemes ahead of time so that you are prepared to properly avoid them, as well as continually stay on top of your personal information in case your identity is ever compromised. Tax Scams Tax season has proven to be a time of year when many scammers prey on individuals in the midst of their tax preparation. Below are a few tax-time scam warnings directly from the IRS: Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scams that Read on! →
As you gear up for tax season, make sure you have your ducks in a row. Here’s a quick checklist that may make your tax prep less painful for you and for your tax preparer this year. Items to gather prior to preparing last year’s tax return1: All income reporting forms which may include: W-2(s), K-1(s), All 1099(s) (from Custodian(s), bank(s), employer(s), etc.) Detailed list (and receipts if needed) for itemized deductions such as: Form 1098 to report mortgage interest Closing statement if you purchased or refinanced your home last year Charitable donation receipts (cash/check or non-cash donations) Investment management fees Unreimbursed employee expenses Medical and dental expenses Other forms/items that may affect you: Form 5498: you may receive this form if you made any IRA, HSA, or other contributions last year Form 1095-A: if you purchased health care through the Health Care Exchange, you should receive this from the Marketplace by early February Tuition statements from your University State income tax refunds Planning items you might want to consider before filing your taxes: There may still be time to Read on! →
The US economy started 2014 slow but accelerated throughout the year. US GDP growth accelerated after a negative 1st Quarter to reach 4.4% and 5% GDP growth respectively, in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Plunging oil prices, low inflation, low interest rates, growing consumer confidence and a strong US dollar all fueled stronger US growth. US investors continued to climb a wall of worry during the year which included; the early 2014 winter storms, , Russia invading Ukraine, the end of Quantitative Easing (easy monetary policy), mid-term elections, Ebola contagion and the collapse of oil (good for consumers, bad for energy companies). Most experts think the Federal Reserve will start raising rates this year but rate hikes in 2015 will only make the Fed “less loose”, not tight in historical terms. We believe a continued strong dollar and productivity growth, when coupled with a banking system that is maintaining tighter lending standards, signals that inflation should remain subdued. Looking Ahead into 2015 The famous investor Sir John Templeton pontificated once that “bull markets are born in pessimism, grow on skepticism, Read on! →
With tax issues already swirling, don’t lose sight of other planning techniques that may affect you in 2015. As you recap on the prior year and look forward to 2015, consider if you have been, or will be affected by any of the following: In Service Rollover Opportunities If you are at least 59 ½ and still employed, you may be able to complete an in-service rollover of the assets in your 401(k) to an IRA. Many employer plans allow in-service rollovers for their employees. If you are unhappy with the investment choices your 401(k) offers or would just like to have these assets within your direct control, this may be an option within your employer plan. Because you are still employed, your 401(k) plan will remain active following the transfer and will still be able to accept your continuing deferrals and employer matches. It simply allows for a transfer of what is already in the 401(k) (subject to employer restrictions) to transfer to a Rollover IRA that can then be invested as you or your Financial Advisor choose. Inherited Read on! →