What to Do When Your Doctor Has Bad News

It’s what no one ever wants to hear: “The test results have come back positive.”

And yet it’s quite likely that you, a loved one or both will one day be given a serious health diagnosis that throws your world into uncertainty, confusion and fear. That means you have two choices:

  • Wish and hope that you or someone you care about never gets really bad news from a physician—and be forced to react quickly and emotionally if that does happen.
  • Be proactive and get a handle now on the best steps to take if you’re faced with a major medical diagnosis.

 

You can likely guess which approach we recommend. With that in mind, we asked one of the nation’s top concierge physicians—Dr. Dan Carlin of WorldClinic—for his best advice on what to do (and not do) when the news about your health is really bad.

Get grounded

When faced with a shocking medical diagnosis, it’s natural to let emotions—sadness, anger, depression—take over. Another common emotional response, fear, causes many people in these situations to want to immediately hit the ground running and take action for action’s sake—for example, by starting whatever treatment is most readily available.

Carlin’s advice: Slow down. Start by internalizing two foundational concepts that will help guide you through this process more successfully.

  • Don’t play good day, bad day. People tend to respond too strongly to the latest bit of news (good or bad) about their health and treatments. Start the process by recognizing there will be a lot of ups and downs along the way so you’re not tempted to put too much weight on any one moment or development. “The downs aren’t as horrible as you think they are—and the ups aren’t as miraculous as they might seem,” says Carlin.

 

  • Get ready to be tougher, more patient and more emotionally disciplined than you’ve ever been. Treating cancer or another serious disease can be a long road. It requires stamina that won’t be there unless you can find ways to manage your emotions at each step. That will help you stay rational and thoughtful so you can make the best decisions that lead to the best outcomes. Something else you’ll need more than ever before is patience. Says Carlin: “If you lash out at those around you, you end up creating a bad dynamic with the members of your care team and even your family members. A little bit of information can cause you to become hypercritical—but you don’t want to do that, because it hurts your efforts and outcomes. Emotional maturity will maximize your outcome and help your team perform optimally for you.”

FINDING THE HELP YOU NEED

Consider finding a physician who has the skills and the resources to act essentially as your traffic cop—an interpreter, advocate and navigator who can evaluate and coordinate the efforts of the entire team that will work with you on the road to recovery.

The benefits of having one primary care physician who can serve those roles are many:

  • They either know the top specialists in your disease or have the resources to find them, as well as the ability to access them and get them working with you.

 

  • They have the expertise needed to interpret treatment recommendations and plans from various specialists and ensure that all actions taken are coordinated and working in concert for optimal outcomes.

 

  • They can act objectively to ensure that no one member of your health care team exerts too much control or ignores other specialists.

That said, not all physicians are created equal—and in today’s world, identifying a doctor who can and will do these things well is far from easy. Carlin recommends looking for a few key characteristics in a physician:

  • Trust and communication. Is the doctor someone with whom you feel comfortable being open? With a major medical diagnosis, you can experience a long and often bumpy journey with a lot of moving parts. You want a provider you can talk with frankly about technical and medical matters, but also about your emotions and personal concerns.

 

  • Expertise. Trust your gut about the doctor—but then verify. Carlin points out that many doctors with great bedside manner lack the skills and qualifications to coordinate an advanced team of experts meant to help you navigate your illness and get better. To avoid doctors who just don’t measure up, look for ones who are board-certified and who run independent community practices—i.e., they are not part of a large medical center that may be unwilling to look for specialists and other resources outside its network.

 

  • Fee-based. A truly independent physician’s income will not rely on insurance company reimbursements or payments from a corporate parent. You want to work with a doctor to whom you write a check. That way, you can be confident that the physician is sitting on the same side of the table as you at every stage. “The idea is to work with someone who has no conflicts, whose only job is to advocate for you and what’s best for your health,” says Carlin.

 

  • References from other physicians. The whole point of working with this type of physician is to have one point of contact who can coordinate the efforts of other doctors. One of the best ways to find out if a physician can do that is to ask for references from other doctors and health care specialists. A great primary care physician should be able to demonstrate that he or she has lots of high-quality relationships.

Obviously, your best bet is to be as ready as you reasonably can for a bad diagnosis before it comes. The good news is that concierge medical practices are becoming increasingly common. Many of these practices are designed to provide a higher level of care than traditional doctors do—and the best can serve as care coordinators and advocates for patients facing difficult diagnoses.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 1-800-827-5577. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Insightful Questions That Can Ramp Up Your Success

Want to see some amazing results in your life? Ask questions and then listen well. We have discovered that a disproportionate number of the most successful people consistently and systematically use an approach known as insightful questioning to build rapport with other people in ways that generate much better outcomes.

Here’s how they engage in insightful questioning—and use it to generate truly impressive success.

The importance of insightful questioning

Being adept at using carefully chosen insightful questions serves a number of purposes:

  • It enables you to be more effective at garnering useful and important information from other people—such as their goals and the drivers behind those goals. Armed with that information, you can potentially find ways to work together that might not have been obvious otherwise.
  • It facilitates rapport between you and other people because it seeks to create deeper levels of understanding of all those involved.
  • It’s a powerful way to connect with other people and provide you with information that you can use to further your own agenda—often while simultaneously helping them, too.

Be an engaged listener, too

Asking insightful and thought-provoking questions ultimately won’t help you learn new information or build rapport if you tune out when the other person answers. You must also be adept at deep listening—focusing intently on the person talking through fully present, nonjudgmental listening.

When you deeply listen to someone, it’s almost as though you are suddenly standing next to the person and seeing the world as he or she sees it. You become a comrade or partner. Since most people rarely have the experience of being deeply listened to, this experience of camaraderie is equally rare. The person you’re interacting with will feel more bonded to you as a result.

How do you do it? Start by creating by saying to yourself, “I am going to have a great conversation with this person, and we will both have a great experience.” With so many thoughts buzzing around in your head all day, you must intentionally commit to being as present as possible with the person in front of you. By keeping this intention foremost in your mind, you will greatly increase your odds of success.

Then listen on the surface to the information that the person provides. It’s important that you capture this surface information as accurately as possible. But also listen for the person’s thoughts, feelings, values and needs—which he or she might not come right out and say directly.

THE TOP INSIGHTFUL QUESTIONS TO ASK

Consider the following insightful questions that many successful people tell us they regularly use in their conversations and dealings with others who are (or may be) important to them.

What do you think?

People are very willing to share their opinions and insights if prompted. They want to be recognized for their views and ensure you understand their positions on important matters. Any time you need to act, it’s usually very useful to know where the other person stands.

Gathering intelligence and gaining perspective into the thinking and preferences of the people you are dealing with is always beneficial. Furthermore, this question helps you foster involvement in the process at hand—thereby building rapport and ensuring closure.

What do you want to accomplish?

Knowing what a person really wants to accomplish informs you of the degree of overlap—or conflict—among your and that person’s various agendas. It also helps you frame your desires in ways that best resonate with the other person. This can result in a deeper level of rapport and trust—resulting in a greater willingness to work with you.

What’s the most important thing we should be discussing today?

It’s normal for people to go into any meeting with an agenda. However, your objectives for the meeting may not coincide with that of the other person, which can lead to wasted time and effort and adversely impact the relationship. Use this question at the start of every meeting or when a meeting is going off track because the other person is not meaningfully engaged.

To be truly responsive while moving your agenda along requires you to be in synch with what is important to the other person at that time. This question demonstrates concern and is very useful in addressing critical needs and wants.

Can you tell me more?

It’s quite common for someone to put forth a position that you might not find completely clear. Many people err by making presumptions that may be inaccurate and, consequently, detrimental to the relationship.

The better you understand the other party’s thinking, the more successful you will be. By prompting the other person to go deeper, you increase your knowledge of his or her worldview. The result is superior understanding that can readily translate into superior deliverables and greater rapport.

How can I be of greatest help to you?

Most of the time, people are seeking ways they can benefit themselves. The aim of this question is to determine how you can be supportive of and deliver value to the other person. Ask it whenever there’s an impasse in a discussion, or when the other person is dealing with some difficulties

From basic caring and concern to helping facilitate success to building meaningful rapport, your willingness to help the other person can pay enormous dividends. Whether or not you are ultimately able to assist someone, your determination to try to address the matter is a powerful bridge builder. What’s more, when you voluntarily help someone, that person usually feels a natural inclination to want to return the favor and help you down the line.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 1-800-827-5577. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This report is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute a solicitation to purchase any security or advisory services. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. An investment in any security involves significant risks and any investment may lose value. Refer to all risk disclosures related to each security product carefully before investing. Michael Moffitt, Advantage Investment Management and LPL Financial and are not affiliated with AES Nation, LLC.

 

It’s Time to Get Serious About Your Happiness

There’s a great quote by Jean-Paul Sartre: “We are our choices.” When it comes to our happiness and our overall success in life, that’s truer than you might have realized.

Taking time to examine the choices you make in your life and work each day and over the long term to make sure they are enhancing your well-being can do more than just make you happier. Working on enhancing happiness has actually been shown to have a tangible return on investment and can make you more successful.

Here’s one example from the business world. According to positive psychology researcher Shawn Achor, if you are happy and you have happy people around you in your organization, you can improve your organization’s performance and productivity by anywhere from 10 percent to 30 percent. And if your team is happier, you will take better care of your clients and have greater impact on them—which in turn will enable your team to do well financially.

With that in mind, here are steps for increasing your happiness in ways that will lead to better results in your work and in your life. These come courtesy of Henry Miller—a truly exceptional trainer, coach and consultant who helps companies and organizations improve their performance and productivity. He spent years analyzing the growing research on well-being and synthesizing it into his book The Serious Pursuit of Happiness—an essential road map to greater happiness.

Understand the basics

Some people think they are predisposed to be happy or unhappy and that’s just how it goes. Not so. You can take steps to enhance your happiness and that of the people around you. Research using data from the Minnesota Twin Registry shows that around 50 percent of our level of happiness depends on our deliberate thoughts, attitudes and actions—great news for those of you who assumed your level of happiness is hard-wired.

To improve the drivers of happiness that are within our control, start with some basic ideas to guide you:

  • Happiness takes effort. Creating and enhancing happiness in your life, your family and your workplace is just like any other major initiative you undertake—it requires time and effort to get up and running smoothly.
  • Happiness is a numbers game. The frequency of positive events in your life matters more than the intensity of those events. You’ll have better results if you boost the number of small positive moments in your day instead of trying to have just a few instances that are hugely positive.
  • Happiness is a habit. Make happiness habitual—if you are not as naturally happy as other people, incorporate happy habits into your life while removing other habits.
  • Do more for other people. When you spend time doing things for other people and trying to make them happy, you actually end up happier than when you do things to please just yourself.  

PROVEN PATHS TO HAPPINESS

Research has shown that basing your decisions on several imperatives will increase your happiness.

    1. Seek pleasure within limits. Real, lasting happiness doesn’t come by chasing lots of short-term pleasures. Happiness is not hedonism or doing your best to avoid all pain. The “high” from short-term pleasures doesn’t tend to stick with us very long, and if you keep doing nothing but those activities, the moments when you do feel down tend to overwhelm you
    2. Intentionally act happy. Expressing gratitude for the good things you have shuts down feelings of envy and jealousy that block your path to more happiness. If you buy yourself a “gratitude journal” and write in it every Sunday night, you can increase your happiness by 25 percent, and the positive effects can last for six months. Other happiness-building actions to work on include forgiving people who have wronged you, staying fit through exercise and diet, and getting enough sleep.
    3. Cultivate positive personality traits. Honesty, courage, perseverance, tolerance, generosity—all are universally seen as good character traits. Consider the best possible future for yourself as a person at home, at work and at play. Imagine yourself in a future where everything has gone as well as it could go. What might your best possible self and best possible future look like?
    4. Embrace deep connections. Close relationships are vital—Facebook friends and watercooler buddies aren’t enough.

Ultimately you need to act to achieve results. Here are three proven happiness-enhancing action steps you can start doing immediately

  1. Savor the future. Write a description of what your life will ideally look like five years from today. Your vision of your ideal future will actually act like a beacon, drawing you to it. But don’t just take this step—also notice how it makes you feel when you envision a great future. This is how you savor the future, and in doing so you will elevate your positivity.
  2. Express gratitude for your past. Think of someone who has positively impacted your life and whom you have never properly thanked. Write down what they did for you and all the ways you are thankful to them for what they have meant to you over the years. The mere act of writing this type of letter has been shown to boost levels of happiness.
  3. Demonstrate love. If you can, go out immediately after reading this report and get a flower or card for someone you love and give it to them, saying, “Just because I was thinking about you and what you mean to me.” You can also simply call someone you love—your spouse, a best friend—and tell them how happy you are that they’re in your life. Try to do more of these types of acts every week or month, and cut down on other activities to do so if necessary. Remember that habits and frequency of actions play big roles in elevating happiness.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 1-800-827-5577. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

Five Reasons to Make Philanthropy a Family Affair

Getting your family involved in charitable giving can create a powerful legacy.

A growing number of successful people have a strong urge to “pay it forward” by financially supporting causes and organizations that are near and dear to their hearts. Many of you already make regular and sizable charitable contributions. And we know from research that one key reason successful people like you want to become even wealthier is to help other people increase their own success and advance in the world.  But have you gotten your family involved in philanthropy? If not, you could be missing a truly massive opportunity to teach your children and other loved ones about smart financial decision making and impart key financial values that can guide them throughout their lives.

Round up the kids

If you’re like many people we work with, your deepest financial concerns are focused on taking care of your family and ensuring they enjoy lives that are financially stable and financially responsible. Family philanthropy is one great way to do this. There are five big reasons to engage your family in charitable giving:

  1. Working together to define your shared values around wealth, community and building a better world
  2. Helping individual family members identify their own specific charitable values and intentions
  3. Making financial decisions as a team
  4. Learning about the power and responsibilities of wealth—building it, growing it and using it to positively impact others—as well as critical financial management skills
  5. Developing important life and business skills—critical thinking and analysis, listening and communicating, and negotiating and compromising to reach a desired goal

To decide how best to involve family members, consider factors such as their ages, levels of maturity and independence, and interests. You might involve younger children only peripherally, and expand their roles and influence over the family giving as they grow (and if their interest in it grows with them).

The family office approach: private family foundations

One tool that can both maximize your charitable giving options and engage family in philanthropy at a deep level is a private family foundation.

A private foundation is a not-for-profit organization (i.e., charity) that’s primarily funded by a person, family or corporation. The assets in a private foundation produce income, which is used to support the operation of the private foundation and, most importantly, make charitable grants to other non-profit organizations.

While there are certainly costs associated with creating and managing a private foundation, there are distinct benefits for doing so. Three of the most important reasons family offices often go the private foundation route include:

  • Caring. Philanthropy is about caring. A private foundation is a very powerful way to convert caring into financial and related support for worthy causes. You need to care deeply about some charitable causes to justify establishing and running a private foundation.
  • Legacy. Many people create private foundations to honor loved ones. They’re effective in binding a family together around something they consider meaningful. You should probably want to build a legacy—of one kind or another—if you choose to create a private foundation.
  • Permanence. You can establish your private foundation in perpetuity. This ensures that the charitable institutions and causes that are important to you will continue to be funded indefinitely.

Setting up and running a private foundation can be intricate and complex. Detailed accounting and filing tax returns are required. A variety of experts such as legal and accounting professionals are usually needed to handle regulatory and compliance matters. And if you’re overseeing the assets of the private foundation, investment professionals will typically be engaged.

To see why private foundations are especially compelling to wealthier families who are philanthropically inclined, consider the fundamental ways they differ from another, more commonly used charitable giving tool—the donor-advised fund—in two key areas:

  1. Control. A private foundation gives you significant control over the choice of charitable organizations you want to support. With a donor-advised fund, you’re only making recommendations to a firm responsible for both managing and distributing the money. While it’s unlikely that your suggestions will not be followed, there could be times when this will be the case.

A private foundation enables you to make a wider array of grants than does a donor-advised fund. With a private foundation, for example, you can make pledge agreements to support one or more charitable causes over a period of time. The lack of personal control in a donor-advised fund makes that impossible. Private foundations also can make grants to specific individuals, something donor-advised funds cannot do.

How the assets are managed also differs between the two. With a donor-advised fund, the assets are managed by the firm you entrusted with your money—often a mutual fund sponsor or similar investment firm, or a community foundation. In a private foundation, you—or the investment advisors you select—manage the assets as you see fit.

  1. Creating a legacy. Succession possibilities are unlimited in a private foundation. This enables the family to exercise control across the generations, helping them to pass philanthropic values and specific goals (as well as money aimed at those goals) to children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond. In contrast, many donor-advised funds have limitations on successions. When that limit is reached, the money no longer belongs to the donor or his or her family. Instead, it’s transferred into a general pool of the organization sponsoring the donor-advised fund.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2017 by AES Nation, LLC.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual, nor intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation. 

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 1-800-827-5577. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

 

 

Savvy Negotiating: To Get to the Moon, Ask for the Stars

One key way to build serious wealth—whether in a business or your everyday life—is to effectively and consistently negotiate deals that are good for you and your bottom line. Ideally, everyone walks away from a negotiation feeling good about the outcome—a win-win scenario. But ultimately, to be successful you must achieve your minimum goals and preferably a whole lot more.

Trouble is, it’s common for people to end up failing to get what they want due to how they approach negotiations right from the start—from the first declarations of their terms. Here’s how you can avoid that negative outcome and get the results you truly want when hashing out a deal or arrangement with another party.

Start with your goals

Clarity about goals is job one. In any negotiation, you will be well-served by being quite clear about what you want to walk away with. Most people in negotiations have a range of goals, and it’s important you specify the top and bottom of the range. For example:

  • High-end goals. These are the results you would achieve if the negotiations went extraordinarily well for you. Achieving these goals would make you exceptionally satisfied.
  • Minimally acceptable goals. These goals will close the deal if you achieve them, but you’ll walk away from the bargaining table feeling far from thrilled. If you don’t achieve these goals, there is no deal.

By spelling out your range of goals, you are more likely to not get caught up in the negotiations themselves and make a deal that doesn’t work for you.

Take your initial position—and make it big

When bargaining, self-made billionaires commonly make demands they do not expect the people they are negotiating with to accept. Often these are terms and conditions that many would consider extreme or even outrageous. They are, in effect, asking for the stars—a whole lot more than just about anyone would give them.

These billionaires recognize that they will give a little or even a lot along the way, which is both expected and perfectly acceptable. However, they are using the anchoring effect to better their bargaining position and come away with a deal that works well for them

The anchoring effect is a type of cognitive bias that occurs when people make decisions and act on the initial information they receive—the anchor. Once the anchor is set, people tend to be biased toward interpreting other information around the anchor.

There are a number of ways to create an anchor. The easiest is to ask for an outsize outcome at the start of the negotiation. This will usually influence the perception of value for the other party throughout the negotiations.

The anchoring effect also sets the stage for you to implement your concession strategies. This is how you methodically go from asking for the stars to getting the moon—your acceptable result.

STEPS FOR SAVVY NEGOTIATING

Haggling is an integral part of good negotiation, and most people go into negotiations expecting some back-and-forth around numbers and terms. When both sides make concessions, both will more likely walk away satisfied.

By using the anchoring effect, your goal is to give yourself as much room as possible to make concessions and walk away with at least the minimum results you are looking for.

In every negotiation, the concessions you make are based on a combination of art and science. You can’t concede too much or act too quickly, nor can you be inflexible.

To optimize results, there is a delicate balance of give and take that you can strike by keeping these ideas top of mind:

  • Know what you can give up easily and what is very hard to give up. In business negotiations, there are regularly multiple issues, values and conditions. Some will be more important to you, and some less. You will be well-served if you know what really matters and what does not before going into a negotiation.
  • When you give, make sure you get. Concessions should be reciprocal. If you make a concession, you should be looking to get a concession you see as equally valuable. If you make a unilateral concession, you are negotiating with yourself—and are absolutely losing.
  • Incremental concessions are best. If you ask for the stars at the start and too quickly give up a great deal of ground, you will likely lose all credibility and power. Making a large concession willingly tells the other party that there is a lot more you will give up.
  • Make concessions slowly. You want to communicate that these concessions are tough decisions. Tough decisions are ones you usually have to think long and hard about. Therefore, take your time and pace out making concessions.
  • Have a final concession ready to close the deal. Many negotiations—especially complex business deals—are just about there after a lot of back-and-forth, but still do not close. You want something in your back pocket to push negotiations to an acceptable conclusion. It’s therefore often helpful to have a “final” concession you can offer to close the deal you like.

Possible results

By shrewdly asking for outsize terms that the people you’re negotiating with cannot (or should not) take seriously, you arrange the pieces on the chessboard to your advantage. Then, by skillfully making concessions and getting concessions in return, you meaningfully increase the probability of getting the results you really desire.

These are a few possible outcomes of “asking for the stars”:

  • You get the stars. While you might think your requests are outrageous, that does not necessarily mean the people you are negotiating with won’t give them to you. Your counterparties might, for reasons you are unaware of, be so motivated to make the deal that they will accept your over-the-top numbers, terms and conditions. While this outcome generally has a low probability, it is a possibility.
  • You induce the other person to discontinue negotiations. Your requests might be so extreme that the counterparty does not believe you can ever come to an understanding. Consequently, the counterparty might end the negotiations. Like the previous outcome, this one has a low probability of occurring.
  • You get the moon. The moon is your high-end negotiating goal, and you end up making smart concessions and getting good concessions that result in you getting it.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2018 by AES Nation, LLC.

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 1-800-827-5577. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

 

Wills & Trusts

The foundation of your rock-solid estate plan.

For so many of us, family is paramount. You probably expect to use your wealth to take care of your family in the here and now—health care, travel, college tuition and the like. But chances are you haven’t thought nearly as much about positioning your assets so they’re ready and able to help the people you love after you’re gone. Even if you have made some headway in this area, your plan for your estate is probably a little—and maybe a lot—out of date.

If that describes your situation, don’t fret. Even if you have many moving parts to your finances, you can get on track by focusing on two main areas of estate planning: wills and trusts. Here’s how to do it.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Read this next sentence three times in a row: Everyone should have a will.

Got it? A will should be the basic foundation of every estate plan—the starting point for a well-conceived strategy to transfer assets at death.

A will identifies precisely what you want to have happen to your assets and estate. Dying without a will means you have decided that the state knows what’s best for you and your family. In addition, dying without a will means you want to make the settling of your estate as difficult, as costly and as public as possible.

As with any decision, there are both positives and negatives to a will. That said, we strongly believe the benefits of writing a will far outweigh the drawbacks.

Is a trust for you?

  1. Are your beneficiaries unwilling or unable to handle the responsibilities of an outright gift (investing the assets, spending the gift wisely, etc.)?
  2. Do you want to keep the amount and the ways your assets are distributed to heirs a secret?
  3. Do you want to delay or restrict the ownership of the assets by the beneficiary?
  4. Do you need to provide protection from your and/or your beneficiary’s creditors and plaintiffs?
  5. Do you want to lower your estate taxes?

 If you answered “yes” to any of the five questions, you may find it beneficial to set up a trust.

Advantages:

  • You decide on the disposition of your hard-earned wealth.
  • Estate taxes are mitigated—especially when the will is part of a broader estate plan.
  • You specify who the fiduciaries will be.

Disadvantages:

  • You have to accept that one day—far in the future—you just might die.
  • There is a legal cost associated with writing up a will and with estate planning.

Trust in trusts

The second component of a smart estate plan is often a trust. A trust is nothing more than a means of transferring property to a third party—the trust. Specifically, a trust lets you transfer title of your assets to trustees for the benefit of the people you want to take care of—aka your selected beneficiaries. The trustee will carry out your wishes on behalf of your beneficiaries.

WILLS AND TRUSTS COMPARED 

Broadly speaking, there are two types of trusts: living (established while you are alive) and testamentary (created by your will after you’ve passed). Living trusts are becoming more and more popular to avoid the cost of probate. In the probate process, your representatives “prove” the validity of your will. The probate process also gives any creditors the opportunity to collect their due before your estate is passed to your heirs. There may be a long delay in settling your estate as it goes through probate. To add salt to the wound, probate can be costly. 

A living trust can avoid or mitigate the effects of probate. It is a revocable trust that you establish and of which you are also typically the sole trustee. The assets in your living trust avoid probate at death, and are instead distributed to your heirs according to your wishes.

Living trusts are sometimes said to be superior to a will, but that is certainly not the case for everyone. It’s important that you understand how they compare.

Comparing Wills and Living Trusts

Wills Living Trusts
Are viable only at death. Can have uses while you’re alive.
Are public. Are private.
Are not very good when you’re dealing with more than one state. Are good in every state and not encumbered by states.
Must go through probate. Can generally avoid probate.
Are less expensive to put in place. Are more expensive to put in place and administer.

Is a living trust for you? It depends on your particular situation. Nevertheless, you should certainly consider it in consultation with your legal advisor or wealth manager.

Your next move

We recommend that your estate plan be reviewed every year or two. The review should be conducted by a high-caliber wealth manager or tax professional—one who takes the time to learn what’s changed since you put your solutions in place, assess how those changes might impact your strategy, and make recommendations for getting your solutions current and in accordance with your wishes.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This article was published by the BSW Inner Circle, a global financial concierge group working with affluent individuals and families and is distributed with its permission. Copyright 2017 by AES Nation, LLC.

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 article is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual, nor intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice.

 

 

Increasing Farm Efficiency During Challenging Times

It’s no secret that for many producers the past few years have been challenging. The days of $7 corn and $15 beans are more than five years in the rearview mirror and it takes a sharper pencil these days to be profitable and maintain a viable farming operation.

Farm efficiency can be obtained in many different ways. A good farm tax expert can be extremely valuable.  Some farmers focus on being better marketers.  Others key in on reducing costs of inputs and understanding government programs. Using new technologies can help an operator better understand how resources are being used.  Working with a banker to effectively manage capital is very important to other operators.

Few farmers, however, have the time or resources necessary to study all of the areas where efficiencies can be gained. But in these times of lower margins, it’s worth taking a look at areas you might have ignored over the past few years or strategies that you may need to take a second look at.

Technology

Ag technology has come a long way in the past five years, and in general is now more affordable to more producers. Seth Robinson of AgriVision Equipment Group (John Deere) in Winterset, Iowa, says their 3i service often more than pays for the cost of the program for many farmers.

“The 3i program divides your land into three zones from high producing to low producing land and we’ve seen situations where we can raise production in all zones because the data the system collects can allow decisions like planting rates and fertilizing rates to be made on a micro basis. We price 3i on a per bushel basis according to the number of services the farmer wants help with, so we are tied to the growing season and varying conditions, just like the grower.”

Granular is another digital ag solution that consists of products that help farms track their inputs, outputs, crop planning, financial forecasts, and workflow. Their Farm Management Software (FMS) helps farmers understand profitability by field by organizing the numerous data points on the farm.

Dakota Hoben, Customer Success Manager with Granular says, “We typically find farms that are 2,000 acres and above really value the product. But we can work with farms anywhere from 1,000 – 50,000 acres.”

The software is priced on a per acre basis for about $3 and includes software, customer success manager, and support.

In today’s world, time is money – especially during planting and harvest seasons. Applications using smartphones can reduce much of the time it takes to resolve issues. Apps like AgriSync allow farmers to connect with their local, trusted agribusiness consultants for help adopting and implementing new technologies.

Broad based technology has also entered the world of ag finance. Steven Johnson, Iowa State University Extension Farm Management Specialist, said in a recent farmer meeting to Farm Credit Services members in Red Oak, Iowa, that producers who are customers of Farm Credit Services should consider using their AgriPoint technology to move money between accounts, pay bills, wire money and make payments. AgriPoint also offers tools to create balance sheets, cash flows, what-if scenarios, and the ability to apply checks as payments on your desktop or mobile device.

Marketing

Although no one has a crystal ball when it comes to selling commodities, there are ways to certainly put the odds in your favor. Johnson of Iowa State University said understanding your localized historical basis information can add many cents per bushel to the average selling price of corn and beans when part of an overall marketing strategy.  He believes better days are ahead, demand for animal protein will increase demand for grain and current conditions could represent a trough of the 5-7 year cycle.

Tax Strategies

In 1935, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Learned Hand said, “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.” The U.S. tax code offers numerous opportunities for those in agriculture to use legal means to reduce their taxes. Karen Havens, a CPA in Greenfield, Iowa, who caters to farm clients, believes you can be creative while being ethical and legal.

“Farming has progressed to where business knowledge is essential, from choosing the right business structure to accurate records, tax planning, asset acquisition, cash flows and dealing with lenders. Farmers need to be aware of various tax strategies available to choose strategies that might benefit his particular circumstances, such as retirement funding, employees with employee health benefits, the Domestic Production Deduction, estate or succession planning, as well as other ideas.   Finding knowledgeable professionals to help navigate the maze of options is critical.”

Other strategies that can serve double-duty as both cost-reducers and tax-savers for specific situations include establishing your own captive insurance companies for property casualty coverage, creating conservation easements through land trusts to potentially generate both income tax credits and deductions, and for farmers close to retirement starting cash balance plans to create deductions, postpone taxes and fund retirement. These strategies are not new and not exclusive to agriculture but will most likely grow in popularity as some farmers get closer to retirement and the average farm operation continues to grow.

Government Programs

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Farm Service Agency (FSA) division, offers many programs designed to aid farmers in becoming more efficient and potentially improve profitability. Producers are typically fairly well versed on the more popular FSA programs such as the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs that were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Agriculture Loss Coverage-County (ARC-CO) provides revenue loss coverage at the county level. ARC-CO payments are issued when the actual county crop revenue of a covered commodity is less than the ARC-CO guarantee for the covered commodity.  Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program payments are issued when the effective price of a covered commodity is less than the respective reference price for that commodity. The effective price equals the higher of the market year average price (MYA) or the national average loan rate for the covered commodity.

Another popular FSA program is the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). CRP is a land conservation program administered by FSA.  In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.

Beyond that, there are other programs available that are less well known, such as Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), which provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters.

In addition, FSA has many different types of farms loans, such as Guaranteed Farm Loan Programs that help family farmers and ranchers obtain loans from USDA-approved commercial lenders at reasonable terms to buy farmland or finance agricultural production. There are beginning farmer loan programs, minority and women farmer loan programs and emergency farm loans.

Insurance

No one relishes the idea of purchasing insurance, yet there have never been more assets at risk in farming than there is today. Finding effective insurance strategies is a must, and finding efficient ways of paying for insurance is also critical.

“To be the most efficient with their coverage farmers really need to sit down with their agent on an annual basis and review coverage limits,” said Jamie Travis of Hometown Insurance in Creston, Iowa. “I advise my farmers to take risk where they can afford to and save premium.  Many times farmers do not have adequate coverage for their liability exposure.  Umbrellas are relatively inexpensive and they provide coverage in areas where farmers cannot afford to take risk.  If someone is injured or killed as a result of a farmer’s negligence, their responsibility to the injured party could be significantly more than their liability limit.  Adequate umbrella coverage can avoid being forced to sell assets in order to indemnify an injured party.”

In summary

According to futurist Jim Carroll (www.jimcarroll.com) estimates are that the world population will increase nearly 50 percent to almost 9 billion by 2050.  As a result, he predicts a great future for agriculture. To meet the demand, he predicts everyone in agriculture will need to be more efficient.  Producers will have to continue to focus on smarter, better, more efficient strategies in order to stay competitive and thrive.  To do that, they’ll need to seek out professionals in many disciplines to keep them up to date on trends and strategies that can help them stay efficient, improve their profitability and achieve their long-term goals.

Mike Moffitt is a Chartered Financial Consultant and founder of Cornerstone Financial Group with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Creston, Iowa. Using his strategic partner network of professionals in accounting, legal and other key disciplines, he works closely with farmers and ag business owners on strategies that seek to help them grow their business and/or prepare for retirement. He can be reached at 641-782-5577.  Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.  Investment advice offered through Advantage Investment Management, a registered investment advisor.  Cornerstone Financial Group and Advantage Investment Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.  Other companies and their services mentioned in this article are not affiliated with LPL Financial and Cornerstone Financial Group.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.  There is no assurance that the techniques and strategies discussed are suitable for all individuals or will yield positive outcomes.

 

Explaining the Basis of Inherited Real Estate

What is cost basis? Stepped-up basis? How does the home sale tax exclusion work?

At some point in our lives, we may inherit a home or another form of real property. In such instances, we need to understand some of the jargon involving inherited real estate. What does “cost basis” mean? What is a “step-up?” What is the home sale tax exclusion, and what kind of tax break does it offer?

Very few parents discuss these matters with their children before they pass away. Some prior knowledge of these terms may make things less confusing at a highly stressful time.

Cost basis is fairly easy to explain. It is the original purchase price of real estate plus certain expenses and fees incurred by the buyer, many of them detailed at closing. The purchase price is always the starting point for determining the cost basis; that is true whether the purchase is financed or all-cash. Title insurance costs, settlement fees, and property taxes owed by the seller that the buyer ends up paying can all become part of the cost basis.1

At the buyer’s death, the cost basis of the property is “stepped up” to its current fair market value. This step-up can cut into the profits of inheritors should they elect to sell. On the other hand, it can also reduce any income tax liability stemming from the transaction.2

Here is an illustration of stepped-up basis. Twenty years ago, Jane Smyth bought a home for $255,000. At purchase, the cost basis of the property was $260,000. Jane dies and her daughter Blair inherits the home. Its present fair market value is $459,000. That is Blair’s stepped-up basis. So if Blair sells the home and gets $470,000 for it, her complete taxable profit on the sale will be $11,000, not $210,000. If she sells the home for less than $459,000, she will take a loss; the loss will not be tax-deductible, as you cannot deduct a loss resulting from the sale of a personal residence.1

The step-up can reflect more than just simple property appreciation through the years. In fact, many factors can adjust it over time, including negative ones. Basis can be adjusted upward by the costs of home improvements and home additions (and even related tax credits received by the homeowner), rebuilding costs following a disaster, legal fees linked to property ownership, and expenses of linking utility lines to a home. Basis can be adjusted downward by property and casualty insurance payouts, allowable depreciation that comes from renting out part of a home or using part of a residence as a place of business, and any other developments that amount to a return of cost for the property owner.1

The Internal Revenue Code states that a step-up applies for real property “acquired by bequest, devise, or inheritance, or by the decedent’s estate from the decedent.” In plain English, that means the new owner of the property is eligible for the step-up whether the deceased property owner had a will or not.2

In a community property state, receipt of the step-up becomes a bit more complicated. If a married couple buys real estate in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin, each spouse is automatically considered to have a 50% ownership interest in said real property. (Alaska offers spouses the option of a community property agreement.) If a child or other party inherits that 50% ownership interest, that inheritor is usually entitled to a step-up. If at least half of the real estate in question is included in the decedent’s gross estate, the surviving spouse is also eligible for a step-up on his or her 50% ownership interest. Alternately, the person inheriting the ownership interest may choose to value the property six months after the date of the previous owner’s death (or the date of disposition of the property, if disposition occurred first).2,3

In recent years, there has been talk in Washington of curtailing the step-up. So far, such notions have not advanced toward legislation.4

What if a parent gifts real property to a child? The parent’s tax basis becomes the child’s tax basis. If the parent has owned that property for decades and the child cannot take advantage of the federal home sale tax exclusion, the capital gains tax could be enormous if the child sells the property.2

Who qualifies for the home sale tax exclusion? If individuals or married couples want to sell an inherited home, they can qualify for this big federal tax break once they have used that home as their primary residence for two years out of the five years preceding the sale. Upon qualifying, a single taxpayer may exclude as much as $250,000 of gain from the sale, with $500,000 being the limit for married homeowners filing jointly. If the home’s cost basis receives a step-up, the gain from the sale may be small, but this is still a nice tax perk to have.5

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 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/determining-your-homes-tax-basis.html [3/30/16]
2 – realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/sellersadvice1/item/34913-20150513-inherited-property-understanding-the-stepped-up-basis [5/13/15]
3 – irs.gov/irm/part25/irm_25-018-001.html
4 – blogs.wsj.com/totalreturn/2015/01/20/the-value-of-the-step-up-on-inherited-assets/ [1/20/15]
5 – nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/if-you-inherit-home-do-you-qualify-the-home-sale-tax-exclusion.html [3/31/16]

Could Social Security Really Go Away?

Just how gloomy does its future look?

Will Social Security run out of money in the 2030s? For years, Americans have been warned about that possibility. Those warnings, however, assume that no action will be taken to address Social Security’s financial challenges.

Social Security is being strained by a giant demographic shift. In 2030, more than 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older. In 2010, only 13% of the nation was that old. In 1970, less than 10% of Americans were in that age group.1

Demand for Social Security benefits has increased, and the ratio of retirees to working-age adults has changed. In 2010, the Census Bureau determined that there were about 21 seniors (people aged 65 or older) for every 100 workers. By 2030, the Bureau projects that there will be 35 seniors for every 100 workers.1

As payroll taxes fund Social Security, the program faces a major dilemma. Actually, it faces two.

Social Security maintains two trust funds. When you read a sentence stating that “Social Security could run out of money by 2035,” that statement refers to the projected shortfall of the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust. The OASDI is the main reservoir of Social Security benefits, from which monthly payments are made to seniors. The latest Social Security Trustees report indeed concludes that the OASDI Trust could be exhausted by 2035 from years of cash outflows exceeding cash inflows.2,3

Congress just put a patch on Social Security’s other, arguably more pressing problem. Social Security’s Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund risked being unable to pay out 100% of scheduled benefits to SSDI recipients this year, but the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 directed a slightly greater proportion of payroll taxes funding Social Security into the DI trust for the short term. This should give the DI Trust enough revenue to pay out 100% of benefits through 2022. Funding it adequately after 2022 remains an issue.4

If the OASDI Trust is exhausted in 2035, what would happen to retirement benefits? They would decrease. Imagine Social Security payments shrinking 21%. If Congress does not act to remedy Social Security’s cash flow situation before then, Social Security Trustees forecast that a 21% cut may be necessary in 2035 to ensure payment of benefits through 2087.3

No one wants to see that happen, so what might Congress do to address the crisis? Three ideas in particular have gathered support.

*Raise the cap on Social Security taxes. Currently, employers and employees each pay a 6.2% payroll tax to fund Social Security (the self-employed pay 12.4% of their earnings into the program). The earnings cap on the tax in 2016 is $118,500, so any earned income above that level is not subject to payroll tax. Lifting (or even abolishing) that cap would bring Social Security more payroll tax revenue, specifically from higher-income Americans.3

*Adjust the full retirement age. Should it be raised to 68? How about 70? Some people see merit in this, as many baby boomers may work and live longer than their parents did. In theory, it could promote longer careers and shorter retirements, and thereby lessen demand for Social Security benefits. Healthier and wealthier baby boomers might find the idea acceptable, but poorer and less healthy boomers might not.3

*Calculate COLAs differently. Social Security uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Workers and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) in figuring cost-of-living adjustments. Many senior advocates argue that the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) should be used instead. The CPI-E often gives more weight to health care expenses and housing costs than the CPI-W. Not only that, the CPI-E only considers the cost of living for people 62 and older. That last feature may also be its biggest drawback. Since it only includes some of the American population in its calculations, its detractors argue that it may not measure inflation as well as the broader CPI-W.3

Social Security could still face a shortfall even if all of these ideas were adopted. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that if all of these “fixes” were put into play today, the OASDI Trust would still face a revenue shortage in 2035.3

In future decades, Social Security may not be able to offer retirees what it does now, unless dramatic moves are made on Capitol Hill. In the worst-case scenario, monthly benefits would be cut to keep the program solvent. A depressing thought, but one worth remembering as you plan for the future.

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. 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 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2014/06/16/the-youngest-baby-boomers-turn-50 [6/16/14]
2 – fool.com/retirement/general/2016/03/20/the-most-important-social-security-chart-youll-eve.aspx [3/20/16]
3 – fool.com/retirement/general/2016/03/19/1-big-problem-with-the-3-most-popular-social-secur.aspx [3/19/16]
4 – marketwatch.com/story/crisis-in-social-security-disability-insurance-averted-but-not-gone-2015-11-30 [11/30/15]

Retirement Now vs. Retirement Then

Today’s retirees must be more self-reliant than their predecessors.

Decades ago, retirement was fairly predictable: Social Security and a pension provided much of your income, you moved to the Sun Belt, played tennis or golf, and you lived to age 70 or 75.

To varying degrees, this was the American retirement experience during the last few decades of the previous century. Those days are gone; retirees must now assume greater degrees of financial self-reliance.

There is no private-pension safety net today. At one time, when Social Security was paired with a pension from a lifelong employer, a retiree could potentially enjoy a middle-class lifestyle. In January, the average monthly Social Security benefit was $1,341. The highest possible monthly benefit for someone retiring at Social Security’s full retirement age in 2016 is $2,787.80, or $33,453.60 a year. So in many areas of this country, living only on Social Security does not afford you the same lifestyle you may have had when you were working. Elders who thought they could rely on Social Security to get by have learned a bitter truth, one we should note. We must supplement Social Security with other income streams or sources.1,2,3,4

We carry more debt than our parents and grandparents did. It is much easier to borrow money (and live on margin) than it was decades ago. Some people face the prospect of retiring with outstanding student loans, car loans, and business loans, in addition to home loans.3

Some of us are retiring unmarried. With the divorce rate being where it is, some baby boomers will retire alone. Perhaps they will share a residence with a sibling, child, or friends; that may give them something of an economic cushion in terms of meeting daily living costs. Then again, some married households were single-income households in the 1970s and 1980s, but retirees managed.3 

We will probably live longer than our parents did. In 1985, the average life expectancy for a 65-year-old man in this country was 79; the average life expectancy for a 65-year-old woman was 84. Today, the average 65-year-old man is projected to live to 91, the average 65-year-old woman to 94. Our parents could depend on the combination of Social Security, pension income, and fixed-income vehicles for a 10-year or 15-year retirement. In contrast, many of us will have to try some growth investing to keep our money growing across a probable 20-year or 30-year retirement.4

We will likely have to insure ourselves if we retire before age 65. The national average retirement age (according to a SmartAsset study of Census Bureau data) is now 63. With private health insurance becoming the new normal, that means many of us will have to find some kind of private health coverage if we retire too young to be eligible for Medicare. Furthermore, the cost of many out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by Medicare is certainly greater than it once was.5

We must rise to the financial challenge retirement presents. During the 1980s, more than 40% of U.S. private sector employees participated in a pension plan designed to bring them eventual retirement income. In the middle of that decade, Social Security accounted for 65% of U.S. retiree income. Right now, 19% of private firms offer traditional pension plan programs and Social Security represents but 27% of retiree income.4

Our retirement will differ from that of our parents. It will likely be longer and arguably feature a better quality of life. Every aspect of our later years may become more comfortable, more bearable for ourselves and our loved ones. Retirement planning is one of the most valuable tools to assist you in realizing that goal.

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 – faq.ssa.gov/link/portal/34011/34019/Article/3736/What-is-the-average-monthly-benefit-for-a-retired-worker [2/17/16]

2 – faq.ssa.gov/link/portal/34011/34019/Article/3735/What-is-the-maximum-Social-Security-retirement-benefit-payable [2/18/16]

3 – blog.nsbank.com/retirement-planning-3/ [12/14/15]

4 – marketwatch.com/story/how-retirement-has-changed-in-the-last-30-years-2016-02-16 [2/16/16]

5 – smartasset.com/retirement/average-retirement-age-in-every-state [10/28/15]