Will Your Medicare Premium Be Increasing?

Will Your Medicare Premium Be Increasing?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people aged 65 and older. It is also available to certain younger people with disabilities and those with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant). Medicare consists of 4 parts:

• Part A – Hospital Insurance
• Part B – Medical Insurance
• Part C – Medicare Advantage Plans
• Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage.

For the vast majority of Americans, you are automatically signed up for Medicare Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65 (or the first day of the month prior if your birthday is on the 1st.)
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Department of Labor – Fiduciary Rule

Department of Labor – Fiduciary Rule

The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule

In 2016 the Department of Labor released its final rule amending the definition of a fiduciary on retirement accounts. This proposal, often called the “Conflict of Interest Rule” or “Fiduciary Rule,” requires all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice to act as a fiduciary. Being a fiduciary requires a financial professional to act solely in the best interest of his or her client, putting their client’s interest before their own at all times. A fiduciary is both legally and ethically required to meet the requirements of this status. This is a much higher obligation to abide by than the suitability standard that is still widely used in the industry. This new rule is scheduled to be phased in starting April 10, 2017.
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Does the ‘Trump Rally’ Have Legs?

Does the ‘Trump Rally’ Have Legs?

Before we discuss the Trump rally and if it has legs, it is instructive to recap 2016 and how our views and portfolio positioning played out relative to the markets.  One of the things our firm does differently than most is how we proactively manage risk in client accounts.

When we see red flags beginning to surface in the financial markets, we take steps to adopt a more defensive posture to protect capital and avoid large losses.  Over the years clients have repeatedly told us that they much prefer to focus on capital preservation when things look rocky, even if that means we may leave a little upside on the table as a result.
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IRA Rules for RMDs & Other Withdrawals

IRA Rules for RMDs & Other Withdrawals

You have spent years accumulating assets in your IRA. If you contributed to a traditional IRA, you took a tax benefit during the year you made the contribution(s) by deducting this amount on your tax return. Your earnings can potentially grow tax-deferred until you withdraw the money. If you contributed to a Roth IRA, you made contributions with after tax dollars. These contributions can potentially grow tax-free and are tax-free at withdrawal. Unfortunately, you cannot keep the funds in your retirement account indefinitely. Below are guidelines for IRA withdrawals.
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Year-End Tax Planning

Year-End Tax Planning

As 2016 comes to a close, it is a good time to focus on your year-end tax planning. Whether you are having a good year or rebounding from recent losses, you may be able to save some money on your taxes if you make the right moves before the end of the year. Three moves we recommend you should consider as part of your year-end tax planning are: charitable contributions, tax-loss harvesting, and maxing out your retirement account contributions.
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Trump’d

Trump’d

What happened?

Last night Donald Trump won a surprise victory in the US presidential election.  The victory initially shocked global markets, which had been pricing in the likelihood of a Clinton victory.  The initial reaction was heavy selling in overnight markets.  At one point, S&P 500 future were down -5%, the downside limit in overnight trading.  But soon after his acceptance speech, markets began to rebound from their lows.  That initial buying spurred additional waves of follow on buying, and soon the markets had erased all their losses and moved to gains for the day.
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Are We In The Late Innings Of This Business Cycle?

Are We In The Late Innings Of This Business Cycle?

The current bull market (which began in 2009) will soon be entering its 9th year of expansion. That is quite a long time for a bull market to run without interruption, actually one of the longest on record. This has some investors worrying that we are getting into the late innings of this business cycle, and the time to cash in some chips and focus on playing defense is at hand.

Normally at this juncture in the cycle, one would be looking for areas of excess in the economy and financial markets and pointing them out as worrisome. This would include things like the economy overheating, inflation rates picking up, and interest rates rising in conjunction. But one of the conundrums this time around is that inflation has remained low, interest rates are near record lows, and economic growth remains subpar.
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Estate Planning: Trusts

Estate Planning: Trusts

Organizing what happens to your estate in the event you or your loved one passes away is often a difficult subject to broach, albeit very important. In addition to the subject matter being daunting, there is often a lack of understanding of the financial burden that may follow. We think it’s important to educate our clients on this process to ensure they are armed with the basics in estate planning.

An estate plan is a collection of legal documents that give individuals the authority to preserve and manage their assets in the event of death or incapacity. The estate plan also designates decision-makers in the event of one’s incapacity and allows for the continued support for family members after death.
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College Planning

College Planning

College Planning
The cost of receiving a college education continues to rise. For the 2015-2016 school year, the average cost for tuition and fees (does not include room & board) for one year at a private college was $32,405, in-state residents at a public college was $9,410, and out-of-state residents at a public college was $23,890. It is estimated that a child born in 2015 will have to pay nearly $550,000 for a private four-year college education and $240,000 for a public four-year college education. This expense will present a challenge for many families, which is why saving for college is imperative. It is important to understand the best ways to save for college and how your assets factor into the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation used by the financial aid office to determine aid eligibility.
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How Will This Central Bank Experiment End?

How Will This Central Bank Experiment End?

Market volatility: The volatility investors witnessed in the global financial markets at the beginning of the year has certainly lessened in intensity recently, but various issues and events persist that will likely continue to cause flare-ups in market volatility for the remainder of the year. Whether it is the Brexit vote, FOMC meetings, or the political rhetoric that is about to heat up with the national nominating conventions for the Presidential election, there are plenty of factors that have the potential to keep market volatility elevated in the near-term. That said, recent market corrections have quickly found their footing, something we will touch on more in a bit.

The most recent notable example was the Brexit vote that took place on June 23rd. Although this event was well telegraphed and widely discussed, the decision to leave the EU surprised markets and caused a sharp plunge in the following days. One of the reasons markets bounced back so quickly was likely the realization that there will be little immediate impact (the effect on the British pound notwithstanding). Britain first has to elect a new Prime Minister, then enact Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (Q4) to start the clock on the withdrawal process. So negotiations surrounding their exit from the EU won’t even begin to take form until 2017, and could last up to 2 years.
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