Commentary

 

  • Back to the Basics
    The new year is a time of new beginnings. Many people write down “New Years Resolutions” to start living their best life—doing the things they know are important for good health and well-being. We can do the same with our finances. We can’t change what came before, but we can start today and build a better foundation for the future. Let’s get back to the basics.

  • End of Year 2023
    As we approach year-end, we think of the holidays and time with family. It’s also worth spending time with one’s financial planning team. There are timely actions to consider before 2023 becomes a memory.

  • SECURE Act 2.0
    Another year, another SECURE Act. The new SECURE 2.0 was signed into law on December 29, 2022 clarifying some content from the original legislation and also expanding into new territory. There are many provisions touching employers, savers, retirees, and even young adults. While we await official guidance in some areas, here are some provisions that haven't received much press.

  • The Markets are Dealing with HICCUPS
    It’s been a tough year for investors so far. This seems like a good time for some perspective. Note that market conditions may have changed by publication date…

  • Understanding the Federal Reserve (The Fed)
    Who is the Fed and how do they function? What can they do about inflation and what are the expected effects on the economy? Investors should understand their role in maintaining stability in the financial system.

  • Looking Ahead to Tax Law Changes
    The tax regime we’ve been enjoying in recent decades through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will expire at the end of 2025. Unless a new law is passed, ordinary income tax brackets will increase to pre-TCJA rates and the estate tax exemption will decrease to pre-TCJA levels. Those with significant incomes and estates close to $5 million will want to consider implementing some reasonable strategies to prepare.

  • Inflation and Global Supply Chains
    All markets are governed by the forces of supply and demand. It doesn’t matter whether markets are local or global in scope. When supply exceeds demand, prices fall. When supplies become scarce relative to demand, prices rise. We are in an environment where supplies of many goods and services are constricted—and there will be economic consequences.

  • Fixed-Income in a Rising Interest Rate Environment
    The media is filled with discussions of rising inflation and interest rates. Why are these generally discussed together? Historically, there is a correlation. On the short end of the yield curve, the Fed tends to raise their Fed Funds rate to “cool” an economy generating higher inflation. The longer end of the yield curve is more unpredictable as it is driven by investor sentiment. If the Fed is too aggressive, they may cause short-term rates to rise above long-term rates and that scenario tends to signal a coming recession.

  • Financial Outlook for 2022
    It's always difficult to pen an article on the economy for a periodical magazine. Forecasts are valid as long as the current assumptions hold. There are a number of wildcards at play in this economy.

  • Creating Retirement Income with Less Common Securities: Excerpt 2
    My prior article discussed some common retirement income vehicles—bonds, equities, and annuities. Let’s tackle some less-common income vehicles here that may help diversify portfolio risk and sources of income.

  • Creating Retirement Income with Common Securities: Excerpt 1
    One of the challenges of investing during retirement is providing for annual income while balancing other considerations like liquidity needs, longevity of funds, risk tolerance, and anticipated rates of return for various types of investments.

  • Retirement - The Slowing Years
    As time goes on, our bodies become less able to do the things we've always enjoyed. We slow down our pace of life. In this period, we realize personally that we must prepare for what comes next.

  • Retirement - The Active Years
    One of the challenges of this period is balancing the "here and now" against the future. Our investments have a long time-horizon as this stage begins with a lot of life left to live. We have important decisions to make, though, that will have a lasting impact on the rest of retirement…

  • Understanding the SECURE Act
    The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act became law on Dec 20, 2019. The Act is meant to improve savings habits in the United States. It includes changes to retirement and college savings accounts. Both areas add some new financial planning opportunities and challenges.

  • 2020 Outlook: Politics and Business
    This year promises to be one to remember. Will a record late-cycle economic expansion continue? What will be the result of Brexit on overseas markets? Will trade tensions increase or ease? Will there be increased investment volatility in the buildup to the election? We should talk about it.

  • Year-End Financial Planning Ideas
    This time of year is great for spending as much time as we can with our family and friends. We should also spend time making saving and investing decisions before the year ends. It will affect not only long-term goals but also the amount of taxes owed next April. It's a good time to sit with your financial advisor and make strategic decisions.
  • Initial Public Offerings - Considerations for Investors
    Initial Public Offerings (IPO) can be an attractive investment full of potential and risks.

  • Dependent Adult Children Can Hurt Their Parents Retirement
    A Bankrate.com study shows that half of American parents have cut back on their retirement savings to help pay their children's bills. Cutting the cord can be beneficial for both generations.

  • Volatility Returns to the Markets
    Since the Fiscal Crisis, the Fed has kept interest rates near zero and has also been the greatest buyer of government debt. This combination fueled liquidity in the economy. This environment was purposeful to keep calm in the financial markets. The environment is different now.

  • We Won the Lottery... Now What
    Okay, we didn't actually win the lottery; didn't even buy a ticket. But "sudden wealth" comes in many forms, not just the lottery. It could be an inheritance, proceeds from the sale of a business, a huge bonus or an award from a lawsuit as either the plaintiff or the attorney for the plaintiff. Interestingly, the advice for lottery winners is similar to the advice on how to treat sudden wealth.

  • Little-Known Ideas for IRAs
    Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) can be powerful tools for retirement savings but using them effectively can present complex challenges. The first step is knowing these strategies exist.

  • Signal of Impending Doom?
    Why are investors concerned about a negative yield curve? This indicator has been a fairly reliable predictor of recessions.

  • Cash Balance Plans for Greater Savings Potential
    Cash Balance Plans are a hybrid of DC and DB plans. Rather than provide retirement income, they build cash for plan participants. When paired with a profit-sharing plan, they can allow older, highly-compensated key personnel to build wealth rapidly.

  • The Power of Tax-Deferral 
    Taxes can take a big bite out of investment returns. Although investment decisions shouldn’t be driven solely by tax considerations, the benefits of tax-deferral are significant.

  • A Financial Plan for Young Attorneys
    The biggest financial mistake young attorneys make is spending beyond their means. After years of scrimping and saving it’s tempting to buy a new car, a condo, new furniture, etc., despite still facing significant college loan debt. Before you know it, you are in a bigger hole than when you graduated.

  • Strategies for Managing College Debts
    The average law student incurs more than $140,000 in student loans, according to a 2017 survey.

  • Year-End Financial Planning Tips
    With 2017 quickly winding down, take time to sit with a financial professional and review. Here are some conversation-starters.

  • 529 Plans for More Than College Education
    529 Plan is a tax-deferred tool for transferring wealth between generations, primarily for funding a college education. The most common source of funds for a 529 Plan is the parents of the prospective student. There are considerable estate planning benefits that may entice grandparents as well.

  • Social Security for Affluent Retirees
    How and when to begin taking Social Security benefits is a significant financial decision when approaching retirement. The starting age determines the amount of the monthly benefit, outside income may cause benefit withholding or subject the payments to taxation, and longevity will determine the total amount received.

  • Financial Planning After Divorce
    Divorce is a difficult process – even under the best of conditions. The most pressing issue is to complete the separation from the former spouse. Change passwords – everywhere. Don’t leave financial, email or social media accounts open to abuse by someone who may be feeling aggrieved. The next step is to adjust the financial plans to reflect the new reality.

  • Firearms Owners Need a Gun Trust
    Firearms are heavily regulated articles of personal property. Although most firearms owners are well-versed regarding applicable statutes related to their own collection, there is a much bigger picture to consider in sharing, gifting and transferring this property. Many owners commit accidental felonies without even knowing it. This may be a blind spot for attorneys when dealing with clients who own firearms.

  • The Financial Markets in a Post-Election World (1/6/2017)
    After a very contentious election season, Republican Donald J. Trump was confirmed as the next President of the United States. Once the dust settled from the highly-charged rhetoric of the campaigns to the calm of acceptance and concession speeches, the realization of another orderly transfer of power may bolster investor confidence.

  • Making Estate Lemonade with Annuity Lemons (9/21/2016)
    Many people own annuities for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, they come with an unwanted feature... high taxes on distributions. There are solutions to the tax problem that will help retirement income and preserve an estate legacy.