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In Taxes

Tips for Surviving the New Tax Laws

March 16, 2018 By

Financial Planning fees are no longer deductible under the new Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017.  However, if you have both a qualified and a non-qualified account at the same institution, you may wish to “bunch” your fees and have them all deducted from a qualified account.  Why is that important? Fees paid from IRA’s and other qualified accounts are not treated as a distribution. The net result is that you are paying for fees with pre-tax money and the ability to take a deduction is no longer an issue. I hope this helps.  Please feel free to reach…

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In Estate Planning

What Went Right With Dad’s Estate

March 16, 2018 By

My dad had an annuity.  He named his six children as beneficiaries.  In our case, this was the best way to pass an annuity.  Why? By naming us separately, we could each take our distributions when it made sense for our individual needs. Here is how an inherited annuity works: whatever is contributed to the annuity is a return of principle and tax free.  Any gain is taxed to the beneficiaries at ordinary income tax rates.  So we need to ask, “What effects can income from an annuity have on the beneficiary, their personal situation and their tax brackets? Does…

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In Estate Planning

What Went Wrong With Dad’s Estate

March 16, 2018 By

When naming beneficiaries, my dad did a lot of things right … and one wrong thing. I blame myself for the mistake. My dad named his “estate” as the beneficiary of his life insurance policies. The insurance company will not talk to us because they don’t’ know ‘who’ the estate of Frank Thompson is. We are now in the process of hiring a Texas attorney (his state of residence) and going through the probate process. Probate is expensive and it is a lengthy process. This could have been avoided if he had named his trust or his six children as…

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In Random Thoughts

My Rant About The Equifax Breach, And What I’m Doing About It.

September 15, 2017 By

I am concerned about this recent Equifax breach.  The breach effected 143M consumers.  The breach started in May, and was not discovered until July.  The hackers now have the ability to commit identity fraud with the data.  So what is Equifax doing for us? I tried to see if I was one of the affected people.  I logged onto the dedicated website that Equifax established: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.  Outside of the requisite advice to change your password, FAQs, and a notice saying that Hurricane Irma can effect hotline wait times, they offered very little advice or help. This was no spoiler alert…

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In Random Thoughts

Social Security In The News

September 15, 2017 By

Many thanks to those who responded to last week’s blog on Social Security.  KUSI picked up the story! Watch it here: http://www.kusi.com/clip/13592385/how-social-security-fits-into-your-plan-when-you-retire. If you have any questions or concerns about your Social Security options, please reach out to me, I am happy to help. Barbara Norman, CFP®, ChFC®…

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In Random Thoughts

Happy 82nd Birthday to Social Security!

September 15, 2017 By

Social Security was signed into law by President Roosevelt on August 14th, 1935. Social Security is an integral piece in retirement planning.  I think it is important to know how your benefits are calculated and how to manage your account. Your Benefit is Based On our Lifetime Earnings The Social Security Administration looks at 35 years of earning history.  If you work longer than 35 years, then they use earnings for your highest paid 35 years.  If you work less than 35 years, then they will use $0 for the years you do not work.    Next, they apply a formula…

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In Random Thoughts

Do You Know Someone Effected By Harvey? The IRS and the DOL Offer Hurricane Harvey Relief

September 15, 2017 By

I have several family members who live in Houston and the outer lying areas.  Floodwaters rose and threatened their homes.  My dad’s oxygen tank was cut-off with the electricity.  A call to 911 yielded an answering machine that prompted them to leave a message and get in the queue. My sister (a nurse) and her husband were pulling equipment off a shoreline to save their business.  A call came and she was mandated to work for 3 days. What a nightmare! My family was fortunate.  Two good Samaritans showed up with a generator for my father.  They had heard, through…

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In Kids & Money

Graduate Not Finding Work?

August 3, 2017 By

My daughter graduated in the wake of the great recession – the worst job market in 80 years! Even now, finding a lucrative career path has not been easy for many graduates. As a parent, this is disheartening to watch. But let’s not forget that people love helping people. Explore your address book for contacts of every type and don’t be shy about asking for help. Reach out to friends, family, your advisors, and anyone else you may know. One never knows what miracle is around the corner.…

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In Random Thoughts

You Can’t Leave Money to Your Dog!

July 24, 2017 By

But you can leave money for your pet. I made trust provisions for my dog. Many people do. Just as you would name a guardian for your child, so can you name a guardian for your pet. Just make sure that person wants the animal! You may wish to think about leaving a sum of money your pet’s care. For example, I asked that money be set aside for veterinary charges, food, and grooming expenses. I won’t say how much money, because my mother would balk. The residual (if any) is to go to the Helen Woodward Foundation. If this…

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In Random Thoughts

College Campus Tours Revisited

July 17, 2017 By

A lot of people tell me that their college tours are a great bonding experience. But when I sit down and do a cost benefit analysis for college tours in the pre-application phase, the breakdown comes up negative. Pencil this one out. Vacation time is lost, and a lot of money is spent on travel, meals and hotels. At the end of the day, only one college is chosen. In my opinion, this is a colossal waste. I’m not saying you shouldn’t check out a college before you spend those precious application dollars. It’s free to visit websites and take…

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