A Different Kind Of Retirement Planning

Because retirement can last 20 to 30 years, it’s more important than ever that “pre-retirees” (those who plan to retire in five to seven years) practice how they want to live without work as the organizational focus of their lives:

• Try out different retirement lifestyles. For example, many people dream of selling the family home and traveling in an RV or going abroad. Practice this by renting a camper and going on the road for a long vacation. You may discover that travel is exhausting or boring. The same holds true for relocation dreams. Rent a home where you think you may want to retire to see if it really is where you’d like to move. The weather may not suit you, or the community may not be your cup of tea. Work these details out before you commit to an expensive change.

• Live with your spouse 24 hours a day. Most couples spend much of their early years working and, thus, spending much of their time apart. It may take some time to get used to the other person’s schedule, habits, and routines.

• Practice living on a retirement budget. Most retirees’ income is significantly less than their preretirement income. Add up all the Social Security benefits, pension income, and 401(k) and IRA savings to calculate what you can realistically expect to live on each month. Then live on that amount for a month to determine what changes, if any, you need to make to your plans.

Posted on April 15, 2011 Read More

Is There Really Any Difference?

You see, each tax professional does have certain qualifications. Some might be experts at this sort of tax law, or in working with farmers or with getting money back through IRS representation, or a whole variety of different things…but are they really providing what you, the consumer, wants?

What do you want from a tax preparer?

When I sit down and talk with regular consumers, here’s what I discover:

You want to be able to work with a caring professional…NOT one of those “cattle call” shops, where you’re squeezed in with a bunch of other people, and seen by harried, poorly-trained employees that just took a basic tax course.

You want an accurately filed tax return. You want the whole thing broken down in terms that you understand, and in a way that you don’t need a translator to communicate. You want there to be processes in place to ensure that the most money is kept out of the grasping hands of Uncle Sam, and in your wallet (legally).

You want a “heads up” about future ways you can legally add deductions and make sure that you can get even more money back in the future. You want assurances everything your tax preparer is doing for you is valid and correct, so a guarantee(s) is essential to the process.

And of course, you want to do it fast. Look, I know this is a big deal for consumers…you don’t want your accountant pushing back at you all the time, saying “give me more time”, when you know it’s not because they’re working hard on your behalf, but that they’re so poorly organized that they’re not getting ANYBODY’S work done on time!

Oh, and if you ARE getting a refund, you want a tax firm who can get you the most money back the fastest … with the most electronic filing options available.

Here’s the bottom line: You want professionalism … accuracy … you want clarity … you want to be aware of beneficial tax options … you want peace of mind … you want an efficient use of your time …. you want your refund money back in your hands fast …. And at the end of the day, you want to KNOW you got the most money back from Uncle Sam AND know that the IRS will stay off your back so you can sleep like a baby at night!

If the accountant or tax professional you are talking to can’t do these things, you need to call one that can.

Posted on April 1, 2011 Read More

Why You Need an Estate Plan NOW


But unless you’re careful, all of it will be going to waste.

That’s why a well-crafted estate plan is so critical. It ensures that your hard-earned wealth (including intangible, non-financial assets) can pass intact to those you intend to be your beneficiaries, instead of being siphoned off to government processes and bureaucrats, or even being lost. We all dislike handing over our resources to those who don’t have our best interests in mind.

A well-made estate plan guarantees that this will NEVER happen to your family.

“But, what happens if I don’t create an estate plan? Doesn’t the judicial system have easy steps in place for families?”

Yep, and it’s called “probate” (Latin for “prove the will”), and it’s an ugly process.

You see, “probate” guarantees government interference in how you transfer your estate (however large or small). Documents must be filed and approval must be received from a court to pay your bills, pay your spouse an allowance, and account for your property. Oh, and even worse-it all takes place in the public’s view.

If you fail to plan your estate, not only do you lose the opportunity to protect your family from an impersonal, complex governmental process (that is a burden at best) but it’s slapped across the public domain for all to see.

Then, of course… there are taxes. You think the government is incentivized to keep those low on your behalf? There’s a variety of solutions for each family’s particular situation, but the plain fact is that working without a plan is U-G-L-Y no matter how you slice it.

When it comes right down to it, planning is a gift for your family (the people you love most) because if you don’t take care of things while you are living and able, they’ll have a mess to clean up when you are gone.

Even more, if you have children, you want to establish the proper (legal) procedure for ensuring they’re taken care of properly.

So if these issues are important to you (and I believe they are), make your tax preparation appointment with us count twice, and we can set you up with how to get this process started right.

Posted on March 1, 2011 Read More

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