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    Helping Married Couples Maximize Their Social Security Benefits

    posted in Advanced Planning May 3, 2022


    Social Security can feel like the reward at the end of a major challenge. Social Security benefits can be claimed as early as age 62, though at a reduced rate.1  Despite that, it’s tempting for many eligible people to want to receive their benefits early. On the other hand, waiting until age 70 can significantly increase monthly benefits money people receive, so there is a potentially powerful incentive to wait for the maximum benefit.1

    Married couples may find themselves in even complex situations where one claiming strategy or another — or even a combination — might work best. How can you best help married couples maximize Social Security benefits? Expect to have a few conversations to understand the details of clients’ individual situations, for a start.

    In this article, we’ve broken down some of the most important issues to remind clients to consider.

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    America Saves Week: Start a Conversation with Your Clients

    posted in Advanced Planning Feb 22, 2022


    America Saves Week may not receive the fanfare of other celebratory weeks throughout the year, but perhaps it should. Planning for a future of financial stability is always important, but recent times in particular have shown just how precarious finances can be.

    Money is top of mind today, more so than usual, with the world still trying to find its footing after two pandemic years. As another new year is off to a start, it’s a great time for people to review their finances and options — and an opportunity for advisors to help their clients navigate different financial scenarios. America Saves Week can get the ball rolling.

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    Ways to Better Understand Clients’ Values, Emotions and Biases

    posted in Advanced Planning Feb 17, 2022


    For financial professionals helping clients make smart financial choices, it can be tempting to focus solely on what’s rational, like dollars and cents, time horizons and risk versus growth potential of various investments. It can be easy to forget that for many clients, financial decisions can elicit strong emotional responses—and vice versa.

    Just as finances can stir up feelings of fear and anxiety, stressful situations like job loss or market volatility can prompt clients to make irrational moves that might derail their investment plans. But if an advisor can interrupt the emotional feedback loop and help clients reflect, recognize their own biases and remember their reasons for investing in the first place, those clients are more likely to make decisions that better serve their core values and long-term financial goals.

    That’s what our Behavioral Financial Advice program is all about. And it’s not only advisors’ clients who stand to benefit. Advisors often learn more about themselves, too. While completing their BFATM certifications, leaders at CUNA Mutual Group also recognized how their own biases and emotions can get in the way of deeper engagement and stronger client relationships, and how to reframe interactions for better outcomes.

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    What You Need to Know About 2022 Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA)

    posted in Advanced Planning Jan 4, 2022


     

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking ahead to 2022, having recently released cost of living adjustments (COLA) for tax brackets and IRA contributions, with some limits seeing substantial increases compared to the last few years.

    Not all limits have gone up, however. Investors who contribute the annual maximums to IRAs will be interested to know the contribution limit to either a Traditional or Roth IRA, or both in combination, for the 2022 tax year will remain $6,000, plus up to an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution for a total of $7,000 for those over age 50, assuming there is eligible earned income.1 These limits have remained unchanged since 2019.2

    While contribution limits have not changed, income limits for Traditional IRA deductibility and Roth contribution eligibility did. Here’s a snapshot of some of the COLA updates for 2022.

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    How Annuities Can Fit Into a Holistic Approach to Fee-Based Accounts

    posted in Advanced Planning Sep 28, 2021


     

    Both clients and advisors may have their own reasons for preferring a fee-based approach to financial and investment services. 

    Advisors may benefit by prioritizing asset growth over sales transactions, allowing them to really focus on helping clients grow their investments. Clients may see a fee-based relationship as less likely to be subject to the influence of sales commissions. And, with current Regulation Best Interest (Reg BI) standards, it’s more important than ever for advisors to demonstrate their fiduciary responsibilities to clients.

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    Living Wills and Durable Power of Attorney — How to Talk With Clients

    posted in Advanced Planning May 25, 2021


    There are some topics that probably come easily when talking with clients, like diversification strategies, catch-up contributions or simply catching up on life.

    And then there are those less pleasant conversations.

    End-of-life planning involves more than just drafting a will to designate beneficiaries and how a client’s assets will be distributed upon death. A strategic approach to estate planning also addresses how to handle assets and end-of-life decisions in the event a living client becomes incapacitated.

    Starting with the basic facts can be an important part of legacy planning with your client.

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    Should Parents Wait to Transfer Their Wealth to Heirs?

    posted in Advanced Planning Apr 20, 2021


    Much has been said about the comparisons between older generations and their younger counterparts. Philosophical debates over work ethic or feelings of entitlement among today’s youth may persist, leading some parents to reconsider leaving an inheritance to their children.

    While some may feel that withholding an inheritance might force children to “make it” on their own, many retirees admit that their own successes are likely a mix of talent and luck combined with a myriad of economic forces beyond their control.

    In the end, most parents desire to leave a lasting legacy for their children, and some may even want to transfer an inheritance while they’re still alive, meaning the Great Wealth Transfer may be sooner than you think for some clients. What are some practical considerations and potential justifications for when they don’t want to wait?

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    Strategies for Clients Who Regret Claiming Social Security Early

    posted in Advanced Planning Mar 23, 2021


    The events of the past year have had a significant economic impact on many families. In particular, the rate of unemployment for those aged 55 and older reached a staggering 13.6% in April of 2020, recovering to 6% by the end of the year.1

    Chances are, some of your older clients were among those laid off, downsized, or temporarily furloughed, forcing them to make financial decisions that might not have been made otherwise, interrupting or at least changing their retirement plans.

    Most notably, clients over age 62 may have claimed Social Security benefits earlier than anticipated and may now regret that decision as the economy improves, and they have the potential to return to the workforce.

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    Why Advisors Need to Spend More Time Discussing Social Security Strategies

    posted in Advanced Planning, Retirement Planning Jan 26, 2021


    Like any good advisor, you keep up with economic news, subscribe to investment insights, analyze portfolio performance, stay abreast of the latest tax laws and much more. Staying informed about these and other findings is an important part of helping your clients build a solid retirement strategy.

    Meanwhile, sitting quietly in the background is potentially one of the highest yielding opportunities available to them, a reliable and considerable stream of income that’s guaranteed for life, one that could mean the difference between making a huge mistake and making ends meet. 

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    2021 Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) Announced

    posted in Advanced Planning Dec 15, 2020


     


    Much like the rest of us, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking ahead to 2021, having recently released cost of living adjustments (COLA) for Tax Brackets and IRA contributions.  

    Investors who contribute the annual maximums to IRAs will be interested to know the contribution limit to either a Traditional or Roth IRA, or both in combination, for the 2021 tax year will remain $6,000, plus up to an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution for a total of $7,000 for those over age 50, assuming there is eligible earned income.1

    While contribution limits have not changed, income limits for Traditional IRA deductibility and Roth contribution eligibility did inch upward slightly. Here’s a snapshot of some of the COLA updates for 2021.

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