Broker Check

Retire Wise Articles

If you are 50 or older and are saving for retirement or already in retirement, sign up to receive our monthly Retire Wise emails!

April 2021

4 Estate Planning Documents You Can't Live (Your Best Life) Without

Often, people view estate planning through a narrow lens, thinking it’s only about what happens to their property and assets after they’re gone. While the tax-efficient transfer of your assets to the people and organizations you designate is an important component, estate planning encompasses so much more. First and foremost, it’s about protecting your lifestyle and the people you care about during your lifetime. It answers critical questions, including: Who will have the legal authority to act on your behalf if you’re unable to do so, due to an accident or illness? Who will manage your assets and make important healthcare and end-of-life decisions on your behalf? And how will your legacy be carried out now and after you’re gone?

Ask yourself: If a crisis occurred today, would your loved ones have the knowledge and legal authority to follow through and act on your behalf? Without the right legal documents in place, it can be hard—if not impossible—for those you appoint to carry out their obligations and responsibilities. To protect yourself and loved ones, plan to meet with an estate planning attorney who can help you draw up important legal documents, including:

  1. Will: A will instructs how your property will be distributed after your death. It allows you to name a personal representative (“executor”) charged with overseeing the distribution of your property and shepherding it through probate (the court process required to validate your will and transfer your assets). Keep in mind, certain assets sit outside of your will, such as life insurance policies or qualified retirement accounts (401(k), IRA, etc.). These transfer directly to the named beneficiaries on your accounts and are not subject to probate. That’s why it’s so important to review all your beneficiary designations on a regular basis.

  2. Durable power of attorney (POA): A durable POA empowers your “agent” to carry out any legal and/or financial decisions that have to be made on your behalf during your lifetime if you are unable to do so. Unlike POAs that extend specific or limited powers, a durable POA doesn’t end if you become incapacitated. However, all POAs end upon your death.

  3. Living will: Also called a healthcare proxy, this document enables you to 1) specify the kind of medical care you do or do not wish to receive in the event of temporary or long-term incapacity and 2) name who will make important healthcare and end-of-life decisions on your behalf.

  4. Trust: While not everyone needs a trust, it can provide the confidence that you have a plan in place to help provide for the tax-efficient management of family assets and to direct their use and distribution in accordance with your wishes, among many other objectives.

To learn more about how estate planning can help you live your best life, while protecting the people and things you care about most, call the office to schedule time to talk.

This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not, however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.


How to Master Financial Literacy at Any Age

While understanding basic financial concepts, such as saving, investing and budgeting, is important at any age, it’s critical for those nearing or living in retirement. That’s because retirement marks a major shift from a lifetime of accumulating assets during your working years, to how you will use those assets to create a tax-efficient income stream to support your lifestyle for the next 20 or 30+ years.

That requires a comprehensive approach to protecting and growing your assets to support your desired lifestyle. Mastering financial basics, including how to budget, avoid scams, and manage income and debt can also help you accomplish other important retirement goals, such as remaining independent longer.

Whether you’re looking to brush up on a single topic or enroll in a course on financial management, consider the following resources, available at no cost to you.

  • Videos: Khan Academy offers engaging and easy-to-follow video presentations on dozens of financial topics from budgeting to investing, taxes and safeguarding your assets.

  • Podcasts: As part of its Money Smart program for adults, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) offers a series of podcasts designed to demystify personal finances, explain consumer protection measures, teach about savings, credit, loans and more.

  • Webinars: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) offers monthly webinars on different financial education topics. If you missed one, past webinars are added to the archive for easy access to pre-recorded events on your schedule.

  • Articles: Founded in 1950, the National Council on Aging (NCO) is the nation’s longest-serving national organization focused on aging. NCO offers a wide variety of articles, programs and resources for older adults and caregivers, including an online tool for accessing financial assistance programs in all 50 states.

  • News and information: As longtime advocates for programs, policies and legislation affecting seniors at the state and national levels, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a good source for the latest news and information on issues impacting your taxes, savings, Social Security, Medicare and more.

  • College classes and workshops: Looking to go a little deeper? Many colleges and universities offer online courses and workshops on economics, personal finance and investing to seniors at no cost or for a reduced fee, including a full roster of free online classes at MIT Sloan School of Management. Be sure to check your local community college and state colleges and universities, as well. Many offer special programs and in-state discounts for seniors.

If you have questions about managing your finances, we’re happy to help. Call the office to schedule time to talk.

March 2021

3 Ways to Boost Cash Reserves in Retirement

How would you pay for an unanticipated home or car repair, medical emergency, or other expense? A recent study indicates that fewer than 4 in 10 Americans have enough savings to pay for an unexpected $1,000 expense in cash. The rest would have to borrow, use a credit card or take out a personal loan.1 The ability to pay for unexpected expenses without incurring debt is among many reasons why retirees need adequate cash reserves. Cash reserves or emergency savings play a significant role in helping to protect your income and your assets in retirement, by helping you:

  • Avoid cementing losses that can occur when you draw down on your investment portfolio during a stock market downturn or periods of extreme volatility, to meet your income needs.

  • Supplement income from sources that may not be performing as well under certain market or economic conditions, such as low-yielding fixed-income investments.

  • Increase confidence in your ability to meet unexpected expenses without derailing your long-term investment strategy.

  • Minimize the amount of new debt you take on in retirement, especially high-interest credit card debt, which can erode your income over time.

What If You Haven’t Saved Enough?

The general rule of thumb for cash reserves is to set aside three to six months’ worth of living expenses. How much you will need may differ based on your personal circumstances and lifestyle goals. Whether you need to boost or replenish cash reserves in retirement, there are several ways to do so.

  1. Put a budget in place: Unchecked spending, especially in the early years of retirement, can result in less money later. Following a budget can help to manage spending and reveal opportunities to save more at all stages of retirement.

  2. Save a fixed percentage: If you spend less money each month than you receive from income sources, such as Social Security and a pension, consider setting aside a percentage of what’s typically left over each month and direct that to your emergency fund.

  3. Take advantage of unplanned savings: Redirect any unexpected budget savings into your emergency fund. This may include savings resulting from tax refunds, steep discounts or rebates on items you purchase, a lower-than-expected utility bill, or even savings on groceries or prescriptions. These small amounts can add up over time.

If you have questions about maintaining optimal cash reserves in retirement, call the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/11/just-39percent-of-americans-could-pay-for-a-1000-emergency-expense.html

4 Tips for Managing Your Time in Retirement

After years of juggling competing responsibilities and obligations during your working years, retirement should be a breeze, right? You’ll finally have the time to do all of the things you put on the backburner during your working years, or while raising a family. So, why do so many people find themselves busier than ever and just as stressed as they were in their working years? According to time management experts, managing an abundance of time can be as challenging as managing a scarcity of time because it requires you to prioritize what really matters to you.1 

If you’re looking for ways to create a more intentional life in retirement, consider the following tips:

  1. Create a schedule: Like many people, you may have fantasized about the day you would finally ditch your Day-Timer or delete your electronic calendar. However, even in retirement, you need to establish some sort of framework for how you will spend your days or your week, Otherwise, it’s all too easy for time to pass without even noticing it. To ensure you’re spending your time on the things you want to accomplish, consider making a simple list to remind you of the things you’d like to do each day or week.

  2. Be flexible: Managing your time in retirement doesn’t mean blocking out every minute of the day. In fact, that can have the opposite effect, creating a sense of drudgery, which can increase stress. For example, you might not need to schedule everyday chores, such as grocery shopping, gardening or house cleaning. When it comes to routine tasks, give yourself the flexibility to move a task to another day if you don’t feel like tackling it today, knowing that eventually it will get done.

  3. Set boundaries: While allowing some flexibility in your schedule is important, setting boundaries is also critical. That means recognizing when you’re feeling overcommitted and saying “no” to those who may not be respectful of your time—even if they happen to be close friends or family members. Remember, this is your time to focus on what brings the most meaning and joy to your life.

  4. Pace yourself: In today’s fast-paced environment, there’s a tendency to equate productivity with activity. As a result, giving yourself permission to slow down can be difficult, especially if you were accustomed to a relatively high-pressure lifestyle before you retired. Keep in mind, while busywork may keep you occupied in the moment, it won’t necessarily provide a sense of fulfilment. Once you accept that you don't have to be busy every minute of the day, you can focus on accomplishing the things that are most important to you, at your own pace. That includes spending time doing absolutely nothing—guilt free.

1 https://www.kiplinger.com/retirement/601545/9-tips-for-better-time-management-in-retirement

February 2021

RMDs Are Back. What's Your Strategy?


Shortly after the pandemic hit, the CARES Act was passed in March 2020, allowing those age 72 or over to waive their required minimum distributions, or RMDs. While that resulted in a significant reduction in taxable income for many retirees in 2020, RMDs are back this year, along with the potential tax burden and steep penalties (50% of the required distribution amount) for those who fail to take them by year end. In addition, many retirees, especially those who did not take RMDs last year, may be subject to higher distribution amounts this year, due to higher account balances. That makes it even more important to have a strategy in place for managing RMDs.

RMDs are commonly used to supplement income received in retirement from guaranteed income sources, such as Social Security or a pension. You can choose to take RMDs on a regular schedule throughout the year, such as monthly, quarterly or semiannually, or once a year as a lump sum. However, it’s important to remember that distributions from qualified retirement accounts are taxable, so if you choose not to have taxes automatically withheld, you’ll need to set money aside to pay any taxes owed on your distributions.

Should You Take Regular Distributions or a Lump Sum?

Many people find it easier to manage their income and expenses in retirement by taking distributions throughout the year. In addition to providing regular cash flow, regular installments can help ensure that you receive a range of prices for the assets you sell, which may provide some stability during periods of increased market volatility. Regularly scheduled distributions can also help retain the benefits of tax-deferred compounding in your retirement account(s) throughout the year, versus taking a lump sum withdrawal at the beginning of the year. If you don’t need the regular income, waiting until year-end to take a lump sum distribution may also help bolster tax-deferred growth, as your money remains invested in your account(s) throughout the year. However, because markets fluctuate over time, there is no guarantee that account values will be higher or lower at the time you take your distribution(s). In addition, taking a large lump sum withdrawal may also create the need to rebalance your portfolio.

Managing Your Tax Burden

There are many ways to help manage taxes associated with RMDs. Those who may not need the income from an RMD, and are seeking to avoid taxable distributions, may choose to make a qualified charitable distribution (QCDs). A QCD allows you to donate up to $100,000 annually directly from a traditional IRA to an eligible charitable organization without counting that amount as taxable income. Instead, it would count toward your RMD and reduce the taxable amount of your mandatory withdrawal.  Other options for managing taxes on income in retirement may include a Roth IRA conversion, which requires paying taxes on any amounts converted in the year assets are converted. (Roth IRA accounts are not subject to RMDs). Since these strategies are complex and may have significant tax consequences, it’s important to meet with your tax and financial professionals before taking action.

If you have questions, call the office to schedule time to talk about your retirement income strategy.

5 Ways to Bring More Balance to Your Life in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has up-ended many norms and routines from family and social gatherings, to community activities, how we shop, and how we access services, such as healthcare and transportation. That’s a lot of change to digest in a relatively short period of time. It’s no wonder that separate surveys conducted by researchers at the Boston University (B.U.) School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University found that the prevalence of depressive symptoms (B.U.) and “serious psychological distress” (Hopkins) reported during the COVID-19 pandemic were triple the level measured in 2018. According to the B.U. study, these rates were higher than those seen after other large-scale traumas like September 11 and Hurricane Katrina.1

If you’re feeling somewhat off-kilter, consider the following steps to help restore a sense of balance in your life. 

  1. Recognize when life feels unbalanced: The first step is acknowledging that some anxiety is natural. Whether you’re feeling sad, stressed, or anxious, know that you’re not alone. Take time to understand how you’re feeling and why. It may be helpful to talk through your emotions with a therapist or a friend for support.

  2. Find the tools that work for you: Instead of focusing on what is out of your control, try to channel your energy toward familiar things that provide you with a sense of comfort, whether that’s reading mystery novels, baking, painting, gardening, or other activities and pastimes.

  3. Set goals: Goals give you something to work toward, which can be particularly helpful when it becomes hard to differentiate one day from the next. You don’t have to take up a new hobby or activity to challenge yourself, either. Maybe there’s a yoga pose you have yet to master, you’re looking to improve your golf game, or you finally have a chance to organize that box of old photos. Completing a goal of any size provides a sense of accomplishment, which can go a long way toward restoring a sense of meaning and order in your life.

  4. Meditate: The pandemic has created a cottage industry of self-help tools, including online and mobile meditation apps and podcasts. If you’re new to meditation, consider a guided progr While some apps are free, most offer trial periods before requiring a paid subscription, so you can determine which work best for you.

  5. Find opportunities to laugh: Laughter really is some of the best medicine. Not only does it release endorphins, the body’s “feel good” hormones, but it helps lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and epinephrine (adrenaline). It also affects your dopamine and serotonin levels, which are neurotransmitters that play a role in happiness and pleasure.2

1 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-surprising-mental-toll-of-covid/

2 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

This communication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subjects covered. It is not however, intended to provide specific legal, tax, or other professional advice. For specific professional assistance, the services of an appropriate professional should be sought.

January 2021

It's 2021: Time to Check Your Tax Bracket

Will your tax bracket change in 2021? Each year the tax rate schedules are adjusted for inflation. That could result in your income being subject to a higher or lower tax rate in the new year. It’s especially important to check your tax bracket for this year if your taxable income was lower in 2020, due to:

  • Experiencing a reduction in full or part-time work-related income during the pandemic

  • Taking less income from your investment portfolio to avoid cementing loses during periods of increased market volatility

  • Suspending required minimum distributions (RMDs) under the CARES Act

  • Other circumstances resulting in a temporary reduction in income

For tax year 2021, the top tax rate of 37% will apply to income above $523,600 for individuals ($628,300 for married couples filing jointly), compared to income above $518,400 for individuals ($622,050 for married couples filing jointly) in 2020.

The Standard Deduction Increases in 2021

The standard deduction increases to $12,550 for single filers ($25,100 for married couple filing jointly) for tax-year 2021, up from $12,400 ($24,800 for couples) for 2020.1 Taxpayers over age 65 taking the standard deduction receive even more. For single filers age 65 and older, the standard deduction increases by $1,700 to $15,750. Joint filers can increase the standard deduction by $1,350 each for a total of $27,800 if both joint filers are age 65 or over. Keep in mind, if you’re considering itemizing on your 2020 or 2021 returns, your total tax deductions will need to exceed the amount of your applicable standard deduction for that tax year to make itemizing worthwhile.3

Taxes are one of the biggest risks to income in retirement. Having a plan in place to manage your tax bill in retirement is critical to helping to ensure your income will last as long as you will need it.

If you have questions about tax-smart strategies for managing your income in retirement, call the office to schedule time to talk.

1 https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-tax-inflation-adjustments-for-tax-year-2021

2 https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-tax-inflation-adjustments-for-tax-year-2020

https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/info-2020/income-tax-brackets.html

5 Ways to Reduce Pandemic-Related Stress in 2021

If you’re suffering from pandemic fatigue, you’re far from alone. The distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccines in December marked a major milestone in the fight to end the global pandemic. However, public health experts urge patience, warning that it could take until the summer or fall to administer the vaccine to enough Americans to achieve herd immunity. In the meantime, here are five ways to help boost your emotional and physical health to maintain a positive outlook in the months ahead.

  1. Stay informed. It’s important to remain informed about the latest news and information regarding the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and related public health guidance. However, information overload can increase anxiety. Take regular breaks from news coverage of the pandemic to engage in programs or activities that you find helpful for lowering stress. These could include hobbies, watching a favorite show or movie, or calling a friend or family member.

  2. Maintain social connections. For years, studies have pointed to the importance of maintaining meaningful social connections as we age. However, months of social distancing and isolation have made it difficult for many older Americans to engage with family and friends. While digital platforms are no replacement for a hug or gathering with others to share a meal, it’s important to find ways to keep in touch with friends and family on a regular basis. If feelings of sadness or isolation persist or worsen, talk to family, friends or a healthcare professional about what you are feeling.

  3. Add healthy choices to your diet. A top resolution for many Americans in 2021 is to lose the “quarantine 15.” That refers to those extra pounds many of us gained last year, often due to an increase in comfort food and a decrease in physical activity. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that instead of focusing solely on eliminating certain foods from your diet, consider adding more healthy choices to your meals. Fruits, vegetables and grains can help you feel fuller so you can cut back on your main-course portions to accommodate the extra calories.1
  4. Exercise. Exercise is a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety. Best of all, you may not have to work out that hard to see benefits. According to a recent study, “higher levels of physical activity—regardless of intensity—are associated with a lower risk of early death in middle-aged and older people.” Conversely, the study found, being sedentary for 9½ hours a day or more (not counting sleeping) can increase your risk of early death.2

  5. Stay positive. While maintaining a positive outlook can be difficult during challenging times, it’s important for both mental and emotional health. Consider making a list of the things you’re grateful for and the things that bring you joy. Writing these things down and reviewing your list from time to time can be a great reminder of the people and things you cherish most in life. Also, take time to reflect on and give yourself credit for getting through the physical and emotional challenges of the past few months. Finally, embrace a sense of hope for the future as administration of the vaccines gains momentum in the months ahead.

1 https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-eat-still-lose-weight/

2 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190821185336.htm

December 2020

3 Tax-Smart Ways to Help Family Members in Need Pay for College

As colleges and universities grapple with reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, a growing number of college students and their parents find themselves struggling to pay tuition costs. In fact, a recent study found that nearly half of all college undergraduates said they need to “figure out a new way to pay for school” due to the impact of the pandemic on their finances.1

Fortunately, there are a number of tax-smart ways for parents and grandparents to help family members pay for college. However, before reaching into your own pocket, look into programs designed to help. These include emergency cash grants under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, as well as the ability to apply for or appeal an existing federal student aid application, if financial circumstances have changed.

Remember, if you are in or nearing retirement, it’s important to find the right balance between providing assistance and maintaining your own safety net, so you’re not over-extending yourself at a time when portfolio values may be impacted by ongoing market volatility. Next, determine the right tax-smart strategy for your situation, which may include one of the following.

  1. Annual gifts: In 2020, you can give $15,000 to as many different people as you wish, under the annual gift tax exclusion ($30,000 for married couples filing joint returns), before bumping up against the lifetime gift tax exemption amount, which is $11.58 million per person ($23.16 million for married couples filing joint returns) in 2020. In certain cases, gifting can be enhanced by giving appreciated stock rather than cash. Since the gift is based on the fair market value of the asset you transfer, you don’t pay capital gains tax on the appreciation.

  2. Direct payments to educational institutions: Instead of giving the money to the student, you can make a payment directly to the college or university. As long as you make the payment directly to the school, it is not considered a gift under the gift tax rules, so it won’t count toward your annual exclusion or require you to file a gift tax return.

  3. 529 plans: 529 plans offer a tax-smart way to pay for qualified college, K-12, and continuing education costs. As long as the plan satisfies a few basic requirements, the federal tax law provides special tax benefits, such as 5-year gift tax averaging and tax-free qualified distributions. Some states also offer state income tax incentives, so take time to research your state’s tax treatment first.

Consult your tax and financial professionals before implementing these or other strategies. To learn more, call the office today to schedule time to talk.

Investors should consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with municipal fund securities before investing.  This information is found in the issuer's official statement and should be read carefully before investing.

Investors should also consider whether the investor's or beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other benefits available only from that state's 529 Plan.  Any state-based benefit should be one of many appropriately weighted factors in making an investment decision.  The investor should consult their financial or tax advisor before investing in any state's 529 Plan.

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/04/more-than-half-of-students-probably-cant-afford-college-due-to-covid-19.html

Don't Fall for Phony Contact Tracers

The pandemic has given rise to a number of new scams designed to part you from your money. One of the latest involves phony contact tracers. While contact tracing is considered an important tool for helping to contain the spread of COVID-19 in communities, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns of a growing trend where scammers are pretending to be contact tracers.

How It Works

According to complaints received by the FTC, as well as a number of state and city officials throughout the country, a typical scam may unfold as follows:

  • You receive a call from someone claiming to be a local public health worker, saying that you have been in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and that you need to self-isolate and take a test. The caller refuses to identify the person who had tested positive, citing “confidentiality.”

  • The caller then requests that you provide some form of payment to cover the cost of mailing a COVID-19 test kit to you. The scammer instills a sense of urgency by claiming you must comply within a stated time period or face penalties for non-compliance.

How to Avoid the Scam

According to the FTC, legitimate contract tracers may ask you for your name, address, health information and the names of people and places you have visited. The agency says real contact tracers need health information, not money or personal financial information. The FTC offers the following tips for avoiding phony contact tracers:

  1. Real contact tracers won’t ask you for money. Only scammers insist on payment by gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency.

  2. Your immigration status doesn’t matter for contact tracing, so real tracers won’t ask. If they do, you can bet it’s a scam.

  3. Contact tracing doesn’t require your bank account or credit card number. Never share account information with anybody who contacts you asking for it.

  4. Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Social Security number. Never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you.

  5. Do not click on a link in a text or email. Doing so can download malware onto your device.

For more information about contact tracing in your area, visit your state health department’s website.

November 2020

Recent Tax Law Changes Create Year-End Tax Planning Opportunities

Tax planning is an integral part of a comprehensive financial plan designed to help you meet multiple goals and priorities and keep more of what you earn from your various income sources and investments. While tax planning is a year-round activity, no time is more critical than the end of the year to make sure you’re taking advantage of opportunities to manage your tax burden. That’s especially true this year, thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a significant economic aid package signed into law in March 2020.

The CARES Act provides an opportunity for those subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs) to waive them this year, which can substantially reduce the amount of your income that is subject to taxes in 2020. It also provides a unique opportunity for those who will take the standard deduction to take an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for individuals ($600 for a married couple filing joint returns) for cash donations to charitable organizations. For those who will itemize, the CARES Act removes the 60% of adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation for most cash gifts to public charities for 2020. That means you can offset up to 100% of your income this year with charitable contributions. Contributions in excess of this amount can be carried forward for five years subject to the 60% of AGI limit in those years. It’s important to note that both of these provisions under the CARES Act only apply to cash contributions and are not available for contributions made to donor advised funds or gifts to 509(a)(3) supporting organizations.

Don’t forget about other legislation passed in recent years. Among other provisions, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, signed into law in December 2019, repealed the maximum age for traditional IRA contributions and increased the age to begin taking RMDs from 70 ½ to 72. However, it also eliminated the “stretch IRA” for non-spouse beneficiaries. With certain exceptions, beneficiaries are now required to withdraw assets from an inherited IRA or 401(k) plan within 10 years following the death of the account holder, which can have important estate planning implications. Finally, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ushered in numerous changes, including a shift in tax brackets that resulted in lower tax rates for many individual taxpayers. While most of the provisions under the TCJA remain in effect through 2025, it’s important to note that the income floor for unreimbursed medical expenses for those who itemize is scheduled to return to 10% in 2021, unless Congress acts to extend it.* The TCJA reduced the floor to 7.5% for 2017 and 2018, and it was later extended to 2019 and 2020. If you’re close to exceeding this floor, now is the time to think about accelerating expenses for applicable elective procedures and equipment into 2020.

To learn more about tax laws impacting your planning, meet with your tax professional or contact the office anytime to talk about tax-smart financial planning and investment strategies.  

*Information is accurate as of publication date.

Your 2020 Year-End Planning Checklist

There’s no question that 2020 has been an exceptional year. The global pandemic, economic crisis and a contentious U.S. election have combined to make this year one for the history books. With the end of the year in sight, now is the time to take steps to shore up your finances to enter the new year on a firm footing. Use the list below as you work closely with your tax and financial professionals to help identify the best strategies for your situation.

Investment planning

  • Recognize capital gains and losses
  • Review strategies to avoid violating wash sale rules
  • Rebalance your portfolio, as needed, to maintain target allocation

Retirement planning

  • Fund retirement accounts
  • Contribute to health savings account(s), if applicable
  • Consider if a Roth conversion is right for you
  • Review retirement account beneficiary designations
  • Take RMDs (not required in 2020 under the CARES Act)

Tax planning

  • Review income tax withholding
  • Reduce AMT liability, if applicable
  • Accelerate deductions into 2020, as applicable, if itemizing
  • Evaluate state and estate income tax liabilities

Wealth transfer and legacy planning

  • Fund charitable giving
  • Make annual gifts
  • Consider a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA
  • Fund 529 plans
  • Review advanced estate planning strategies
  • Review/update estate planning documents

Financial planning

  • Schedule an annual plan review (at least once every 12 months)
  • Review and update goals
  • Review all beneficiary designations (retirement accounts, 529 plans, life insurance, etc.)
  • Create 2021 spending plan and budget
  • Ensure adequate emergency savings
  • Check your credit report (at least once every 12 months)