Investing & Retiring

Is a will sufficient for your estate, or should you consider a trust? Before addressing this question, let’s review trusts and what they do. A trust transfers legal title to property to a trustee, who manages the assets of that trust during your lifetime (if it is a living trust) and distributes or manages the
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Thinking about setting up a trust for your family? Human nature being what it is, you might want to keep your options open by setting up a trust that you can change or cancel at any time. If your formerly sweet granddaughter tells you she is devoting her life to Satan worship, for example, you
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A trust is a legal arrangement where a person or company (the trustee) has the legal title to property for another person. If you set up a trust while you are still alive, this is called a living trust. The trustee has legal rights of management and is expected to manage the trust assets for
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Asset allocation models usually refer to the mix of three asset classes in your investment portfolio: stocks, bonds and cash – although cash is sometimes unwisely lumped in with bonds. The three major issues in picking an asset allocation model are: Goal – What is your investing goal? As the saying goes, if you don’t
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Do you have a jar full of pennies taking up space on your dresser? That’s the usual home for the pennies that most Americans receive in change. Eventually, they get taken to a Coinstar machine to be redeemed or wind up breaking the dresser under their massive weight. Virtually nobody carries pennies around in their
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An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust (ILIT) is a trust set up to hold ownership of your life insurance policies. There are three primary reasons why an ILIT might be right for you. Avoiding Estate Taxes – Unless you take steps to prevent it, the proceeds of your life insurance policies are included as part of
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MoneyTips Are you planning on pushing your retirement age out as far as possible, or continuing to work part-time during your retirement years? A growing number of people are following this path, driven partly by enjoyment of their work and partly by economic necessity. In addition, since people are living longer in general, retirement may
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In general, early withdrawal of funds from your retirement account is a bad idea. Not only are the withdrawals taxed at your current income rate, but you will also pay a penalty of 10% on the withdrawn amount. However, there are some financial circumstances where early withdrawal is needed – and if you are in
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Ladies, how much are you paying in “pink tax”? That’s the amount of additional money you’re paying just for being female. We’re not just talking about clothing and haircuts… we mean, fashion and coifs. You’re even paying more for games and toys, according to a recent study by the New York City Department of Consumer
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Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are an excellent low-cost, low-dollar-entry alternative to mutual funds. With the number of ETFs available today, you can track almost any index or field that you can think of with an ETF that meets your investment goals and risk tolerance. Potentially High-Performing ETFs for 2016 If you cannot decide what type of
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A New Year typically brings hope that if things were difficult last year, they may improve this year – and if things were good last year, they’ll surely get even better! However, if you don’t plan and act appropriately, you’ll soon be lamenting 2016 and longing for a better 2017. To get you started in
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Most people today feel strongly about at least one social cause. These causes range from the environment, pollution and sustainability to drug and alcohol addiction, human rights and individuals’ religious beliefs. Those who are especially passionate about these and other causes now have an opportunity to put their investment money where their mouth is by
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Bad News From Bentonville Last Wednesday, Walmart shook up the market with a surprising announcement regarding future earnings. The retailing empire based in Bentonville, Arkansas, stunned analysts and investors with their forecast of a 6% to 12% drop in earnings in fiscal 2017. According to Bloomberg, analysts had been expecting a gain of around 4%.
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We hear ads for free or no-fee checking all the time, but are these accounts really free? There are four different account components to consider. Maintenance Fees – These are monthly fees that the bank charges you simply to maintain your checking account. Some banks list maintenance fees but allow them to be waived under
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What are hedge funds, and why are they so revered by some and hated by others? Hedge funds are simply pools of money from specific investors designed to outperform the market through alternative investment strategies. Hedge funds involve higher risk, and thus participation is limited to accredited investors who have a net worth of over
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The Department of Energy (DOE) recently released the 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report, providing a comprehensive update on the state of wind power within the US and the challenges that lie ahead. The report shows that while US wind power capacity has been increasing, the lack of a coherent and comprehensive governmental policy will likely
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Who needs scratch-off lottery tickets and Powerball? Some credit unions are offering a program that allows you to win prizes as you save your money, at no risk to you. Not surprisingly, the program is called Save to Win. The program was developed in Michigan in 2009 as an innovative way to encourage lower- and
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The near-term future for commodities looks grim and the recently released “Commodity Markets Outlook, July 2015” from the World Bank reinforces this point. The second quarter of 2015 saw most commodities drop by 2% in overall non-energy commodity price indices. Oil prices were actually up slightly during the reporting period, but have taken a recent
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Can you see the day where the average airline trip costs more in taxes and ancillary charges than it does in the actual fare? It is already possible to do that given the array of fees that we pay along the way. According to a recent report by consulting groups IdeaWorks and CarTrawler, in 2014,
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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted in 1974 primarily to set standards for private pension programs. Prior to ERISA, the management of some large pension funds had been indulging in questionable investments and loans. ERISA was enacted to make sure that pensioners get the benefits that they deserve from their fund contributions.
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The pitch is very appealing to fiscally conservative seniors. Earn up to 8% on your investment with a guarantee not to lose money. Sounds too good to pass up, doesn’t it? Welcome to the world of indexed annuities. These financial vehicles are sold by insurance companies and target the risk-averse investor or retiree. Indexed annuities
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Benefits for Social Security and traditional pensions are apportioned very differently. With traditional Social Security, your benefits are calculated based on your work record and supported by taxes removed from your salary during the course of your working life. With pensions, the company or government entity you worked for puts aside money in a fund
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Now that the U.S. is among the world leaders in oil production, does it make sense to retain the ban on U.S. oil exports? These bans were imposed in the mid-1970s in response to the oil embargo from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). At the time, the U.S. was highly dependent on oil
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Unless you have been in an isolation tank for some time, you know that Donald Trump is running for President of the United States. He of the iconic hair is particularly sensitive to discussions about bankruptcy, as his operations have declared bankruptcy multiple times. While the Donald may not like it, it’s fair to ask
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A land trust is a type of revocable living trust designed for only one purpose – to hold title to real estate. Usually, they are created to provide some level of privacy and/or protection to the landowners. A trustee is chosen (typically a corporate entity), and beneficiaries make their wishes known to the trustee with
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Retirement is approaching. Do you have a comprehensive overview of your retirement funds and how you will manage them when you actually do retire? A surprising number of people do not know much about their retirement funds other than that they exist. Some don’t even realize how many sources of retirement funds they have. This
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Ah, summertime. The weather warms up, the flowers bloom, and the flocks of home improvement scammers return for their annual summertime gathering. Like other unwanted pests, shady home improvement contractors tend to show up in the spring and summertime offering services ranging from driveway sealing to chimney repair to roof replacement to a complete home
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Solar energy seems to be reaching a mainstream tipping point worldwide. While solar power currently makes a small contribution to the world’s energy production (accounting for 0.5% of global electricity demand in 2011 according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions), the percentages are growing rapidly. Within the U.S., the amount has grown from
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