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Estate Planning: 9 Lessons for Dealing with the Loss of a Loved One

As some of you know, my father-in-law passed away a little over a year ago. I’m not the first person to lose a family member but when I experience something new, I look back and try to learn from it. Some of my most influential life lessons have been due to negative experiences.  Losing a family member can be emotionally devastating but there are steps you can take to simplify the estate process. At RSWA, we’ve helped many clients navigate the loss of a parent or spouse, so I thought I was prepared. It’s funny how you can delude yourself. Even though I knew the process there was a lot I learned, and I thought sharing those lessons may help someone else. 

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Roth IRAs: 8 Essential Rules and Strategies to Know

Roth IRAs can be an excellent retirement savings vehicle for many people. They offer the ability to save for retirement with after-tax dollars, accumulate tax-free earnings, and withdraw money tax-free down the road. In simple terms, you trade a potential tax break today for tax-free withdrawals later. 

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Continuing Care Retirement Communities – An Overview

Planning for the future, as we age, can be a daunting challenge. Few look forward to the day when living in the traditional single-family home or even a condominium becomes impractical due to care needs. The good news is that there are more and more attractive retirement living options with various types of attributes. For many, moving to a retirement community may be a net positive in quality of life because of all the benefits and amenities that make day to day living easier, freeing time for more enjoyable pursuits.

Helping clients plan for this transition has become an important area of our practice and deserving of more communication and discussion. This introductory article focuses on one type of retirement community, called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (“CCRCs”). CCRCs offer a continuum of living and care options and may be thought of as a relatively comprehensive solution.

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7 High Income Year-End Tax Planning Strategies for 2019

This post was updated on October 15, 2019 to reflect current tax information.

At year-end, many professionals and executives will have the opportunity to make some financial decisions that can have a big impact.  Many of these decisions will have tax implications.  Here is a look at a few of these issues and seven strategies that can help. 

The strategies covered in this article: 

  1. Tax Loss Harvesting
  2. Exercising Options
  3. How to Handle Restricted Stock
  4. Tax Bracket Management
  5. Donating Appreciated Securities
  6. Bunching Charitable Donations and Using a Donor-Advised Fund
  7. College 529 Contributions & Gifting

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Company Stock in a 401k?  Consider Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA)

When leaving a job for whatever reason, one of the biggest decisions you will face is what to do with your 401(k).  If your plan includes shares of your company's stock, NUA is something to consider during this process.

The Basics of NUA:

  • Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) can provide a significant tax break for those holding low-basis employer stock in their retirement plan.
  • There are strict rules that must be followed to take advantage of the NUA option.
  • NUA can provide an additional level of planning flexibility.

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College Planning: A Guide for Parents and Students

This article was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated to reflect 2019 tax laws.

I recently helped my two children through the college planning process. I learned a great deal and had a lot of help from friends who were a few years ahead of me in the process. If you're like me, hoping that your kids will find their dream school, get accepted and get great scholarships, then I think this information will be helpful to you.  Here we go: 

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Using an IRA QCD: Consider Giving Your IRA RMD to Charity

This post was originally published in February 2018 and has been updated to reflect 2019 tax law changes.

If you have reached 70.5 in age and have an IRA, you may benefit from donating all or a portion of your IRA required minimum distribution (RMD) to charity. By making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD), you may avoid tax on your RMD to the extent of the QCD.

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Charitable Giving Made Easy with Donor-Advised Funds

This article was originally posted in September 2017 and has been updated to reflect new data and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

What is a Donor-Advised Fund?

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) go by many names.  They are called charitable gift funds, charitable funds, giving funds plus others.  For this article, I will refer to them by their legal definition, Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs).  A DAF is a fund maintained and operated by a sponsoring charitable organization which has legal control over the funds.

How Does a DAF Work?

  1. An individual, or donor, contributes cash or securities to a DAF account. Stocks and bonds are commonly used for funding.  Some DAFs may accept real estate, restricted stock, and non-publicly traded securities as well.  A minimum contribution is required and many of the larger DAF sponsors require minimums between $5,000 - $25,000. 

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8 Common Mistakes That Can Diminish Retirement Lifestyle

Preparing for retirement is an interesting process. It involves making countless decisions for the future without entirely knowing what that future will entail:

What will the stock market be doing the year you finally decide to retire? Will you still have the same goals you do now? Or will you have unexpectedly developed an unbridled passion for deep-sea diving? Only time will tell.

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