Life is full of decisions, many of which involve money. At P&A, we help our clients research, analyze, and think through a vast number of financial decisions. In the last two months, we have collaborated with our clients on the following:
Year-end tax planning strategies. With the new tax legislation signed into law December 22nd, year-end was a busy time for P&A. One key piece of the legislation involved the standard deduction increasing to $24,000 for joint filers beginning in 2018. This made it attractive to double-up on charitable gifts and other itemized deductions in 2017. We helped many clients make these charitable contributions via their donor-advised fund before the end of the year. We also encouraged our clients to contact their accountants to see about prepaying property taxes or other tax-related moves before December 31st.
“Funding” their trusts. A husband and wife worked with an attorney several years ago to set up revocable trusts. But having trusts in place is wasn’t enough; they needed to fund them. By re titling their joint investment account in the name of the trusts, we “funded” their trusts. This will help ensure their assets pass as they want, rather than getting mired in the probate process. We discovered this “red flag” during our 5-Minute Financial Checkup process.
Assisting with a job change. Anytime a job change occurs there are many financial decisions to address. For this client, they included:
- What to do with their old employer’s 401(k) account? Their options were to keep the monies in the old employer’s plan, roll them over to an IRA account, or roll them into the new employer’s 401(k). We showed them the costs and benefits of each option, which allowed our client to make a decision with confidence.
- Which investments to choose in the new employer’s 401(k) plan? We analyzed the funds available in their new plan and came up with an appropriate investment mix. Keeping investment costs down was a top priority.
- How much income to defer into their new 401(k) account? We took into account the new employer’s matching contribution and our client’s financial plan to show them a deferral amount that kept them on track.
- Finally, we helped our client make a decision about their new deferred compensation plan after analyzing all the fine print.
Taking required minimum distributions (RMDs). There’s no getting around these, once you turn 70.5 years old, you must begin taking RMDs. For example, if your IRA account is worth $800,000 on 12/31/17 and you hit the magical age of 70.5 in 2018, you will need to take out $29,200. This is calculated by dividing $800,000 by 27.4, which is the first year’s factor. Each year going forward, this number will get smaller, meaning your RMDs grow in percentage terms. And you must take your RMD before April 1, 2019 in order to avoid a 50% penalty. That’s right, if you fail to take the RMD in the above example, you would be penalized $14,600. We track these for our clients because they easily can be forgotten. Several clients wanted to take their full 2018 RMD at the beginning of the year to get them out of the way, which we facilitated. For another client, we set up monthly distributions from both spouses’ IRA accounts. This will help them meet their respective RMDs by the end of the year, and provide them the monthly income they need.
Finding financial blind spots. A client who was a good saver wanted to know if there was anything he was overlooking in his financial life. During our financial planning process, we discussed the following:
- His 401(k) allocation and how it relates to the results of his risk tolerance questionnaire
- Whether he should be putting some of his 401(k) into the Roth option
- How much longer he wanted to work and what his ideal next phase looked like
- What he should do with the large amount of cash he has sitting on the sidelines
- Whether he should pay off his mortgage
This is a sampling of the ways we help our clients on a continual basis. Is there anything in your financial life that you’d like our help with?