Category: Financial Planning

Four Ways to Start Planning a Dream Retirement with Your Partner

It’s only natural for a pending retirement to bring a mix of emotions, whether it’s excitement, anticipation, worry, fear, or anxiety.  What’s more, if you’re trying to envision how retirement looks like with a partner, these emotions can easily compound.

In our coaching practice at Metamorphosis CCT, we frequently see couples who have vastly different ideas of retirement from one another.

If that’s your situation, it begs the question of how to have productive conversations about this important time in your lives. And, how do you ultimately align with what you each want so you have an extraordinary life and retirement together?

Here are four ways to get you started:

  • Set a time where you can both talk about the topic of retirement. Put it on the calendar to ensure it happens. Many people have good intentions to have conversations and to plan together, but those intentions don’t get us too far if we don’t put them into action. Make sure you eliminate distractions, and you meet in a space or place that makes you both feel safe and connected. You could even consider going to a favorite spot that inspires you both.
  • Establish some basic ground rules for the discussion. The first of those rules is to agree to listen fully to one another without judgement. For example, if you partner talks about how they plan to golf every day and all-day, but you hate golf — don’t get defensive or start to question things. Just listen. Each partner gets to share what their ultimate retirement would look like. Then let it marinate. You don’t need to solve the world’s problems, interrogate one another, or try to figure out what things will look like, or how each of you plans to do x, y, or z. Step one is to just listen. You can each take some notes if that is your style, but the whole first meeting is to just get it out on the table what you envision doing. You will have other conversations, but this first one if you haven’t had any big discussions is to just explore what the other would like to do. At the end each of you can ask yourself – How does it feel to truly just listen to what my partner desires?
  • Recognize that achieving alignment is an ongoing process. As you process each of your desires realize alignment in retirement doesn’t happen overnight. Also, know you can be aligned in retirement and like to do different things. In fact, some of the best relationships honor each other’s differences while coming together for the things you love to do together. That brings us to our next point…
  • Make a list of the things you like to do together. Do you love to travel? Do you enjoy hiking or biking? Or are you more the type that enjoys silence and reading? There are NO rules. You get to create your list and what you enjoy doing together. Is there a favorite hobby you both love, but it has been put on the back burner because of work, life and family? Put it on the list.

Pulling it all together

Remember, planning for retirement is a process. It takes time and patience, especially when you are planning for two, and merging many of your life’s desires together.  Each partner needs to be willing to be flexible.  While there may be some give and take, depending on your time and financial situation, most agree it’s worth it to be able to live a happy and harmonious retirement together.

If you struggle to have these conversations, or you don’t know where to start, this is where MPPL Financial, and the coaches at Metamorphosis CCT can come in to help. Our Dream. Plan. Retire program is specifically designed to provide couples with the clarity and confident to successfully embark on a retirement that aligns with their shared goals, values, and aspirations. You can learn more about our program by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise. Dream.Plan.Retire. is a proprietary program built and delivered in coordination with Metamorphosis Coaching, Consulting and Training (Metamorphosis CCT). MPPL is independent and separate of Metamorphosis CCT.

Help! I’m Almost Retired and I Don’t Know What To Do

You’ve put in the time in your job or career. Now you’re close to retirement, whether it’s a few months or a few years away, you’re beginning to realize you’re about to achieve the long-awaited goal of freedom in your daily life.

As exciting as this important milestone of retirement appears, it can feel daunting.

Many of the clients MPPL Financial works with who are close to retirement often ask themselves – and us – the same set of questions:

  • Will my savings sustain me for the rest of my life?
  • Can I take that dream vacation, or buy a second home?
  • How will I spend my time?
  • Will I be bored?
  • Where will I find purpose and meaning in my life?
  • How will it work when my spouse and I are together 24/7?

The shift from working to retirement can seem exciting. It’s something we build up to as a monumental experience. Yet, as you can see from the questions our clients often ask, the reality is far from that.

If you’re a few years, or a few months, away from retirement, we encourage you to take charge today of one of the most important phases in your life.  We believe, with a combination of dreaming and planning, you can have an extraordinary retirement that exceeds your expectations.

First Steps to Creating a Dream Retirement

To help you get started with creating an extraordinary retirement, we encourage you to get started with the following steps.

  • Assess where you stand financially. This exercise always starts with you taking an honest look at your annual budget and cash flow needs for daily living as well as unforeseen expenses or outflows. This exercise also entails documenting your overall wealth picture by making a list of all of your savings and investment accounts, along with any other income producing assets such as real estate or a side hustle.  A certified financial planner can help you with this exercise. At MPPL Financial, we are here to help.
  • Determine what’s important to you. This activity goes hand in hand with assessing where you stand financially. It entails introspection to clarify and articulate your overall priorities in life along. Consider what’s important to you across areas such as where you want to live, how you like to spend your time, the role of travel and exploration in retirement. If you have a spouse or partner, finding alignment with this special person in your life is an added twist and important consideration for creating an extraordinary retirement. Exploration is a great way to clarify what’s important to you. Do some research. Try things out. Embrace this stage of the game and play full out. A coach can also be a tremendous help so you can focus on what matters most.
  • Dare yourself to dream. Here’s where planning for retirement is a lot of fun and can be full of positive surprises for many. Whether you want to doodle on a piece of paper, or create some notes using a tablet, jot down where you want to live and what your life would look like. If you struggle in this area and just don’t know where to start our professional coaches can help you in the process.

Pulling it all together: Creating an Extraordinary Retirement

We believe there are Seven Key Elements of Retirement Success that are important for making this next chapter of your life one of the very best. We encourage you to read more about what they are so you don’t end up with tunnel vision and miss out on the joy and fulfillment retirement can offer.

We also believe there are few people who can make things go well without proper planning at this stage of the game. The people who leave life in retirement to chance, can end up in a situation full of havoc.

The ideal team for planning an extraordinary retirement includes experienced life coaches that can help you figure out what’s important to you and how to paint a picture of an ideal retirement that includes alignment with your spouse or partner. It also includes a financial planner to help you figure out where you stand, determine what you can afford, and how to invest wisely to live out your dream retirement.

At MPPL Financial, we’ve partnered with Metamorphosis Coaching and Consulting to offer a highlyconsultative program, called Dream.Plan.Retire that helps those embarking on retirement to:

  • Dare to dream about possibilities you never imagined for your retirement.
  • Purposely plan so you have a clear picture of what’s financially possible and feasible for fulfilling your aspirations.
  • Live with intentionality, by following a detailed step-by-step 360-degree personalized roadmap for a vision of your life in retirement.

If you like the idea of exploring and creating, though are not sure how to get started, or if you are seeking alignment with your partner during this next phase of your lives, our Dream.Plan.Retire progam could be a great fit for you.

You can learn more about our program by clicking here.

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

Long-Term Disability Insurance: What Medical and Dental Professionals Need to Know

Doctor dentist disability insurance

One common theme we’ve seen at MPPL Financial in our 20-plus years of advising doctors and dentists is having either the wrong type of long-term disability insurance or an inadequate policy in place. If you’re a doctor or dentist, it’s critical to be sure you have the right policy for your specific needs. Otherwise, you risk not receiving the replacement income you expected if you’re ever in a situation that prevents you from treating patients.

Doctors and Dentists Need “Own Occupation” Long-Term Disability Insurance with the Right Type of Coverage

As a medical or dental professional, you should ensure the long-term disability policy you purchase is an “own occupation” policy, not an “any occupation” policy. “Own occupation” means the policy is specific to the profession. “Any occupation” policies will not provide replacement income if you can’t work in your specialty but are able to work in another profession.

What’s more, benefits vary when it comes to “own occupation” long-term disability coverage. Some policies provide total disability coverage if you are unable to perform most of the duties of your regular medical or dental specialty. Other policies limit the benefits you can receive if you are unable to work in your specific job, but are able to perform other duties related to the profession.

For example, a pediatrician is faced with a disability that makes it impossible to directly treat patients for 18 months. However, the pediatrician is able to teach an online class for medical students at a prominent teaching hospital. Some policies may view this type of activity as “own occupation work” and either deny or limit benefits the pediatrician expected the policy to pay out.

Two Steps for Doctors and Dentists to Ensure the Right Type of Long-Term Disability Coverage

Step 1: Make sure you have an “own occupation” policy. Carefully review your long-term disability policy to ensure it is an “own occupation” policy that specifically covers your profession. If you do not have such a policy, consider switching.

Step 2: Know what the coverage really provides. Even if you have an “own occupation” policy, review the disability language to ensure you understand in what situations you are covered and how much coverage is provided. If the language does not provide you with the level of protection you desire, again, work with your financial advisor to help you to understand whether additional riders to the policy could help to strengthen your contract, or whether it’s time to look for a new policy.  Additional riders could include opportunities to increase your benefit without completely underwriting a new policy.

During your review, it’s also important to look at the time frame the “own occupation” coverage is provided. Medical and dental professional want to be sure that the time frame of the “own occupation” coverage matches up with the full benefit period of the policy.

Pulling It All Together: Helping Doctors and Dentists Find the Right Type of Long-term Disability Insurance

Language in insurance policies is often complex, so don’t feel like you need to figure this out without assistance. Your financial advisor or insurance agent should be able to help you better understand how you are truly covered and your exposure in any situations where you are unable to work.

Your financial advisor at MPPL Financial will be happy to work with you through the review process and direct you to any and all appropriate resources. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

MPPL Financial has offices in Wausau, WI, Duluth and Grand Rapids, MN, and Crystal Lake, IL. While we’re based in the Midwest, we work with clients across the entire U.S.

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

Are You 70 ½ or Older and Charitably Inclined?

If this describes you, and own tax-deferred retirement accounts, then there’s a tax-savings opportunity to explore for conducting your charitable giving. This opportunity is called the Qualified Charitable Distribution or QCD.

How a Qualified Charitable Distribution or QCD works

Essentially taxpayers 70 ½ or older are allowed to transfer assets from their IRA accounts directly to charity without paying taxes on the distribution.  Normally, distributions from tax deferred accounts are subject to income taxes at both the federal, state and sometimes local level.

What makes this option for charitable contributions even more attractive is that it can account for a portion of your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) if it’s made before you satisfy your RMD for the calendar year. If you don’t rely on your full RMD for income, the QCD provides some extra tax relief because the distribution isn’t treated as taxable income. Bottom line: taxes paid on your RMD are minimized, while making an impact on causes that are important to you.

You can still use a QCD even if you take a standard deduction

There’s good news for those who take the standard deduction. The QCD allows you to exclude the donation from taxable income even if you take the standard deduction. This means those who don’t typically itemize can realize some tax benefits for their charitable contributions.

The annual QCD limit is $100,000 per person

Each taxpayer can donate up to $100,000 to a qualified charity directly from a traditional or rollover IRA even if the RMD is less than $100,000. If you are married, each spouse can distribute up to $100,000 from their respective accounts.

Funds must be directly sent from your IRA to a qualified charity

The custodian or trustee of your IRA must facilitate your distribution from an IRA to qualified 501(c)(3) public charities. If you want to make a distribution using funds from a 401(k), 403(b), SEP, or SIMPLE IRA, you will need to facilitate a direct rollover of these funds to the IRA so that you can then make the QCD from the IRA.

It’s important to note that the IRS does not allow qualified charitable distributions to donor-advised funds, private foundations, or supporting organizations.

Next steps

If you’re 70 ½ or older, are charitably inclined, and have tax deferred retirement accounts, we encourage you to speak with your MPPL Financial Advisor to discuss the appropriateness of this strategy for your situation.

During our discussion, we will discuss your overall charitable giving plans, evaluate the tax benefits of using a QCD, as well as explore the most tax effective ways for you to make an impact on the causes that matter the most to you. If you decide to move forward with making charitable gifts from the retirement accounts that we manage, we will also work with you to facilitate the transaction.

We look forward to discussing this often-overlooked tax-savings opportunity for those eligible individuals seeking to make an impact in the world.

MPPL Financial has offices in Wausau, WI, Duluth and Grand Rapids, MN, and Crystal Lake, IL. While we’re based in the Midwest, we work with clients across the entire U.S.

 

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

How to Create an Extraordinary Retirement

If you’re like most people who are a few years away from retirement, you may be fixated on the financial aspects of this next life chapter.  This emphasis on finances is often centered around questions such as “When can I retire” or “Do I have enough to retire?”

However, our many years of experience as financial advisors and coaches have taught us that those with this tunnel vision often miss out on the joy and fulfillment that retirement can offer.  They neglect to consider all the things that are important for making this next chapter of their lives one of their very best.

Seven essential elements for living an extraordinary retirement.

Our view is that to truly live well in retirement, one needs to focus on more than just money. Creating an extraordinary retirement entails gaining clarity and alignment (if you’re part of a couple) across seven key areas as described below.

With each element comes one big tip to aid in their success. We encourage you to review these thoughtfully to help gain a better understanding of these important retirement factors.

#1: Deciding upon the location of where you want to live. Where you want to live and the reasons for your choice can have a dramatic impact on your finances and ultimately your retirement readiness.

If you plan to move, knowing the “why” behind your decision can help minimize the risk of making a relocation mistake that requires another move. These types of situations can create substantial costs and disruption in your lives.

Consider the couple who plans, when they retire, to move from the Midwest or Northeast to Florida where there is no income tax.

It’s likely, that by making such a move, they may not need as much money saved to retire and could either retire earlier than planned or simply save less. However, if they relocate to Florida and discover that they can’t stand the summer heat, they’re faced with the decision of renting or buying a home elsewhere for the summers. Think about it. This additional expense may erase the financial benefits the couple thought they would attain from moving to Florida.

ONE BIG TIP: Try before you buy. Consider taking multiple and extended trips to potential locations that you may want to retire to. We often encourage our clients to plan their visits during various times of the year to experience all the seasons. This strategy can help ensure that the reality of living in your new home matches your expectations.

The expenses associated with the frequent travel to test out a potential new location for retirement are often far less than the costs to relocate multiple times – especially after considering moving costs, real estate agent fees, etc.

When it comes to harmony between you and your significant other, when deciding where you want to live in retirement, each of you should make a list of “must haves” and “deal breakers”. This way you can identify commonalities or discrepancies and thoroughly discuss the options before you embark on your exploration process and make a final decision.

#2: Identifying your retirement home. Many people buy their homes when they are younger or raising a family. At that time, accommodations for mobility or aging might not be at the top of homebuyer’s list of “must haves”.

However, when preparing to retire, it’s essential to thoroughly explore this topic because it could potentially impact the number of financial resources you’ll need for retirement.

For example, you might have purchased a larger home that was ideal when more room was necessary and have now decided to downsize into a smaller house or condo. This could add money to your nest egg and potentially allow for more fun in retirement, or an earlier retirement date.

On the other hand, if you choose to live in a house that isn’t suitable for aging in place -or a home that is older, you might need to budget for potential repairs and renovations. You may also need to factor in the costs of ultimately moving if your home proves to be unadaptable to your needs.

Your choices, as they relate to housing, could translate to needing hundreds of thousands more in additional savings before being retirement ready.

ONE BIG TIP: Consider all your options. We suggest you take time before retirement to explore which housing options are on the table and which to take off. This means taking into consideration and touring condos, apartment units, co-ops, retirement communities, and single-family living units. There are numerous options to explore these days. When comparing alternatives, you must also consider HOA fees, amenity fees, property taxes, utilities, and insurance rates since purchase prices are only a portion of the total cost consideration.

When it comes to alignment with your partner, it’s critical for each of you to consider how you envision using your future home and how it aligns with both of your goals for retirement. Identify the key areas where you agree and discuss any differences.

#3: Making the most of your leisure time. Many of our clients are so focused on working and taking care of their families that they have had little time for leisurely activities. During retirement, this newfound free time provides the opportunity to explore new hobbies, spend more time together, and enjoy the company of friends.

We’ve come to find that “leisure time” means different things to different people. Given that, it’s imperative for couples to each have a plan to make sure that their definitions align with each other. Otherwise, you risk experiencing common anxieties around retirement such as “What do I do with my time?” “How can I spend 24 hours together with my spouse or partner?” or “Where will my social interactions come from when I’m not at work?”

ONE BIG TIP: Recognize that retirement is a magnifier. Contrary to what many retirees think and say, research suggests that retirement is more likely to magnify what we already do rather than change it. For example, if you watch a lot of TV during your spare time prior to retiring, you will likely do it more once your work obligations have ceased. This is why it’s important to figure out how you plan to spend your leisure time prior to retirement, so you can start living the life you want in preparation.

When it comes to retiring with a spouse or partner, you will want to discuss how you each foresee your together and alone time being spent, then plan on how to accommodate each other’s vision. If you don’t, one may be looking forward to spending every waking moment together while the other is looking forward to their individual hobbies, leaving at least one half of the couple dissatisfied.

#4: Becoming specific about travel. Exploring new places during retirement is a common goal for many, though travel is often more of an idea than a plan. As with leisure, couples may not have the time to travel to the extent they hope for until after they retire.

Before retirement though, it’s important to explore how exactly you like to enjoy your vacation. How long do you like to be away before coming home? How often do you want to travel? Where do you want to go? Do you prefer to fly or drive and do you like economy or premium seats? Where do you like to stay, at a Holiday Inn or the Ritz? With so many options and price points, this is an area, that if left unexplored, can lead to large deviations from original plans and costs that can greatly affect your ability to retire or stay retired. It can also cause friction within a couple if you have different ideas on how or when to travel.

ONE BIG TIP: Organize and prioritize your bucket list. We all must realize that our bodies slow down at some point and the demands of travel can become a barrier as we age. As a result, couples should organize and prioritize their bucket lists. In addition to thinking about which items are your priorities, divide up your travel bucket list based on as how long the flights are, how strenuous the activities will be, and other factors that cause difficulty with age. If possible, prioritize the more challenging trips in your early years, even if it means you spend your travel budget a little earlier in retirement.

#5: Determining Family time. Many people say they want to spend more time with family or to help them in retirement, but how much time is spent, what that time looks like, and how much support is given, can vary widely. For some, occasional visits might suffice while others may want to see adult children and care for grandkids on a regular basis. And there are some who might prefer to write a check to help those in need. Depending on the answers, this could easily delay or interfere with big travel and leisure plans or have significant financial impacts. Financial gifts and legacy intentions are also important considerations when thinking about family and retirement.

ONE BIG TIP: Remember, it goes both ways. It’s important to not only think about what family time youwant, but to also make sure your family agrees.

When it comes to family time decisions, avoid the trap of having a one-sided discussion. For example, you might feel you are doing your kids a favor by watching your grandkids. While most parents would appreciate help with their kids, some may really want their children to go to daycare for the socialization benefit. Making this a discussion you have ahead of time, can help ensure both sides are heard, and family harmony continues.

#6: Committing to health and wellness. Although this might be the last thing you want to think about before you’ve even retired, your health, as you age, can impact housing choices, where you live, the activities you enjoy, and many other areas in life. Because of this, it’s crucial to make health and wellness a priority and be realistic about your well-being to more accurately estimate the cost of retirement and your readiness to do so. You will also want to assess the quality and health of your family and intimate relationships. The more time and energy you invest in health and wellness today, the more likely it will pay dividends in the future.

ONE BIG TIP: Talk to your elders. It’s hard for many to imagine life when mobility becomes an issue. Hearing firsthand from those who have lived through this life stage is a great way to shape your understanding and figure out your plan. Consider talking to someone in their 70s and 80s to understand the differences 10 years can make.

Be realistic about your goals at various ages. And remember, the amount you spend does not have to follow a straight line.  A customized plan that takes age into account is more likely to succeed.

Finally, just like you need to regularly invest to build a financial nest egg, you will want to consider how you are currently investing in the health of your relationships, so you can have the joy of companionship and a support system during retirement.

#7: Solidifying your finances. Although this is where most people start, in our view, it is where we should finish. That’s not to say we should ignore financial matters until all these other topics are figured out. While there are many tried-and-true strategies to live better financial lives, you can really dial in the accuracy and the results from a financial plan when having a clear vision of where you are and where you want to be.

Having a shared vision with your spouse or partner on elements 1- 6 can provide a way to chart a smoother financial path and achieve your goals in the most tax efficient way possible.

This means knowing with precision which retirement plan tax options are best, the optimal time to take Social Security, the right amount to save for each goal, and the appropriate amount of risk to get you there, just to name a few.

The difference between being close and being precise in financial related areas can translate to hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost savings or more years working. The best financial plan won’t just tell you if retirement is possible, it will show you what’s possible in retirement. Although the difference is subtle, this mindset can help couples achieve an extraordinary retirement.

ONE BIG TIP: Clean up and organize the mess. The first step of any financial plan is to know where you are today. For some, the records are in a shoebox; for others, they are all over the place. So, start by cleaning up the mess and get things organized. Going through your files and mail allows you to build a complete financial picture with supporting documents, that a trusted financial advisor or financial planner will need to provide good advice.

We also suggest couples search abandoned property websites for every state they’ve lived in. Many clients find missing investments and even monthly pensions they missed because they moved and forgot to change their address.

When it comes to alignment with your spouse or partner, we encourage you to take the time to identify what you both value in life. This will help you come to an agreement about a spending plan because it will take into consideration both of your values.

Pulling it all together

As you can see, retiring well is about more than just money. Time and time again, we’ve seen, as financial advisors and coaches, that achieving clarity across these seven elements can enhance one’s financial life and contribute to living an extraordinary retirement.

If you want to avoid missing out on the joy and fulfillment that retirement can offer, contact us to learn more about how our Dream.Plan.Retire program can help make this next chapter of life the very best yet.

MPPL Financial has offices in Duluth, MN, Grand Rapids, MN, Wausau, WI, and Crystal Lake, IL. Metamorphosis Coaching Consulting and Training is located in Duluth, MN. While we’re located in the Midwest, we work with clients across the U.S.

 

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

Common Money Mistakes to Avoid in Divorce

MPPL Financial CDFA - Divorce Financial Advisor

At MPPL Financial, we help clients during the divorce process. With a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® on our team, we witness firsthand how emotionally draining and mentally exhausting it is for most people. Many describe the divorce process as a time of feeling frozen, numb, or moving in slow motion.

If you’re contemplating a divorce, or in the midst of one, it is critical to fully understand your finances and assess them with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that your settlement agreement is fair and equitable. Even if you feel like you have full command of the situation, it’s easy to make money mistakes that can make the divorce more difficult than it needs to be.

Ways to Avoid Common Money Mistakes in Divorce

Here are the most frequent money mistakes we see in divorce and some suggested action steps you can take:

  • Underestimating post-divorce expenses. You will be asked to submit a financial affidavit that reflects your expenses after the divorce. This will be used to determine if spousal support is necessary or not.

Thus, it’s imperative that your post-divorce financial affidavit is realistic and does not overlook any expenses. It’s critical to include everything, from your health care deductibles to anticipated home repair charges for the roof you might need to replace next year.

If you underestimate your expenses by $500–$1,000 per month, that amounts to $6,000–$12,000 per year. Think about it: where will you get that extra money once your divorce is final?

On the flip side, when you’re the primary breadwinner, this mistake could lead you to agree to pay maintenance you ultimately can’t afford.

Recommended action step: Consider retaining a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). A CDFA will help you craft your budget, develop your post-divorce financial affidavit, and review it closely to make sure that you don’t leave anything out and that there are no errors.

  • Believing your attorney will handle everything. Many going through divorces fail to realize that theirattorneys are experts in the law, not in finance. Would you ask your doctor for advice about your car? No. So, why would you expect your attorney to be a financial expert? The attorney’s job is to have you complete a financial affidavit and take your word that what you submit is correct. A good attorney will glance over it to check for glaring errors, but that’s about it.

Pensions are among the most commonly misvalued assets we see at MPPL Financial. What’s more, sometimes, the pension is the most valuable asset in a marriage. Attorneys often use a present value statement from a pension plan to determine the value to include as marital property. This method does not take into account what portion of the pension is marital property and/or separate property.

Recommended action step: Retain a CDFA to value the pension properly and make sure that the final valuation considers any and all tax ramifications associated with it.

  • Letting attorneys do the talking for you. The more decisions you and your spouse can work out by just communicating, the more money you’ll save. Sometimes couples can not bear to be in the same room with each other. We try to encourage these couples to consider the cost of relying solely on attorneys to communicate their goals. Why? If you have your attorney relay information to  spouse’s attorney, you can rack up costs upwards of $600 an hour. Such a communication process can significantly increase the overall cost of your divorce.

Recommended action step: Consider working with a CDFA® as a financial neutral to help you both work together to resolve the various aspects of your divorce and act as the source to provide agreed upon settlements to your attorney.

  • Letting your emotions make your decisions. So many people going through divorce just want to “get it over with”. However, this isn’t the time to throw your hands up and agree to a settlement just to be done with it. Such thinking can leave you with not only higher future expenses, but a lot of regret in years to come. In our experience, a 50/50 split of assets is almost never a truly equitable settlement.

Recommended action step: Take a deep breath. Put the emotions aside so that you can consider the impact of these decisions over the long haul.  Making changes after the fact will not be easy and almost certainly costly.  Try to work with your spouse and your professionals to arrive on a settlement to provide the best possible outcome, now and in the future, for both of you. Be sure to hire the right professionals to be by your side and provide the help you will need throughout this volatile time in your life.

Pulling it all together

Divorce is a time of high emotion, combined with significant financial stakes. If you are contemplating, or going through the divorce process, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your situation in further detail. MPPL Financial has an experienced CDFA on our team to work closely with you during this highly sensitive time in your life.

MPPL Financial has offices in Wausau, WI, Duluth and Grand Rapids, MN, and Crystal Lake, IL. While we’re based in the Midwest, we work with clients across the entire U.S.

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

 

How the IRS-Adjusted Tax Brackets for 2023 May Impact You

There’s one silver lining to inflation: Changes made by the IRS to a number of rules could help put more money in your pocket as a taxpayer.

The changes include raising the thresholds for income tax brackets for 2023, as well as increasing the standard deduction. While the IRS makes adjustments to tax brackets annually, the 2023 changes are larger than typical increases, with the income thresholds increasing by roughly 7%. These IRS-adjusted tax brackets will apply automatically when you do your taxes for the 2023 calendar year, so no action is necessary on your part.

There are also increases in the estate tax exclusion and gift tax exclusion. For those seeking to minimize future estate taxes, reach out to your financial advisor or tax professional to further understand the impact of these changes on your unique situation.

When it comes to retirement savings, the IRS once again increased contribution limits for 401(k) plans and IRAs, which allow savers to put away more pretax dollars for retirement. For those not yet retired and working, reach out to your MPPL financial advisor to review these changes and ensure you are maximizing your potential contributions for your unique situation.

Here’s a rundown of key changes made by the IRS for 2023.

Federal Tax Brackets: 2023

Tax brackets (married filing jointly)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax brackets (single filers)

Changes to the standard deduction for 2023

  • The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly will increase by $1,800, to $27,700 for 2023.
  • For single individuals, the standard deduction will increase by $900, to $13,850.

Federal Estate and gift tax exclusions for 2023

  • The federal estate tax exclusion amount for decedents who die during 2023 will rise to $12,920,000. This is an increase of $860,000 over the 2022 level. Please note, some states levy an estate tax in addition to federal estate taxes. The exclusion amount and taxes levied vary by each state so be sure to review your personal situation carefully with a financial and tax advisor.
  • The annual gift tax exclusionamount is $17,000 for 2023. This is a $1,000 increase over the 2022 limit.

 Changes to retirement contributions for 2023

  • Participants in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans will be able to contribute up to $22,500 in 2023, up from $20,500.
  • The catch-up contribution for individuals over 50 increases to $7,500, up from $6,500 this year.
  • The limit on annual IRA contributions will increase to $6,500, up from $6,000, while the IRA catch-up contribution for individuals over 50 will remain at $1,000.

Closing Thoughts

While the changes described above are the ones that affect most people, there could be other changes that are relevant to your unique situation. As you think about 2023 planning, we encourage you to reach out to your MPPL financial advisor or tax advisor to ensure you are maximizing your tax savings in light of your personal situation.

MPPL Financial has offices in Duluth, MN, Grand Rapids, MN, Wausau, WI and Crystal Lake, IL. While we are based in the Midwest, we work with clients across the U.S.

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

How a Financial Plan Puts You in Control During Times of Turbulence

How a financial plan can help in uncertain times and periods of stress

As we all know, when life doesn’t go as planned, it can create a tremendous amount of financial stress. Any unexpected change in personal circumstances such as a job loss, divorce, or illness can disrupt your sense of security. For some, extended periods of volatility in the financial markets can also contribute to financial stress. 

These rocky periods can lead to financial anxiety that manifests in many forms, including obsessive behavior like constantly checking your financial accounts or being frugal beyond reason, sleepless nights, feeling depressed, or even in some cases hoarding. If you feel stressed about money, you’re not alone. A 2022 Stress in AmericaTM survey by the American Psychological Association found that 72% of Americans reported stress about money. 

A Comprehensive Financial Plan Is Full of Knowledge

As financial advisors, we believe that having a comprehensive financial plan is an important way to cope with financial stress. While a financial plan can’t eliminate the underlying problems causing worry, it can help put you in control.  

One of the gifts of a comprehensive financial plan is that it is full of knowledge. As you know, knowledge is power. This empowerment is what ultimately helps manage financial anxiety.

The plans we create for our MPPL Financial clients act as both a roadmap and a powerful, dynamic decision-making framework that keeps them informed of the tradeoffs and implications of critical decisions they face.

For example, financial plans help answer important questions:

  • Where you stand relative to important life goals, such as when you can retire, whether you can afford a vacation home, or the best ways to help pay for your grandchild’s college education.
  • What your financial future may look like. How much financial flexibility do you have to sustain your desired lifestyle as circumstances change?
  • How to pivot when circumstances change. We help clients determine how to adjust their finances after job loss, loss of a spouse, or divorce. Sometimes the pivot entails a change in investment strategy; other times we work with the client to adjust their spending.

Using a Financial Plan as a Decision-Making Tool 

We use dynamic financial planning software that allows us to easily conduct real-time scenario planning showing clients the potential impacts of different assumptions. The types of assumptions we can adjust frequently include things like changes to the average growth rate of your investments, amount of your spending, and amount you save. The financial plan helps assess the implications of taxes based on current law and is always updated to stay current on inflation rates.

When it comes to inflation, one common thing MPPL advisors are doing just now with clients is running scenarios using various assumptions for long-term inflation rates. This shows them their financial flexibility if inflation persists for extended periods at different levels. Our clients tell us it’s been a reassuring exercise.

The dynamic nature of the financial plans we create also lets us show clients the impact of strategic decisions such as paying down a mortgage sooner rather than later, or the potential benefits of a Roth conversion.

For clients with asset surpluses, scenario planning can highlight potential benefits of various estate planning moves, such as accelerating giving to family or accelerating charitable giving from bequests to lifetime gifts. For example, one benefit of accelerating gifts is the opportunity to see their impact while you are living.

In a nutshell, the knowledge gained from the scenario planning is intended to give you perspective so that you can make the best possible decisions with your goals in mind.

Closing Thoughts

Times of turbulence remind us that financial stress and risk are real concerns everyone needs to address. By having a comprehensive financial plan and working closely with a trusted MPPL financial advisor, you will be able to focus on the things you can influence and control in your life. Ultimately, the knowledge and confidence you gain to make informed decisions can help you achieve peace of mind about your finances and enjoy the beauty of life.

MPPL Financial has offices in Duluth, MN, Grand Rapids, MN, Wausau, WI and Crystal Lake, IL.  While we’re located in the Midwest, we work with clients across the entire U.S.

 

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

Grandparent-Owned 529 College Savings Plans: More Powerful than Ever

Grandparent-owned 529 college-savings-plans

There’s good news for students who have financially generous grandparents. Beginning in the 2024-2025 academic year, grandparent-owned 529 college savings plans will no longer be a headache for students seeking federal financial aid.

Previously, distributions from such plans negatively impacted the student’s eligibility to receive needs-based financial aid, with the potential to reduce aid by as much as half of the distribution. For example, a student receiving a $50,000 distribution from a grandparent-owned 529 plan in any given year could reduce needs-based financial aid eligibility by as much as $25,000. This made it especially challenging for grandparents to provide meaningful financial support.

However, upcoming changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) are making grandparent-owned 529 plans more powerful than ever. Students will no longer need to disclose cash support and other types of income, including distributions from these accounts.

How Does the FAFSA® Work?

The FAFSA is an online form issued by the federal government. It is used to calculate eligibility for needs-based student financial aid, based on several pieces of information:

  • The cost of attendance at the school (tuition, room and board, and other related expenses)
  • The student’s Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The EFC includes assets and earnings of the parents and cash support and income of the student. For further details on how EFC is determined, visit studentaid.gov.

Several types of needs-based federal student aid programs are available to students who qualify:

Grandparent-Owned 529 College Savings Accounts Are More Attractive Than Ever

In general, contributions to 529 college savings accounts offer several gifting and estate planning benefits for grandparents.

If you’re a grandparent, here are a few benefits to consider:

  • Contributions to 529 college savings accounts are removed from the account owner’s taxable estate. Yet, the owner (the grandparent) maintains control of the account, including how the money is invested and distributed. The latter is especially important if the named beneficiary (grandchild) decides not to attend college or receives enough scholarships that the money in the account is not needed for college expenses. What’s more, grandparents have the option to change the beneficiary on the account at any time, and can even use the money for themselves, if necessary.
  • Special forward gifting provisions allow a much higher level of contributions than the annual gift exclusion. For 2022, $16,000 is the annual exclusion for individual gifts made in a single year without gift tax. Now let’s compare this to the special forward gifting provision allowed for 529 plans each year: five times the annual $16,000 exclusion. When you do the math, this amounts to $80,000 for single filers and $160,000 for joint filers. Further, there is no limit on the number of beneficiaries for whom a grandparent can do this. For example, if a set of grandparents have two grandchildren, they can jointly contribute as much as $320,000 each year without tax.

Pulling It All Together

Changes to the FAFSA® form for the 2024-2025 academic year pave the way for grandparents to help more than ever with the high cost of college education. Grandparents can maintain these estate and gifting benefits without worrying that their financial support may hurt the chances of their grandchild receiving needs-based financial aid.

To learn more about whether funding a 529 college savings plan makes sense for your financial situation, please reach out to us at MPPL Financial for an initial conversation.

We have offices in Duluth, MN, Grand Rapids, MN, Wausau, WI and Crystal Lake, IL.  While we’re located in the Midwest, we work with clients across the entire U.S.

 

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

A Six-Point Medicare Part D Checklist to Get the Best Prescription Drug Coverage

Contrary to what many retirees may think, selecting a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan is not a one-time decision.

With the high cost of prescription drugs, it’s important for all existing Medicare enrollees to carefully review Medicare Part D coverage annually to ensure their existing plan continues to be the best option for their needs.

Remember, There Are Two Ways for Retirees to Obtain Prescription Drug Coverage

If you have Original Medicare (provided by the federal government), which includes Part A (hospitalization) and Part B (medical coverage), you will likely have purchased a standalone Part D prescription drug plan from a private insurance company. You can change your Medicare Part D provider during the annual open enrollment period, without needing to change coverage for Medicare Parts A and B.

Alternatively, if you have Medicare Advantage, which is offered by private insurance companies, it will include a Part D prescription drug plan. Even with Medicare Advantage, you should still review your Part D coverage. In this situation, you will need to change your Medicare Advantage provider if there are better overall options for you.

The annual open-enrollment period is the only time Medicare beneficiaries can make changes to their prescription drug plan. So it’s important to use this window of time to review your plan in light of your current circumstances. Medicare open enrollment for 2023 coverage starts on October 15, 2022, and runs until December 7, 2022.

A Six-Point Medicare Part D Checklist to Guide Your Review

We created the following checklist to help you review your current Medicare Part D plan. It’s designed to help you determine if your current plan is still appropriate for your needs, or whether there are more attractive alternatives available. If you’re a first-time Medicare enrollee, you can also use this checklist to evaluate various Medicare Part D options.

  1. Review the approved medication coverage list. Medicare Part D plans are permitted to change the medications they cover each year. Often retirees are surprised to discover this when they’re refilling a prescription for the first time in the new calendar year and have to pay for a previously approved drug.

Action step: Carefully review your current medication list and any new medications you anticipate needing against the coverage list for the upcoming year. If you discover a gap in your coverage, consider exploring whether different Part D plan can fill this gap. You can learn about what Medicare Part D drug plans cover by clicking here.

  1. Understand copayments and coinsurance. Medicare Part D plans use tiered cost-sharing. This can cause some plans to change their beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs. Most plans will have two tiers for generic drugs, two tiers for brand-name drugs, and one tier for high-cost specialty drugs. Medications in each tier have different out-of-pocket costs.

Action step: Using the upcoming copayments and coinsurance rates, calculate whether your medications will cost more in the upcoming year and how this may impact your finances.

  1. Determine the impact of deductibles. Most Medicare Part D plans charge a deductible, though they vary in magnitude. We’ve observed that some plans with low deductibles can still result in higher out-of-pocket costs, depending on copays and medications that are not covered by Part D.

Action step: Be sure to factor in the amount of any deductibles when calculating the estimated total cost for your plan to ensure it fits in with your budget and medical needs.

  1. Explore options for preferred pharmacies. The majority of Medicare Part D plans offer lower cost-sharing requirements if prescriptions are filled at selected network pharmacies. The reduction in copayments can be meaningful.

Action step: Start by reviewing whether your current pharmacy is part of the network with the preferred cost sharing. If not, explore whether any of the preferred pharmacies are more cost effective for the medications you take. Keep in mind that the preferred list of pharmacies can also change; if the pharmacy you are using is already in the preferred network, make certain it will continue to be so in the upcoming new year.

  1. Check for medication restrictions. It’s quite common for some plans to require prior authorization before covering certain drugs, or require patients to try a lower-cost drug before a more expensive one. We often hear from clients that the prior authorization process can be a nuisance or that they are frustrated to have to change a drug that they felt was working for them.

Action step: Identify any restrictions in any prospective Medicare Part D plan so that you can proactively reach out to your physician for prior authorization if you want to continue with a medication that is not approved.

These approvals are typically valid for one year. So be certain to put a reminder on your calendar to renew any prior authorizations you have in place. We encourage clients to take this extra step so they are not caught paying full price for expensive prescriptions.

  1. Compare premium prices. Premiums often increase over time, so it’s important to review whether your current plan continues to make sense for your coverage needs. Your goal is to make certain you are not overpaying for prescription drugs for your situation when taking into account the premium, plus all of the above items in this checklist.

Action step: Estimate your total prescription drug costs by calculating your annual premiums, copays, deductibles, and any medication restrictions that could result in out-of-pocket costs. Conduct this same exercise with other plan options to ensure the plan you select meets your needs.

Pulling It All Together: Finalizing Your Medicare Part D Plan

Your financial advisor at MPPL Financial is here to help. We welcome working closely with you to review the appropriateness of your plan before the enrollment window closes.

 

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction-based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

 

The Questions Every Estate Plan Needs to Answer

If you already have an estate plan in place, it does not always guarantee it addresses all of your current needs and intentions. Life is fluid. Circumstances change, often unexpectedly, making it important to protect yourself and those you love. This is why we encourage you to review your estate plan at least every five years, or more frequently.

If you don’t have an estate plan in place, please don’t procrastinate. We often tell our MPPL Financial clients that they are never too young to have an estate plan. If you have minor children or expect to have children in the future, it’s important to have at least a simple estate plan that provides for their care and protection.

Whether you’re reviewing an existing plan or embarking on your first plan, here are the questions every estate plan needs to answer. These questions will help you thoughtfully crystallize and articulate your wishes about protecting yourself and those you love, today and in the future before meeting with an estate planning attorney.

Questions to Consider Before Meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney

  • Who have you chosen as the guardians of your minor children? We encourage clients to consider the values and character of the individuals they appoint.
  • Do your choices for designated health care directives and powers of attorney represent individuals you have high confidence in to act according to your wishes?
  • How do you want to treat your children? How children are treated is one of the most sensitive topics we encounter when helping clients prepare an estate plan.
    • Do you treat children equally during your lifetime as well as when assets from the estate are distributed?
    • How do you treat more successful versus less successful children?
    • How do you treat responsible versus irresponsible children?
  • Do you have a child or grandchild with special needs, requirements for medical care, or circumstances that may warrant an unequal distribution of assets? If so, how does your estate plan address those needs?
  • Do you want to protect assets from your child’s current or future spouse? If so, are there appropriate measures in place such as prenups or trusts to protect assets earmarked for your child?
  • What if there are multiple marriages for you, your spouse, or your children? How do you want to address the distribution of your assets in such situations? While it may be difficult to imagine this could happen in your family, we often encounter these situations more often than not where no advance planning or thought was given to multiple marriages.
  • If young children or grandchildren are involved, how do you want them to access funds distributed from your estate? The children’s age and maturity level often factor into decisions in this area, as do your values around when it is appropriate for them to receive funds.
  • How will you protect distributed assets from potential creditors? We live in a litigious society. Accidents happen and surprises occur, so it’s very important to ensure your estate plan addresses these types of unanticipated situations.
  • Are any existing trusts you have in place appropriate for how your family has evolved over time? “Dusty trusts,” those older than five years should be reviewed, along with all estate planning documents, to keep up with family needs and any new (or potential) legislation since they were established. An estate planning attorney can update such documents to reflect changing needs and state laws.
  • What type of impact do you want to make in society? Some clients have the means to make meaningful charitable gifts throughout their lifetimes. For others, it may be best to give in smaller amounts and then leave any larger gifts as a bequest after death. We work closely with clients to determine what’s best for their personal situation.

How MPPL Financial Can Help

The questions we raised are not easy or straightforward for most to answer. That’s why, at MPPL Financial, we work closely with clients before they meet with an estate-planning attorney to draft new or updated documents. We have candid conversations about these questions, while also preparing a written financial plan the client can rely upon and share with their estate-planning attorneys

The plan includes three key elements:

  • Documentation of lifetime and legacy goals and wishes
  • Specific ways the client can accomplish their lifetime and legacy goals
  • A balance sheet that lists all of their assets, with current values and ownership structure

This plan clarifies how they want to live their lives, along with the legacy they want to leave behind. It also helps the estate-planning attorney accomplish their desired outcomes more efficiently.

If you would like to revisit an existing estate plan or initiate one, we encourage you to reach out to us so that we can help ensure your estate plan addresses the questions that are important to you and your family.

MPPL Financial has offices in Duluth, MN, Grand Rapids, MN, Wausau, WI, and Crystal Lake, IL. While we’re based in the Midwest, we work with clients across the U.S.

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor.

Why Pre-Retirees Need to Understand How Medicare Works

Many people approaching retirement incorrectly believe that their health care costs will be fully covered once they reach 65, the magical year they become eligible to enroll in Medicare. After all, it’s not surprising that pre-retirees think that because they paid the 1.45% Medicare tax on their annual earnings over the course of their working years, it will cover their medical expenses in retirement.

However, without proper planning, health care in retirement can be costly and complicated to address. To begin to understand the complexities of Medicare in retirement, consider these points.

#1. Medicare coverage is spotty and limited. Medicare has four parts: A through D. Each part covers different things.

  • Medicare Part A is free if you paid into the system over the course of your working years. It covers hospital stays, as well as rehab (skilled nursing), home health care, hospice, and nursing home care. However, long-term nursing home care (beyond 90 days) is not covered by Medicare.
  • Medicare Part B covers doctor visits and the care your physician or medical specialist provides. There is a premium for this coverage, and Medicare covers 80% of these costs after you meet your Part B deductible for the calendar year.
  • Medicare Part D is a voluntary prescription drug plan offered by private insurers that are approved by Medicare. If you take medication, or anticipate needing to, and don’t want to pay out of pocket for it, you will need Part D insurance. There is a separate premium for this coverage. It often includes co-pays. Not all medication is covered. Medicare issues a list each year of what’s covered.
  • Medicare Part C, often referred to as Medicare Advantage, provides the coverage offered in A, B, and D. Part C is offered by a private insurer that has been pre-approved by Medicare. It is network specific, which some may find limiting if choice of providers is a priority for you.

Hearing, dental, and vision are not covered by any parts of Medicare described above.

#2. Your income drives Medicare Part B premiums. As noted above, everyone pays a premium for Part B, which is $148.50 per month for 2021. Depending on your modified adjusted gross income as reported on your IRS tax return from two years ago, you may be subject to an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), which is an extra charge added to your premium. These charges can be significant; careful planning with your tax and financial advisor in advance of going on Medicare in retirement can help mitigate the potential magnitude of the IRMAA.

#3. Even with Medicare, you still need to plan for long-term care. Before even thinking about long-term care, it’s important to plan for how to financially address co-pays and limits to coverage, along with expenses associated with hearing, dental, and vision—whether that’s through additional insurance or out of pocket. Beyond such costs, it’s critical to understand that the need for long-term care can wreak financial havoc on anyone with a nest egg accrued over a lifetime. Whether one needs nursing home care or in-home care, the costs can be prohibitive and are the financial burden of the recipient.

Two Parts to Planning for Long-Term Care

Given the risks associated with needing long-term care, we encourage each and every individual, regardless of their financial situation, to thoughtfully address long-term care planning well before retirement, with their family and trusted financial advisor.

  • Candid and periodic conversations with family members to understand what level of care they are not only willing to offer, but truly capable of providing, should the need arise.

Everyone’s family and financial situation are different. They also evolve over time with expected and unanticipated events. As such, we believe preparation is the key to enjoying a retirement that minimizes the financial worries and surprises associated with health care expenses. We at MPPL Financial have witnessed, time and time again, that proactively addressing this important issue can protect not only one’s retirement nest egg, but family relationships as well.

To better understand Medicare in retirement, we encourage you to reach out to us to help you navigate this important area of your life.

MPPL Financial has offices in Duluth and Grand Rapids, MN, Wausau, WI and Crystal Lake, IL. While we’re located in the Midwest, we work closely with clients across the U.S.

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

Why Inherited IRAs Deserve Your Attention

Why Inherited IRAs deserve your attention

Many are surprised to discover that the SECURE Act of 2019 accelerated the tax burden for those who would become IRA beneficiaries in 2020 and beyond. It is also upending estate plans for many retirement account owners who plan on leaving these accounts to non-spouse heirs.

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019, otherwise called the SECURE Act, was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019—just before the pandemic hit. This is a far-reaching piece of legislation, with several significant provisions intended to help individuals better prepare for retirement. 

However, there’s one major downside to the new law. That’s the elimination of the Stretch IRA for most non-spouse inheritors. As a result of the SECURE Act, most non-spouses inheriting IRAs are required to take distributions that empty the account within 10 years after the original owner’s death. This rule applies to traditional and Roth IRAs—even though distributions from a Roth IRA are not taxable. It even applies to 401(k)s and other defined contribution accounts.

Previously, the Stretch IRA allowed the inheritor to extend distributions over their lifetime, with RMDs calculated using life expectancy tables. In essence, the Stretch IRA was a valuable wealth-building tool that is no longer available to many recent, and future, beneficiaries.

Some Inheritors Are Spared

The IRS created a narrow list of eligible designated beneficiaries who can still use the Stretch IRA and take distributions based on their life expectancy:

  • A surviving spouse.
  • A minor child of the deceased IRA owner. Though, take note, when the child reaches majority age as determined by their state of residence, the 10-year window takes effect.
  • A disabled or chronically ill beneficiary.
  • A beneficiary who is not more than 10 years younger than the deceased IRA owner.

It’s important to always check with a tax or financial advisor to confirm whether a designated beneficiary is eligible for these exceptions. Penalties are high for noncompliance with distribution rules. Someone who fails to distribute the IRA on time faces a penalty of 50% of the amount that was supposed to be withdrawn but was not. Under current law, 2020 and beyond IRA inheritors who are not considered an eligible designated beneficiary must fully distribute the account.

Does Inheriting My Mother or Father’s Traditional IRA Mean That I Have to Pay More Taxes under the Current Rules?

We’ve been hearing this question quite a bit. Distributing an inherited traditional IRA balance over 10 years, versus over your lifetime, will accelerate your receipt of taxable income. In situations where someone inherits a large traditional IRA, distributions from that inherited IRA could very easily push the beneficiary into one or more higher tax brackets, depending on the strategy in place to empty the account.

If you’ve inherited a traditional IRA since January 1, 2020, you may want to consider working with a trusted financial advisor to help guide you in planning the most tax-efficient way to take yearly distributions from the account during the 10-year window so that you maximize the potential value of the gift received.

Estate Planning Considerations

What if you’re a traditional IRA owner planning to leave the account to someone other than your spouse? Roth conversions and distributions to qualified charities are among the various strategies worth exploring. As always, it’s important to work closely with your financial advisor to determine your income needs from the traditional IRA.

Everyone’s Situation Is Unique

To maximize the value of an inherited IRA, consider working closely with a trusted MPPL Financial Advisor to identify the best strategies for your personal situation.

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.

5 Tips to Reduce Your Financial Clutter

Reducing your financial clutter is one step in the process of gaining control over your personal finances and becoming more organized. What’s more, it also provides a way to review and ensure you are taking adequate measures for information security.

Here are five steps to reduce your financial clutter that we often share with clients:

#1: Decide what to keep

There are some items we encourage you to keep forever. To reduce the financial clutter, you may want to keep these items in a safe-deposit box and also take pictures of the hard copies with a smartphone. See our discussion below for storage of electronic files.

  • Birth/death certificates
  • Employer defined-benefit plan communications
  • Estate-planning documents (don’t forget to give copies to your advisor and executor)
  • Active life insurance policies
  • Marriage licenses/divorce decrees
  • Military discharge papers
  • Safe-deposit box inventory
  • Social Security cards
  • Pension documents

#2: Decide what to discard

Keep these guidelines in mind for the following items:

Documents When to discard
Bank deposit slips After you reconcile your statements
Banking statements After a calendar year; store with tax returns if you rely on them to prove deductions
Brokerage, 401(k), IRA, Keogh, other investment statements Monthly and quarterly statements as new ones arrive; hold annual statements until you sell the investments
Credit card bills After you check and pay them, unless needed to prove any tax deductions
Household warranties/receipts After you no longer own the household items
Insurance policies After you renew, cancel, or surrender the policy
Trade confirmations Hold until you’ve reconciled with statements; then should be archived on statements
Loan documents After you sell the property or vehicle
Pay stubs After you reconcile them with your W-2; save year-end pay stubs for seven years
Receipts After you reconcile them with your credit card/bank statement, unless needed for a warranty or tax records
Social Security statements When you get a new statement; set up your account online for an electronic archive
Tax returns/supporting documents After seven years
Vehicle titles After you sell the vehicle

In the spirit of information security, shred hard copies of what you don’t need.

Strive to move toward electronic statements for items you currently receive as hard copy.  You can keep electronic versions, as well as any scanned items, in an online secure vault. For online files, delete those that are no longer necessary to keep. As part of the firm’s financial planning software, MPPL clients have access to an encrypted vault to keep backups of that data.

#3: Take an inventory of important information

Consider these essential items:

  • Using your smartphone, make a video of your home. Document both the inside and outside of the home. Don’t forget your garage, vehicles, and other structures such as an in-ground swimming pool or shed. Photograph new possessions and record their value.
  • Keep a list of all your financial accounts, life insurance policies, credit cards, and safe deposit boxes for your survivors in the event of premature death. This list should also include essential contacts such as your financial advisor, CPA, attorney, etc.

#4: Put a backup plan in place for electronic records

After you scan or download your records, don’t forget to create a backup on a separate hard drive or cloud storage system to prevent future data loss, if you are not already a MPPL client using the encrypted online vault the firm makes available to its clients

#5: Regularly review your accounts

  • Consolidate your bank and brokerage accounts, closing any inactive or redundant ones.
  • Shred any unused checks. This is also a good time to examine the banking fees you pay and shop for other options that would reduce or eliminate these charges.

 

Investment Advisory Services offered through Midwest Professional Planners, Ltd. (“MPPL”), 2610 Stewart Ave., Ste. 100, Wausau, WI 54401, 1-800-236-6775, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Certain representatives of MPPL are also registered representatives of, and offer securities products involving commission or transaction based fees through APW Capital, Inc., 100 Enterprise Drive, Suite 504, Rockaway, NJ 07866, 1-800-637-3211. Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB. MPPL is independent of APW Capital, Inc. Registration with the SEC or State Regulatory Authority does not imply a certain level of skill or expertise.