Articles tagged with: www.cfgiowa.com; Cornerstone Financial Group

1099 Forms

Explaining these ubiquitous forms and their uses.

What is a 1099 form? This is a record of payment from an individual or entity, showing a payment, generated for your records. The individual/entity sends a copy to both the payee as well as the I.R.S.1

Who might be sending 1099s? Clients send their freelancers 1099s, recording work performed. Banks send 1099s to reflect interest from a savings account. A state may send a 1099 for a tax refund. If the financial institution who handles your retirement account writes you a check, they will also send you a 1099.1

In any event, a 1099 includes the taxpayer identification number or Social Security Number of the payee. Receiving the 1099 does not automatically mean that the payee owes tax, as there could be situations that offset that income, but it definitely means that the I.R.S. also has a record of that payment.1

There are many types of 1099 form. Here are a few of them:

1099-A. This form is a consequence of foreclosure or bank repossession of secured real property – “acquisition or abandonment,” in I.R.S. terms. Lenders send it to the foreclosed party and the buyer.1

1099-B. Brokers and barter exchanges report proceeds from securities, futures, commodities, or barter exchange transactions with a 1099-B.1

1099-C. The 1099-C reports debt cancellation. You must claim the indicated amount on the 1099-C form as income in the year the debt was forgiven. When you pay income taxes on that amount, the creditor cannot come after the debt again. This form sometimes follows a foreclosure.1

1099-CAP. This one is for those who own shares in a corporation that has been acquired or has undergone a significant change in capital structure. If it was sold or changes have been made where you’ve earned cash or stock, for example, this form would be necessary.1

1099-DIV. When you receive dividends, capital gain distributions, or liquidation distributions, you get one of these. For example, when a mutual fund sells off funds and realizes a capital gain, the fund informs you of your share of the capital gain through a 1099-DIV.1

1099-G. This form reports payments from government agencies and qualified state tuition programs – everything from state and local tax refunds and unemployment benefits to agriculture payments, gambling winnings, and taxable grants. It is usually issued to show unemployment benefits or a state tax refund.1

1099-INT. This form reports interest income of $10 or more, and sometimes other tax items related to interest income (such as federal tax withholding or early withdrawal penalties).1

 1099-LTC. As the LTC part hints, these forms report distributions (payments) from long term care insurance contracts and accelerated death benefits paid out as a result of a life insurance contract or a viatical settlement.1

1099-MISC. This category includes “miscellaneous income,” including awards and prizes.1

1099-OID. The 1099-OID reports the difference between the stated redemption price of a bond at maturity and the issue price of that bond.1

1099-PATR. This form reports patronage dividends, such as in a farm cooperative.1

 1099-Q. Have you been paying for school expenses from a 529 plan or a similar savings plan? Withdrawals will be reported on this form.1

1099-R. The 1099-R reports distributions from all types of retirement, pension, and profit-sharing plans as well as any IRA or annuity contract.1

1099-S. The 1099-S reports gross proceeds from real estate transactions or exchanges.1

1099-SA. This form reports distributions from Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Archer Medical Savings Accounts (Archer MSA), or Medicare Advantage Medical Savings Accounts (MA MSA).1

Questions? Are you thinking you should have received one of these forms? Or maybe sent one of these forms? Be sure to talk with a qualified tax professional or qualified financial professional today; they can help you generate, request, and understand the 1099 forms in question.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at 641-344-0328 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website:  www.cfgiowa.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.

Securities and Registered Investment Advisory Services offered through Silver Oak Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Silver Oak Securities, Inc. and Cornerstone Financial Group are separate entities.

Citations.

1 – nerdwallet.com/blog/taxes/what-is-a-1099-form/ [8/22/18]

Dow Closes Near Record High After Trump Victory

U.S. and European indices rise, while Asian indices fall.

A day after Donald Trump’s election win, Wall Street experienced a surprising upswing. It was feared the market would plunge on November 9 since many investors were anticipating Hillary Clinton to triumph in the presidential race. Quite the opposite happened.

As the trading day ended, the Dow Jones Industrial Average notched a close of 18,589.69, thanks to a 256.95 gain. The Nasdaq Composite rose 57.58 to a close of 5,251.07, while the S&P 500 settled at 2,163.26 after a 23.70 jump. Gold futures gained 0.29% to $1,278.20; light sweet crude futures rose 0.80% on the NYMEX to settle at $45.34. Meanwhile, bond prices fell and the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.08% Wednesday.1,2

The key European markets also seemed to be accepting the idea of a Trump presidency with relative calm. November 9 saw gains of 1.56% for Germany’s DAX index, 1.49% for France’s CAC-40, and 1.00% for the United Kingdom’s FTSE 100. The Stoxx Europe 600 advanced 1.46%.1

This did not apply for the important Asian markets, where the trading day ended hours before action on Wall Street began. The biggest loser among the indices was the Nikkei 225. The Japanese benchmark slid 5.36%. Lesser losses were incurred by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (2.16%), India’s Sensex (1.23%), and China’s Shanghai Composite (0.62%).1

Why did Wall Street turn so bullish a day after the upset? Credit was quickly given to the victory speech Trump delivered very early Wednesday morning. In speaking to the Associated Press, Eric Weigard, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank’s Private Client Reserve, noted Trump’s “remarkably conciliatory posture,” which communicated a “presidential disposition, and gave a greater sense of calm.” Also, some institutional investors saw a buying opportunity: billionaire Carl Icahn told Bloomberg he was devoting about $1 billion to equities on Wednesday. “People are starting to realize that a Trump presidency is not the end of the world,” remarked Tom di Galoma, managing director of trading at Seaport Global Securities. Investors are hoping the optimism displayed on Wall Street Wednesday will be sustained.2

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

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.

Citations.
1 – markets.wsj.com/us [11/9/16]
2 – stltoday.com/business/local/u-s-stocks-rally-following-trump-victory-dow-closes-just/article_250baf34-2237-5cee-a725-c1f2d2dc0415.html [11/9/16]

The Wells Fargo Scandal

The bank’s fake accounts come to light.

Since the start of this decade, Wells Fargo employees have created millions of fake bank and credit card accounts to meet their sales goals. While those deemed at fault are being punished, the question is whether the consequences will equal the actions committed.

The details
. From 2011-16, Wells Fargo collected $2.6 million in customer fees as its employees set up more than 1.5 million unsanctioned deposit accounts and more than 500,000 unapproved credit card accounts.1

Some years ago, Wells Fargo CEO Dick Kovacevich introduced the idea that “eight is great” – meaning that any household banking with Wells Fargo should eventually be sold eight of its products. This longstanding cross-selling objective seems to have fostered dishonesty at Wells Fargo, at least under the leadership of current CEO John Stumpf.1,2

The Los Angeles Times uncovered elements of the bank’s misbehavior in 2013, but only now has this story gained national attention. Last year, the City of Los Angeles sued the bank, which will now pay out $185 million in fines to the city’s coffers and to federal regulators. California’s enormous state pension funds, CalSTRS and CalPERS, have a combined $2.3 billion of invested assets sitting in Wells Fargo investment vehicles; the State of California is suspending business with the bank for at least one year.1,3

How is Wells Fargo reacting? It has fired roughly 5,300 employees who engaged in these frauds, and it will abolish sales goals for retail banking employees starting in October. CEO Stumpf will forfeit roughly $41 million in unvested stock; Carrie Tolstedt, the senior executive who oversaw Wells Fargo’s retail banking unit, will give up $19 million in outstanding stock awards of her own. (Tolstedt retired earlier this year.) Stumpf will forego his salary while Wells Fargo conducts an internal investigation of its business practices.1,4,5

What is the federal government doing to punish Wells Fargo? In the eyes of some lawmakers, not enough. On September 28, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen testified on banking regulation before the House Financial Services Committee.5

Yellen conceded that there has been “a very disturbing pattern of violations” not only in retail banking recently, but also in foreign exchange trading and mortgage lending conducted by financial institutions. She noted that regulators are subjecting banks to “exceptionally high standards of risk management, internal controls, [and] consumer protection,” adding that “we believe it is possible, even though it is extremely challenging, for organizations to comply.”5

Whether Stumpf stays or goes, the damage to the bank’s brand could be huge. If Stumpf is fired in the wake of this fiasco, that would be a landmark of sorts; it’s unusual for executives to be fired, even under circumstances like these. Wall Street analysts have noted the “superior” returns Wells Fargo has achieved under his leadership, and that praise may work in his favor.1

The trust of the consumer is priceless, and if the bank’s leaders try to shift blame for the scandal onto rogue branch managers and low-level employees, it could deepen the public relations fiasco for Wells Fargo.

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

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.

Citations.
1 – forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2016/09/23/the-9-most-important-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-well-fargo-fiasco/ [9/23/16]
2 – bai.org/banking-strategies/article-detail/cross-selling-as-secret-sauce-for-success [11/21/14]
3 – nytimes.com/2016/09/29/business/dealbook/california-wells-fargo-john-stumpf.html [9/29/16]
4 – reuters.com/article/us-wells-fargo-accounts-idUSKCN11X2NW [9/28/16]
5 – nytimes.com/2016/09/29/business/dealbook/house-panel-questions-fed-chief-on-wells-fargo-scandal.html [9/29/16]

When Is Social Security Income Taxable?

The answer depends on your income.

Your Social Security income could be taxed. That may seem unfair, or unfathomable. Regardless of how you feel about it, it is a possibility.

Seniors have had to contend with this possibility since 1984. Social Security benefits became taxable above certain yearly income thresholds in that year. Frustratingly for retirees, these income thresholds have been left at the same levels for 32 years.1

Those frozen income limits have exposed many more people to the tax over time. In 1984, just 8% of Social Security recipients had total incomes high enough to trigger the tax. In contrast, the Social Security Administration estimates that 52% of households receiving benefits in 2015 had to claim some of those benefits as taxable income.1

Only part of your Social Security income may be taxable, not all of it. Two factors come into play here: your filing status and your combined income.

Social Security defines your combined income as the sum of your adjusted gross income, any non-taxable interest earned, and 50% of your Social Security benefit income. (Your combined income is actually a form of modified adjusted gross income, or MAGI.)2

Single filers with a combined income from $25,000-$34,000 and joint filers with combined incomes from $32,000-$44,000 may have up to 50% of their Social Security benefits taxed.2

Single filers whose combined income tops $34,000 and joint filers with combined incomes above $44,000 may see up to 85% of their Social Security benefits taxed.2

What if you are married and file separately? No income threshold applies. Your benefits will likely be taxed no matter how much you earn or how much Social Security you receive.2

You may be able to estimate these taxes in advance. You can use an online calculator (a Google search will lead you to a few such tools), or the worksheet in IRS Publication 915.2

You can even have these taxes withheld from your Social Security income. You can choose either 7%, 10%, 15%, or 25% withholding per payment. Another alternative is to make estimated tax payments per quarter, like a business owner does.2

Did you know that 13 states also tax Social Security payments? North Dakota, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Vermont use the exact same formula as the federal government to calculate the degree to which your Social Security benefits may be taxable. Nine other states use more lenient formulas: Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Utah.2

What can you do if it appears your benefits will be taxed? You could explore a few options to try and lessen or avoid the tax hit, but keep in mind that if your combined income is far greater than the $34,000 single filer and $44,000 joint filer thresholds, your chances of averting tax on Social Security income are slim. If your combined income is reasonably near the respective upper threshold, though, some moves might help.

If you have a number of income-generating investments, you could opt to try and revise your portfolio, so that less income and tax-exempt interest are produced annually.

A charitable IRA gift may be a good idea. You can make one if you are 70½ or older in the year of the donation. You can endow a qualified charity with as much as $100,000 in a single year this way. The amount of the gift may be used to fully or partly satisfy your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD), and the amount will not be counted in your adjusted gross income.3

You could withdraw more retirement income from Roth accounts. Distributions from Roth IRAs and Roth workplace retirement plan accounts are tax-exempt as long as you are age 59½ or older and have held the account for at least five tax years.4

Will the income limits linked to taxation of Social Security benefits ever be raised?
Retirees can only hope so, but with more baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security, the IRS and the Treasury stand to receive greater tax revenue with the current limits in place.

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

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.

Citations.
1 – ssa.gov/policy/docs/issuepapers/ip2015-02.html [12/15]
2 – fool.com/retirement/general/2016/04/30/is-social-security-taxable.aspx [4/30/16]
3 – kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T051-C001-S003-how-to-limit-taxes-on-social-security-benefits.html [7/16]
4 – irs.gov/retirement-plans/retirement-plans-faqs-on-designated-roth-accounts [1/26/16]

Congress Gives Some “Holiday Gifts” to Taxpayers

Some key federal tax breaks are made permanent…at last.

During the past few Decembers, taxpayers and tax preparers have waited anxiously for Congress to rescue expiring federal tax provisions. Usually, legislators pass an eleventh-hour bill to extend certain tax perks for another year and reinstate them for the current year.

The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, or PATH – just passed by Congress, just signed into law by President Obama – not only renews 52 expiring tax provisions but makes some permanent. You may be a taxpayer who benefits from its passage.1,2,

Would you like to make a tax-free transfer of IRA assets to a charity? PATH makes that opportunity permanently available to you. A traditional IRA owner at least 70½ years old may make a charitable gift from that IRA to a qualified charity and exclude the transferred amount from their gross income for the tax year in which the gift is made. This is a tax-efficient move for wealthy, older IRA owners who see their annual Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) as more of a tax issue than a necessity.3

Does your business do any research or development? The federal R&D tax credit is now permanent – and in a sense, even sweeter. Any company with less than $50 million in gross receipts may use the R&D credit to counter the Alternative Minimum Tax next year and every year. Thanks to PATH, even some start-ups not yet facing income tax may be able to offset payroll taxes via this credit.2

Are you thinking about remodeling your restaurant or retail business? PATH preserves and makes permanent the 15-year period for depreciating remodeling and other improvements. No going back to the old 39-year period.3

Are you hoping those bigger Section 179 deduction limits will remain in place? They will. PATH preserves the current $500,000 immediate deduction limit of the cost of qualifying asset acquisitions, and the current phase-out starting at $2 million. Going forward, both of these thresholds will be inflation-indexed. In related news, PATH also keeps the 50% “bonus depreciation” provision in place through 2017 and extends it to restaurants and retail businesses that are owned as well as leased.2,3

Do you take advantage of the Child Tax Credit? In 2009, the CTC was enhanced to offer parents a $1,000 credit per qualifying child plus an additional (refundable) tax credit equal to 15% of any earned income over $3,000. This $3,000 threshold (which was set to return to the $10,000 level in 2017) becomes permanent thanks to PATH.2

Would you like to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit? If so, you will be pleased to know that this college education credit will not shrink to $1,800 in 2017. It will remain at $2,500 thanks to PATH. The current phase-out levels ($80,000 for single filers, $160,000 for joint filers) will also remain in place.2

Do you live where there are no state income taxes? PATH makes the itemized federal deduction for state and local sales taxes a permanent option for you.2

Are you a teacher who takes the above-the-line deduction for K-12 school supplies? PATH makes that deduction permanent as well and indexes it for inflation.2

Businesses get a 2-year reprieve from the Cadillac tax. Companies sponsoring high-priced health insurance plans will not have to face this tax until 2018 thanks to PATH.3

PATH suspends the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices for 2 years. This tax, which represents 2.3% of what importers and manufacturers pay on sales of certain healthcare equipment, will resurface in 2018.3

PATH extends some tax perks only through 2016. Most notably, it continues the tax exclusion on canceled home loan debt for another year. It also preserves the current $4,000 limit for the above-the-line tuition deduction for college education.2

Tax breaks rewarding homeowners, homebuilders, and contractors for energy efficiency are also preserved for another year by PATH. Builders and contractors may still take advantage of a credit as large as $2,000 for manufacturing energy-efficient residences, and the 179D deduction is still available for those who build green or make qualifying HVAC and lighting improvements to commercial properties. Home energy tax credits of up to $500 will still reward taxpayers who make energy-saving upgrades to their primary residence.2

PATH may be your route to some significant tax savings. You will have to act fast to claim them for 2015, but you have plenty of time to take advantage of these opportunities in 2016.

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 – thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/economy-budget/263889-tax-extenders-on-the-road-to-tax-reform [12/18/15]
2 – forbes.com/sites/anthonynitti/2015/12/16/permanent-rd-higher-section-179-expensing-highlight-tentative-deal-on-tax-extenders/ [12/16/15]
3 – accountingtoday.com/news/tax-practice/congress-makes-some-tax-extenders-permanent-76718-1.html [12/16/15]

The Strong Dollar: Good or Bad?

What is dollar strength and who invests in it?

You may have heard that the dollar is “strong” right now. You may have also heard that a strong dollar amounts to a headwind against commodities and stocks.

While there is some truth to that, there is more to the story. A strong dollar does not necessarily rein in the bulls, and dollar strength can work for the economy and the markets.

The U.S. Dollar Index has soared lately. Across July 2014-February 2015, the USDX (which measures the value of the greenback against key foreign currencies) rose an eyebrow-raising 19.44%.1

On March 9, the European Central Bank initiated its quantitative easing program. The dollar hit a 12-year high against the euro a day later, with the USDX jumping north more than 3% in five trading days ending March 10. Remarkable, yes, but the USDX has the potential to climb even higher.2,3

Before this dollar bull market, we had a weak dollar for some time. A dollar bear market occurred from 2001-11, partly resulting from the monetary policy that the Federal Reserve adopted in the Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke years. As U.S. interest rates descended to historic lows in the late 2000s, the dollar became more attractive as a funding currency and demand for dollar-denominated debt increased.4

In Q1 2015, private sector dollar-denominated debt hit $9 trillion globally. Asian corporations have relied notably on foreign currency borrowing, though their domestic currency borrowing is also significant; Morgan Stanley recently researched 625 of these firms and found that dollar-denominated debt amounted to 28% of their total debt.4,5

So why has the dollar strengthened? The quick, easy explanation is twofold. One, the Fed is poised to tighten while other central banks have eased, promoting expectations of a mightier U.S. currency. Two, our economy is healthy versus those of many other nations. The greenback gained on every other major currency in 2014 – a development unseen since the 1980s.4

This explanation for dollar strength aside, attention must also be paid to two other critical factors emerging which could stoke the dollar bull market to even greater degree.

At some point, liabilities will increase for the issuers of all that dollar-denominated debt. That will ramp up demand for dollars, because they will want to hedge.

Will the dollar supply meet the demand? The account deficit has been slimming for the U.S., and the slimmer it gets, the fewer new dollars become available. It could take a few years to unwind $9 trillion of dollar-denominated debt, and when you factor in a probable rate hike from our central bank, things get really interesting. The dollar bull may be just getting started.

If the dollar keeps rallying, what happens to stocks & commodities? Earnings could be hurt, meaning bad news for Wall Street. A strong dollar can curb profits for multinational corporations and lower demand for U.S. exports, as it makes them more expensive. U.S. firms with the bulk of their business centered in America tend to cope better with a strong dollar than firms that are major exporters. Fixed-income investments invested in dollar-denominated assets (as is usually the case) may fare better in such an environment than those invested in other currencies. As dollar strength reduces the lure of gold, oil and other commodities mainly traded in dollars, they face a real headwind. So do the economies of countries that are big commodities producers, such as Brazil and South Africa.6

The economic upside is that U.S. households gain more purchasing power when the dollar strengthens, with prices of imported goods falling. Improved consumer spending could also give the Fed grounds to extend its accommodative monetary policy.6

How are people investing in the dollar? U.S. investors have dollar exposure now as an effect of being invested in the U.S. equities market. Those who want more exposure to the rally can turn to investment vehicles specifically oriented toward dollar investing. European investors are responding to the stronger greenback (and the strong probability of the Fed raising interest rates in the near future) by snapping up Treasuries and corporate bonds with longer maturities.

Stocks can still rally when the dollar is strong. As research from Charles Schwab indicates, the average annualized return for U.S. stocks when the dollar rises has been 12.8% since 1970. For bonds, it has been 8.5% in the years since 1976. A dollar rally amounts to a thumbs-up global vote for the U.S. economy, and that can certainly encourage and sustain a bull market.7

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.

Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

There is a potential for fast price swings in commodities and currencies that will result in significant volatility in an investor’s holdings.

Citations.

1 – wsj.com/mdc/public/npage/2_3050.html?mod=mdc_curr_dtabnk&symb=DXY [3/9/15]

2 – reuters.com/article/2015/03/10/us-markets-stocks-idUSKBN0M612A20150310 [3/10/15]

3 – forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2015/03/10/u-s-equities-hammered-on-dollar-strength-and-oil-weakness/ [3/10/15]

4 – valuewalk.com/2015/02/us-dollar-bull-market/ [2/4/15]

5 – tinyurl.com/ptpolga [2/25/15]

6 – blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2014/12/24/how-a-strong-dollar-affects-investors-at-a-glance/ [12/24/14]

7 – time.com/money/3541584/dollar-rally-global-currencies/ [2/13/15]

 

An Estate Planning Checklist

Things to check & double-check as you prepare. 

Estate planning is a task that people tend to put off, as any discussion of “the end” tends to be off-putting. However, those who die without their financial affairs in good order risk leaving their heirs some significant problems along with their legacies.

No matter what your age, here are some things you may want to accomplish this year with regard to estate planning.

Create a will if you don’t have one. It is startling how many people never get around to this, even to the point of buying a will-in-a-box at a stationery store or setting one up online.

How many Americans lack wills? The budget legal service website RocketLawyer conducts an annual survey on this topic, and its 2014 survey determined that 51% of Americans aged 55-64 and 62% of Americans aged 45-54 don’t have them in place.1

A solid will drafted with the guidance of an estate planning attorney may cost you more than a will-in-a-box. It may prove to be some of the best money you ever spend. A valid will may save your heirs from some expensive headaches linked to probate and ambiguity.

Complement your will with related documents. Depending on your estate planning needs, this could include some kind of trust (or multiple trusts), durable financial and medical powers of attorney, a living will and other items.

You should know that a living will is not the same thing as a durable medical power of attorney. A living will makes your wishes known when it comes to life-prolonging medical treatments. A durable medical power of attorney authorizes another party to make medical decisions for you (including end-of-life decisions) if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make these decisions. Estate planning attorneys usually recommend that you have both on hand.2

Review your beneficiary designations. Who is the beneficiary of your IRA? How about your 401(k)? How about your annuity or life insurance policy? If your answer is along the lines of “It’s been a while,” then be sure to check the documents and verify who the designated beneficiary is.

You need to make sure that your beneficiary decisions agree with your will. Many people don’t know that beneficiary designations take priority over will bequests when it comes to retirement accounts, life insurance, and other “non-probate” assets. As an example, if you named a child now estranged from you as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, he or she is in line to receive that death benefit when you die, even if your will requests that it go to someone else.3

Time has a way of altering our beneficiary decisions. This is why some estate planners recommend that you review your beneficiaries every two years.

In some states, you can authorize transfer-on-death or payable-on-death designations for certain assets or accounts. This is a tactic against probate: a TOD designation can arrange the transfer of ownership of an account or assets immediately to a designated beneficiary at your death.3

If you don’t want the beneficiary designation you have made to control the transfer of a particular non-probate asset, you can change the beneficiary designation or select one of two other options, neither of which may be wise from a tax standpoint.

One, you can remove the beneficiary designation on the account or asset. Then its disposition will be governed by your will, as it will pass to your estate when you die.3

Two, you can make your estate the beneficiary of the account or asset. If your estate inherits a tax-deferred retirement account, it will have to be probated, and if you pass away before age 70½, it will have to be emptied within five years. If you name your estate as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, you open the door to “creditors and predators” – they have the opportunity to lay claim to the death benefit.3,4

Create asset and debt lists. Does this sound like a lot of work? It may not be. You should provide your heirs with an asset and debt “map” they can follow should you pass away, so that they will be aware of the little details of your wealth.

One list should detail your real property and personal property assets. It should list any real estate you own, and its worth; it should also list personal property items in your home, garage, backyard, warehouse, storage unit or small business that have notable monetary worth.

Another list should detail your bank and brokerage accounts, your retirement accounts, and any other forms of investment plus any insurance policies.

A third list should detail your credit card debts, your mortgage and/or HELOC, and any other outstanding consumer loans.

Consider gifting to reduce the size of your taxable estate. The lifetime individual federal gift, estate and generation-skipping tax exclusion amount is now unified and set at $5.34 million for 2014. This means an individual can transfer up to $5.34 million during or after his or her life tax-free (and that amount will rise as the years go by). For a married couple, the unified credit is currently set at $10.68 million.5

Think about consolidating your “stray” IRAs and bank accounts. This could make one of your lists a little shorter. Consolidation means fewer account statements, less paperwork for your heirs and fewer administrative fees to bear.

Let your heirs know the causes and charities that mean the most to you. Have you ever seen the phrase, “In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to…” Well, perhaps you would like to suggest donations to this or that charity when you pass. Write down the associations you belong to and the organizations you support. Some non-profits do offer accidental life insurance benefits to heirs of members.

Select a reliable executor. Who have you chosen to administer your estate when the time comes? The choice may seem obvious, but consider a few factors. Is there a stark possibility that your named executor might die before you do? How well does he or she comprehend financial matters or the basic principles of estate law? What if you change your mind about the way you want your assets distributed – can you easily communicate those wishes to that person?

Your executor should have copies of your will, forms of power of attorney, any kind of healthcare proxy or living will, and any trusts you create. In fact, any of your loved ones referenced in these documents should also receive copies of them.

Talk to the professionals. Do-it-yourself estate planning is not recommended, especially if your estate is complex enough to trigger financial, legal, and emotional issues among your heirs upon your passing.

Many people have the idea that they don’t need an estate plan because their net worth is less than the lifetime unified credit. Keep in mind, money isn’t the only reason for an estate plan. You may not be a multimillionaire yet, but if you own a business, have a blended family, have kids with special needs, worry about dementia, or can’t stand the thought of probate delays plus probate fees whittling away at assets you have amassed… well, these are all good reasons to create and maintain an estate planning strategy.

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.

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 – forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/04/09/americans-ostrich-approach-to-estate-planning/ [4/9/14]

2 – ksbar.org/?living_wills [9/10/14]

3 – nj.com/business/index.ssf/2013/12/biz_brain_beneficiary_designat.html [12/9/13]

4 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/naming-non-spouse-beneficiary-retirement-accounts.html [9/10/14]

5 – forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/11/01/the-2013-limits-on-tax-free-gifts-what-you-need-to-know/ [11/1/13]