Walk to End Alzheimer’s – Edwards Group Team

Join Benefits Coordinator, Melissa Coulter, on the Edwards Group team at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s September 24, 2016 at Springfield’s South Wind Park.

As a part of the team at Edwards Group, we help people everyday who have loved ones facing the challenges presented by Alzheimer’s or one of the other 70 forms of dementia. We are all too familiar with this disease and the stress it places on caregivers, family members and loved ones.

Did you know:

  • more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s?
  • 1 in 3 seniors die from Alzheimer’s or another related dementia?
  • Alzheimer’s kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined?

I have experienced this disease in my own family, and others on our Edwards Group team have been affected by this terrible disease. It is a matter dear to our hearts.

This year I chose to volunteer on the Alzheimer’s Association WALK committee to help bring greater awareness to the community. The Alzheimer’s Walk is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Alzheimer’s Association – a group that works tirelessly to eradicate the disease, help those who are touched by it, and increase brain health.

I’m sharing this with you because we’d like to welcome you to join our team at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on September 24, 2016, at Springfield’s South Wind Park.

We walk to honor our own family members, but also those clients who currently have a loved one facing this very issue, or are struggling with some form of dementia themselves. We also walk with hope for the future — that our children and grandchildren will not be affected by this debilitating and deadly disease.

3 Ways to Get Involved and Spread the Word

1.Find out more. You, your family and friends are welcome to join us at South Wind Park for the New Team Kick-off event July 18 from 4-6 pm. Please RSVP to Tina Arnold via email if you will be joining us.

2. Start your own team. We welcome you to join the effort and help fight this terrible disease by starting a team in honor of a loved one. You can simply sign up here.

3. Join our team! To join the Edwards Group team and walk with us, click this link. Despite the serious cause for the walk, many teams have a really fun time during the walk.

I hope you will follow in our footsteps and join us for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s — together working towards a future without this terrible disease.

Please call me at 217-726-9200 or email me with any questions. I hope to see you at the walk!



7 IRA Planning Traps to Consider

When it comes to your IRA, there are some planning traps you need to look out for…

Here are 7 IRA planning problems to consider:

1. Incorrect beneficiaries – This is very basic, but often overlooked. Confirm that the beneficiaries are set up correctly. If you lack a beneficiary, then the account will go to your estate, limiting your “stretch” to as little as 5 years. Have you named the wrong beneficiaries or are you missing someone (like a new grandchild)? If you have named a trust as the beneficiary, was that done as part of a detailed plan with an attorney experienced in IRA trust planning?

2. A “blow out” instead of a “stretch out” – Remember, a big goal of IRA planning is to pay the taxes later by doing a “stretch” IRA. This means that we want your child to be able to take out the IRA over their life expectancy. But many kids don’t do it. In fact, the vast majority of kids take out the entire IRA within a couple years of death. Why do kids take it out (and pay the taxes now)? Here are a few reasons:

  • They want to spend it!
  • They don’t know the benefit of the stretch.
  • They wrongly think they can roll it into their own IRA (so they take it all out, triggering tax, then it’s too late to put back in).
  • They cash out a Roth IRA because it’s tax free, not realizing they are missing out on years of tax free growth in the future.

3. Not getting good advice – Many families have cashed out retirement funds or annuities and are later surprised by a big tax bill. Good advice from your attorney and tax advisor after death will help the family understand the options.

4. Not considering younger generations – Do you like your grandkids? Well, what about saving tax while helping out your grandchildren? The younger the beneficiary of your IRA, the longer the stretch and the bigger the tax savings. You might consider giving your IRA’s (or part of them) to your grandchildren.

5. Naming grandchildren as direct beneficiaries – What if someone took our advice about younger generations and decided to name grandchildren as IRA beneficiaries? That’s good, right? Well, yes, but there could also be problems. If you name a minor child as beneficiary, the IRA company may require a court guardianship before the grandchild can benefit from the IRA. Then, at age 18, the grandchild gets control of the IRA, regardless of the remaining amount. (And we all know what happens when 18-year-olds inherit large sums of money.)

6. Not considering a trust to hold IRA funds after death – Many people incorrectly think that leaving an IRA to a trust will trigger tax on the entire IRA. But this is not true. IRA funds and trusts require special expertise and planning, but a properly drafted trust can hold an IRA and still benefit from the stretch out. And using a trust can help avoid the “blow out” mentioned in #2, while protecting the money from young heirs, future divorces or other unforeseen risks.

7. Not converting to a Roth IRA – Converting to a Roth IRA means you pay taxes now and then future growth of the IRA is tax free. If you don’t need the money, and you can afford to pay the taxes, converting to a Roth may give your family more money later. Let’s ay you convert to a Roth at age 70. A Roth IRA has no RMD (required minimum distributions) so if you live to be age 95, you will have had 25 years of tax free growth that you can leave to the family. And the kids (or grankids) can have another 30-50+ years of tax-free growth if they “stretch” the Roth IRA. Converting to a Roth IRA is a great tool, but please consult your tax advisor first. Make you know how much tax will be owed before you move funds to the Roth IRA.

Are you ready to find out what you should do when it comes to your IRA? And not just what to avoid? Read our article, 7 Questions to Ask in Order to Do Effective IRA Planning.


7 Questions to Ask In Order to Do Effective IRA Planning

IRA planning can be tricky. In order to make sure you plan as best as you can, you should discuss the following questions with your attorney and other advisors:

1. Will you need the IRA funds during your life? If not, you may want to convert to a Roth or use the RMD’s to purchase life insurance to grow the wealth going to your family.

2. Will your heirs need it shortly after your death? If so, then the stretch out is not relevant.

3. Are you doing any charitable giving? If so, use the IRA to do it, if possible. That way the contribution is tax free.

4. Do you want to protect what you are leaving to family from their future divorces, lawsuits, creditors, poor judgment, wild spending, etc.? If so, you need protective trusts for each of your heirs. An IRA can go to a properly set up trust and still get the “stretch out”.

5. Are you facing estate tax at your death? If so, you need careful planning to avoid a double tax. An IRA subject to both estate tax and income tax can sometimes lose 75% or more to taxes!

6. Are you in a 2nd marriage? His kids and her kids? If so, be careful leaving your IRA to your spouse. You want to balance out your wishes for your kids with your desire to provide for your spouse. You can’t assume you can leave the IRA to your spouse who will later leave it to your kids. First, it may be spent and gone. Second, your spouse has every legal right to change the beneficiary after your death (to his/her own children).

7. Is your IRA (or other tax deferred retirement plan) a large percentage of your total estate? If so, then even more is at risk. You need careful planning, and it’s vitally important you consult with a professional.

Effective IRA planning is very important in effective estate planning. Give us a call today at 217-726-9200 if you have any questions, or check out one of our upcoming workshops to find out more about effective planning.

elder fraud

Granny We Need to Talk: Questions that Can Stop Elder Fraud in Its Tracks

In our past two posts we talked about how Elder Fraud is on the rise and the types of fraud to look out for. Here are 7 questions to ask your friends and loved ones that can raise red flags about the possibility that they are being set up as a target for Elder Fraud:

  1. Have you had any recent phone calls or solicitations? (Cold-calling is still a very effective way to take advantage of seniors.)
  2. Has anyone recently asked to obtain your Power of Attorney?
  3. Has anyone with regular access to the home asked for financial information?
  4. Is a financial advisor pushing you to move money or purchase a financial product that you don’t understand or sounds “too good to be true”?
  5. Has anyone asked to borrow money?
  6. Has anyone borrowed things from you and not returned them?
  7. Are you donating to any new charities that you have not previously supported?

Maintaining this sort of dialogue with neighbors, friends and professionals connected with your older relatives could stop fraud in its tracks.

If you are struggling with the challenges of an aging loved one, we encourage you to give our Elder Care Advisors a call. They are here to help seniors and their families make the best legal, financial, and care decisions possible. Just call 217-726-9200 and ask to speak with an Elder Care Advisor.

Charitable Giving For Regular People

Do you think of yourself as rich? Hopefully you do, but mostly in ways that don’t show up on a tax return. Are you rich in the things that really matter – loving family, good friends, your faith, serving others? Whether or not you think of yourself as a wealthy person, you can take advantage of the legal and tax benefits of giving to charity and doing it effectively.

Most people don’t give to charity just for the tax benefits. But if you believe in sharing what you have and making a difference in your community, then why not do it right?  Save some money from going to Uncle Sam and add it to what you plan to give to charity.

What is planned giving? It’s nothing more than making a plan to give in the best possible way. What is the best way? One that will best benefit the organization, save taxes, and protect your family by providing for you during your life. Planned giving can help you find the best way to decide:

  • What you give.
  • How you give it.
  • When you give it.

Here’s my top 10 things about charitable giving that everyone should know if their wealth is somewhere between Mother Theresa’s and Bill Gates.

  1. Use ticking tax time bomb assets. Do you have assets that may lead to a tax later? Such as stock or real estate that has gone up in value, or an IRA or annuity? Use those assets to give to charity. Avoid the capital gains tax and still get the deduction for the charitable gift.
  2. Give at your death. Think of the wealth you have. Suppose you decide to give a percentage of your assets at death to charity – maybe 1%, 5% or even 10%. If your kids get a little less at your death, will that reduce their quality of life? But just a small percentage of your estate going to charity can make a big difference in others and in your community.
  3. Give during life. There is one thing better than giving at your death. What’s that?  Giving while you’re still alive. By all means, give at your death. But if you can afford to give now and still live comfortably, then do it. There are 2 good reasons for this. You can get a tax deduction if you do it while you’re alive. Plus, it’s much more fun to give now while you can see how your gift is used and enjoy watching the impact it has on others.
  4. Look for a win-win situation. Suppose you want to make sure you have enough money to live on during your life, but also help a charity. There are special legal and tax tools we can use to give you a lifetime income that never runs out, while still giving to charity.
  5. Don’t worry about the fancy stuff. You’re already an expert in what you need to know to be an effective giver. Don’t worry about knowing all the details of how fancy charitable strategies work – charitable remainder trusts, charitable gift annuities, charitable lead trusts, etc. Focus on what you hope your gift will accomplish, and let professional help find the best way to do it.
  6. Remember why you’re doing it. In the end, you give because you want to make a difference. Maybe you give in memory of someone you love. Maybe you give because of all the blessings you have received in your life.
  7. Listen to a professional. Ask questions and listen to those who can help you do charitable giving in the best way. To get the most done in the most efficient way. The charity’s planned giving or development officer, your tax advisor, or an estate planning attorney can help you consider the best giving options.
  8. Use the right professional. Who do you use to help with your tax or legal strategies for charitable giving? Look for someone who handles these matters regularly and look for someone who is generous in giving to charity and helping others in their own life.
  9. Involve your family. Will your giving set an example for your children and grandchildren? Have you considered involving them now in making decisions about your charitable gifts?
  10. Be wise about who you give to. Give to organizations with a proven track record of helping others.

If you have questions about the best way to give to charity, contact our Client Coordinator at 217-726-9200 and schedule a phone call or appointment to see how we may be able to help.

asset protection

Charitable Giving – Do It Wisely and Use Uncle Sam’s Money

As you work on your estate plan, don’t forget to consider charitable giving.  Here are some basic questions to ask yourself:

  • If I plan to give to charity at death, have I considered just giving during my life instead? Give now, enjoy an income tax deduction and also enjoy seeing the money help others.  Plus, you get to see if your chosen organization is wise with the first chunk of funds before you give them more.  Of course, you need to consider what assets you will need during your lifetime to care for you and your family.
  • Whether I plan to give at death or now, during life, am I giving in the most tax-efficient way? Do it the right way and you basically are using some of Uncle Sam’s money.  Do it the wrong way and Uncle Sam keeps his share and you are forced to use only your money (or your family’s inheritance) to make the gift.