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Trust Basics

Trust Basics

Whether you're seeking to manage your own assets, control how your assets are distributed after your death, or plan for incapacity, trusts can help you accomplish your estate planning goals. Their power is in their versatility — many types of trusts exist, each designed for a specific purpose. Although trust law is complex and establishing a trust requires the services of an experienced attorney, mastering the basics isn't hard. What is a trust? A trust is a legal entity that holds assets for the benefit of another. Basically, it's like a container that holds money or property for somebody else.…
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Getting Started: Establishing a Financial Safety Net

Getting Started: Establishing a Financial Safety Net

In times of crisis, you don't want to be shaking pennies out of a piggy bank. Having a financial safety net in place can ensure that you're protected when a financial emergency arises. One way to accomplish this is by setting up a cash reserve, a pool of readily available funds that can help you meet emergency or highly urgent short-term needs. How much is enough? Most financial professionals suggest that you have three to six months' worth of living expenses in your cash reserve. The actual amount, however, should be based on your particular circumstances. Do you have a…
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Net Unrealized Appreciation: The Untold Story

Net Unrealized Appreciation: The Untold Story

If you participate in a 401(k), ESOP, or other qualified retirement plan that lets you invest in your employer's stock, you need to know about net unrealized appreciation — a simple tax deferral opportunity with an unfortunately complicated name. When you receive a distribution from your employer's retirement plan, the distribution is generally taxable to you at ordinary income tax rates. A common way of avoiding immediate taxation is to make a tax-free rollover to a traditional IRA. However, when you ultimately receive distributions from the IRA, they'll also be taxed at ordinary income tax rates. (Special rules apply to…
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Refinancing Your Mortgage

Refinancing Your Mortgage

When you refinance your mortgage, you take out a new home loan and use some or all of the proceeds to pay off the existing one. Why refinance your mortgage? There are a variety of reasons why you may want to consider refinancing your mortgage, such as: Lowering your monthly mortgage payment by refinancing to a lower interest rate Shortening the length of your loan (e.g., from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage) to potentially reduce interest charges over time Accessing extra cash through a cash-out refinancing to pay for home improvements, pay for college, or consolidate debt Refinancing…
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Funding a Roth IRA

Funding a Roth IRA

With the potential for tax-free retirement income, Roth IRAs are popular investment vehicles. There are three ways to fund a Roth IRA — you can open an account and contribute directly, you can convert all or part of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, or you can roll over or convert funds from an eligible employer retirement plan. 1. Open account, contribute directly In general, you can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA (traditional, Roth, or a combination of both) in 2021 (unchanged from 2020) ($7,000 if you'll be age 50 or older by December 31). However, your…
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