The Qualified Charitable Distribution Explained

The history of the qualified charitable distribution (QCD) feels a lot like the 'Friends' relationship of Rachel and Ross.  Off.  On.  Off.  On.  Off.  On.  There has been enough disruption in the availability of this tax-saving opportunity that it has been hard to remember if it is on or off.  Good news...it's on.  The brief history goes [...]

Dismissing High Deductible HSA Plans Is a Costly Mistake

This time of year means open enrollment season and that means battling a consistent bevy of confusing acronyms: FSA, HSA, HRA, PPO, HMO, POS, and on.  Reorienting every year to the different meanings, rules, and benefits of these acronyms is akin to relearning the scoring rules of curling every four years.  Most Americans are interested [...]

Asset Location: The High Cost Mistakes People Make

Earlier this month, we published an article explaining why investors would be well served to organize their portfolios like their kitchens.  This process, one that the finance industry calls ‘asset location’, is simply intended to make the most of the existing tax code.  The IRS sets the rules with different tax treatment for different account types [...]

Asset Location: Organize Your Portfolio Like Your Kitchen

My family’s kitchen will not be profiled on HGTV as a model of organization.  We face the practical limitations of 25-year old builder-grade cabinets and constrained space.  We also face the reality confronted by many parents of young children.  That is, the focus of children emptying a clean dishwasher is on getting it done quickly [...]

More Smart Tax Planning with 529 College Savings Plans

In an article last month about saving for college, we outlined some of the many ways to handle overfunded 529 college savings plans and why these underpublicized options justify aggressive funding of 529 plans.  In the opening paragraphs of that May article, we explained how the rules treat 529 account funds used for non-qualified expenses: The first [...]

Why Non-Deductible IRA Contributions Are Generally a Bad Idea

High income families faced with high annual taxes are often looking for ways to reduce their taxes or save additional dollars in tax-efficient ways.  Unfortunately, these well-intentioned pursuits often result in irrational behaviors (such as permitting the government to shortchange your retirement savings) or unfavorable outcomes (such as paying more taxes than you would have [...]

Simple and Effective Investing

“It might be the simplest play in all of sports, and the most effective.  Give the ball to Michael Jordan, and everyone else get out of the way.” These two sentences began an Associated Press article on May 28, 1989.  The day prior, the Chicago Bulls had the ball in the closing seconds of a [...]

Protecting Children and Grandchildren with an IRA Trust

One of the most challenging roles of parenting is finding the proper balance between protecting children too much and not enough.  In the early years, we cover electrical outlets, protect household edges with soft bumpers, and spend hours analyzing all the safety features of car seats.  Parental protection then evolves to monitoring what our children [...]

Potential Death of Backdoor Roth, Stretch IRA, and Other Financial Planning Strategies

President Obama unveiled the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget last Tuesday (February 9th) which included several unexpected first-time proposals in addition to many crackdowns and “loophole closures” that have become annually recurring proposals.  Experts contend there is little likelihood of any substantial tax change in the final year of the President’s term.  However, we could see [...]

Best and Worst Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

There should be natural skepticism when a financial advisor creates a list of the best and worst questions to ask a financial advisor.  It sounds a little like game show fixing of the 1950s where some contestants knew the questions before they were asked.  However, experience provides a unique advantage.  We have heard insightful questions and we have [...]