Rise of the Robo-Advisor
Blogs / Articles

robo-advisors I am increasingly reading about the “Rise of the Robo-Advisor” and thought some recent information might interest you as it did me.

For those of you who might not be familiar with the concept, Robo-Advisors are computers programmed to create investment portfolios.  They tend to be most popular with younger investors.

Did you know that, a “decision to protect its investors by Betterment, (a large Robo-advisor) resulted in Betterment temporarily suspending trading the morning after the Brexit vote?  “This decision, made on only a 2% drop in the market, disappointed and surprised many Betterment users. “

(Source: “Betterment’s Brexit Shock” by Suleman Din Techzone Financial Planning August 2016)

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And the Scams Continue

Wells Fargo  is the latest recipient of a massive fine ($185 million) for fraudulent activity impacting thousands of their customers.  The employees who opened thousands of accounts without the knowledge of their clients, say that the corporate imposed sales quotas were simply impossible to reach consistently.  So they chose to break the law to reach their goals. (The source for this information is the Wall Street Journal September 14. “Wells Boss Says Staff At Fault For Scams” and “Wells Fargo Isn’t Sorry Enough”)

Quotas and sale goals are common throughout the entire banking and large wire-house industry.  Conflicts of interest can be a natural outcome any time there are shareholders to satisfy.

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Inherited IRAs for Non-spouse Heirs
Intergenerational Planning

inherited-iraRecently we’ve had a significant number of questions from clients regarding inherited IRA’s for non-spouse heirs.

Here are some of the common pitfalls that sadly trap the unaware:

  1. Not properly dividing the IRA among the heirs.  For example, if the account is not split,  the age of the oldest beneficiary will be used to calculate the Required Minimum Distributions (RMD’s). This shortens the number of years the money can grow tax-deferred.
  2. Naming a trust as the beneficiary of an IRA requires special communication with the IRS by October 31 of the year following the year the owner died. Otherwise the trust is considered a non-designated beneficiary which may trigger payout of the entire IRA sooner than planned.
  3. While Roth owners never have to take distributions, non-spouse beneficiaries must take distributions.
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Divorced / Widowed Women’s Feelings

The feelings associated with divorce often mirror those associated with the death of a spouse because life as she knew it is ending.

Among others, these feelings may include anger, regret, relief, inadequacy, self-doubt, sadness and fear.  It always creates stress.

Resonate understands the parallels in the journey walked by women who are divorced and those who are widowed.

Many of the financial questions are the same:

  • “What will I be able to afford?”
  • “Will my money last as long as I do?”
  • “Can I stay where I am living?”
  • “Do I have enough money to continue to travel and see my children and grandchildren?”
  • “We always said that we would take care of one another; what happens now?”
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Retirement Accounts Made Easy! – Part 3

Retirement Eggs

Welcome to the final in the three part series on “Retirement Accounts Made Easy!”

If you missed Parts One and/or Two, you may read the blogs posted on August 18th with Part 2 posted on August 24th.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions.


*** PART THREE ***

Inherited Accounts

Contributions: Generally, you can’t contribute to an account you inherit.  The exception is an account owned by the spouse of the deceased, if that spouse retitles the account in her or his own name.

RMDs: The rules can get complicated, depending on whether you were the spouse of the deceased and whether the deceased was in the process of taking required minimum distributions before he or she died.  But generally, beneficiaries of inherited retirement accounts have three options:

  1. Transfer the assets to their own IRA: This option is only available to the spouse of the deceased.  Once the assets are in the spouse’s account, RMDs and early withdrawal penalties (if any) will be determined by the spouse’s age.
  2. Empty the account within five years: No withdrawals are required in any given year as long as all the assets are distributed within five years of the benefactor’s death.  The distributions will be exempt from the 10% early withdrawal penalty normally applied to distributions made before age 59 1/2.
  3. Stretch the account over the beneficiary’s lifetime: Take RMDs each and every year, starting the year after the benefactor’s death.  While this option would require the beneficiary to begin taking money sooner than the five-year option, the rest of the account can be left to grow for decades.  But it does mean that any beneficiary, of any age, must take an annual RMD.  Even a 1-year-old baby who inherited an IRA from her grandmother would need to take a required distribution each year the account has money in it.  This would be the case even if it’s a Roth IRA.  Fortunately, these RMDs are also exempt from the 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Note that the third option is available only to named beneficiaries of an account.  If the account didn’t have named beneficiaries, or they had already passed away, the account then goes into the overall estate.  Anyone who then inherits the account must liquidate it within five years, which could result in a large tax bill and the loss of future tax-advantaged growth; the option to “stretch” the account over a beneficiary’s life has been lost.  This is why it’s important to name specific people as the primary and backup beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, and to keep that information updated.

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Retirement Accounts Made Easy! – Part 2

Retirement EggsDue to a number of increased requests regarding various types of retirement plans, I have created a three part Blog on “RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS MADE EASY!”      This is Part Two of the series.

PART ONE covered traditional and Roth IRA’s. If you missed Part One you can resource it in a previous blog posted on August 18th, 2016.

I’ll conclude the series with Inherited IRA’s.


***  PART TWO  ***

401(k)s and 403(b)s

Contributions: As long as you’re working, you can contribute to your employer’s plan, even if you’re over 70 1/2.  If your employer offers a Roth option, you can contribute regardless of your income.

RMDs: Accounts with former employers are governed by most of the same RMD rules as traditional IRAs.  This includes Roth 401(k)s and Roth 403(b)s, which are subject to RMDS — but you can get around them by rolling the money over to a Roth IRA.  (Note: Rolling over accounts with former employers into IRAs has all kinds of other benefits, including potentially lower costs and more investment choices.)

However, there are no required distributions from your current employer’s plan if you’re still working — even if you’re older than 70 1/2 — as long as you don’t own 5% or more of the company.  But once you do retire, if you’re 70 1/2 or older you should take your first RMD from that account by April 1 of the next year; you will then have to take another RMD by Dec. 31 of that year.

If you have multiple 401(k)s with former employers, each RMD must be taken from each individual account.  The total value of RMDs from multiple 403(b)s, however, can be taken from just one account; also, money contributed to a 403(b) before 1987 doesn’t have to be distributed until age 75 if those amounts have been accounted for with separate records.

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Retirement Accounts Made Easy! – Part 1

Retirement EggsRecently we have received multiple inquiries regarding both contributions limits and withdrawal options from retirement accounts.

Therefore, I thought I’d create a handy reference guide for our clients and friends.  Because of the length of the information, please watch for all three parts of this blog.

PART ONE covers traditional and Roth IRA’s.  PART TWO includes 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s, SEPS (simplified Employee Pensions) and Simple IRA’s.  I’ll conclude the series with Inherited IRA’s.

I hope that you find this to be of value and, as always, welcome any questions or comments.

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When Life Shifts
Issues of Aging


The Resonate team understands that change happens to us all and that the key to managing change well is all about one’s mindset.

For example, when “life shifts” for you, how do you feel and what do you say to yourself?

Compare “I have no idea how I’ll survive this,” to “I’ll find a way through this.”

“This is just too much; I am totally overwhelmed,” to “I am strong enough to make it through this day.”

One of the key actions people take who handle change well is that they choose to stay in control rather than give in to the powerful emotions caused by the change.  This is not to say those people shut down and stop feeling, rather they choose to feel and also to monitor the messages they give themselves in the midst of the transition, (Examples of this are above.)

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Student Loan Debt
Blogs / Articles

Student loan debt is something that many of us struggle with after graduation. According to Studentloanhero.com: “Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 43 million borrowers. In fact, the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year.”

These numbers really hit home every month when you get the online (or paper) reminder that your dreaded student loan payment is due. The psychological impact can feel even worse than the financial one when the anxious questions start to flood our minds: Will I spend the next 40 years paying minimum payments? Will I ever make enough in my job to not live paycheck to paycheck? What if I can’t pay it back? What will happen to my credit score?

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While There’s Still Time: Questions for Your Elders
Intergenerational Planning

One moment my mother could speak and the next she suffered a devastating stroke that stole her voice for the remainder of her life.

Here are some of the questions I wish I had asked “while there was still time”…

  1. What is your most important life lesson?
  2. What advice do you have for me to help me avoid regrets in life?
  3. What are your top three values?
  4. Tell me about a difficult or painful time in your life and how you got through it.
  5. What did you learn from this experience?
  6. What beliefs do you hold that are timeless?
  7. What is an important question I did not ask?

These conversations are labeled with one word – “Priceless.”

May you make the time to give your loved ones – and yourself – this priceless gift.

If you are interested in more questions of this type, contact us and we’ll provide them for you.

Barbara A. Culver
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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