Increasing Your Return on Life.®

Frank Talk - 4th Quarter Newsletter (2023)

Published: 12/05/2023

Table of Contents


Written by: Frank Fantozzi

Happy Holidays, Clients and Friends!

As the holiday season gets into full swing, autumn’s warmer temperatures are quickly transitioning to  winter’s cooler days and frostier nights throughout much of the U.S. As most of you are probably aware, we’ve experienced a transition of our own this year. On October 2, 2023 we announced our name change from Planned Financial Services to Return on Life® Wealth Partners to better express what we bring to our clients, team members, business associates, and the broader financial services marketplace. After 29 years spent building a successful wealth management firm under the Planned Financial Services name, we believe this was the right time in our firm’s growth trajectory to make this change and place our belief—that our clients’ Return on Life® matters most to us—front and center in our name.

Why now?

When we started the firm nearly three decades ago, we picked a straightforward and functional name so we could hit the ground running. However, as we continue to mature and evolve, it’s become increasingly important that our name accurately reflects the founding principles that we continue to live by today and that truly differentiate our brand. Our new name – Return on Life Wealth Partners – represents the distinct financial and life philosophy, vision and beliefs embraced by our team of experienced wealth advisors and associates. It speaks to our core commitment to look well beyond financial returns to help our clients use their wealth as a tool to pursue a life well lived – something we believe is priceless.

Return on Life” speaks to the idea that happiness cannot be boiled down to an Excel spreadsheet or rate of return. Instead, our team seeks to help you live a more fulfilling life, through a comprehensive approach to providing relevant and timely financial and investment advice in areas including retirement, estate, charitable, business succession, investment, and tax planning, as well as a full range of institutional and family office services to help support and achieve what matters most to you.

The name change announcement also coincides with our roll out of new business growth goals, which include doubling the size of our team over the next 5 - 7 years to start the path to an employee-owned firm. In fact, you can read about the most recent addition to our team, Wealth Planning Liaison Jessica Patton, under Team Updates below.

As we continue to grow our team and our client base, our new name serves as a constant reminder of the trust you have placed in us and the value you place on proactive financial advice, being cared for, and receiving personalized service focused on what matters most to you in life. From your business to your career, family life, and charitable aspirations, we don’t just seek to manage your finances, but help keep you on track with advice tailored to support the goals and priorities that bring purpose and meaning to your life.

To learn more about our recent name change, visit our Getting Frank Blog or take a few moments to listen to our newly launched podcast: Frank Wealth Insights.

As always, we encourage you to reach out to your dedicated team whenever you have questions or when circumstances in your life change. If you need additional help or someone you know needs our advice, remember, we’re only a phone call away at 440.740.0130.

What’s In It for You?

At-a-glance guide to your 4th Quarter 2023 Frank Talk newsletter:

News & Events

  • Awards & Recognition
    • 11th Weatherhead 100 Award
    • Chelsea Hussey Named LPL Rising Star
    • Danielle LeChard Receives CFP® Certification
    • Mike Rinaldi Elected to AHY Board of Trustees
  • Team Updates
    • Jessica Patton Joins the Team
  • Recent Events
    • Market Noise Live Webinar – November 28, 2023
    • 15th Annual Cleveland Economic Summit
    • Smart Business Family Business Conference
    • Smart Women Breakfast & Awards
    • Understanding Medicare Live Webinar


  • NEW! 2023-2024 Tax Planning Guide
  • Complimentary Second Opinion Service
  • Visit Our Blog and Podcast and Join Us on Social Media

Market & Economic Update

News & Events

Awards & Recognition

Return on Life Wealth Partners Receives 11th Weatherhead 100 Award

Return on Life Wealth Partners was named a Weatherhead 100 Enterprise company (in the category formerly known as Upstarts) for the 11th time by the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University. Established in 1988, each year the organization recognizes a group of companies who represent examples of leadership, growth and success in our region. Weatherhead 100 Enterprise companies represent fast-growing companies with 15 or fewer employees or net sales of less than $5 million last year. Return on Life Wealth Partners will be honored among its peers at the 35th Annual Weatherhead 100 Awards Ceremony which will be held on December 14th at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland.

Wealth Advisor Chelsea Hussey Is Named an LPL Rising Star

Wealth Advisor Chelsea Hussey, CLU®, ChFC®, CFP® was recently selected as an LPL Achieve Rising Star. The Rising Star Women Advisor program is part of LPL Financial’s commitment to increase representation of women advisors within the organization and the industry. This year, LPL awarded 20 scholarships to promising women advisors. All winners were invited to attend LPL’s exclusive women’s leadership forum and pre-program workshop, which took place October 16-18 at The Fairmont San Francisco.

Wealth Advisor Danielle LeChard Receives CFP® Certification

Join us in congratulating Wealth Advisor Danielle LeChard, CFP® on receiving her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER certification. For more than 30 years, the certification has been considered the standard of excellence for financial planners. In addition to meeting extensive training and experience requirements, CFP® professionals commit to the CFP Board's ethical standards that require them to put their clients' interests first.

Mike Rinaldi Elected To Serve on AHY Board of Trustees

401(k) Prosperity® Retirement Plan Advisor Mike Rinaldi, AIF®, CEBS, CRPS®, CPFA®, MBA was recently elected to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Akron, Ohio-based Alliance for Healthy Youth (AHY), a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers, encourages, and educates youth to make and keep healthy lifestyle choices. AHY conducts curriculum and youth-led programs in school classrooms to equip youth with the knowledge and skills to make decisions and practice behaviors that enhance health and wellness.

Team Updates

Jessica Patton Joins the Return on Life Wealth Partners Team

We are pleased to welcome Jessica Patton to our independent financial and investment planning firm as a Wealth Planning Liaison. Jessica brings more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. Her broad industry experience complements and further strengthens the firm’s multidisciplinary team approach to providing you with a consistently exceptional client experience. Prior to joining our team, Jessica spent more than 7 years collecting and analyzing data for the development of comprehensive financial plans. She works closely with our team of experienced wealth advisors to build comprehensive financial plans that reflect what matters most to each client.

Recent Events

Recorded Webinar: Market Noise Live: 2023 Market Perspective

Thank you to everyone who joined us on November 28th for our Market Noise Live, 2023 Year-End Market and Economic Perspective. The live webinar was hosted by Frank Fantozzi and Wealth Advisors Cynthia Yang, CFA®, CAIA®, CIPM, and Chelsea Hussey, CLU®, ChFC®, CFP® who shared insights on what they believe may be in store for the financial markets and economy in the months ahead, what this could mean for your business and personal investment planning, and how your team is working to help manage portfolio risk and position client portfolios for long-term success. If you missed it or would like to watch it again, click on the links below to access the live recording and presentation slides.



15th Annual Cleveland Economic Summit

For the 15th consecutive year, we had the pleasure of welcoming clients, friends and local business leaders to our annual business summit. The 15th Annual Cleveland Economic Summit took place on September 21st at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and featured guest speakers Philip Camporeale, Managing Director at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and motivational speaker and bestselling author, Dr. Kevin Elko. If you weren’t able to join us, click on the link below to access the link to the live event and presentation slides:



2023 Smart Business Family Business Conference

For the 7th consecutive year, we sponsored the Smart Business Family Business Conference & Family Business Achievement Awards with Frank Fantozzi participating as one of the industry expert panelists where he provided insight and addressed the challenges of family businesses. The conference took place on September 28th at Corporate College East in Cleveland, Ohio.

Smart Business: Smart Women Breakfast & Awards

For the 7th consecutive year, we participated as a sponsor of the Smart Business Smart Women Breakfast & Awards on July 20th at the Westin Cleveland Downtown. Wealth Advisor Chelsea Hussey, CLU®, ChFC®, CFP® served as an award presenter. The conference recognized the achievements of leading businesswomen, inspiring male advocates, and effective women’s programs.

Recorded Webinar: Get Your Medicare Questions Answered

On August 10th we hosted a live webinar: Get Your Medicare Questions Answered, featuring guest speaker, Rodika Koloda, Life & Health Advisor at Insurance Systems Group and Return on Life Wealth Partners host and Wealth Advisor, Chelsea Hussey. To learn more about choosing the right Medicare options for you, access the recording of the live presentation at the link below:




Your Complimentary 2023-2024 Comprehensive Tax Planning Guide Is Here!

  • The Return on Life Wealth Partners 2023-2024 Tax Planning Guide is your comprehensive guide to key tax provisions and deadlines that can help you reap the full benefits of collaboration with your qualified tax advisor. The guide includes key changes under the SECURE 2.0 Act that go into effect in January 2024, as well as other tax planning information and tips. View or download your 2023-2024 Tax Planning Guide now.

Year-End Tax Planning is Easier with Our 2023 At-a-Glance Guide

  • As we approach the end of the year, don’t forget that our at-a-glance guide to 2023 Federal Tax Rates is just a click away! The guide makes it easy to quickly find the information you need from federal income tax brackets and rates to capital gains and qualified dividend rates, contribution limits for retirement plans, annual gift and estate tax exclusion amounts, and more. Feel free to download it, print it out or save it to your device. View or download your complimentary 2023 Federal Tax Rates guide now!

Our Second Opinion Service Was Designed for Your Family Members, Friends and Business Associates

Our no-obligation Second Opinion Service continues to be well-received based on feedback from friends, family members and colleagues of our clients and business associates. This service provides the people you care about with an opportunity to benefit from the same expertise and guidance that you have come to expect as a valued client.

In many cases, a second opinion will simply provide confirmation, and the confidence that those you care about are on track to fulfill their values and achieve their goals with their current financial provider or strategy. However, if needed, we are happy to suggest ways in which we can help, including recommending another provider if we are not a good fit for their needs. Either way, following a Discovery Meeting and Investment Plan Meeting with our experienced team, they will receive a Total Client Profile and a Personalized Financial Assessment of their current situation.

Don’t Miss Out on the Topics that Are Important to You: Visit Our Getting Frank Blog and Frank Wealth Insights Podcast

Get a jumpstart on the new year with timely information on the financial planning, business growth and investment topics that are meaningful to you by visiting our Getting Frank Blog and newly launched podcast, Frank Wealth Insights. You can also access our latest blog posts and podcasts by connecting with us on social media at LinkedIn, FacebookX (formerly Twitter) and YouTube.

Market & Economic

A Mixed Bag for Consumers

Key Takeaways:

  • Consumers are contending with a confounding housing market. New home prices are down over 17% from a year ago but existing home prices continue to increase. This may provide some opportunities for homebuilders to meet demand.
  • As prices for durable goods fall, consumers retained an appetite for purchasing major items, but the pace of spending will likely slow in the coming months.
  • Economic data often gets revised downward as an economy downshifts, as we saw in the latest Conference Board report and the revised consumer spending estimates from Q3.
  • The recent economic data are suppressing yields and stimulating the appetite for risk assets.

Homebuilders Look for Opportunities

One of the confounding experiences for consumers these days is within the housing market. Prospective buyers are reading the tale of two markets when it comes to residential real estate. After a volatile 2022, the pace of new home sales has stabilized around the pre-pandemic rate. This is good news for homebuilders prepping for 2024, especially for companies such as PulteGroup (PHM) with a diversified portfolio. Median prices for new homes are down roughly 17% from last year as inflation pressures moderate. With supply of existing homes still below 50% of its pre-pandemic level, homebuilders stand ready to take advantage of any increase in demand. Currently, activity is strongest in the Midwest and West, with supply chain issues and inclement weather negatively affecting builds in the Northeast. Both permit issuances and new housing starts saw recent increases and beat their respective forecasts.

Amid low inventory of existing homes on the market, new home sales will likely remain stable to meet the demand. As mortgage rates fall and the Federal Reserve (Fed) pivots away from hiking rates, homebuilders might expect continued growth in business activity.

An Appetite Not Yet Satiated

Confidence in November rose from the previous month, but only because of October’s significant downward revision. As prices for durable goods fell, consumers retained an appetite for purchasing major items such as automobiles, big appliances, and homes. Although, more respondents reported jobs were becoming harder to find, meaning a slowdown in spending is likely as the year wraps up.

Investors should remember that economic data often gets revised downward as the economy downshifts, as we saw in the Conference Board report. The three-month average for consumer confidence fell for the third consecutive month, reaching the lowest since August 2022. As we saw in the holiday sales figures, the consumer is still spending but much depends on the job market. All eyes should be on the upcoming jobs report on December 8. As the labor market cools, investors should expect consumer spending to slow down, but so far, it looks like a soft landing. All in, the data supports the Fed’s likely decision to keep rates unchanged at next month’s meeting.

Another Mixed Bag

The November 29th revised estimate for Q3 GDP was full of surprises. Revisions pushed headline growth to 5.2% annualized from 4.9%, but investors must look beneath the headlines.

Consumer spending was revised down to 3.6% annualized from 4.0% but government spending was revised up. Consumer data is often revised downward as the economy downshifts, and we see this again in the latest GDP report. Looking ahead, we should expect inventories to subtract from Q4 growth and possibly see less support from consumer spending.

In addition to weaker consumer spending, markets are digesting Fed governor Christopher Waller’s apparent pivot, as he commented on November 28th that the Fed could hold rates steady at the upcoming meeting. Investors know that Waller had been the most hawkish of Fed officials, so this is market-moving. Treasury yields and the U.S. dollar fell on the news.

The Bottom Line

The Fed could find themselves in a sweet spot. Inflation is trending lower, the consumer is still spending but at a slower pace, and the Fed could end its rate-hiking campaign without much pain inflicted on the economy. Looking ahead, markets will hotly anticipate the upcoming Beige Book release for anecdotal evidence on the state of the economy, but so far, the economic data are suppressing yields and stimulating the appetite for risk assets.

One additional item to watch is the U.S. dollar. As the Fed started to sound less hawkish, investors saw a decline in the dollar. A weaker dollar is often good for emerging markets, potentially providing an opportunity in the near future. We currently hold a negative view of emerging market equities but acknowledge valuations are attractive and that certain markets such as India and Brazil are intriguing.**

Closing Remarks

As these and other conditions evolve in the weeks and months ahead, you can rely on your Return on Life Wealth Partners team to continue to monitor and adjust our portfolios and keep you up to date on market and economic developments. Please know that you’re always welcome to contact your dedicated team if you have questions or if you’d like to schedule time to meet with us at our office. For those who prefer to meet virtually, we continue to use Zoom for virtual meetings, and are always available via phone. Just let us know how you prefer to meet, and we’ll make it happen!

We’re also honored to help our clients’ friends and business associates take greater control of their future with guidance from your team. We welcome and are grateful for the many introductions our clients continue to provide. If you, or someone you know, has questions or concerns about your personal investment strategy or business finances, please don’t hesitate to share information about our no-obligation Second Opinion Service and reach out to us at 440.740.0130.

Real People. Real Answers.

Health, Happiness, and Good Fortune,

Frank Fantozzi
President & Founder


**A portion of this research material was provided by LPL Financial, LLC, November 2023. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, neither Return on Life Wealth Partners or LPL Financial make any representation as to its completeness or accuracy.


This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services.
For a list of descriptions of the indexes and economic terms referenced in this publication, please visit

All index and market data from FactSet and MarketWatch.

Unless otherwise stated, Return on Life Wealth Partners, Planned Financial Services, and the third-party persons and firms mentioned are not affiliates of each other and make no representation with respect to each other. Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Investment advice offered through Planned Financial Services, a Registered Investment Advisor.

4 Year-End Tax Moves for Investors

Written by: Cynthia Yang

As 2023 winds down, it’s a good time to take stock of your finances and implement year-end strategies that can potentially minimize your tax bill. Here are four strategies to consider:

1.  Harvest losses or gains

Review this year’s activity in your investment portfolio. Keep in mind that although the value of various investments may rise or fall during the year, these gains and losses exist only on paper and aren’t “realized” until you sell. If you’ve realized net capital gains for the year, they’ll be taxed at rates as high as 20% for long-term gains and 37% for short-term gains — 23.8% and 40.8%, respectively, if you’re also subject to the net investment income tax (NIIT).

To avoid this tax bite, consider “harvesting” available capital losses by selling investments that have declined in value and using the losses to offset your gains. And if you end up with a net capital loss, you can deduct up to $3,000 of that loss from ordinary income, such as wages and interest. Even if you haven’t sold any securities this year, don’t assume you have no capital gains. If you’ve invested in mutual funds, you’ll likely receive distributions of capital gains, which must be included in your income even if you elected to have them automatically reinvested in mutual fund shares.

What if you’ve realized a net capital loss this year? If it makes sense from an investment perspective, consider harvesting some gains. This gives you an opportunity to sell investments that have grown in value without triggering capital gains tax.

2.  Maximize retirement plan contributions

If possible, max out your deductible contributions to traditional IRAs, 401(k) plans and other tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Doing so allows you to make the most of tax-deferred growth and lower this year’s taxable income. For 2023, the maximum contribution to 401(k) and similar employer plans is $22,500. If you’re 50 or older, you can make additional “catch-up” contributions up to $7,500, for a total of $30,000. This year’s contribution limit for IRAs is $6,500, plus $1,000 in catch-up contributions if you’re 50 or older.

You may need to make contributions to an employer plan by December 31. But you can take a deduction on your 2023 tax return for traditional IRA contributions made as late as April 15, 2024.

3.  Take RMDs from retirement accounts

The SECURE 2.0 Act increased the starting age for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from certain retirement accounts from 72 to 73, effective in 2023. If you turn 72 in 2023, your first RMD isn’t due yet. If you’ve already scheduled an RMD for this year based on prior law, you might want to delay it. No one will have to make their first RMD in 2023.

If you turn 73 in 2024, you can defer your first RMD until April 1, 2025. Your second RMD will also be due that year. But you may not want to defer the initial distribution because doubling up could push you into a higher tax bracket.

4.  Make a qualified charitable distribution

If you’re required to take an RMD from an IRA this year but don’t need the money for living expenses, consider making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). This is sometimes referred to as a “charitable IRA rollover.”

A QCD is a direct transfer of up to $100,000 from your IRA to a qualified charity. It counts toward your RMDs for the year, but it’s excluded from your taxable income. In exchange, you don’t get a charitable deduction. Unlike with other charitable donations, you can take advantage of a QCD regardless of income and whether you itemize deductions. Under SECURE 2.0, you can now make a one-time QCD of up to $50,000 to a charitable gift annuity or charitable remainder trust for the benefit of you or your spouse.

Get personal

These are just some examples of the many year-end strategies investors can use to lower their tax bills. Keep in mind that the right moves for you depend on your particular circumstances, so be sure to work with an advisor to develop a personalized plan.

Sidebar:  Avoid late-year investments in mutual funds

Typically, mutual funds distribute accumulated dividends and capital gains near the end of the year. There’s a common misconception that investing in a fund just before such distributions is like getting free money. After all, you enjoy nearly a year’s worth of income on your shares right after you purchase them. The reality, however, is that this strategy will cost you.

Immediately after a mutual fund makes a distribution, the value of its shares is reduced by the amount of the distribution, erasing any benefit you received from the distribution. But you’ll still owe tax on dividends and capital gains that you didn’t share in, so you’re actually worse off. To avoid this situation, find out a mutual fund’s “record date” — the date when shareholders will participate in a distribution — and don’t invest in the fund shortly before that date.

Investment advice offered through Planned Financial Services, a Registered Investment Advisor.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Thinking About "Unretiring"? Do Your Research First

Written by: Chelsea Hussey

If you’ve retired but are thinking about rejoining the workforce, you’re not alone. A recent survey by payroll service provider Paychex revealed that one in six retired Americans are considering returning to work after having been out of the workforce for an average of four years. However, before you “unretire” you need to consider the financial implications, including a paycheck’s impact on your Social Security benefits and Medicare premiums.

Economic turmoil and worker demand

Given the economic and social turmoil of the last few years, volatility in the financial markets, high inflation, and rising interest rates, it’s no surprise that many older Americans are reevaluating their retirement plans. The top reasons for considering unretirement among Paychex’s survey respondents were:

  1. Personal reasons (57%),
  2. Needing more money (53%),
  3. Getting bored (52%),
  4. Feeling lonely (43%),
  5. Inflation (43%), and
  6. Stock market volatility (41%).

Don’t simply blame the COVID-19 pandemic, though. According to CNBC, the rate of workers who retired then returned to work a year later in 2022 was around 3.2% — roughly the same as before the pandemic. One reason retirees are returning is that employers need them. As the Baby Boom generation leaves the workforce, some companies are having trouble filling their positions.

Impact on Social Security

How old you are when you start taking Social Security benefits will determine the impact of unretiring. In general, unless you need the money sooner, it’s best to delay the start of Social Security benefits until you reach age 70 because you’ll maximize the amount of your benefit checks. The benefit amount at age 70 is as much as 32% higher than the benefit at full benefit (normal) retirement age (66 to 67 for most people). If you’re receiving Social Security benefits and go back to work at any age, the increased income on your tax return may result in a larger portion of your benefits being taxed.

If you’re under full benefit retirement age and have already started taking benefits, returning to work can reduce them. For every $2 you earn above a specified threshold ($21,240 in 2023), your benefits will be reduced by $1. And in the year you reach your full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 you earn above a different threshold ($56,520 in 2023), until the month you reach your full retirement age.

Suppose, for example, that you retired at age 62 and started receiving a monthly Social Security check for $3,000, or $36,000 per year. If you return to a job that pays $75,000 per year, your annual benefits will be reduced by $26,880 [($75,000 - $21,240)/2] to only $9,120 per year.

Fortunately, this reduction won’t last forever. Once you reach full retirement age, you’re entitled to your full benefit amount, regardless of how much you earn. And the Social Security Administration will recalculate your benefit going forward so that you potentially recoup the amounts you lost when benefits were reduced. Also, since going back to work means you’ll resume paying Social Security taxes, your additional earnings may increase your benefit amount.

How it affects Medicare

If you’re 65 or older and covered by Medicare, returning to work may increase your premiums. Currently, monthly premiums for Medicare Part B range from $164.90 (for individuals with income up to $97,000 or joint filers with income up to $194,000) to $560.50 (for individuals with income of $500,000-plus or joint filers with income of $750,000-plus). For instance, a retired single individual with $97,000 in income would pay $164.90 per month for Medicare Part B. But if that individual takes a job that pays $125,000 annually, the monthly premium would roughly double to $527.50.

Keep in mind that if your employer offers more affordable health care benefits, it may be possible to drop Medicare temporarily and then re-enroll when you re-retire. The rules in this area are tricky, however, so consult your financial advisor before dropping Medicare.

Consider your motivations

Finally, consider your motivations for unretiring. If they’re financial, you don’t necessarily need to work full time. A part-time job may be enough to make you feel financially secure. If you’re motivated more by boredom, look for a low-stress position or volunteer for charity.

Whatever your decision, don’t make it alone. Talk to any member of the Return on Life Wealth Partners team, or to your financial advisor to map out a retirement income plan.

Sidebar:   Shield your retirement nest egg from market volatility

Volatility in the financial markets can be stressful for retirees. If you rely on your investments for current income, you may not be able to ride out the market’s temporary ups and downs. But you can soften the impact of a jittery market. For example, you might want to:

  • Shift some of your portfolio to bonds or dividend-paying stocks. These investments can provide you with income while helping to preserve the principal.
  • Buy an annuity, which offers a guaranteed minimum return, albeit with less upside potential than other investments.
  • Divide your investments into time-driven segments — with more conservative investments earmarked for short-term needs and more aggressive investments for mid- and long-term needs. Then reallocate your investments over time.
  • Reduce spending during market downturns, if possible, to avoid selling investments at a Save larger expenditures for times when the market has performed well.

Investment advice offered through Planned Financial Services, a Registered Investment Advisor.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Does Your Estate Plan Account for Your Digital Holdings?

Written by: Danielle LeChard

Increasingly, estate planners are being asked by clients to include digital assets in their estate plans. You may not think you need to worry about digital assets, but if you bank online or have social media accounts, then you have digital assets. And as several high-profile cases of cryptocurrency owners have illustrated, without passwords, it’s possible for survivors to lose access to millions of dollars. So when planning your estate, consider how you can make it easier for your family to find and manage your digital accounts and assets.

Assets to include

What kinds of digital assets should be included in an estate plan? It may depend on several factors, including the terms of your service agreements with the custodians of digital assets, applicable laws and the terms of your estate plan. But in general, make plans for:

  • Online bank and brokerage accounts,
  • Cryptocurrency wallets,
  • Bill-paying services,
  • Cloud-based document storage,
  • Digital music and video collections,
  • Social media accounts and blogs,
  • Gaming accounts,
  • Air miles and hotel points, and
  • Domain names.

Don’t forget to include the security code to your mobile device that may be needed for second-factor authentication of various accounts. Also, if you’ve developed software or other types of intellectual property, make sure it’s accounted for in your estate plan.

Securing your assets

The simplest way to provide your family or estate executor with access to your digital assets is to leave a list of accounts and login credentials in a safe deposit box or other secure location. The disadvantage of this approach is that you’ll need to revise the list every time you change your password or add a new account. For this reason, consider storing this information using password management software and providing the master password to your representatives.

Or you can use an online service designed for digital estate planning. These services store up-to-date information about your digital assets and establish procedures for releasing it to your designated beneficiary after your death or if you become incapacitated.

Legal protections

Although sharing login credentials with your representatives is important, it’s no substitute for covering digital assets in your estate plan. For one thing, if an account is included in your estate plan, any third party who accesses your account without formal authorization may violate federal or state privacy laws.

In addition, many states have laws, such as the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA), that establish default rules regarding access to digital assets by executors, trustees and other fiduciaries. If those rules are inconsistent with your wishes, you’ll want to modify them in your plan. The RUFADAA allows people to provide for the disposition of digital assets using online settings offered by the account provider. For example, Facebook enables users to specify whether their accounts will be deleted or memorialized if they die and to designate a “legacy contact” to maintain their memorial pages.

The act also allows people to establish rules in their wills, trusts or powers of attorney. If users don’t have specific instructions regarding digital assets, the act allows the account provider’s service agreement to override default rules.

Keeping up with technology

Technology has changed all of our lives, and our digital assets, inevitably, will matter after our deaths. Don’t leave the disposition of yours to chance. Talk to your advisor about putting them in your estate plan.

Investment advice offered through Planned Financial Services, a Registered Investment Advisor.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific legal matters with a qualified advisor.

What to Do With Your 401(k) Account When You Leave a Job

Written by: Mike Rinaldi

What to do with your 401(k) account when you leave a job

If you’re leaving your job — because, for example, you’re changing employers or retiring — you may need to decide what to do with your 401(k) account without triggering a taxable withdrawal. Unless your account balance is less than $5,000, (excluding rollovers from other accounts), you typically can keep the funds in your former employer’s plan. You also may have the option to roll over your old 401(k) balance into your new employer’s plan (if applicable). Finally, you can roll over the funds into an IRA account.

Stay or roll over?

Rolling over a 401(k) balance into an IRA can be appealing because IRAs — usually offered by financial services companies — can provide a greater variety of investment options. But there are also drawbacks to such rollovers.

Before making your decision, weigh the following factors:

Fees. Investment fees vary widely, and they can have a big impact on the performance of your retirement funds. Unfortunately, they’re easy to overlook because they come out of your returns. Leaving your job may give you an opportunity to move your savings into lower cost investments. On the other hand, some 401(k) plans offer competitive fees. So be sure to compare the costs of your various options.

Your age. If you’re 55 or older but younger than 59½, there may be an advantage to leaving funds in your former employer’s 401(k) plan. Usually, if you withdraw money from a 401(k) or IRA before age 59½, you’re subject to a 10% penalty (on top of ordinary taxes for withdrawals). But a special rule allows you to withdraw money from a 401(k) plan penalty-free before age 59½ if you leave your job at age 55 or older (50 or older for certain public safety employees). If you roll over the funds into an IRA, this option is lost.

Protection from creditors. If you’re concerned about creditors going after your retirement savings, you’ll generally enjoy greater protection if you leave your funds in a 401(k) plan. Under federal law, money in 401(k) plans and other qualified retirement plans is generally protected from creditors, both in and outside of bankruptcy. Funds rolled over from a 401(k) into an IRA are generally protected in bankruptcy. Outside of bankruptcy, however, creditor protection is governed by state law, and the level of protection varies widely from state to state.

Company stock. If your traditional 401(k) plan invests in your former employer’s stock, you may miss out on a valuable tax planning opportunity by moving your entire balance to an IRA. If you leave company stock in the current plan, you likely can take advantage of a technique under which the stock is distributed to a taxable account and you’re taxed at favorable capital gains rates on its appreciation. However, if you roll over your entire balance into a traditional IRA, distributions will be taxed at ordinary income rates — which may be significantly higher.

Withdrawal flexibility. If you’re looking for control over the timing of your withdrawals, you may want to roll over your balance into an IRA. Many 401(k) plans prohibit partial or periodic withdrawals, so if you plan to spread withdrawals over time, a rollover can be your best bet.

No pressure

After you’ve left a job, there’s generally no need to make a quick decision about an existing 401(k) balance. The best course is to leave your savings in your former employer’s plan and take time to review your circumstances and discuss options with your financial advisor.

Securities and Retirement Plan Consulting Program advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC.

Investment and Financial Planning offered through Planned Financial Services, a Registered Investment Advisor and a separate entity from LPL Financial. 

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

Want help? Let's talk.