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27 Jun

How to Choose a Trustee

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When you establish a trust, you name someone to be the trustee. A trustee basically does what you do right now with your financial affairs–collect income, pay bills and taxes, save and invest for the future, buy and sell assets, provide for your loved ones, keep accurate records and generally keep things organized and in good order. read more

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26 Jun

How Do You Play the Prosperity Game?

Have you ever played the Prosperity Game?   I play it periodically when I am feeling out of sorts financially or feeling the urge to grow.  And this morning I was inspired to look at it from a new direction.

Basically, the game is played by picking an amount of virtual money to spend each day.  You can spend it on yourself, on your business or anything else you choose.  I started with a penny which was challenging because very little costs a penny these days.

Once you pick a starting amount, it doubles every day – and you have to spend all the money each day.  What I quickly found the first time I played is that the virtual amount you can spend on “things” you need and want personally is quickly satisfied.

So perhaps you create a business and grow it with the virtual resources you have at your fingertips.  At another point, you may find that you want to contribute to the well-being of others.   Once you have received everything you desire, where can you spend it?  More businesses, more contributing and you may find you experience joy in helping others.

This morning, the question I am pondering is:  How much do you have to have before you are comfortable giving to others?

The question emerges from a T. Harv Eker class I listened to yesterday.  He was addressing the internal conflict many of us feel between making lots of money and our concept of being spiritual.  We want to pursue our dreams, serve the world, and make a difference, yet we cannot justify charging for our services.  If you cannot charge, you cannot afford to continue the work.  If you cannot continue the work, then your dreams flounder, you do not serve the world or make a difference.  And, in fact, if your thoughts about money are seriously negative, you become part of the problem.  “You become a taker rather than a giver.”

If you knew that you receive money (income) in direct proportion to the value or service you give others, but felt that you could not continue to provide that service if you did not have the financial wherewithal to do so, what would happen?  What would you do?  Eker suggests that you get comfortable with charging for your services and satisfy your spiritual side by contributing to others in some way.  Find a way to balance your income.  He tells a wonderful story of someone who charged for services 4 days per week, and donated those same services 2 days per week to those who could not afford to pay for what they desperately needed.

And so the question:  At what point are you comfortable giving to others?  Or vice versa, at what point are you uncomfortable giving to others?

Would you be willing to play a version of the prosperity game designed to expand your comfort zone when considering when you can give?  This time we will start with a penny, a real penny.  I’d like you to donate a penny to someone or something today.  Toss a penny into the tip cup on someone’s counter.  Feel okay?  If not, do it again tomorrow.  Is it harming you in any way?  Get comfortable with giving a penny.

As soon as you are comfortable, double it.  Put in 2 pennies and keep doubling the amount you give as long as you feel comfortable spending real money in this way.  You can change the beneficiary at any time you wish.  And when the amount starts to have a real impact on your finances, you can switch to donating time, services or stuff.  And when even that amount no longer feels possible, organize a way to raise the next level of resources for someone, perhaps a crowdfunder platform. As soon as you reach it, double the giving goal once again.   Keep donating to the causes that call to you, the ones that give you joy in the giving and the ones that make you feel the way you want to feel when you have enough to pursue your dreams and live the lifestyle you desire.

It is said that when you appreciate your life now, more of what you appreciate comes to you.  Your dreams take off.  Your goal to be of service and make a real difference in the world can be fulfilled.   May your giving be your way of showing appreciation for all that blesses you and may even more blessings follow.  Try it and let me know what you experience.

To a more abundant life,

Susan

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24 Jun

What’s On Your Worry List?

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A comprehensive financial plan that is effectively executed delivers dollar savings in improved investment returns, lower taxes, lower fees, more efficient wealth and more stable income. However, an important outcome of this process addresses what may be on your worry list: running out of money, family strife, unexpected losses and making financial mistakes. read more

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22 Jun
20 Jun

Financial Firms Roll Out Form Aimed at Stopping Financial Elder Abuse

Portrait of a senior woman contemplating. Isolated on black background.

With cases of financial exploitation of the elderly on the rise, advisors who work with older clients are looking for ways to head off the abuse before it happens. Enter the “Emergency Contact Authorization Form,” a document in which clients can list a trusted person who should be contacted if an advisor suspects a client is starting to lose their mental capacity or, worse yet, being financially abused or scammed. read more

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02 Jun

Facebook Founders Use Estate Planning Technique for $200 Million Tax-Free Transfer

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Sometimes the planning of the rich and famous helps us better understand what mere mortals can accomplish through proper planning. Such is the case with the recent planning of Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, and CEO Sheryl Sandberg. The footnotes to Facebook’s recent public stock offering reflect that these executives apparently used a tried-and-true estate planning technique known as a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) to transfer upwards of $200 million free of gift and estate tax. read more

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01 Jun
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26 Jan

10 Important Income Tax Changes in 2016

The new year has begun and so has a new tax year. By understanding the latest changes in the tax code, you can better plan for this tax season and your 2016 financial goals. Here are 10 of the most important tax changes to be aware of this year:

 

  • Tax Day Comes a Bit Later this Year

As April 15, 2016 falls on Emancipation Day (a recognized holiday in Washington, D.C.) and on a Friday, the deadline to file 2015 taxes is pushed back until Monday, April 18. In states that officially recognize Patriot’s Day, which falls on April 18 this year, the tax deadline is further delayed until Tuesday, April 19 this year.

 

  • Tax Brackets Are Up

In order to adjust for inflation, most tax brackets are rising by approximately 0.4% in 2016. For a complete list of estimated 2016 tax brackets, standard deductions and alternative minimum tax rates, visit www.taxfoundation.org/article/2016-tax-brackets.

 

  • Penalties for Not Having Qualified Healthcare Are Higher

Penalties for those not in compliance with the Affordable Care Act will rise to $695 per adult or 2.5% of one’s income in 2016. Family maximums apply, but the $2,085 price tag is more than double that of 2015, which was $975 in maximum penalties per family.

 

  • Health Savings Accounts’ Contribution Limits Are Increasing

Health savings accounts help people offset the costs of high-deductible health plans by allowing them to set aside money on a pretax basis. 2016’s contribution limit remains unchanged for individual plans at $3,350; however, holders of family policies can now contribute up to $6,760, a $100 increase from last year. Those 55 and older can continue to contribute an additional $1,000 to their health savings accounts.

 

  • Personal Exemptions Are Increasing

Taxpayers are getting a small bonus by way of personal exemptions this year. They can take an additional $50 in personal exemption for a total amount of $4,050.

 

  • Standard Deductions Are Rising for Heads of Households

Single individuals, married couples filing jointly, and married couples filing separately that qualify as heads of households will see a $50 increase in their standard deductions for a total of $9,300 in 2016.  

 

  • Higher Exemptions from AMT

The alternative minimum tax (AMT) will affect a larger number of taxpayers in 2016. Single taxpayers will see an AMT exemption increase of $300 for a total of $53,900. Joint filers get a $500 increase for a total of $83,800.

 

  • Estate Tax Exemptions Predicted to Rise

As inflation is projected to rise, the gift and estate tax’s lifetime exemption amount is projected to rise with it. The exemption amount will grow by $20,000 from last year for a total of $5.45 million in 2016. The new limit applies only to estates belonging to persons who pass away in the 2016 tax year.

 

  • Earned Income Credit Is Increasing

There is a slight increase coming for the Earned Income Credit. If a taxpayer has three or more qualifying children, the maximum credit will increase by $27 for a total of $6,269. Taxpayers with two qualifying children will see an increase of $24 for a total of $5,572 and taxpayers with one child have a maximum credit of $3,373, up $14 from last year. Taxpayers without children can claim $506 for 2016.

 

  • Laws Will Affect Other Tax Provisions if Not Renewed

Several popular tax breaks have yet to be renewed by lawmakers. These tax breaks include state sales tax deductions, charitable distribution from IRAs, educator’s write-offs for classroom materials, and other deductions. Lawmakers typically renew these tax breaks at the start of the year and are expected to do so again in early 2016.
While many things are not expected to change, it is important to be aware of the tax changes that may impact your taxes this year so there are no last-minute surprises when tax time arrives!

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