Articles for August 2014

A Tribute to the American Worker

Cornerstone Financial Group would like to pay tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.  Enjoy the Labor Day holiday!

LaborDay RWB

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone# 641-782-5577 or email – mikem@cfgiowa.com.  Website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Adjusting to Retirement

What people don’t always realize about life after work.

If you have saved and invested consistently for retirement, you may find yourself ready to leave work on your terms – with abundant free time, new opportunities, and wonderful adventures ahead of you. The thing to keep in mind is that the reality of your retirement may not always correspond to your conception of retirement. There will inevitably be a degree of difference.

Some new retirees are better prepared for that difference than others. They learn things after leaving work that they wished they could have learned about years earlier. So with that in mind, here are a few of the little things people tend to realize after settling into retirement.

Your kids may see your retirement differently than you do. Some couples retire and figure on spending more time with kids and grandkids – they hang onto that five-bedroom home even though two people are living in it because they figure on regular family gatherings, or they move to another state to be closer to their kids. Then they find out that their children didn’t really count on being such frequent company.

Financial considerations come into play here as well. Keeping up a big home in retirement can cost big dollars, and if you move to another area, there is always the chance that a promotion or the right job offer could make your son or daughter relocate just a few years later. The average American worker spends 4.6 years at a given job, and less than 10% of U.S. workers in their twenties and thirties stay at the same job for a decade.1

Medicare falls short when it comes to dental, vision & hearing care. Original Medicare (Parts A & B) will pay for some things – cataract surgery and yearly glaucoma tests for people at risk for that disease, for example, as well as dental procedures that are deemed necessary prior to another medical procedure covered under Medicare. These are exceptions to the norm, however, and as people’s sight, teeth and hearing become more problematic as they age, it can be frustrating to realize what Medicare won’t cover.2

You may lose the impulse to work a little. These days, most retirees at least think about working part-time. Actually doing that may not be as easy as it first seems. It is a lot harder to get hired at age 65 than it is at age 45 – no one is denying that – and part-time work tends toward the mundane and unfulfilling. If you are able to earn income as a consultant or through other types of self-employment, you may be truly satisfied by the work you do and be able to set your own schedule, too.

Retirement income comes with income taxes. While retirees anticipate (and certainly appreciate) distributions from an IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement plan, few retirees map out a sequence or strategy intended to let them take distributions from retirement and investment accounts with the least tax impact. Generally speaking, you want to draw down your taxable accounts first, then the tax-advantaged accounts, and lastly your tax-free accounts. This way, you are giving the retirement money that is taxed least more time to compound.

Under the typical model withdrawal scenario, this sequencing a) offers the potential to reduce the tax bite from all these distributions, b) promotes greater longevity for retirement savings. The wealthier the retiree is and the higher the projected rate of return for his or her portfolio, the more sense the strategy usually makes. If a retiree has very low taxable income or large unrealized gains on taxable assets, it may not be wise to follow this rule of thumb. Health and longevity factors also influence withdrawal strategies, of course.3

Retirees also need to know something about the IRS rules for retirement accounts – if the assets are withdrawn too soon or used for an inappropriate purpose, penalties can result and tax advantages can be lost.

Retirement is a transition, but it isn’t a solution. There are people that are really eager to retire, people that come to believe that retirement will wipe away all that is dull and restrictive from their lives. Retiring often leads to a rewarding new phase of life, but it won’t solve health issues, family dilemmas or business or money problems.

You may have plenty of time on your hands. If you and/or your spouse have routinely worked 50-60 hours a week, it can be tough to come down from that once you are retired. Your urge to be productive will persist, and sooner or later, you will find ways to stay busy, contribute and make a difference. Thinking about how you will spend your time in retirement before retirement is wise, as you don’t want to risk staring at (or climbing) the walls.

Adjusting to retired life takes a bit of time for everyone. Adjustment can become easier with a candid recognition of certain retirement realities.

Michael Moffitt be reached at phone: 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

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/americans-less-likely-to-change-jobs-now-than-in-1980s-2014-01-10 [1/10/14]
2 – ncoa.org/enhance-economic-security/benefits-access/how-to-get-help-for-dental.html [4/17/14]
3 – tiaa-crefinstitute.org/public/institute/research/trends_issues/ti_taxefficient_1006.html [10/06]

Legacy Planning for Women

Think about the eventual destiny of your Wealth.

SS life expectancy

Women often become guardians of family wealth. Many women outlive their spouses, and have the opportunity to have the “final say” (from an estate planning standpoint) about the wealth they have built or inherited. Legacy planning is essential for single women and couples, too, as one or two successful careers may leave a woman or a couple with a significant estate.

So how do you take steps to convey the bulk of your wealth to the next generation, or to your favorite causes or charities after you are gone? It all starts with a conversation today – a conversation with a legacy planning professional.

Analyze the risks to your net worth & strategize to alleviate them. You have years to go, perhaps many years, before you pass away. In those years or decades, you must manage portfolio risk, taxation, medical or long term care costs, and perhaps “predators and creditors” as well. What tax and risk management strategies can be put into place with an eye toward enhancing your net worth? Can you reduce the size of your taxable estate along the way?

How might trusts come into play? If you want to shrink your taxable estate, a well-crafted trust may provide a way to do it. There are many, many different kinds of trusts. A basic revocable living trust helps a family avoid probate, but it doesn’t do anything to reduce estate taxes. Other trusts do offer grantors and beneficiaries opportunities for substantial estate and/or income tax savings.1

For example, you can bequeath an amount of money up to the limit of the current estate tax exemption to a bypass trust; at your death, the remainder of your estate can therefore transfer to your spouse tax-free, or optionally your spouse can enjoy income from the trust while living with your heirs receiving the remaining principal tax-free at his or her death. Blended families sometimes choose to use a qualified terminable interest property trust (QTIP) plus a bypass trust to direct income derived from assets within an estate to a surviving spouse and then the bulk of the estate to their children and stepchildren. Grandparents sometimes use generation-skipping trusts (GSTs) to forward big chunks of money tax-free to grandchildren.2

Women business owners have employed irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) to shrewdly remove their life insurance from their taxable estates. In an ILIT, the trust becomes the owner of the life insurance policy. When the business owner passes away, the beneficiaries receive tax-free policy proceeds, which can be used to sustain the family business and pay estate costs.
A qualified personal residence trust (QPRT) will permit you to gift your primary residence or vacation home to your children while you retain control of it for the term of the trust (typically 10 years). If your home seems poised to rise in value, the QPRT may lead to major estate and gift tax savings – it helps you transfer the home out of your taxable estate, thereby reducing its size. The hitch is that to validate the QPRT, you have to outlive the term of trust. Assuming you do, you can either a) move out of your house at that point or b) keep living in it while paying your heirs fair market rent as a tenant.2

How well can your legacy plan sustain your values? Can you design it to teach your adult children and grandchildren lessons in character, responsibility, ethics and social service? Philanthropically, what do you want to accomplish? If you want to direct wealth to charities or other non-profits, you will need to pick one or more vehicles with the help of a legacy planner – options may include a family foundation, a charitable remainder trust (CRT), a tax-deductible charitable gift of appreciated securities with a resulting income stream, or donor-advised funds. A conversation with a tax professional can inform you of the kinds of assets you do and don’t want to gift from a taxation perspective.

As you craft your legacy plan, can you do it at reasonable cost? There is truth in the old maxim “you get what you pay for”, but at the same time, you want to work with a legacy planner whose fees aren’t exorbitant. Even the fees for creating a simple living trust can vary widely. You definitely want the help of experienced professionals here; given that each legacy plan is on some level an agreement with the federal tax code, legacy planning is not a do-it-yourself project.

Your legacy plan can represent your final, thoughtful gift to your loved ones. When you think of it that way, it becomes easier to conceive and implement with the input of your spouse, your children and your grandchildren. Along the way, valuable money lessons can be taught and responsibilities shouldered.

Michael Moffitt may be reached at ph. 641-782-5577 or mikem@cfgiowa.com.
website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

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 – kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C000-S001-four-facts-of-living-trusts.html#iwrC4LSHbmjf9emt.99 [4/4/13]
2 – money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/lesson21/index6.htm [9/17/13]

ComplianceMAX tracking # 1-205954

Less Protection for Inherited IRAs

They are no longer exempt from creditors & bankruptcy proceedings

A SCOTUS ruling raises eyebrows. On June 12, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that assets held within inherited IRAs by non-spousal beneficiaries do not legally constitute “retirement funds.” Therefore, those assets are not protected from creditors under federal bankruptcy statutes.1,2

This opinion may have you scratching your head. “IRA” stands for Individual Retirement Arrangement, right? So how could IRA assets fail to qualify as retirement assets?

Here is the background behind the decision. In 2010, a Wisconsin resident named Heidi Heffron-Clark filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In doing so, she listed an inherited IRA with a balance of around $300,000 as an exempt asset. No doubt this seemed reasonable: the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act provided a cumulative $1 million inflation-adjusted bankruptcy exemption for both traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs in 2005.3

So under BAPCPA, wasn’t that $300K in inherited IRA funds held by Ms. Heffron-Clark creditor-protected? Her creditors, the bankruptcy trustee and the Wisconsin bankruptcy court all thought not. That wasn’t surprising, as bankruptcy trustees have issued numerous challenges to the exemption status of inherited IRAs since BAPCPA’s passing.3

Clark v. Rameker made it all the way to the country’s highest court, and boiled down to one question: is an inherited IRA a retirement account, or not?

The Supreme Court rejected the idea that a retirement account for one individual automatically becomes a retirement account for the individual who inherits it. It made that stand based on three features of inherited IRAs:

** The beneficiary of an inherited IRA can draw down all of the IRA balance at any time and use the money for anything without any penalty. Compare that to the original IRA owner, who will face penalties for (most) IRA distributions taken before age 59½.
** Typically, beneficiaries of inherited IRAs must start to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) in the year after they inherit the IRA; it doesn’t matter how old they are when that happens. They could be 68 years old, they could be 8 years old – age doesn’t factor into the RMD rules.
** Unlike the original IRA owner, the beneficiary of an inherited IRA can’t contribute to that account – another strike against the contextualization of an inherited IRA as a retirement fund.3

All this gave the high court a basis for its decision.

Do IRA funds that pass to surviving spouses remain creditor-protected? It would seem so. Frustratingly, the Supreme Court didn’t tackle that question in its ruling. IRAs inherited from spouses are still presumably exempt from federal bankruptcy laws, and if a surviving spouse rolls over inherited IRA assets into an IRA of his or her own, the resulting enlarged IRA is presumably still defined as a retirement account. Oral arguments heard in Clark v. Rameker may help to reinforce this view; the bankruptcy trustee’s lawyer emphasized the differences between Ms. Heffron-Clark’s inherited IRA and one inherited from a decedent.3

State laws may save some inherited IRA assets. If a non-spousal beneficiary inherits an IRA and lives in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio or Texas, state law is on his or her side. In those states, bankruptcy exemption statutes shelter inherited IRAs.2

What if the heir lives elsewhere? That could pose a problem. If an IRA owner fails to play defense, the IRA assets could one day be at risk if a non-spousal beneficiary inherits them.

Designating a trust as the IRA beneficiary isn’t the only option here, but it certainly has merit. The hitch is that putting an IRA into a trust is rather involved. Trusts also come with fees, paperwork and complexity, and the non-spousal beneficiary of the IRA assets should have some financial literacy.1

In the case of a traditional IRA, a Roth conversion might be an option worth examining. (The conversion would have to happen during the original owner’s lifetime.) Another option: some of the IRA balance could be spent on life insurance which could be left to a trust; life some of the IRA balance could be spent on life insurance which could be left to a trust; life insurance proceeds are tax-free, and a life insurance policy is much more suited to inclusion in a trust than a traditional or Roth IRA.2

The bottom line? If you fear that the heir(s) to your IRA might face bankruptcy proceedings someday, talk with a financial or legal professional about your options. If state law won’t protect those assets, a trust might be wise.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phone# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com
website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

IRA account owners should consider the tax ramifications, age and income restrictions in regards to executing a conversion from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The converted amount is generally subject to income taxation.

Life insurance policies contain exclusions, limitations, reductions of benefits, and terms for keeping them in force. Your financial professional can provide you with costs and complete details.

LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.
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 – blogs.marketwatch.com/encore/2014/06/12/scotus-inherited-iras-not-retirement-accounts/ [6/12/14]
2 – tinyurl.com/n9g4acw [7/13/14]
3 – theslottreport.com/2014/06/supreme-court-inherited-iras-are-not.html [6/18/14]

Fire it Up!

Here is another delicious recipe from Judy that utilizes fresh vegetables from the garden. Fire up your grill and enjoy.

Dilly Vegetable Medley

Ingredients
¼ Cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 Tablespoons dill weed
½ Teaspoon salt
½ Teaspoon pepper
7 Small yellow summer squash, cut into ½ inch slices
1 Pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
5 Small carrots, cut into ½ inch slices

In a very large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Add vegetables and toss to coat. Place half of the vegetables on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Fold foil around vegetables and seal tightly. Repeat with remaining vegetables. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are tender, turning once. Yield: 13 servings.

Nutrition Facts: ¾ Cup equals 91 calories, 4 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 109 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 fat, ½ starch.

Note: Judy has also used a combination of different vegetables such as sweet potatoes, onions, celery and mushrooms.