Freeman's Blog


After losing ground in 2018, U.S. stocks had a banner year in 2019, with the S&P 500 gaining almost 29% — the highest annual increase since 2013.1 It’s too early to know how 2020 will turn out, but you can count on market swings to challenge your patience as an investor.

The trend was steadily upward last year, but there were downturns along the way, including a single-day drop of almost 3% on August 14. That plunge began with bad economic news from Germany and China that triggered a flight to the relative safety of U.S. Treasury securities, driving the yield on the 10-year Treasury note below the 2-year note for the first time since 2007. A yield curve inversion has been a reliable predictor of past recessions and spooked the stock market.2 By the following day, however, the market was back on the rise.3

It’s possible that a yield curve inversion may no longer be a precursor to a recession. Still, larger concerns about the economy are ongoing, and this incident illustrates the pitfalls of overreacting to economic news. If you were also spooked on August 14, 2019, and sold some or all of your stock positions, you might have missed out on more than 13% equity market growth over the rest of the year.4

Tune Out the Noise

The media generates news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and presents it through television, radio, print, and the Internet. You can check the market and access the news at work, in your car, and anywhere you carry a mobile device.

This barrage of information might make you feel that you should buy or sell investments in response to the latest news, whether it’s a market drop or an unexpected geopolitical event. This is a natural response, but it’s not wise to react emotionally to market swings or to news that you think might affect the market.

Stay the Course

Consider this advice from John Bogle, famed investor and mutual fund industry pioneer: “Stay the course. Regardless of what happens to the markets, stick to your investment program. Changing your strategy at the wrong time can be the single most devastating mistake you can make as an investor.”5

This doesn’t mean you should never buy or sell investments. However, the investments you buy and sell should be based on a sound strategy appropriate for your risk tolerance, financial goals, and time frame. And a sound investment strategy should carry you through market ups and downs.

It can be tough to keep cool when you see the market dropping or to control your exuberance when you see it shooting upward. But overreacting to market movements or trying to “time the market” by guessing at future direction may create an additional risk that could negatively affect your long-term portfolio performance.

Sources:
1) S&P Dow Jones Indices, 2020
2) The Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2019
3–4) Yahoo! Finance (S&P 500 index for the period 8/14/2019 to 12/31/2019)
5) MarketWatch, June 6, 2017

On April 20, 2020, the price of a futures contract for West Texas Intermediate crude — the benchmark for U.S. oil prices — fell below zero for the first time in history, dropping more than 306% in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and ending the day at –$37.63 per barrel.1 Essentially, this meant that investors who would soon be obligated to take possession of a barrel of oil were willing to pay someone else to take it instead.

This unprecedented price collapse was for contracts scheduled to expire the following day and require delivery in May. June futures dropped 18% to about $20 a barrel, and the May contract clawed its way back to about $10 on April 21.2–3 But the dramatic plunge below zero highlighted a fundamental problem for the oil industry in the face of evaporating demand due to COVID-19. There is too much oil, and the industry is running out of places to put it.

Supply Without Demand

The International Energy Agency estimates that global demand for oil dropped by 29% in April 2020 compared with 12 months earlier and will drop by an average of 23% for the second quarter — equivalent to losing all of the oil consumption in the United States and Canada.4–5 The historic agreement by Russia, Saudi Arabia, and their allies (OPEC+) to reduce production beginning May 1 — equivalent to about 10% of global production — will help, but won’t be soon enough or large enough to stop the continuing expansion of supply, and storage facilities are filling up fast around the globe.6

The pressure is especially acute on West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude and other U.S. oil stored for delivery in tanks at Cushing, Oklahoma. Under normal circumstances, oil passes through Cushing to refineries, but with diminished demand, the Cushing tanks are expected to be full sometime in May. Land-locked oil like WTI has nowhere else to go, which is one reason why traders were willing to pay to avoid taking delivery.7

A large exchange-traded fund (ETF) holding crude oil commodity futures contracts also played a major role in the rush below zero. ETFs hold futures strictly as paper investments with no intention or capability of taking delivery of oil — there are no storage tanks on Wall Street; they typically roll each month’s futures contract to the following month. But with no one willing to buy the May contract and accept actual delivery of oil, the ETF was forced to pay to get rid of the contracts. With storage problems likely to continue, June futures may face the same extreme price pressure as May.8

Brent Crude and Floating Storage

Whereas WTI contracts require accepting delivery of oil, contracts for Brent crude — the global benchmark — are settled in cash and unlikely to go negative. However, the physical price of Brent, which is pumped out of the North Sea, is already low and may go lower as storage tanks on the shore fill up, waiting for the oil to be loaded onto tankers. Like WTI, Brent is a high-quality oil, and other grades are typically sold at a discount to the benchmark. If Brent drops to $10, for example, oil from Saudi Arabia or Iraq could be priced below $0.9

The oil glut has created a record imbalance between near-term and long-term oil contracts, as traders anticipate increased consumption in the future. The disparity is great enough that some trading companies are buying cheap oil now and storing it on huge tankers that can carry 2 million barrels of oil.10 It’s estimated that a third of the world’s tanker fleet may be used for storage instead of transportation if the crisis continues.11

Not Worth Pumping

Oil prices are often volatile, but the dramatic drop in 2020 has been extraordinary, driven by the global pandemic shutdown and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. On April 28, after the subzero dive had come and gone, the spot price for WTI — the price actually paid on delivery in Cushing — was $12.40 per barrel, down 80% for the year. The spot price for Brent was $15.60 per barrel, down 77%.12

At these price levels, it is no longer profitable for many producers to pump oil, especially for the more expensive shale-oil production methods used in the United States. In the four-week period ending April 17, U.S. oil production dropped by 900,000 barrels per day, about 7% of production and the largest one-month drop since the Great Recession. Some analysts expect an additional drop of 2 million barrels per day by year-end.13

Layoffs and rig closures have begun and are expected to expand quickly. Although large companies are likely to weather the storm, some smaller producers may be forced into bankruptcy. The U.S. Department of Energy has opened 30 million barrels of storage in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for lease to private companies — equivalent to about 2.5 days of U.S. production — and plans to accept another 47 million barrels to fill the reserve to capacity; as of late April, no funding to purchase oil was available. Other forms of government support are being considered.14–16

Signs of a recovery in demand for oil in China have sparked some optimism, but the tension between supply and demand will continue to evolve, and extreme price volatility can be expected until the market finds balance through production cuts and/or rising demand.17

For now, keep in mind that oil prices are only one of many factors influencing the markets and the global economy. It’s important to maintain a long-term perspective and continue to focus on your own investment goals.

Sources:
1–3) MarketWatch, April 20 & 24, 2020
4) International Energy Agency, April 2020
5, 12, 16) U.S. Energy Information Administration, April 2020
6–7) The Wall Street Journal, April 22, 2020
8–9) Bloomberg, April 20 & 22, 2020
10) The Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2020
11) OilPrice.com, April 22, 2020
13) CNBC, April 22, 2020
14) CNN, April 21, 2020
15) U.S. Department of Energy, April 2, 2020
17) The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2020

An annuity is an insurance contract that offers an income stream in return for one or more premium payments. Income payments continue for the duration of the contract, which may be for life or a specific number of years.

A fixed annuity offers a set rate of return for the life of the contract. A variable annuity is riskier but offers the potential for growth because a portion of the premium is invested in the financial markets; the annuity’s future value and income payments are largely determined by the performance of the investment subaccounts selected by the account owner.

Guaranteed living benefits are optional riders that can be attached to annuities for an additional cost. Here’s how living benefits might help you address two important retirement risks.

1. Outliving Your Savings

You can receive a lifetime income stream from an annuity in one of two ways: annuitization or withdrawals. When a contract is annuitized, the cash value is converted into a series of periodic income payments based primarily on current interest rates (or market-based returns) and your life expectancy. Control of the account transfers to the insurance company, so you no longer have access to the investment principal.

guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (GLWB) is an optional lifetime income rider that can be attached to a variable annuity. It guarantees that you can withdraw a minimum amount of income from a variable annuity for life without having to annuitize, even if the original account value is depleted. If the markets perform well, the income amount could increase, but it typically cannot decrease unless you take a withdrawal that exceeds the guaranteed withdrawal amount. The remaining account value may be available for other purposes and inherited by your designated beneficiaries after death.

2. Paying for Long-Term Care

Adding a long-term care (LTC) rider to a fixed or variable annuity might help prevent your savings from being depleted by escalating costs. Benefits are typically triggered if you are diagnosed with dementia or are unable to perform two or more activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, and dressing. If care is needed, the payout is increased for a specified period of time or until the account value reaches zero. And if you never need care, you can continue to earn a return on your money. Medical underwriting requirements tend to be more lenient with an LTC rider than with a standalone policy, and you don’t have to worry about future rate increases or the issuer canceling the policy.

Any annuity guarantees are contingent on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Annuities are not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency. They are not deposits of, nor are they guaranteed or endorsed by, any bank or savings association. Annuities typically have contract limitations, fees, and charges, which can include mortality and expense charges, account fees, investment management fees, administrative fees, charges for optional benefits, holding periods, termination provisions, and terms for keeping the contract in force.

A variable annuity is a long-term investment product designed for retirement purposes. Variable annuities that come with living benefits tend to have more limited investment options. The investment return and principal value of the investment options are not guaranteed and may fluctuate with changes in market conditions. When the annuity is surrendered or annuitized, the principal may be worth more or less than the original amount invested.

Widespread smartphone use, loosening regulations, and employers seeking health cost savings are three trends that were driving the rapid expansion of telemedicine. And that was before social distancing guidelines to help control the spread of COVID-19 made the availability of remote medical care more vital than anyone anticipated. 

Telemedicine offers a way for patients to interact with doctors or nurses through a website or mobile app using secure audio or video connection. Patients have immediate access to advice and treatment at any time of the day or night while avoiding unnecessary and costly emergency room visits. And health providers have the ability to bill for consultations and other services provided from a distance.

Telemedicine can be used to treat minor health problems such as allergies and rashes, or for an urgent condition such as a high fever. It also makes it easier to access therapy for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. In other cases, doctors can monitor the vital signs of health patients with chronic conditions remotely, or follow up with patients after a hospital discharge. Telemedicine can also fill gaps in the availability of specialty care, especially in rural areas.

In 2019, nearly nine out of 10 large employers (with 500 or more employees) offered telemedicine programs in their benefit packages, but many workers had not tried them out. Only 9% of eligible employees utilized telemedicine services in 2018 (the most recent year for which data is available), even though virtual consultations often have lower copays and are generally less expensive than in-person office visits, especially for those with high deductibles.1

If your health plan includes telemedicine services, you might take a closer look at the details, download the app, and/or register for an online account. This way, you’ll be ready to log in quickly the next time your family faces a medical problem.

1) Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2019

Being named as the executor of a friend’s or family member’s estate is generally an honor. It means that person has been chosen to handle the financial affairs of the deceased individual and is trusted to help carry out his or her wishes.

Settling an estate, however, can be a difficult and time-consuming job that could take several months to more than a year to complete. Each state has specific laws detailing an executor’s responsibilities and timetables for the performance of certain duties.

If you are asked to serve as an executor, you may want to do some research regarding the legal requirements, the complexity of the particular estate, and the potential time commitment. You should also consider seeking the counsel of experienced legal and tax professionals.

Executor of the estate

Documents and Details

The executor of an estate (referred to as a personal representative in some states) is named in the deceased’s legal will. If there is no will, there technically can be no executor, but the probate court will appoint an administrator or personal representative to carry out the same duties. The person chosen will depend on state law.

A thoughtfully crafted estate plan with up-to-date documents tends to make the job easier for whomever fills this important position. If the deceased created a letter of instruction, it should include much of the information needed to close out an estate, such as a list of documents and their locations, contacts for legal and financial professionals, a list of bills and creditors, login information for important online sites, and final wishes for burial or cremation and funeral or memorial services.

An executor is responsible for communicating with financial institutions, beneficiaries, government agencies, employers, and service providers. You may be asked for a copy of the will or court-certified documentation that proves you are authorized to conduct business on behalf of the estate. Here are some of the specific duties that often fall on the executor.

Arrange for funeral and burial costs to be paid from the estate. 

Collect multiple copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or coroner. They may be needed to fulfill various official obligations, such as presenting the will to the court for probate, claiming life insurance proceeds, reporting the death to government agencies, and transferring ownership of financial accounts or property to the beneficiaries.

Notify agencies such as Social Security and the Veterans Administration as soon as possible. 

Federal benefits received after the date of death must be returned. However, because Social Security benefits are paid a month behind, a payment made in the month of death (for the previous month) would not have to be returned. You should also file a final income tax return with the IRS, as well as estate and gift tax returns (if applicable).

Protect assets while the estate is being closed out. 

This might involve tasks such as securing a vacant property; paying the mortgage, utility, and maintenance costs; changing the name of the insured on home and auto policies to the estate; and tracking investments.

Inventory, appraise and liquidate valuable property. 

You may need to sort through a lifetime’s worth of personal belongings and list a home for sale.

Pay any debts or taxes. 

Medical bills, credit-card debt, and taxes due should be paid out of the estate. The executor and/or heirs are not personally responsible for the debts of the deceased that exceed the value of the estate.

Distribute remaining assets according to the estate documents. 

Trust assets can typically be disbursed right away and without court approval. With a will, you typically must wait until the end of the probate process.

The executor has a fiduciary duty — an obligation to be honest, impartial, and financially responsible. This means you could be held liable if estate funds are mismanaged and the beneficiaries suffer losses.

If for any reason you are not willing or able to perform the executor’s duties, you have a right to refuse the position. If no alternate is named in the will, an administrator will be appointed by the courts.

Let me guide you through your retirement planning decisions. Contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. 

Contact me TEL: 1-833-313-7233.

Retirement Specialist Freeman Owen, Jr.

If you receive a distribution from a qualified retirement plan such as a 401(k), you need to consider whether to pay taxes now or to roll over the account to another tax-deferred plan. A correctly implemented rollover avoids current taxes and allows the funds to continue accumulating tax-deferred.

MOST TAX-EFFICIENT WAY TO TAKE A DISTRIBUTION FROM A RETIREMENT PLAN

PAYING CURRENT TAXES WITH A LUMP-SUM DISTRIBUTION

If you decide to take a lump-sum distribution, income taxes are due on the total amount of the distribution (except for any after-tax contributions you’ve made) and are due in the year in which you cash out. Employers are required to withhold 20% automatically from the check and apply it toward federal income taxes, so you will receive only 80% of your total vested value in the plan. (Special rules apply to Roth accounts.)

The advantage of a lump-sum distribution is that you can spend or invest the balance as you wish. The problem with this approach is parting with all those tax dollars. Income taxes on the total distribution are taxed at your marginal income tax rate. If the distribution is large, it could easily move you into a higher tax bracket. Distributions taken prior to age 59½ are subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. (Special rules may apply if you were born before 1936.)

DEFERRING TAXES WITH A ROLLOVER

If you don’t qualify for the above options or don’t want to pay current taxes on your lump-sum distribution, you can roll the money into a traditional IRA.

If you choose a rollover from a tax-deferred plan to a Roth IRA, you must pay income taxes on the total amount converted in that tax year. However, future withdrawals of earnings from a Roth IRA are free of federal income tax after age 59½ as long as the five-tax year holding requirement has been met. Even if you are not 59½, your distribution may be tax-free if you are disabled or a first-time home purchaser ($10,000 lifetime maximum), as long as you satisfy the five-year holding period.

If you elect to use an IRA rollover, you can avoid potential tax and penalty problems by electing a direct trustee-to-trustee transfer; in other words, the money never passes through your hands. IRA rollovers must be completed within 60 days of the distribution to avoid current taxes and penalties.

An IRA rollover allows your retirement nest egg to continue compounding tax-deferred. Remember that you must generally begin taking annual required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred retirement plans after you turn 70½ (the first distribution must be taken no later than April 1 of the year after the year in which you reach age 70½). Failure to take an RMD subjects the funds that should have been withdrawn to a 50% federal income tax penalty.

Of course, there is also the possibility that you may be able to keep the funds in your former employer’s plan or move it to your new employer’s plan if allowed by the plans. (Make sure you understand the pros and cons of rolling funds from an employer plan to an IRA before you take any action.)

Before you decide which method to take for distributions from a qualified retirement plan, it would be prudent to consult with a professional tax advisor.

Let me guide you through your retirement planning decisions. Contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. 

Contact me TEL: 1-833-313-7233.

Retirement Specialist Freeman Owen, Jr.

Many Americans realize the importance of saving for retirement, but knowing exactly how much they need to save is another issue altogether. With all the information available about retirement, it is sometimes difficult to decipher what is appropriate for your specific situation.

One rule of thumb is that retirees will need approximately 80% of their pre-retirement salaries to maintain their lifestyles in retirement. However, depending on your own situation and the type of retirement you hope to have, that number may be higher or lower.

how much do I need to save for retirement?

Here are some factors to consider when determining a retirement savings goal.

1. RETIREMENT AGE

The first factor to consider is the age at which you expect to retire. In reality, many people anticipate that they will retire later than they actually do; unexpected issues, such as health problems or workplace changes (downsizing, etc.), tend to stand in their way. Of course, the earlier you retire, the more money you will need to last throughout retirement. It’s important to prepare for unanticipated occurrences that could force you into early retirement.

2. LIFE EXPECTANCY

Although you can’t know what the duration of your life will be, there are a few factors that may give you a hint.

You should take into account your family history — how long your relatives have lived and diseases that are common in your family — as well as your own past and present health issues. Also, consider that life spans are increasing with recent medical developments. More people will be living to age 100, or perhaps even longer. When calculating how much you need to save, you should factor in the number of years you expect to spend in retirement.

3. FUTURE HEALTH-CARE NEEDS

Another factor to consider is the cost of health care. Health-care costs have been rising much faster than general inflation, and fewer employers are offering health benefits to retirees. Long-term care is another consideration. These costs could severely dip into your savings and even result in your filing for bankruptcy if the need for care is prolonged.

4. LIFESTYLE

Another important consideration is your desired retirement lifestyle. Do you want to travel? Are you planning to be involved in philanthropic endeavors? Will you have an expensive country club membership? Are there any hobbies you would like to pursue? The answers to these questions can help you decide what additional costs your ideal retirement will require.

Many baby boomers expect that they will work part-time in retirement. However, if this is your intention and you find that working longer becomes impossible, you will still need the appropriate funds to support your retirement lifestyle.

5. INFLATION

If you think you have accounted for every possibility when constructing a savings goal but forget this vital component, your savings could be far from sufficient. Inflation has the potential to lower the value of your savings from year to year, significantly reducing your purchasing power over time. It is important for your savings to keep pace with or exceed inflation.

6. SOCIAL SECURITY

Many retirees believe that they can rely on their future Social Security benefits. However, this may not be true for you. The Social Security system is under increasing strain as more baby boomers are retiring and fewer workers are available to pay their benefits. And the reality is that Social Security currently provides about 40% of the total income of Americans aged 65 and older with at least $47,731 in annual household income.1 That leaves about 60% to be covered in other ways.

AND THE TOTAL IS…

After considering all these factors, you should have a much better idea of how much you need to save for retirement.

For example, let’s assume you will retire when you are 65 and spend a total of 20 years in retirement, living to age 85. Your annual income is currently $80,000, and you think that 75% of your pre-retirement income ($60,000) will be enough to cover the costs of your ideal retirement, including some travel you intend to do and potential health-care expenses. After factoring in the $18,000* annual Social Security benefit you expect to receive, a $10,000 annual pension from your employer, a 3% potential inflation, and a 5% real rate of return, you end up with a total retirement savings amount needed of about $720,000. (For your own situation, you can use a retirement savings calculator from your retirement plan provider or from a financial site on the Internet.) This hypothetical example is used for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment.

The estimated total for this hypothetical example may seem daunting. But after determining your retirement savings goal and factoring in how much you have saved already, you may be able to determine how much you need to save each year to reach your destination. The important thing is to come up with a goal and then develop a strategy to pursue it. You don’t want to spend your retirement years wishing you had planned ahead when you had the time. The sooner you start saving and investing to reach your goal, the closer you will be to realizing your retirement dreams.

* Social Security Fact Sheet, 2020, estimated average annual Social Security benefit payable in January 2020.

Source: 1) Social Security Administration, 2019

You need a little foresight and knowledge to make the most of your retirement plan. So, contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. 

Contact me TEL: 1-833-313-7233.

Retirement Specialist Freeman Owen, Jr.
  • Are you saving for retirement?
  • For your children’s education?
  • For any other long-term goal?

Know how inflation can impact your savings.

Inflation is the increase in the price of products over time. Inflation rates have fluctuated over the years. Sometimes inflation runs high, and other times it is hardly noticeable. The short-term changes aren’t the real issue. The real issue is the effect of long-term inflation.

Inflation erodes the purchasing power of your income and wealth.

This means that even as you save and invest, your accumulated wealth buys less and less, just with the mere passage of time. And those who put off saving and investing impacted even more.

how does inflation affect you

How to fight inflation?

You should own at least some investments whose potential return exceeds the inflation rate. A portfolio that earns 2% when inflation is 3% actually loses purchasing power each year. Though past performance is no guarantee of future results, stocks historically have provided higher long-term total returns than cash alternatives or bonds. However, that potential for higher returns comes with, greater risk of volatility and potential for loss. You can lose part or all of the money you invest in a stock. Because of that volatility, stock investments may not be appropriate for money you count on to be available in the short term. You’ll need to think about whether you have the financial and emotional ability to ride out those ups and downs as you pursue higher returns.

Bonds can also help, but since 1926 their inflation-adjusted return has been less than that of stocks. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest, are indexed so that your return should pace with inflation. The principal is automatically adjusted every six months to reflect increases or decreases in the Consumer Price Index; as long as you hold a TIPS to maturity, you will receive the greater of the original or inflation-adjusted principal. Unless you own TIPs in a tax-deferred account, you must pay federal income tax on the income plus any increase in principal, even though you won’t receive any accrued principal until the bond matures. When interest rates rise, the value of existing bonds will typically fall on the secondary market. However, changing rates and secondary-market values should not affect the principal of bonds held to maturity.

Diversify Your Portfolio!

Spending your assets across a variety of investments that may respond differently to market conditions is one way to help manage inflation risk. However, diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against a loss; it is a method used to help manage investment risk.

All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment will be worth what you paid for it when you sell.

Don’t allow inflation to catch you off guard. You need a little foresight and knowledge to make the most of your retirement plan. So, contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. 

Contact me TEL: 1-833-313-7233.

Retirement Specialist Freeman Owen, Jr.

There are a number of different gifting strategies available for planned giving. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Gifting Strategies - retirement planning with Freeman Owen, Jr.

Instead of making an outright gift, you could choose to use a charitable lead trust. With a charitable lead trust, your gift is placed in a trust. The recipient of the gift draws the income from this trust. Upon your death, your heirs will receive the principal with little or no estate tax.

If you prefer to retain an income interest in your gift, you could use a pooled income fund, a charitable remainder unitrust, or a charitable remainder annuity trust. With each of these strategies, you receive the income generated by your gift, and the recipient receives the principal upon your death.

Finally, you could purchase a life insurance policy and name the charitable organization as the owner and beneficiary of the policy. This would enable you to make a large future gift at a potentially low current cost.

The cost and availability of life insurance depend on factors such as age, health, and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Before implementing a strategy involving life insurance, it would be prudent to make sure that you are insurable.

As with most financial decisions, there are expenses associated with the purchase of life insurance. Policies commonly have contract limitations, fees, and charges, which can include mortality and expense charges. Most have surrender charges that are assessed during the early years of the contract if the contract owner surrenders the policy; plus, there could be income tax implications. Any guarantees are contingent on the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing company. Life insurance is not guaranteed by the FDIC or any other government agency; they are not deposits of, nor are they guaranteed or endorsed by, any bank or savings association.

 AdvantagesDisadvantages
Outright GiftDeductible for income taxes.No retained interest.
Charitable Lead TrustA current gift to charity.

Current income tax deduction.

Pass assets to heirs at a future discount.
The transfer of assets is irrevocable.

If the current income tax deduction is taken, future income is taxable to the donor.

Donor gives up the use of income for life of the trust.
Pooled Income FundCurrent income tax deduction.

Income paid to beneficiary for life.

Non-income-producing assets can be converted to income-producing assets
Income is unpredictable from year to year.

Income received is taxed as ordinary income.

Remainder interest will usually go to only one charity.
Charitable Remainder UnitrustCurrent income tax deduction.

Avoids capital gains tax on appreciated property.

Reduce future estate taxes.
The transfer of assets is irrevocable.

Qualified appraisal generally required.

Complex administration and setup.

Distributions to noncharitable beneficiaries are generally subject to income tax.
Charitable Remainder Annuity TrustCurrent income tax deduction.

Avoids capital gains tax on appreciated property.

Fixed income.
Fixed payment cannot be limited to the net amount of trust income.

Qualified appraisal generally required.

Complex administration and setup.

Distributions to noncharitable beneficiaries are generally subject to income tax.
Gifts of InsuranceCurrent income tax deduction is possible.

Enables donor to make a large future gift at a small cost in the future.
May require annual premiums.

In some cases, the death benefit could be part of the donor’s taxable estate.

While trusts offer numerous advantages, they incur upfront costs and ongoing administrative fees. The use of trusts involves a complex web of tax rules and regulations. You might consider enlisting the counsel of an experienced estate planning professional and your legal and tax advisors before implementing such strategies.

Planning for retirement is like planning a birthday party. You need a little foresight and knowledge to make the most of your retirement plan. So, contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. 

Contact me 1-833-313-7233.

Retirement Specialist Freeman Owen, Jr.
Holiday Shopping Tips

In 2018, Internet retail sales rose by more than 14% over 2017, while brick-and-mortar sales increased by less than 4%. About $514 billion in goods and services were purchased in cyberspace throughout the year. Even so, traditional retailers still dominated the marketplace, with $4.8 trillion in sales.1

Shopping online is especially popular during the holiday season when many people prefer to avoid the crowds and purchase and ship gifts with a few clicks of the mouse. Before you click, you might consider these tips, which could help make your online shopping experience safer and more satisfying.

Connect carefully. Look for https:// in the URL and an icon of a locked padlock, typically to the left of the URL, which indicates a secure connection. Don’t provide personal or financial information when connected to a public Wi-Fi hotspot unless you are certain it is secure. If you must use public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN).

Protect your identity. Create a strong password if you order through an account. Only provide information that is required for your order. Opt-out of future contacts unless you want further information.

Use a credit card, not a debit card. Credit card payments can be withheld if there is a dispute, but debit cards are typically debited quickly. Credit cards generally have better protection than debit cards against fraudulent charges.

Know the vendor. Ordering online from well-known retailers is generally safer (although even large vendors can be hacked). If you want to order from an unknown vendor, read online reviews from other consumers and check out the company with the Better Business Bureau. Regardless of the vendor, be sure you are comfortable with the return policy, check for additional fees (such as handling), and make sure you’re not signing up for a service or product with recurring charges.

Finally, remember to factor in time for shipping. Many retailers offer free or low-cost delivery with a guaranteed delivery date, but it might not be as fast as you would like — and overnight or expedited delivery can be costly. If you need a last-minute gift, you might have to face those crowds at the local mall.

1) U.S. Census Bureau, 2019

Planning for retirement is like planning a birthday party. You need a little foresight and knowledge to make the most of your retirement plan. So, contact me for a FREE retirement strategy consultation at my office in Upper Marlboro, MD. 

Contact me 1-833-313-7233.

Retirement Specialist Freeman Owen, Jr.