Category Archives: Retirement Planning

How Stepped-Up Basis Affects a 1031 Exchange

How Stepped-Up Basis Affects a 1031 Exchange

It may make the case for replacing a property far less compelling.

  

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

 

Have you inherited a home or income property? If so, you may be weighing your options: you could hang onto it, you could sell it, or you could replace it through a 1031 exchange. One major factor affecting your choice will be the property’s tax basis – the value of that real estate in the eyes of the tax collector.1

The tax basis of a property changes over time, and it can change dramatically when a property is inherited or gifted. Usually, the basis is “stepped up.” Let’s explain what that phrase means.3

When you buy real estate, your starting tax basis is known as the cost basis. The cost basis is defined as the full purchase price for the property. If you buy a home for $300,000 (with or without financing), your initial tax basis is the cost basis of $300,000.1

When you inherit real estate, your basis is not the original owner’s cost basis. Instead, it is the fair market value of the property at the time of the owner’s death. This adjustment is known as a “step-up,” and it provides many heirs with a nice tax break.1,2

As an example, say someone inherits a 12-unit apartment building. The full purchase price of the building was $300,000 in 1990, but the fair market value of the building was $600,000 at the owner’s death. The heir sells the building for $620,000. Her tax basis is $600,000, which means her total taxable profit on the sale will be only $20,000 instead of $320,000. Correspondingly, she faces capital gains tax on $20,000 of profit rather than $320,000 of profit.1

When basis is stepped up, there may be much less incentive to replace a property (and defer tax on the gain) through a 1031 exchange. Selling the property may be the better option.

A 1031 exchange – an alternative to a conventional sale – offers you a legal way to replace an unwanted property with a more desirable one, without triggering capital gains taxes in the year of the swap. These like-kind exchanges are facilitated with the assistance of a third party – a qualified intermediary who can help you complete the exchange within 180 days of the initial property transfer (and before you file your 1040 for the tax year involved).3    

If you want to quickly sell inherited real estate, the case for a 1031 exchange weakens. If your goal is to unload the property within a few months, it may not appreciate much (or at all) in that time. The taxable profit above the stepped-up basis may be small or nonexistent, so capital gains tax may not be much of a concern. If you decide to hang onto the property for a couple of years, then the case for initiating a like-kind exchange grows stronger.3

What variables factor into the decision to sell or exchange? First, the fair market value of the property has to be determined. Take the original total purchase price of the property, add the value of any improvements, and subtract any depreciation taken. That is your adjusted basis.1,2

Once you have that number, plug it into the middle of another equation: Projected Sale Price – (Adjusted Basis + Projected Agent Commission + Projected Title Fees + Any Other Probable Closing Costs) = Realized Taxable Gain.2

Now onto determining the tax due. As a simple rule of thumb, multiply the depreciation that will be taken from the realized taxable gain by 25% to estimate recaptured depreciation. Then apply federal capital gains tax, state capital gains tax, and (in some circumstances) county capital gains tax to the remaining balance to arrive at the recognized gain, or the total capital gains tax you are projected to owe. If that total capital gains tax is not burdensome to you, you may opt to just sell the property rather than exchange it.2

Before making any move, be sure you confer with a tax professional or a real estate professional to evaluate these options.

 

Terri Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

  

Citations.

1 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/determining-your-homes-tax-basis.html [9/13/16]

2 – atlas1031.com/blog/1031-exchange/bid/82182/1031-Exchange-and-Stepped-Up-Basis [2/19/13

3 – cincinnati.com/story/money/2016/05/05/property-exchange-can-defer-avoid-tax/83982782/ [5/5/16]

 

How Millennials Can Get a Good Start on Retirement Planning

How Millennials Can Get a Good Start on Retirement Planning

Some simple steps may make a major financial difference over time.

 

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

 

If you are younger than 35, saving for retirement may not feel like a priority. After all, retirement may be 30 years away; if your employer does not sponsor a retirement plan, there may be less incentive for you to start.

Even so, you must save and invest for retirement as soon as you can. Time is your greatest ally. The earlier you begin, the more years your invested assets have to grow and compound. If you put off retirement planning until your fifties, you may end up having to devote huge chunks of your income just to catch up, at a time when you may have to care for elderly parents, fund college educations, and pay off a mortgage. 

Do your part to reject the financial stereotype that the media places on millennials. Are you familiar with it? According to the mainstream media, millennials are wary of saving and investing; they are just too indebted, too pessimistic, and too scared get into the market after seeing what happened to the investments of their parents during the Great Recession.

In truth, savers of all ages were traumatized by the 2007-09 bear market. Last month, Gallup asked American households if they had any money in equity investments; just 52% said yes. That compares to 65% in April 2007. In 2014, Gallup asked Americans if investing $1,000 in equities was a good idea or a bad idea; 50% of those surveyed called it a bad one.1

A recent study from HowMuch.Net found that 52% of Americans aged 18-34 have less than $1,000 in savings. Well, guess what: another study from Go Banking Rates reveals that 62% of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.2

Now is the time to take some crucial financial steps. According to a poll taken by millennial advocacy group Young Invincibles, only 43% of 18-to-34-year-olds without access to a workplace retirement plan save consistently for retirement; whether your employer sponsors a plan or not, though, you can still make some wise moves before you turn 40.3

Make saving a top priority. Resolve to pay yourself first. That is, direct money toward your retirement before you do anything else, like pay the bills or spend it on needs or wants. Your future should come first.

Invest some or most of what you save. Investing in equities is vital, because it gives you the potential to grow and compound your money to outpace inflation. With interest rates so low right now, ultra-conservative fixed-income investments are generating very low returns, and most savings accounts are offering minimal interest rates. Thirty or forty years from now, you will probably not be able to retire solely on your savings. If you invest your retirement money in equities, you have the opportunity to retire on the earnings and compound interest accumulated through both saving and investing.

The effect of compounding can be profound. For example, suppose you want to retire with $1 million in savings. (By 2050, this may be a common goal rather than a lofty one.) We will project that your investments will yield 6.5% a year between now and the year you turn 65 (a reasonably optimistic assumption) and, for the sake of simplicity, we will put any potential capital gains taxes and investment fees aside. Given all that, how early would you have to begin saving and investing to reach that $1 million goal, and how much would you have to save per month to reach it?

If you start saving at 45, the answer is $2,039. If you start saving at 35, the monthly number drops to $904. How about if you start saving at 25? Only $438 a month would be needed. The earlier you start saving and investing, the more compounding power you can harness.4

Strive to get the match. Some companies reward employees with matching retirement plan contributions; they will contribute 50 cents for every dollar the worker does or, perhaps, even match the contribution dollar-for-dollar. An employer match is too good to pass up.

Invest in a way you are comfortable with. In the mid-2000s, some Wall Street money managers directed assets into investments they did not fully understand, a gamble that contributed to the last bear market. Take a lesson from that example and avoid investing in what seems utterly convoluted or mysterious.

Realize that friends and family may not know it all. The people closest to you may or may not be familiar with investing. If they are not, take what they tell you with a few grains of salt.

Getting a double-digit annual return is great, but the main concern is staying invested. The market goes up and down, sometimes violently, but there has never been a 20-year period in which the market has lost value. As you save for the long run, that is worth remembering.2

 

Terri Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

  

Citations.

1 – gallup.com/poll/1711/stock-market.aspx [4/28/16]

2 – usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2016/02/04/7-ways-millennials-can-get-jump-start-retirement-planning/78310100/ [2/4/16]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/the-real-reason-many-millennials-arent-saving-for-retirement-2016-02-17 [2/17/16]

4 – tinyurl.com/zmncqz6 [4/27/16]

Making Retirement Savings Last

MAKING RETIREMENT SAVINGS LAST

Different ways to respond to the challenge.

 

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

 

As you retire, there are variables you can’t control; investment performance and fate are certainly toward the top of the list. Your approach to withdrawing and preserving your retirement savings, however, may give you more control over your financial life.

Drawing retirement income without draining your savings is a challenge, and the response to it varies per individual. Today’s retirees will likely need to be more flexible and look at different withdrawal methods and tax and lifestyle factors.

Should you go by the 4% rule? For decades, retirees were cautioned to withdraw no more than 4% of their retirement balances annually (adjusted north for inflation as the years went by). This “rule” still has merit (although sometimes the percentage must be increased out of necessity). T. Rowe Price has estimated that someone retiring with a typical 60%/40% stock/bond ratio in their portfolio has just a 13% chance of depleting retirement assets across 30 years if he or she abides by the 4% rule. A 7% initial withdrawal rate invites an 81% chance of outliving your retirement assets in 30 years.1

That sounds like a pretty good argument for the 4% rule in itself. However, while the 4% rule regulates your withdrawals, it doesn’t regulate portfolio performance. If the markets don’t do well, your portfolio may earn less than 4%, and if your investments repeatedly can’t make back the equivalent of what you withdraw, you will risk depleting your nest egg over time. 

Or perhaps the portfolio percentage method? Some retirees elect to withdraw X% of their portfolio in a year, adjusting the percentage based on how well or poorly their investments perform. As this can produce greatly varying annual income even with responsive adjustments, some retirees take a second step and set upper and lower limits on the dollar amount they withdraw annually. This approach is more flexible than the 4% rule, and in theory you will never outlive your money.    

Or maybe the spending floor approach? That’s another approach that has its fans. You estimate the amount of money you will need to spend in a year and then arrange your portfolio to generate it. This implies a laddered income strategy, with the portfolio heavily weighted towards bonds and away from stocks. This is a more conservative approach than the two methods above: with a low equity allocation in your portfolio, only a minority of those assets are exposed to stock market volatility, and yet they can still capture some upside with a foot in the market. 

Attention has to be paid to tax efficiency. Many people have amassed sizable retirement savings, yet give little thought as to the order of their withdrawals. Generally speaking, there is wisdom in taking money out of taxable accounts first, then tax-deferred accounts and lastly tax-exempt accounts. This withdrawal order gives the assets in the tax-deferred and tax-exempt accounts some additional time to grow. A smartly conceived withdrawal sequence may help your retirement savings to last several years longer than they would in its absence.2

Keeping healthy might help you save more in two ways. Increasingly, people want to work until age 70, or longer. Many assume they can, but their assumption may be flawed. The 2012 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 50% of current retirees had left the workforce earlier than they planned, with personal or spousal health concerns a major factor.3

When you eat right, exercise consistently and see a doctor regularly, you may be bolstering your earning potential as well as your constitution. Health problems can hurt your income stream and reduce your chances to get a job, and medical treatments can eat up time that you could use in other ways. Good health can mean fewer ER visits, fewer treatments and fewer hospital stays, all saving you money that might otherwise come out of your retirement fund.

Fidelity figures that a couple retiring now at age 65 will spend $240,000 (in 2012 dollars) on retirement health expenses across their remaining years. That $240,000 doesn’t even include dental, over-the-counter drug and long term care costs (and as a reminder, many eye, ear and dental care costs are not even covered under Medicare or by Medigap policies). Every year you work may mean another year of health insurance coverage as well as income.4

 

Terri Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – individual.troweprice.com/staticFiles/Retail/Shared/PDFs/retPlanGuide.pdf [5/10]

2 – online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703529004576160693310435366.html [3/7/11]

3 – www.dailyfinance.com/2012/09/03/postponing-retirement-70-not-the-new-65/ [9/3/12]

4 – www.marketwatch.com/story/good-health-means-more-retirement-money-2012-12-06 [12/6/12]

Saving Early & Letting Time Work For You

Saving Early & Letting Time Work for You

The earlier you start pursuing financial goals, the better your outcome may be.

 

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

 

As a young investor, you have a powerful ally on your side: time. When you start saving and investing for retirement in your twenties or thirties, you can put it to work for you. 

The effect of compounding is huge. Most people underestimate it, so it is worth illustrating. We will use reasonable annual return rates to do so – we will assume an investor can earn an average of 6-7% a year on his or her portfolio.

What if you invest $500 a month at age 25 & realize a 6% annual return? Under those hypothetical conditions, you would become a millionaire at age 65. To be precise, you would need to invest $499.64 per month starting at age 25 and keep it up for 40 years.1

At age 25, saving and investing $500 each month may seem like a luxury. It is closer to a necessity. In 2055, having $1 million or more saved up for retirement may be essential. Over 40 years, inflation will make $1 million worth less than it is today. The good news is that if your investments return more than 6% in a year, you could reach and surpass that $1 million mark faster.

It need not take 40 years for compounding to make a difference for you. Shortening the timeline of this hypothetical example, after ten years of saving and investing $500 a month at a 6% annual return, you would end up with $81,939.67 compared to the $60,000 you would realize from merely saving the cash sans investment.2

The earlier you start, the greater the compounding potential. If you start saving and investing for retirement in your twenties, you gain a definite compounding advantage over someone who waits to save and invest until his or her thirties. Another comparison bears this out.

Take two investors, both contributing $200 per month into their retirement accounts. One does this for 40 years starting at age 25. The other does this for 30 years starting at age 35. Again, we assume a 6% annual return for each account. The investor who starts at 25 winds up with $402,492 at age 65, while the one who started at 35 amasses just $203,118 over 30 years.3

Just ten years of difference in the start time, yet the money almost doubles by age 65. This is a compelling argument for starting to save for retirement (and other goals) as early as possible.

Even if you start early & then stop, you may out-save those who begin later. What if you contribute $5,000 to a retirement account yearly starting at age 25 and then stop at age 35 – no new money going into the account for the next 30 years? That is hardly ideal, yet should it happen, you still might come out ahead of someone who begins saving for retirement later.

As J.P. Morgan Asset Management research notes, an investor who consistently directs $5,000 a year in a retirement account from age 25-35 with a 7% continued annual return ends up with $602,070 at age 65 even if contributions cease after age 35. The really startling part: that investor actually amasses more retirement savings than an investor who steadily contributes $5,000 a year from age 35-65 at the same rate of return – he or she realizes just $540,741.1

This is all worth noting, because many millennials seem wary of investing. This spring, a Bankrate MoneyPulse survey indicated that only 26% of Americans under age 30 are investing in equities. In July 2014, another Bankrate survey found that Americans 18-29 favored cash investments (i.e., bank accounts and bank-based investment vehicles) above all others. Student loans and child-rearing costs reduce investing potential for many millennials, but as these survey results hint, some are cynical about the whole investment process.4,5

If you were born in the late eighties to early nineties, you are old enough to remember the dot-com bust of the early 2000s and the crushing bear market of 2007-09. This may have given you an early negative view of equities; these events are clear examples of how risk plays a part in this type of investment.

The reality, though, is that most people planning for retirement need to build wealth in a way that outpaces inflation. Equity investing offers a route toward this objective, one many investors have successfully taken. Directing your savings into equities can be helpful, because broadly speaking, you will not retire merely on the contributions you make to your retirement accounts. You will retire on the compounded earnings those invested assets achieve.

 

Terri Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

    

Citations.

1 – businessinsider.com/amazing-power-of-compound-interest-2014-7 [7/8/14]

2 – quickenloans.com/blog/investing-101-how-to-get-started [8/27/15]

3 – businessinsider.com/saving-at-25-vs-saving-at-35-2014-3 [3/25/14]

4 – cnbc.com/2015/08/24/more-millennials-say-no-to-stocks-and-advisors-adapt.html [8/24/15]

5 – bankrate.com/finance/consumer-index/financial-security-charts-0714.aspx [7/21/14]

 

Estate Planning vs Advanced Estate Planning

ESTATE PLANNING vs. ADVANCED ESTATE PLANNING

Who needs what? What’s the difference?

 

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

Everyone has an estate. Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter. When you die, you leave behind an estate. For some, this can mean property, cash money, assets and more. For others it could be as simple as the $10 bill in their wallet and the clothes on their back. Either way, what you leave behind when you die is considered to be your “estate”.

Why plan? Well, even if you’re just leaving behind the $10 bill in your wallet, who will inherit it? Do you have a spouse? Children? Is it theirs? Should it go to just one of them, or be split between them? This (quite simply) is what estate planning is all about. Estate planning determines how your money and assets (property – both real and personal) will be distributed after your lifetime.

Who needs estate planning? While it is absolutely possible to die without planning your estate, I wouldn’t say it is advisable. If you die without an estate plan, your family could face major legal issues and (possibly) bitter disputes. So in my opinion, everyone should do some form of estate planning. Your estate plan could include wills and trusts, life insurance, disability insurance, a living will, a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, long-term care insurance, power of attorney and more.

Why not just a will? Did you know that your heirs may need to file a petition to probate your estate … even if you have a will? Basically, a will tells the world what you’d like to have happen, but other items (like properly prepared and funded trusts) can provide the tools to make things happen, and help your heirs to avoid probate.

So, what is “advanced” estate planning? Advanced estate planning is generally something those with a very high net worth should consider. For example, if you are single and your net worth exceeds $1.5 million dollars, or if you are married and (as a couple) your net worth exceeds $3.5 million dollars, you should consider advanced estate planning. The main purpose of advanced estate planning is to reduce taxes. The use of unified credit, gifting strategies, trusts and more can help your heirs receive the highest benefits possible under federal and state laws.

Where do you begin? Whether you need basic or advanced estate planning, I would advise you to speak with qualified professionals. A Financial Advisor can refer you to a good estate planning attorney and a qualified tax professional, and lead a team effort to assist you in drafting your legal documents. Many financial professionals have relationships with attorneys and accountants, so the advisor you consult may be able to refer you to the right specialists.

 

Terri Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com

 

These are the views of Peter Montoya, Inc., not the named Representative or Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representative or Broker/Dealer give tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information.

 

* As of 2006

Bonds and Interest Rates

Bonds and Interest Rates

A look at how one can greatly affect the other.

 

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

 

Is the bond bull history? Bond titan Bill Gross called an end to the 30-year bull market in fixed income back in 2010, and he has repeated his opinion since. Legendary investor Jim Rogers predicted an end to the bond bull in 2009, and he still sees it happening. This belief is starting to become popular – the Federal Reserve keeps easing and more and more investors are leaving Treasuries for equities.1,2,3

If the long bull market in bonds has ended, the final phase was certainly impressive. During the four-year stretch after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, $900 billion flowed into bond funds and $410 billion left equities.2

In 2013, you have bulls running, an assumption that Fed money printing will start to subside and the real yield on the 10-year TIPS in negative territory. Assuming the economy continues to improve and appetite for risk stays strong, what will happen to bond investors when inflation and interest rates inevitably rise and bond market values fall?

Conditions hint at an oncoming bear market. When interest rates rise again, how many bond owners are going to hang on to their 10-year or 30-year Treasuries until maturity? Who will want a 1.5% or 2.5% return for a decade? Looking at composite bond rates over at Yahoo’s Bonds Center, even longer-term corporate bonds offered but a 3.5%-4.3% return in late March.4

What do you end up with when you sell a bond before its maturity? The market value. If the federal funds rate rises 3%, a longer-term Treasury might lose as much as a third of its market value as a consequence. It wasn’t that long ago – June 12, 2007, to be exact – when the yield on the 10-year note settled up at 5.26%.5

This risk aside, what if you want or need to stay in bonds? Some bond market analysts believe now might be a time to exploit short-term bonds with laddered maturity dates. What’s the trade-off in that move? Well, you are accepting lower interest rates in exchange for a potentially smaller drop in the market value of these securities if rates rise. If you are after higher rates of return from short-duration bonds, you may have to look to bonds that are investment-grade but without AAA or AA ratings.

If you see interest rates rising sooner rather than later, exploiting short maturities could position you to get your principal back in the short term. That could give you cash which you could reinvest in response to climbing interest rates. If you think bond owners are in for some pain in the coming years, you could limit yourself to small positions in bonds.

The Treasury needs revenue and senses the plight of certain bond owners, and in response, it has plans to roll out floating-rate notes by 2014. A floater backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government would have real appeal – its yield could be adjusted per movements in a base interest rate (yet to be selected by the Treasury), and you could hold onto it for a while instead of getting in and out of various short-term debt instruments and incurring the related transaction costs.6

Appetite for risk may displace anxiety faster than we think. In this bull market, why would people put their money into an investment offering a 1.5% return for 10 years? Portfolio diversification aside, a major reason is fear – the fear of volatility and a global downturn. That fear prompts many investors to play “not to lose” – but should interest rates rise significantly in the next few years, owners of long-term bonds might find themselves losing out in terms of their portfolio’s potential.

Terri Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com

 

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-27/fed-easing-likely-to-mark-end-of-30-year-bull-market-for-bonds-gross-says.html [10/27/10]

2 – online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443884104577645470279806022.html [9/15/12]

3 – www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-07/u-s-30-year-bond-losses-pass-5-as-fed-price-gauge-rises.html [2/7/13]

4 – finance.yahoo.com/bonds/composite_bond_rates [3/27/13]

5 – www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=yieldYear&year=2007 [2/6/13]

6 – online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324590904578287802587652738.html [2/6/13]

 

Did You Hear What Just Happened With Social Security

Did You Hear What Just Happened With Social Security?

Congress just eliminated two popular strategies used to get greater retirement benefits.

 

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

 

If you want to claim Social Security benefits soon, keep a date & a number in mind. The date is April 30, 2016. The number is 62.

Recent changes to the Social Security benefit rules have made that date and that number very important, especially for those about to retire.

In October, Congress passed a new federal budget. In doing so, it shut down the file-and-suspend and restricted application claiming strategies for Social Security, which married couples used to try and maximize their combined retirement benefits.1

Broadly speaking, the point of both strategies was to generate spousal Social Security benefits for a couple while they suspended their own, individual benefits (thereby allowing those individual benefits to grow by roughly 8% per year from age 62-70 until claimed).1

After April 30, 2016, the door will shut on the file-and-suspend strategy. The strategy worked like this: when one spouse reached Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (66), that spouse claimed Social Security but then immediately suspended their retirement benefits. The other spouse could then claim a spousal benefit while their deferred, individual Social Security benefit grew 8% annually.2

You may still be able to use the file-and-suspend strategy before the door closes. Are you married? Are you 66 or older right now, or will you be 66 years old by April 30, 2016? If your answer is “yes” to both those questions, then you and your spouse still have a chance to use the strategy. That chance disappears forever on May 1. (It may be risky to wait until April, when the Social Security Administration may have a backlog of applications on its hands.)2

If you are still eligible to file-and-suspend and you miss the April 30 deadline, you could end up leaving anywhere from $10,000-60,000 in lifetime Social Security income on the table.1

One asterisk to all this: the file-and-suspend strategy will still be permitted for individuals. A person can still file for Social Security benefits and voluntarily suspend them, with his or her deferred, individual Social Security benefit increasing by about 8% a year until age 70.3

Why is the number 62 now so important? Starting in 2016, someone turning 62 will no longer be able to file a restricted application for only spousal benefits. In other words, the door is closing on the restricted application claiming strategy.1

That strategy worked as follows: between age 66 and age 70, one spouse would file a restricted application to claim spousal Social Security benefits while deferring their individual benefits until age 70. At 70, they switched from the spousal benefit to their own larger Social Security benefit.2

In 2016 and future years, spouses newly eligible for Social Security will be given a simple and irrevocable choice. They can take either their spousal benefit or their own benefit, whichever is larger. They will not be able to defer their own benefit until age 70 and then switch out of their spousal benefit at that time to their own, larger benefit.2

The good news? If you are 62 or older by the end of 2015, you can still file a restricted application for only spousal benefits. That could be a smart move if your spouse will be getting Social Security when you hit full retirement age (FRA) and you file for your spousal benefits on their earnings history.2

One other option is also going away. Under the new Social Security regulations, a Social Security beneficiary cannot file for benefits, suspend them for X years, and then retroactively request the suspended benefits as a lump sum payout years later. For example, if you file for Social Security at age 63, suspend benefits and then elect to receive your benefits at age 66, you will simply start getting the monthly Social Security income you deserve at age 66. No lump sum of deferred Social Security income will be waiting for you.2

If you are peeved by all this, you are not alone. Many baby boomers viewed the file-and-suspend and restricted application strategies as techniques they could use in the near future to arrange greater retirement income. Congress simply saw loopholes that needed closing.

Does waiting to claim Social Security until age 66 or 67 still make sense? For many couples – particularly those in good health – it still does. While the sun is setting on the chance to receive some spousal benefits while you wait, the basic math of Social Security remains the same. The longer you wait to file for benefits, the larger your monthly individual benefits will be, up until age 70.

Terri Fassi may be reached at 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – nytimes.com/2015/12/05/your-money/the-end-of-social-security-loopholes-what-now.html [12/5/15}

2 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/12/04/say-goodbye-to-the-social-security-file-and-suspend-strategy [12/4/15]

3 – marketwatch.com/story/key-social-security-strategies-hit-by-budget-deal-2015-10-30 [11/2/15]

Hybrid Insurance Products with Long-Term Care Riders

Hybrid Insurance Products with Long-Term Care Riders

With the cost of long term care insurance rising, they are gaining attention.

 

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

 

Could these products answer a financial dilemma? Many high net worth households worry about potential long term care expenses, but they are reluctant or unable to buy long term care insurance. According to a 2014 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, less than 8% of U.S. households have purchased LTCI.1

Costs of traditional LTCI policies are rising, and then you have the “use it or lose it” aspect of the coverage: if the insured party dies abruptly, all those insurance premiums will have been paid for nothing. If the household is wealthy enough, maybe it can forego buying a LTC policy and absorb some or all of possible LTC costs using existing assets.

Are there alternatives allowing some flexibility here? Yes. Recently, more attention has come to hybrid LTC policies and hybrid LTC annuities. These are hybrid insurance products: life insurance policies and annuities with an option to buy a long term care insurance rider for additional cost. They are gaining favor: sales of hybrid LTC policies alone rose by 24% in 2012, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance’s 2014 LTCi Sourcebook. Typically, the people most interested in these hybrid products are a) wealthy couples concerned about the increasing costs of traditional LTCI coverage, b) annuity holders outside of their surrender period who need long term care coverage. Being able to draw on LTCI if the moment arises can be a relief.2

They can be implemented with a lump sum. Often, assets from a CD or a savings account are used to fund the annuity or life insurance policy (the policy is often single-premium). In the case of a hybrid LTC policy, the bulk of the policy’s death benefit can be tapped and used as LTC benefits if the need arises. LTC benefits generated can end up equaling 400% of the initial deposit (or even more). In the case of a hybrid LTC annuity, the money poured into the annuity is usually directed into a fixed-income investment, with the immediate or deferred annuity payments increasing (possibly even doubling or tripling, in some cases) if the annuity holder requires LTC.2,3

What if the annuity or policy holder passes away suddenly, or dies with LTC benefits left over? If that happens with a hybrid LTC policy, you still have a life insurance policy in place. His or her heirs will receive a tax-free death benefit. It is also possible in many cases to surrender the policy and even get the initial premium back (what is known as a return of premium rider). The annuity holder, of course, names a beneficiary – and if he or she doesn’t need long term care, there is still an immediate or deferred income stream from the annuity contract.3

There are some trade-offs for the LTC coverage. Costs of these products are usually defined by the insurer as “guaranteed” – LTCI premiums are fixed, and the value of the policy or annuity will never be less than the lump sum it was established with (though a small surrender charge might be levied in the first few years of the annuity). In exchange for that, some hybrid LTC policies accumulate no cash value, and some hybrid LTC annuity products offer less than fair market returns.4

Tax-free withdrawals may be used to pay for LTC expenses. Thanks to the Pension Protection Act of 2006, the following privileges were granted regarding hybrid insurance products:

*All claims paid directly from appreciated hybrid LTC annuities and hybrid LTC policies are income tax free so long as they are used to pay qualified long term care expenses. In using the cash value to cover LTC expenses, you are not triggering a taxable event.2,4

*Owners of traditional life insurance policies and annuities are now allowed to make 1035 exchanges into appropriate hybrid LTC products without incurring taxable gains.2

If you shop for a hybrid insurance product, shop carefully. The first hybrid LTC policy or hybrid LTC annuity you lay eyes on may not be the cheapest, so look around before you leap and make sure the product is reasonably tailored to your financial objectives and needs. Remember that annuity contracts are not “guaranteed” by any federal agency; the “guarantee” is a pledge from the insurer. If you decide to back out of these arrangements, you need to know that some insurers will not return your premiums. Also, keep in mind that over the long run, the return on these hybrid products will likely not match the return on a conventional fixed annuity or LTCI policy; actuarially speaking, when interest rates rise there is no incentive for the insurer to adjust the fixed income rate of return in response.2,4

Are hybrid insurance products for you? If you can’t qualify medically for LTCI but still want coverage, they may represent worthy options that you can start with a lump sum. You might want to talk to your insurance or financial consultant about the possibility.

Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – rwjf.org/content/dam/farm/reports/issue_briefs/2014/rwjf410654 [2/14]

2 – forbes.com/sites/jamiehopkins/2014/04/21/new-and-unexpected-ways-to-fund-long-term-care-expenses/ [4/21/14]

3 – fa-mag.com/news/hybrid-ltc-insurance-gains-traction-among-the-affluent-17070.html [2/25/14]

4 – kitces.com/blog/is-the-ltc-cost-guarantee-of-todays-hybrid-lifeltc-or-annuityltc-insurance-policies-just-a-mirage/ [10/16/13]

 

Will Baby Boomers Ever Truly Retire?

Will Baby Boomers Ever Truly Retire?

 Many may keep working out of interest rather than need.

Provided by Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA

Baby boomers realize that their retirements may not unfold like those of their parents. New survey data from The Pew Charitable Trusts highlights how perceptions of retirement have changed for this generation. A majority of boomers expect to work in their sixties and seventies, and that expectation may reflect their desire for engagement rather than any economic desperation.

Instead of an “endless Saturday,” the future may include some 8-to-5. Pew asked heads of 7,000 U.S. households how they envisioned retirement and also added survey responses from focus groups in Phoenix, Orlando and Boston. Just 26% of respondents felt their retirements would be work-free. A slight majority (53%) told Pew they would probably work in some context in the next act of their lives, possibly at a different type of job; 21% said they had no intention to retire at all.1

Working longer may help boomers settle debts. A study published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in January (Debt of the Elderly and Near Elderly, 1992-2013) shows a 2.0% increase in the percentage of indebted households in the U.S. headed by breadwinners 55 and older from 2010-13 (reaching 65.4% at the end of that period). EBRI says median indebtedness for such households hit $47,900 in 2013 compared to $17,879 in 1992. It notes that larger mortgage balances have been a major factor in this.1

Debts aside, some people just like to work. Those presently on the job expect to stay in the workforce longer than their parents did. Additional EBRI data affirms this – last year, 33% of U.S. workers believed that they would leave their careers after age 65. That compares to just 11% in 1991.2

How many boomers will manage to work past 65? This is one of the major unknowns in retirement planning today. We are watching a reasonably healthy generation age into seniority, one that can access more knowledge about being healthy than ever before – yet obesity rates have climbed even as advances have been made in treating so many illnesses.

Working past 65 probably means easing into part-time work – and not every employer permits such transitions for full-time employees. The federal government now has a training program in which FTEs can make such a transition while training new workers and some larger companies do allow phased retirements, but this is not exactly the norm.3

Working less than a 40-hour week may also negatively impact a worker’s retirement account and employer-sponsored health care coverage. EBRI finds that only about a third of small firms let part-time employees stay on their health plans; even fewer than half of large employers (200 or more workers) do. The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies says part-time workers get to participate in 401(k) plans at only half of the companies that sponsor them.3

Boomers who work after 65 have to keep an eye on Medicare and Social Security. They will qualify for Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) at 65, but they should sign up for Part B (doctor visits) within the appropriate enrollment window and either a Part C plan or Medigap coverage plus Medicare Part D.3

Believe it or not, company size also influences when Medicare coverage starts for some 65-year-olds. Medicare will become the primary insurance for employees at firms with less than 20 workers when they turn 65, even if that company sponsors a health plan. At firms with 20 or more workers, the workplace health plan takes precedence over Medicare coverage, with 65-year-olds maintaining their eligibility for that employer-sponsored health coverage provided they work sufficient hours. Boomers who work for these larger employers may sign up for Part A and then enroll in Part B and optionally a Part C plan or Part D with Medigap coverage within eight months of retiring – they do not have to wait for the next open enrollment period.3

Prior to age 66, federal retirement benefits may be lessened if retirement income tops certain limits. In 2015, if you are 62-65 and receive Social Security, $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $2 that you earn above $15,720. If you receive Social Security and turn 66, this year, then $1 of your benefits will be withheld for every $3 that you earn above $41,880.4

Social Security income may also be taxed above the program’s “combined income” threshold. (“Combined income” is defined as adjusted gross income + non-taxable interest + 50% of Social Security benefits.) Single filers with combined incomes from $25,000-34,000 may have to pay federal income tax on up to 50% of their Social Security benefits in 2015, and that also applies to joint filers with combined incomes of $32,000-44,000. Single filers with combined incomes above $34,000 and joint filers whose combined incomes top $44,000 may have to pay federal income tax on up to 85% of their Social Security benefits.5

Are boomers really the retiring type? Given the amazing accomplishments and vitality of the baby boom generation, a wave of boomers working past 65 seems more like a probability than a possibility. Life is still exciting; there is so much more to be done.

Terri Fassi, CPA, MBA, CDFA  is a Representative with Centaurus Financial Inc. and may be reached at Fassi Financial, 970-416-0088 or terri@fassifinancialnetwork.com.

 

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 – marketwatch.com/story/only-one-quarter-of-americans-plan-to-retire-2015-02-26 [2/26/15]

2 – usatoday.com/story/money/columnist/brooks/2015/02/17/baby-boomer-retire/23168003/ [2/17/15]

3 – tinyurl.com/qdm5ddq [3/4/15]

4 – forbes.com/sites/janetnovack/2014/10/22/social-security-benefits-rising-1-7-for-2015-top-tax-up-just-1-3/ [10/22/14]

5 – ssa.gov/planners/taxes.htm [3/4/15]