The Aftermath of Brexit

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The Aftermath of Brexit Pros and Cons: What Options Do Individual Investors Have? On June 23, 2016, a majority of British citizens voted to leave the 28-member European Union – an action referred to as the “Brexit”.  The following day, … Continue reading

4 Reasons Why We’re Excited that Retire Secure! is Interactive on the Web!

If you haven’t made your way to www.langeretirementbook.com yet, now is the time!

Here at the Lange Financial Group, LLC, we are very excited to bring you an interactive version of Retire Secure! A Guide to Getting the Most Out of What You’ve Got. 

Reason #1 – The entire book is on this website. Yes, all 420 pages of the book, including the front and back covers, all about the best strategies for retirement and estate planning. 
James Lange, Retire Secure, Lange Retirement Book, Interactive
Reason #2 – The book is divided into chapters for ease of reading. Meaning, you don’t have to flip through 400-some pages to get to Chapter 11 – The Best Ways to Transfer Wealth and Cut Taxes for the Next Generation.
James Lange, Retire Secure, Lange Retirement Book, Interactive
Reason #3 – We honestly haven’t seen anything like this before. Granted, I’ve read magazines on viewers where you can flip the pages as you read. But not a website for a book that includes a viewer, as well as a forum where readers can engage with each other.
The comments are moderated by the Lange Financial Group, LLC staff and myself. One of us will reply to your comment as soon as we can. To leave a comment, all you need to do is connect with your Amazon, Facebook, or LinkedIn account. This measure is for your protection, as well as ours. We don’t want spammers posting comments or incorrect information about such an important topic. 
James Lange, Retire Secure, Lange Retirement Book, Interactive
 
Reason #4 – We are hoping this interactive website encourages you to purchase the book! Retire Secure! is available from Amazon and JamesLange.com. Once you’ve read the book, feel free to return to LangeRetirementBook.com to ask questions, as well as Amazon and Goodreads to review the book for the benefit of others.

 

Trusts as Beneficiaries of Retirement Plans: A Possible Alternative to the Stretch IRA?

trusts james langeIf you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that much of the new edition of Retire Secure! addresses the ramifications of the legislation that, if passed, will kill the Stretch IRA. If this potential change is a concern for your family, then Chapter 17 is a “must-read” for you because it offers a possible alternative that will allow them to continue the tax deferral of your retirement plan for many years.

Trusts may be appropriate in many situations. We use them for young beneficiaries who, by law, cannot inherit money, and for older beneficiaries who can’t be trusted with money. Trusts can also be used to help minimize taxes at death (although this is not as common as in previous years). With more frequency, though, our office is using trusts to replace the benefits of the Stretch IRA. This application started when all of these campaigns to kill the Stretch IRA began, and we began to seek alternatives for our clients. Chapter 17 compares the value of an IRA assuming that the non-spouse beneficiary must withdraw the proceeds within 5 years, to the value of an IRA when it is protected by a specific type of trust. I think you will find the results very surprising.

The rules governing trusts are very complex, and, if you are interested in incorporating them in to your own estate plan, you will need the assistance of a competent professional.

Do you donate to charity? If so, my next post will cover the changes in the laws that affect charitable contributions.

All the best,

Jim

Jim Lange, Retirement and Estate Planning A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

Thank you.

The Ideal Beneficiary for your IRA or Retirement Plan

beneficiary-designation-retirement-plan-james-langeThe Ideal Beneficiary for your IRA or Retirement Plan: Give Your Heirs as Much Flexibility as Possible

I gave serious thought to changing the title of Chapter 15, which discusses the ideal beneficiary for your retirement plan, to “My Pet Peeve”. This is because of how annoying I find it to see people spend thousands of dollars to create elaborate wills and trusts, only to render them useless because they carelessly listed the wrong beneficiary on their retirement plan. Unfortunately, it’s an all too common mistake.

What follows here is one of the most, if not THE most, important concepts in the book. Your will and trust documents do not control the distribution of your IRA or retirement plans. Any account that has a specific beneficiary designation will be distributed to the individuals listed on that beneficiary form, regardless of what your will or trust says. Why is this important? Well, I’ll tell you about a situation I became aware of recently. A gentleman who had been married and divorced twice prepared a will that left all of his assets to his children from his first marriage. Most of his wealth was in his retirement plan, though.   He died unexpectedly, before he could get around to changing the beneficiary designation of that plan from his second ex-wife to his children. After his death, the second ex-wife (who had since remarried) received the very large retirement plan, and his children received the non-retirement assets, which were worth far less than the retirement plan. To add insult to injury, the second ex-wife made sure that his children knew that she had used her inheritance to buy herself and her new spouse very expensive cars – even going so far as to post photos on social media websites as proof! So your beneficiary designations are very, very important – so important that, in fact, if you’re my client I won’t even let you fill them out by yourself!

I like to give my clients as many options as I can. The beneficiary designation that I usually recommend gives your heirs as much flexibility as possible. It allows both your surviving spouse and your adult child, assuming that the child is the contingent beneficiary, to disclaim or refuse the inheritance to his or her own children (your children and/or grandchildren). Under current laws, this allows the children and grandchildren to take minimum distributions based on their own life expectancy. Will I still do this if the law changes? More than likely, yes, but the financial benefits will not be as significant as they were in previous years. If this topic interests you, then you’ll probably want to read Chapter 15 to learn about all the changes.

My next post will continue on the topic of beneficiary designations, and why they are important if your estate plan includes trusts. Stop back soon!

Jim

Jim Lange, Retirement and Estate Planning A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

Thank you.

Disclaimers: Who on Earth Would Refuse to Accept an Inheritance?

inheritance stretch ira james lange the roth revolution blogWho on Earth Would Refuse to Accept an Inheritance?

Plenty of people!

The concept of disclaiming, which means that you refuse to accept an inheritance, is often surprisingly difficult for clients to accept. Who on earth would refuse to accept an inheritance? When I get this question, I have to laugh because the obvious assumption is that the beneficiary is turning away a rare opportunity to increase his or her wealth with little or no effort. So let’s look at a hypothetical situation. Suppose your rich uncle wrote his will twenty years before he died, and the will provided that, at his death, you would inherit a small apartment building that he owned. In the twenty years since his will was written, though, your uncle’s health declined and he did no maintenance at all on the building. The angry tenants moved out long ago, and the building has been vacant for ten years. Vandals broke the windows and stripped the building of its plumbing and wiring. The city has condemned it because it is a nuisance, and the owner is going to have to pay to have it demolished. Do you still want your inheritance now?

Beneficiaries always have the right to disclaim (or refuse) all or part of an inheritance. This idea has traditionally been a cornerstone when planning for the multigenerational benefits of a Stretch IRA. Under the current law, if the named beneficiary chooses to disclaim an IRA or retirement plan, the contingent beneficiary is able to use his or her own life expectancy to determine the Required Minimum Distribution from that account. In a case where a surviving spouse disclaims to children, this allows the IRA to be “stretched”, allowing maximum growth as well as income tax savings.

If the Stretch IRA is eventually eliminated, disclaimers will likely play less of a role in estate settlements. There is, however, a rapidly growing group of attorneys (including me) who use and will continue to use at least some form of disclaimer in the estate plans of most clients. I have used them in my practice for years, and have found that they can give families a lot of flexibility during what is usually a very stressful time.

One final note about disclaimers: beneficiaries who are on Medicaid may be disqualified from their benefits if they receive an inheritance. They may be able to refuse the inheritance and keep those benefits, but this depends on the laws of the state that they live in and the terms of the grantors will.

These ideas are presented in Chapter 14.

My next post will continue to expand on the concept of the Stretch IRA, but will specifically address the ramifications of choosing one beneficiary over another. Stop back soon!

Jim

Jim Lange, Retirement and Estate Planning A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

Thank you.

Life Insurance: Is It Right for Your Estate Plan?

life-insurance-retire-secure-james-lange-pittsburghInsurance salesmen are often maligned and are frequently the butt of some pretty bad jokes. At the risk of being categorized with those poor men and women, I’ll tell you that I don’t hesitate to recommend life insurance to many of my own clients after evaluating their estate planning needs. Why? Because when it is appropriate and structured properly, life insurance has a number of benefits that make it an excellent and possibly the best wealth transfer strategy.

If you read the earlier chapters, you learned that legislative changes since 2009 mean that federal estate tax is an issue for far fewer taxpayers than in the past. The IRS wasn’t feeling guilty about charging estate tax on your assets, they just gave more people a reason to worry about a completely different problem called federal income tax. Chapter 12 of Retire Secure! delves into some techniques that show how life insurance can be used to help minimize the damage to the estate caused by income taxes at death. It also discusses how life insurance can be used to provide liquidity for a number of estate settlement needs, and also how it can be used to benefit the estate if there is a disabled beneficiary. While life insurance can be extremely beneficial it is important to remember that in situations where taxes and other estate needs aren’t a concern, the cost of the life insurance – especially for a senior citizen – might not be worth it.

In earlier chapters, there are several references to the possibility that Congress may eliminate the benefits of the Stretch IRA. Chapter 12 introduces some new ideas regarding the inclusion of a Charitable Remainder Unitrust (CRUT) in certain estate plans. How do you think your children would react if you named a charitable trust as the sole beneficiary of your retirement plan? They might react very favorably when they find out that, in the long run, they could end up with a lot more money.

This is a very complicated estate planning technique that is not appropriate for everyone. Under the right set of circumstances, though, life insurance can be a very effective addition to an estate plan – especially if the owner of the IRA has always supported charities. Would you like to endow a chair at your local university or symphony orchestra, or perhaps provide financial support for your favorite hospital or religious organization long after your death? Read Chapter 12 to learn the basics of this strategy, and how life insurance can play a key role.

Stop back soon for an update on some really big news about the possible death of the Stretch IRA.

Jim

Jim Lange, Retirement and Estate Planning A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

Thank you.

Is It a Good Idea to Roll Over Your 401K to a Traditional or Roth IRA?

Roth IRA, James Lange, Retire Secure A Guide to Getting the Most Out of What You've GotEarlier this year, President Obama announced that he wants to create new rules that give financial advisors a “fiduciary” status under the law. I welcome this wholeheartedly because a fiduciary is required to always put his clients’ interests ahead of his own. This means that a financial advisor cannot make investment recommendations based on the commission they would receive from the investment, and that they must first consider the benefits that would be received by their client. As a fee-based advisor I have always served as a fiduciary to my clients and believe that it is an immensely important role.

I find it sad that we have to pass laws to make sure that the client’s interests are protected, but think that the President is on the right track with this one. More often than not, I hear of financial advisors who are only looking for a commission telling retirees that there’s no reason to not roll their old retirement plans to an IRA. That is simply not true and, in fact, there are circumstances where a retiree will be well served by keeping all or part of his or her retirement money in the original work plan.

These scenariosare discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of the new edition of Retire Secure! If you’ve wondered if rollingyour old 401(k) to an IRA is a good idea, you may very well find that you could save yourself from making a terrible financial decision by weighing all the potential advantages and disadvantages.

Many work plans give employees the opportunity to contribute to both pre-tax and after-tax accounts. If you ultimately decide that rolling your 401(k) to an IRA is the best course of action, you should make sure that you read Chapter 6 to educate yourself about the brand new IRS ruling that applies to your after-tax contributions. This ruling gives retirees an unprecedented opportunity to roll part of your 401(k) to a Roth IRA and, if done properly, the transaction will be completely tax free.

Check back soon for the latest information on Roth conversions!

Thanks for Reading!

Jim

Jim Lange A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

Thank you.

Required Minimum Distributions: The Government Wants Their Money!

Required Minimum Distributions, The Government Wants Their Money, James Lange - The Roth Revolution BlogOver the years, I’ve met with many clients who have managed to accumulate small fortunes over the course of their working careers – even though their incomes were never even high enough to put them in the top two or three tax brackets. I call these clients my “savers.” These individuals seem to share one trait – mainly that they simply don’t feel the need to spend money if they don’t have to. Instead, they set the money aside for the times when they absolutely must spend and, more often than not, they spend far less than what they could.

It’s these clients who seem to suffer the greatest shock when they turn 70 ½ and are required to start withdrawing money from their qualified retirement plans. They object, “But I don’t need the money! I just want to leave it sit there in case I need it some day!” And I have to tell them that it doesn’t matter if they need the money or not. The money that they squirreled away in their retirement plans for a rainy day has grown all these years without being taxed, and now the government wants their tax money!

There’s no avoiding the Required Minimum Distribution rules on traditional retirement plans. Failure to take a distribution when required, in fact, will cost you a penaly tax of 50% on the amount not withdrawn. Individuals who hate the RMD rules and have a spiteful streak might enjoy an interesting (and legal) tip presented in Chapter 5 that allows them to take advantage of the withholdings on the distribution to wait until the very last minute to pay the IRS their due, while also avoiding a late payment penalty. They can also learn of a possible way to completely avoid tax on their Required Minimum Distributions – and also a general increase in their tax bracket – by sending their RMD direct to a charity. I encourage everyone, though, to read Chapter 5 so that you have a good understanding of the RMD rules. Later chapters address proposed legislative changes to the rules that may not strike you as being significant, and unless you have a good understanding of how they currently work.

My next post will talk about rolling your old retirement plan to an IRA. There have been a lot of changes in the laws about this, so I hope you will stop back to get a summary of what you can expect.

Happy Reading!

Jim

Jim Lange A nationally recognized IRA, Roth IRA conversion, and 401(k) expert, he is a regular speaker to both consumers and professional organizations. Jim is the creator of the Lange Cascading Beneficiary Plan™, a benchmark in retirement planning with the flexibility and control it offers the surviving spouse, and the founder of The Roth IRA Institute, created to train and educate financial advisors.

Jim’s strategies have been endorsed by The Wall Street Journal (33 times), Newsweek, Money Magazine, Smart Money, Reader’s Digest, Bottom Line, and Kiplinger’s. His articles have appeared in Bottom Line, Trusts and Estates Magazine, Financial Planning, The Tax Adviser, Journal of Retirement Planning, and The Pennsylvania Lawyer magazine.

Jim is the best-selling author of Retire Secure! (Wiley, 2006 and 2009), endorsed by Charles Schwab, Larry King, Ed Slott, Jane Bryant Quinn, Roger Ibbotson and The Roth Revolution, Pay Taxes Once and Never Again endorsed by Ed Slott, Natalie Choate and Bob Keebler.

If you’d like to be reminded as to when the book is coming out please fill out the form below.

Thank you.

IRA Withdrawals: Should you withdraw from your Roth or traditional IRA first?

IRA WithdrawalThose of you who have attended my workshops or read the previous editions of my book may remember a rule of thumb I used to use that said, “Spend your after-tax dollars first, use traditional IRA withdrawals second, and then withdraw your Roth”. Well, guess what? The changes in the tax laws now mean that there are no more rules of thumb! My new advice is, “Spend your after-tax dollars first, and then withdraw traditional and Roth IRA dollars strategically to optimize tax results”.

Changes in the tax law that affect capital gains and individual tax brackets, as well as new taxes that are aimed specifically at high income taxpayers mean that the advice I used to give in the past is now far too simplistic. Chapter 4 presents detailed information on how capital gains and other taxes should affect your decision to withdraw money from a traditional versus a Roth account. Would you have thought that your marital status could affect your decision too? Is it possible to minimize the tax on your IRA withdrawals? (Hint: oh, yes.) If you have IRA and Roth money left over when you die, is it better to leave one type of account over another to a child at your death?

Chapter 4 covers many new rules that you did not have to worry about in the past, which should certainly affect these decisions. I’d like to give you one word of caution, though. Each of the scenarios presented in this chapter is based on a specific set of variables. In one scenario, I changed only the account from which the taxpayer made the withdrawal, and the outcome is significantly different. Please don’t assume that your personal circumstances will result in the same outcome shown in these scenarios, but ask us to run the numbers for you!

Be sure to stop back for my next post, which will cover some ideas for managing your Required Minimum Distributions!

WSJ Article: Jim Lange Examines Proposed New Laws & Financial Planning

Don't Let Obama Proposals Sidetrack Financial Planning, WSJ, James Lange, Jonathan ClementsJim was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal (for the 35th time) by Jonathan Clements, a long-respected personal finance journalist.   They discussed several topics including many that Jim has included in his new book due out in summer 2015, Retire Secure: A Guide to Getting the Most out of What You’ve Got.

The article, titled: Don’t Let Obama Proposals Sidetrack Your Financial Planning, mentions several legislative proposals that have been introduced since 2014 that could have a large effect on your personal financial planning. Specifically, Jonathan asked Jim about his thoughts on the proposals and how they might change Social Security and Inherited IRAs and Roth IRAs.

Jim’s advice? Even if changes are made for allowing Social Security maximization strategies like Apply & Suspend, traditional planning advice will likely remain the same. Hold off on Social Security as long as you can and collect the full delayed retirement credits.

“Let’s say the husband dies at 70, but the wife lives to 95,” Mr. Lange says. “The extra 32% in survivor benefits could mean the difference between her being in poverty and her being just fine.”

And what about the potential death of the Stretch IRA? Does it still make sense to do a Roth IRA conversion should a law pass that limits the effectiveness of Inherited IRAs? Jim explains that if a law passes that obligates a beneficiary to drain the account in five years, such an event could push that beneficiary into the highest tax bracket for those years. Because of this:

“It might still make sense to do the Roth conversion, so the kid won’t have this horrible tax burden,” Mr. Lange says.

You can read the full article here: http://blogs.wsj.com/totalreturn/2015/03/20/dont-let-obama-proposals-sidetrack-your-financial-planning/

To learn more about nearly all of the subjects discussed in this article in greater detail, read Jim’s book! Go to www.retiresecurebook.com to receive a free 4 page summary and email reminders for the release of the Third Edition of Retire Secure!.