Articles tagged with: money

Saving Your Elderly Parents from Financial Fraud

Talk to them about their money (and those who could take it away).

 Elders are financially defrauded daily in this country. Just a tiny percentage of these crimes are made public. In fact, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) estimates that only 1 in 44 cases of elder financial abuse are reported. A recent NAPSA study found that 11% of seniors had been financially “abused, neglected or exploited” within the past year.1

Friends, family & caregivers perpetrate much of this financial abuse. They commit 90% of it, NAPSA estimates. Major damage may result to an elder’s finances and physical and mental health: victims of elder financial exploitation are four times more likely to go into a nursing home than their peers, and nearly 10% of the victims end up relying on Medicaid.1

Frauds range from big scams to little schemes. You likely know about the common ones: the grandparent scam (“Grandpa, I’m in jail in _____ and I need $___ to make bail”), the utility company scam (one criminal keeps the elder busy in the yard as the other burglarizes their home), the lottery scam (a huge prize awaits, the elder need only pay a few thousand upfront to take care of associated taxes). Others are subtler: home health aides severely overcharging an elder for their services, relatives or caregivers using a financial power of attorney to draw down an elder’s bank or investment accounts.

Talking about all this may help to prevent it. Perhaps the best way to introduce the topic is by referring to what happened to someone else – a story coming up on the news or in the paper, an article online. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network emails a monthly newsletter highlighting common scams; it also maintains a map showing per-state occurrences of such crimes.2

A 2014 Allianz Life survey discovered something very encouraging. Seniors who have talked about the issue of financial exploitation with others seem less likely to succumb to it, especially seniors who have talked about such risks in the company of a financial professional.2

The insurer asked more than 2,000 Americans about their awareness of financial fraud – men and women aged 65+, and select family members and friends aged 40-64. It found that 97% of seniors who talked about finances with a hired professional were likely to check their monthly credit and financial statements, while only 84% of those who talked about their finances with no one were likely to do so. It also found that 93% of seniors who communicated with a hired professional were likely to refrain from signing a financial document they could not fully understand; that was true for just 82% of seniors who had never addressed financial topics in the company of professionals, friends or family.2

Another pair of examples: 85% of elders who discussed personal finances consistently shredded or destroyed sensitive financial paperwork while just 69% of those who refrained from such discussion did. Thirty-seven percent of seniors who talked about their finances with a professional were also more likely to have a co-signer for their bank accounts, as opposed to 14% of those who were handling their personal finances solo.2

Have the conversation; have a look at Mom or Dad’s financial situation. It is only prudent to do so. The National Center on Elder Abuse says that the average financial fraud perpetrated on an elder siphons $30,000 out of his or her finances. Think about how devastating that is, especially for a poorer retiree; that may equal a year’s worth of medical expenses, a majority of an elder’s yearly income, or a double-digit percentage of his or her remaining retirement savings. Elders rich and poor need to be warned about such crimes.3

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 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 – napsa-now.org/policy-advocacy/exploitation/ [4/30/15]

2 – allianzlife.com/about/news-and-events/news-releases/preventing-elder-financial-abuse [4/20/15]

3 – tinyurl.com/p4y6pa7 [4/20/15]

2015 IRA Deadlines Are Approaching

Here is what you need to know. 

Financially, many of us associate April with taxes – but we should also associate April with important IRA deadlines.

*April 1 is the absolute deadline to take your first Required Mandatory Distribution (RMD) from your traditional IRA(s).

*April 15 is the deadline for making annual contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA.1

Let’s discuss the contribution deadline first, and then the deadline for that first RMD (which affects only those IRA owners who turned 70½ last year).

The earlier you make your annual IRA contribution, the better. You can make a yearly Roth or traditional IRA contribution anytime between January 1 of the current year and April 15 of the next year. So the contribution window for 2014 is January 1, 2014- April 15, 2015. You can make your IRA contribution for 2015 anytime from January 1, 2015-April 15, 2016.2

You have more than 15 months to make your IRA contribution for a given year, but why wait? Savvy IRA owners contribute as early as they can to give those dollars more months to grow and compound. (After all, who wants less time to amass retirement savings?)

You cut your income tax bill by contributing to a deductible traditional IRA. That’s because you are funding it with after-tax dollars. To get the full tax deduction for your 2015 traditional IRA contribution, you have to meet one or more of these financial conditions:

*You aren’t eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan.

*You are eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan, but you are a single filer or head of household with modified adjusted gross income of $61,000 or less. (Or if you file jointly with your spouse, your combined MAGI is $98,000 or less.)

*You aren’t eligible to participate in a workplace retirement plan, but your spouse is eligible and your combined 2015 gross income is $183,000 or less.3

If you are the original owner of a traditional IRA, by law you must stop contributing to it starting in the year you turn 70½. If you are the initial owner of a Roth IRA, you can contribute to it as long as you live provided you have taxable compensation and MAGI below a certain level (see below).1,3

If you are making a 2014 IRA contribution in early 2015, be aware of this fact. You must tell the investment company hosting the IRA account what year the contribution is for. If you fail to indicate the tax year that the contribution applies to, the custodian firm may make a default assumption that the contribution is for the current year (and note exactly that to the IRS).4

So, write “2015 IRA contribution” or “2014 IRA contribution” as applicable in the memo area of your check, plainly and simply. Be sure to write your account number on the check. Should you make your contribution electronically, double-check that these details are communicated.

How much can you put into an IRA this year? You can contribute up to $5,500 to a Roth or traditional IRA for the 2015 tax year, $6,500 if you will be 50 or older this year. (The same applies for the 2014 tax year). If you have multiple IRAs, you can contribute up to a total of $5,500/$6,500 across the various accounts. Should you make an IRA contribution exceeding these limits, you will not be rewarded for it: you will have until the following April 15 to correct the contribution with the help of an IRS form, and if you don’t, the amount of the excess contribution will be taxed at 6% each year the correction is avoided.1,4

If you earn a lot of money, your maximum contribution to a Roth IRA may be reduced because of MAGI phase-outs, which kick in as follows.3

2014 Tax Year                                                                2015 Tax Year

Single/head of household: $114,000 – $129,000          Single/head of household: $116,000 – $131,000

Married filing jointly: $181,000 – $191,000                   Married filing jointly: $183,000 – $193,000

Married filing separately: $0 – $10,000                        Married filing jointly: $0 – $10,000

If your MAGI falls within the applicable phase-out range, you may make a partial contribution.3

A last-chance RMD deadline rolls around on April 1. If you turned 70½ in 2014, the IRS gave you a choice: you could a) take your first Required Minimum Distribution from your traditional IRA before December 31, 2014, or b) postpone it until as late as April 1, 2015.1

If you chose b), you will have to take two RMDs this year – one by April 1, 2014 and another by December 31, 2014. (For subsequent years, your annual RMD deadline will be December 31.) The investment firm hosting your IRA should have already notified you of this consequence, and the RMD amount(s) – in fact, they have probably calculated the RMD(s) for you.5

Original owners of Roth IRAs will never face this issue – they are not required to take RMDs.1

Michael Moffitt may be reached at ph# 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. 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 – irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Traditional-and-Roth-IRAs [11/3/14]

2 – dailyfinance.com/2014/12/06/time-running-out-end-year-retirement-planning/ [12/6/14]

3 – asppa.org/News/Browse-Topics/Sales-Marketing/Article/ArticleID/3594 [10/23/14]

4 – investopedia.com/articles/retirement/05/021505.asp [1/21/15]

5 – schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/articles/IRA-Tax-Traps [6/6/14]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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]

Is this the direction we want to go?

My job as a financial advisor, as I see it, is to help my clients negotiate successfully through their financial life and work toward their goals along the way. But I’ve always felt that for them to be successful, most of the burden falls on them. Just like the old adage says, “if it is to be, it’s up to me.”
I offer what I think is my best advise based on their circumstances and based on what else I see going on in the world that could impact them, either directly or indirectly. As general trends go in our country today, it’s hard to see that we, collectively, are going in a path that will lead us in a positive direction. In my own clients, I see some good savers that are ready for the future but many more that may be scaling back their retirement plans because the money just isn’t there.
Maybe we’ve had it too good the last few decades and so we just didn’t try as hard as our parents. That’s tough for anyone to admit. Do we want to be better? A full 43% of Baby Boomers surveyed by AARP in November 2013 described their present financial situation as “worse than expected.” Craig L. Israelsen suggested in a July 2011 article on the Horsesmouth.com website that U.S workers aren’t saving enough and because of that are pretending that “building a better investment portfolio” will solve their lack-of-saving problem. He correctly states that contributions are largely controllable by the investor, while performance, particularly in the short run, is not. It’s easier to blame bad markets for a lack of investment savings than it is to blame a lack of saving, period.
Sometimes not saving is not income-related….you have a good job but simply spend beyond your means. I have little sympathy for those folks. Sometimes people just don’t earn very much or they just can’t find a job. In those cases it is easy to blame tough luck but sometimes that bad luck might be the result of our decisions as well—decisions that could go all the way back to high school or college days!
The National Center for Education Statistics shows that the number of college students graduating in 2012 with a “Mathematics and Statistics” degree was 18,842. It was 24,800 graduates in 1971. A 24% decrease. Conversely, there were 38,993 graduates with “Parks, Recreation, Leisure, and Fitness Studies” degrees in 2012, while only 1,621 such graduates in 1971. That’s an increase of over 2300%! Careers that use a lot of math typically pay more than careers in parks and rec. From that metric it appears we’re going the wrong way. Why is that? Are students choosing the easier majors or are colleges creating an easier degree path to lower paying jobs?
Are we as a society just looking for the easier path? In 2000 there were 8,471,453 people on Federal Income Supplement Program (disability), according to the Social Security Administration. Today there are 14,285,956. Is our workplace really 68% more dangerous than 14 years ago? The USDA says food stamp recipients in 2000 were 17,472,535, today they number 46,548,000. That’s 15 out of every 100 people, versus 6 out of every 100 just 14 years ago. The US Census Bureau says today there’s roughly 37 million more people in the U.S. than in 2000 and there’s 29 million more on food stamps. Really?
I have no doubt that many people, through no fault of their own or through true misfortune, need this government assistance. They should get it. I also have no doubt that even more people are abusing the system because they can. It’s much easier to let someone else carry the load if they will. (See: http://www.worthytoshare.com/pretty-girl-seeking-rich-husband-reply-got-banker-priceless# )
But eventually it may break the back of our country.