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Do you need a Trust for your children?

In Estate Planning, General Financial Planning, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

Most parents take certain steps to protect their children in the event of their premature death. Drafting a will or other estate documents, designating a guardian, obtaining life insurance and naming appropriate beneficiary designations on IRAs and 401k plans are all important components of an effective estate plan that serve the purpose of protecting your children. However, most parents should take additional measures to provide guidance on how their financial assets are managed for their children’s benefit.

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Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010

In Estate Planning, General Financial Planning, Personal Finance, Tax, The Economy by Chip Hymiller

Well, Congress finally enacted the tax reform bill that many have been anticipating for some time. In general, the new law extends the Bush-era tax cuts for two years and provides taxpayers with some certainty during this period. While this comprehensive piece of legislation covers many aspects within the tax code, here is a summary of some of the major points.

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Strategic Social Security Decisions To Consider

In General Financial Planning, Personal Finance, Personal Financial Planning, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

One of the most important financial decisions people face with regard to retirement planning is when to start taking their Social Security retirement benefit. Making the most of this decision requires careful consideration of a number of variables including tax, cash flow and even elder care issues. The economic downturn has forced many families to consider taking Social Security earlier than expected. With that in mind, here are some ideas to consider, when making this important decision.

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Is that type of insurance necessary?

In Cash Flow and Budgeting, General Financial Planning, Insurance, Personal Finance, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

A key component of our one-time financial planning engagements involve assessing how much insurance coverage our clients need while also reviewing the insurance policies that clients have in order to determine if they are adequate or necessary. In doing so, we often find that people have purchased insurance products that are either not necessary or entirely too costly.

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Taxation of Exchange Traded Funds Can Be Tricky

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

With more than $80 billion invested in exchange traded funds (ETFs), they have become a very popular investment for both retail and institutional investors. While ETFs can be an integral component of a sound investment strategy, investors should understand the tax treatment of these investments in order to avoid unexpected tax consequences.

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Market Corrections are not Unusual

In Asset Allocation, General Financial Planning, Investments, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

he financial markets have experienced continued volatility since the end of April. In fact, with stocks having declined in excess of 10%, the markets have officially entered a period of “correction.” Although corrections are normal (and actually healthy for the markets), many investors may be a bit uneasy, especially with the wounds of the “Great Recession” still fresh in everyone’s mind.

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All Star Portfolio?

In Asset Allocation, Investments, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

A recent USA Today article titled “Finding the All Stars:  How we whittle down the funds” scanned the universe of mutual funds in an attempt to identify a number of “all star” mutual funds.  The list of funds that were selected for the article all have impressive track records and are certainly worthy of consideration in any portfolio.

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The Millionaire Next Door

In General Financial Planning, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

I recently had lunch with a friend of mine who told me that he had recently read The Millionaire Next Door (published in 1996) written by Thomas Stanley and William Danko.  For those of you who have not had a chance to read the book, the authors surveyed over a thousand millionaires to try and identify common attributes that made …

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A Rule of Thumb for Withdrawal Rates

In Personal Finance, Retirement Planning by Chip Hymiller

Much has changed over the last year—especially for those who are taking withdrawals from their investments to fund living expenses.  Even investors who maintained a moderate portfolio allocation may have sustained significant investment losses over the last year.  With portfolio declines, some retirees may find that they are having to distribute a greater percentage of their portfolio to fund “lifestyle” …

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Personal Finance Stress Test

In Cash Flow and Budgeting, Personal Finance by Chip Hymiller

I stumbled across this little tool at CNNMoney.com that I thought was pretty neat.  The purpose of the tool is to seek an answer to the question, “How healthy are your finances?” You enter answers to a series of questions and the calculator determines, or grades, your financial health.  I entered a few hypothetical situations and I thought it provided …