Updates

Insurance and divorce

Beneficiary designations for life insurance or retirement plans are an often overlooked aspect of estate planning.  A change in life circumstances may suggest a need to change those beneficiaries.  Beneficiary designations can be the source of estate litigation, as a recent case demonstrates. Ronald and Heidi Lee had been married for ten years when Heidi […]

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A Pocket Full of Bitcoin

In spite of the already plentiful media commentary on Bitcoin, inquiries about the phenomenon continue to come in. Following is an abbreviated, nontechnical summary of our thoughts on the subject. In brief, if you are not already a regular user of online banking services and you do less than half of your Christmas shopping at […]

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Thankful and Hopeful

The S&P 500 Index finished the week with a close over 2,600, a new high. The 10-Year Treasury Note yield held steady at 2.33% while the yield on the 2-Year continued to edge higher and closed the week yielding 1.75%. The current economic numbers continued to display the U.S growth cycle trudging higher. Get ready […]

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Federal Estate Taxes

Dear Trust Officer: What is going to happen with federal estate taxes in 2018? —Interested Observer Dear Interested Observer: The IRS has announced that, under current law, the inflation-adjusted exemption from federal estate and gift tax will grow to $5.6 million in 2018. For a married couple, that means a total estate of $11.2 million […]

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Low Volatility

The lack of volatility is again being discussed as a sign of the end of the bull market. Low volatility by itself is not a danger to markets. Markets become dangerous when low volatility causes investors to become complacent. Long periods of low volatility can lull investors into becoming comfortable with typically risky assets to […]

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The Enemies of Investors

Tax policy, interest rates, trade policies, regulatory reform, job growth, consumer spending and finance, technological transformation, and political dysfunction are potentially disruptive. Investors must continuously monitor these and other changing external variables and make corresponding adjustments to their models for the economy and securities markets. These changing variables are part of life, but change is […]

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The Framework for Tax Reform

On September 27 President Trump released a nine-page “framework” for new tax legislation.  The framework adds some detail to the one-page outlines that had been released earlier by the administration.  The new target for the corporate tax is 20% instead of 15%.  The “border-adjustable tax” is history.  Pass-through entities (used by most small business owners) […]

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Earnings and Valuations

For the seventh week in a row, the S&P 500 closed at another all-time high. Bullish traders have supported their buying by pointing to what has been a good earnings season. Factset compilations note that with 55% of companies reporting, 76% of S&P 500 companies have reported positive earnings per share surprises and 67% have […]

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Tax-conscious Bequests

The advent of a higher amount exempt from the federal estate tax ($5.49 million in 2017) has reduced the need for tax-aware estate planning, but it has not eliminated it altogether.  Estates of any size will be subject to income taxes, as will their beneficiaries.  Planning may permit this burden to be reduced. Take charitable […]

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Personal Goals

It will be a busy week for the markets. Hundreds of companies will be releasing third quarter earning’s reports. Continued favorable news from Washington on tax reform is anticipated. On Friday, the preliminary report on third quarter Gross Domestic Product will be released. Short term interest rates have been on the rise as can be […]

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