Joel’s Published Column

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Protect Your Family

Father’s Day is upon us, and as a father, I am grateful for my two beautiful and talented daughters. My wife and I focus on instructing and instilling core values within our girls in order to equip them to be successful and contributing members of society. However, as important as nurturing is, I feel a father’s natural instinct is to protect his family.

Let me ask you: if you are not able, who will care for your family and how? I know it’s probably not comfortable to talk about death around Father’s Day, but as a financial planner, the one guarantee I can offer is that each of our lives will come to an end.

Planning for his family’s security remains the ultimate way a father can exercise his protective instinct and demonstrate his love. Let me encourage you as a father of children, regardless of their age, to get your details in order. Dads, with input from our spouses, we need to answer the tough questions: who is going to watch over the children if something happens to both of us? Who is going to pay our bills if we are disabled? Who can we trust to watch over life insurance proceeds and pay for future education or wedding costs if we aren’t here?

These questions can be addressed in four simple estate planning documents:
• A Will
• Durable Power of Attorney for health care
• Durable Power of Attorney for finances
• A Trust for personal control over your assets

If you need guidance, consult an estate planning attorney or a qualified professional. Most of these documents can also be produced at a discounted rate through reputable Internet outlets.
As fathers, protecting our families is as natural as breathing; but planning for our demise isn’t. From one father to another, be sure to take the time to make the tough decisions.♦

Reading the Landscape

A caddie knows the course; he would say that the green will break toward the water.
You have no caddie, and your gut tells you this putt will not break toward the water. The slope and the grain confirm your instincts and your golfing buddies agree. Taking advantage of your sixth sense, your putter connects, the ball begins to roll, the speed is correct and you cannot wait to see it drop into the hole!
But the ball is no longer headed to the hole. Your face flushes, your knuckles turn white as your grip tightens; disbelief is swept away by anger, followed by a grunt of frustration. Later, haunted by that putt, it dawns on you – you needed a caddie! A caddie would have scoffed at illusions and encouraged playing the ball left-to-right. A caddie shares opinion about the challenges and obstacles ahead.
A caddie does not have secret skills. However, a worthy caddie knows the game of golf. His experience in game situations has taught him best practices for maneuvering traps and hazards. He remains a faithful assistant who partners with you, offering pertinent advice and moral support.
The value a caddie can add to your game is similar to the impact an advisor can have upon your financial planning. Both a good caddie and a respected advisor want success for your personal goals. Short-term and real-time changes happen, and both stay aware of outside influences that can affect the end result.
A caddie or an advisor is prepared to direct you through the twists and turns of the course. As a caddie helps you avoid the pitfalls caused by a poor swing or unplayable balls, an advisor can help guide you away from knee-jerk selling or emotional decisions. An admirable caddie or seasoned advisor guides you through decisions based on years of experience and an understanding of your goals. In the games we play, on the course or in life, collaborating with a partner might be what you need to shoot below par, so to speak. ♦

Spring Cleaning – Doesn’t only apply to housework

As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, working through spring cleaning with our clients takes on a different spin. The tax due date looms, 1099 forms need to be gathered and documents piled up from the year past need to be sorted and organized. A common question from clients and others continues to arise: how long do I need to keep my financial documents? Although not an expert in document storage, here are a few general “rules of thumb.”

 

Documentation Duration
Vehicle Titles Until sold or discarded
Loan Documentation Until paid in full
Mortgage Statements Until property sold
Credit Card Records Until paid in full unless needed for taxes
 

Social Security Statements One year
Monthly Investment Statements One year
Reconciled Bank Statements One
 

State and Federal Income Tax Returns Seven years along with supporting documentation including W-2 and 1099 forms, charitable contribution and tax deduction receipts, real estate records
Annual Investment Statements Seven years
 

Birth Certificates Forever
Social Security Cards Forever
Passports Forever
Marriage/Divorce Papers Forever
Wills and/or Trust Documents Forever
Insurance Policies
(annually update household inventory)
Forever
Pension and Retirement Plan Records Forever
Medical Records Forever
Education Records Forever

 

I would also recommend scanning your documents into readable format and then storing these documents on your computer or separate hard drive. If that is not an option, make copies of your most important documents, place them in sealable bags and invest in a safety deposit box to store these forms.

Putting things in order sometimes appears to make more of a mess, so as you systematize your files, be sure to properly and safely discard sensitive paperwork. As you work through your “spring cleaning” and find you have questions about financial planning for your future, feel free to give us a call at OLV Investment Group at 810-744-4450.

 

This is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax or legal advice. Consult your tax or legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

401K Vs. Roth IRA

Clients often ask whether they should utilize a 401K plan or a Roth IRA. Here is a quick outline to help:

The benefit of a 401K plan is deferred taxation on portions of your current income until retirement, when you will hopefully be in a lower tax bracket. The money you put away, plus the growth on that money, will be taxed at a lower level when you withdraw it. In theory, this will work out well as long as taxes do not increase (a real possibility). One HUGE benefit to employees with a 401K plan is an employer matching provision. If this is the case at your company, take advantage of that benefit to the fullest extent! It’s free money!! A five percent match means you contribute five percent of your yearly income and your employer puts in five percent too. It’s like getting a 100% rate of return annually!

The Roth IRA is an Individual Retirement Account that allows you to invest money after you’ve paid taxes on it. You do not get to write off the amount you put into this account on your current taxes like you do with a 401K contribution, but funds in your Roth grow tax-free. At retirement, you get to withdraw qualified amounts without paying taxes on it! I encourage the use of the Roth IRA as a retirement savings vehicle because it eliminates future tax policy as a variable. The national income tax could increase to 50%, but in theory, the money you withdraw as a qualified distribution will have no tax.

When faced with a choice between saving through a 401K plan or a Roth IRA, here are some questions to ask:

  • Does your Employer Match any portion of your contribution?
  • If yes, then put in at least up to the amount they match (it’s free money!)
  • Do you think taxes will decrease in the future?
    If no, you probably should start saving some money in a Roth IRA.

I often advise people to put into their 401K plan at least what their employer will match, and if there is money left over put the remainder into a Roth IRA. This provides two different pools of money to draw from during retirement.

As always, these are general rules and your own personal situation should be reviewed with a financial advisor.

IRA Funding Season

There are many different rules regarding IRA and Roth IRA contributions. The government gives us a small window of time from January 1 through April 15 during which we can actually make contributions in the current calendar year for last year. So if you forgot to make your 2015 full contribution, it’s not too late.
Before making contributions to an IRA or a Roth IRA, you must qualify by having earned income – this could be anything from payment for babysitting services that you claim, to working at a restaurant, to punching the clock over at the truck and bus plant. If you have the ability to contribute to a 401K plan or other qualified savings account at your place of employment, you could be unable to make deductible contributions to your IRA if you make too much money. The graph below includes the income levels provided on Fidelity Investments’ website at www.fidelity.com.
Roth and Traditional IRA contribution limits
How much you can contribute for each tax year

Age 49 and under
2015 = 100% of compensation, up to $5,500
2016 = 100% of compensation, up to $5,500

Age 50 and older
2015 = Additional $1,000
2016 = Additional $1,000

To be eligible to make a contribution to a Roth IRA or a deductible contribution to a Traditional IRA, an individual’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be less than a stated amount, depending on tax-filing status. Here are the MAGI limits for 2015 and 2016:

Roth IRA modified adjusted gross income phase-out ranges*
The income ranges in which you can make a partial contribution to a Roth IRA

Single individuals
2015 = $116,000–$131,000
2016 = $117,000–$132,000

Married, filing joint returns
2015 = $183,000–$193,000
2016 = $184,000–$194,000

Traditional IRA modified adjusted gross income limit for partial deductibility
The income ranges in which you can make a partially deductible Traditional IRA contribution

Single
2015 = $61,000–$71,000
2016 = $61,000–$71,000

Married, filing joint returns
2015 = $98,000–$118,000
2016 = $98,000–$118,000

Married, filing separately
2015 = $0–$10,000
2016 = $0–$10,000

Non-active participant spouse (i.e., those with spouses who earn no income)
2015 = $181,000–$191,000
2016 = $183,000–$193,0

As we approach that April 15 deadline for 2015 contributions, you may want to consult with your financial advisor and your tax advisor regarding your personal tax situation. Also, if you are lucky enough to make more than the allowable amount to contribute to a Roth IRA, you may still be able to get that funded.