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Retirement Planning Blog

in Annuity
on 17 January, 2020

what is an annuity free withdrawal

One of the chief criticisms of annuities is their relative lack of liquidity. This is true in some respects. Annuity owners give up complete liquidity in exchange for other benefits, including insurer guarantees for lifetime income, guaranteed growth, or protection from downside risk.

Many annuities now come with guaranteed income riders that can be turned off and on while letting you still access at least some principal. And most contracts do offer something called "free withdrawals."

What is a Free Withdrawal?

A free withdrawal is a payment you can take out of your annuity without having to pay a penalty, or a surrender charge, as the insurance company calls it. In most cases this free withdrawal amount will be equal to a given percentage of your annuity's accumulation value each year, such as 5% or 10%.

If you withdraw more than this amount in a given year, then you will have to pay a back-end surrender charge on the excess amount.

So, say your contract allows you to withdraw 5% per year and you withdraw 7%. Then you will have to pay a surrender charge on the excess 2%.

Of course, you will generally have to pay taxes on the amount you withdraw. Since annuities are intended as retirement savings vehicles, you might also face a 10% early withdrawal penalty on any money you take out before age 59.5.  

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on 18 December, 2019

how much income will you need in retirement

Calculating how much income you will need for retirement isn’t necessarily an easy task. Your health expenses will probably increase, but your mortgage payments may decrease or stop. Meanwhile, other expenses might continue to change over time.

Of course, you likely won’t have to deal with payroll taxes as much. Chances are you will also see expenses tied to employment, from transportation to a professional wardrobe, decline as well. But other costs may appear in retirement, from pursuing long-sought hobbies to traveling or spending more time with loved ones.

Although you may not even know where to start when trying to estimate how much retirement money you will need, there are a few rules of thumb that you can follow to help get you started.

Start With Your Current Lifestyle and Income

The first thing to look at is the amount of income that you need right now. This will give you a baseline to work off. Say your current lifestyle costs $60,000 of income per year to support. Your future retirement lifestyle will probably need an income that is somewhere near that level, unless major medical expenses arise (which can happen).

If you needed much more income than that to support your future lifestyle, you might consider delaying Social Security. Your benefits will accrue with each year you wait. If you kept on working, it would also give you more time to invest and grow your nest egg. Ultimately, that would help you be even better prepared for the transition to a secure and comfortable retirement.

Since your current income supports your present lifestyle, it's a natural starting point to estimate your retirement income needs.

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on 15 January, 2020

life expectancy and retirement

Not everyone thinks this way, but the idea of ‘living forever’ appeals to many people. Or, at least, the thought of living a longer, healthier life.

There can be many upsides to living longer. Think about how you could share more in the lives of loved ones from younger generations. You would have a front-row seat to see exciting developments in technology and medical services.

You might have the chance to witness new history-making events. At the very least, it would give you the opportunity to see the impact of your lifelong legacy.

Over the past century, life expectancy in the United States rose by over 30 years. It's no wonder why financial researchers say that people can spend as much as one-third of their lives in retirement nowadays.

Advances in healthcare, medicine, and technology have led to better management of childhood infectious diseases as well as improvements in healthcare for adults' quality of life. Because of this, people face the prospect of longer retirements and more years that they will have to cover financially than was so in the past.

It's clear that increasing life expectancy has and will continue to have big effects on retirement. Among other goals, the primary challenge is figuring out how much income you will need to sustain your preferred lifestyle over many years.

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on 12 December, 2019

how long might you spend in retirement

People are living longer than before, leading many to ask: “How long could my retirement really last?” In generations past, retirement represented a relatively short period of time in most peoples' lives. They would work until they were 60 or 65 and then live perhaps a few more years before passing away.

But this has become a thing of the past. Today, some retirees could live for as long as another 30 years after they finish with their careers. Many of them are now travelling around the world, starting new businesses, or doing charity work.

The answer to this question will depend upon many factors, such as your projected longevity, financial resources, and current health. If you come from a family of long-lived forebearers, then you may have a good chance of living that long yourself. If you smoke or drink heavily, then your lifespan may not last as long as it would if you quit doing those things.

Thanks to advances in medicine, technology, and wellness, people's lifespans are longer than before. The National Vital Statistics Report from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed that the average American's lifespan has increased by 30 years over the past century.

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on 10 January, 2020

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As another year passes by, more people join the ranks of retirees. Since 2011, roughly 10,000 baby boomers have turned 65 years old each day, according to Pew Research. It predicts that trend to go on until 2029.

From second-act careers to volunteering and entrepreneurship, baby boomers are already reshaping the mold of retirement. And they are bound to keep redefining it, as record-breaking millions are set to leave the workforce.

With a new era of retirement living on the horizon, it’s prudent to take note of our retirement income planning strategies.

Will they provide reliable income streams and financial security for what could well be a decades-long retirement? Do they give a long-term assurance of you being able to enjoy your desired lifestyle? Or when it comes to these goals, does your income strategy have more of a question mark hanging over it?     

In their career years, many people work with a financial advisor to build their life savings and plan to continue so in retirement. One notable survey of 200 advisors by investment company Incapital shows how advisors are preparing today’s retirees for the economic uncertainties of tomorrow.

The survey's focus? What retirement assets these financial advisors were using to generate retirement income for their clients.

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on 06 December, 2019

required minimum distributions retirement

Uncle Sam can be one of your key partners in your retirement saving. If you have money in a traditional IRA or an employer-sponsored retirement plan, then that money automatically receives tax-deferred status in the eyes of the IRS. Other accounts like SIMPLE IRAs and SEP-IRAs also benefit from this tax-favorable treatment.

Generally, your contributions to those accounts are tax-deductible. The money inside the account grows tax-deferred, or without taxes on the earnings over time, as long as withdrawals aren’t taken.

But you can’t enjoy this tax-deferred growth forever. Required minimum distributions are one way that Uncle Sam ultimately collects his tax dues.

Once you reach age 70.5, the IRS sets required minimum distributions (or RMDs) for you. You will be required to start pulling a certain amount of money out of your traditional IRAs and qualified plan balances every year. The same goes for other kinds of IRAs with pre-tax money status. And this money will be taxed at your top marginal tax bracket, regardless of how long it's been in the account.

There is no capital gains treatment available for traditional IRAs and qualified plans, save for one exception. The sale of company stock held inside a 401(k) plan can be spun off and sold separately under the Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) rule.

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on 07 January, 2020

2020 advisor outlook united states

As a new year rolls in, one survey suggests that advisors are optimistic but cautious about what might lie ahead for their clients in an uncertain economy.

InvestmentNews has released the findings of another one of its comprehensive surveys of advisors each year. In November of 2019, the news outlet surveyed 353 advisors about their outlooks and their concerns for the upcoming year.

Most of their outlooks were chiefly optimistic, and in some cases, even moreso than last year's survey. They expect the economic expansion to continue and predict another bullish year for stocks. But they do have some reservations about the possible results of the 2020 election.

About 7 out of 10 advisors think the economy is doing well. Only 54% of advisors felt this way in InvestmentNews's advisor survey in 2019. Meanwhile, a hefty 80% of advisors thought so in the survey from 2018.

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on 03 December, 2019

financial fails in retirement to avoid

Retirement planning is, in many ways, a guessing game. You can’t be sure of exactly how long you will live. How much income you will need might not be clear. And you don’t know if you will need long-term care support.

Even so, prudence dictates that we have some roadmap for these unknowns. It’s better to plan for these contingencies. Otherwise, you could wind up in financial trouble at some point in your retirement years.

Here are five financial fails to avoid in retirement so you will be better prepared when you retire.

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on 02 January, 2020

secure act changes to retirement

It's happened. After a nearly unanimous passage in the U.S. House of Representatives, the SECURE Act (Setting Up Every Community for Retirement Enhancement Act) has become law. The legislation was “attached” to a bipartisan spending bill with the goal of avoiding another government shutdown.

The president signed the SECURE Act into law on December 20th, 2019. With many provisions having gone into effect on January 1st, 2020, it will have big implications for retirement and taxes. As a result, retirees and working-age retirement savers can start seeing major changes as early as 2020.

All of that being said, the SECURE Act brings the most sweeping changes to the U.S. retirement system in a decade. Because of that, there is bound to be some confusion about what the act actually does and how it might affect people’s own retirement standard of living.

Here is a broad overview of some major changes to retirement, taxes, and financial planning that come with the SECURE Act now becoming law.

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on 26 November, 2019

questions to ask financial advisor during annual review

As the end of the year approaches, now is an excellent time for you to schedule a meeting with your financial advisor. An annual review of your financial situation is an ideal reason to come together.

Not only can you review the financial progress that you made during the year. Your annual review meeting also provides the opportunity to go over your investment portfolio, insurance coverage, and overall financial plan. It’s a crucial moment to see whether any changes are needed, especially if your circumstances have changed somehow.

Of course, money matters and retirement are a moving target. So, you can also set new goals and update your estate plan if necessary.

All of that being said, if you do have a meeting on the books, you might be unsure of the “ballpark” questions to ask your advisor during your financial review. Below are four questions to help guide your discussion and make the most of your annual review meeting time.

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