Articles Tagged with Houston IRA’s

IRA visionPerhaps the most important thing to do when you inherit an IRA is your homework. Start by finding out exactly the type of IRA you have inherited, and then find out what kind of beneficiary you are. USA Today's article, "If you inherit an IRA, make a plan before doing a thing," starts with the premise that the person inheriting the IRA is a surviving spouse, and outlines four options.

  1. Roll the inherited IRA assets into your own IRA. This has several advantages. The beneficiary can postpone required minimum distributions (RMDs) until age 70 ½, and beneficiaries can use their own life expectancy to calculate RMDs. Plus it's pretty easy. You don't have to keep both an inherited IRA and your own IRA, they can be combined, but the disadvantage is that the beneficiary will (with a few exceptions) have to pay a 10% penalty tax on pre-59 ½ distributions, and RMDs could be accelerated if the deceased spouse was younger than the surviving spouse.
  2. Transfer assets into a properly-titled inherited IRA. There are a few advantages to this. For starters, the spouse beneficiary won't have to pay the 10% penalty tax when taking withdrawals from an inherited IRA prior to age 59 ½. Also, you may be able to delay RMDs if the deceased spouse was younger. However, this is pretty complex. The beneficiary will have to keep their own retirement accounts separate from their inherited IRA.

Man at computerIf you don't remember who your beneficiaries are for your investment accounts, insurance policies or annuity contracts, then you need to carve out some time to go through your accounts and see who you named as your beneficiary. If it's been a while, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Beneficiary designations allow certain assets owned by an individual to transfer efficiently at her or his passing. These include retirement accounts like IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, and pensions, as well as life insurance death benefits and the residual value of annuities.

These types of assets with designated beneficiaries will transfer automatically, despite anything written to the contrary in a person's will or trust. These assets with designated beneficiaries are also excluded from the decedent's probate estate unless the "estate" is the designated beneficiary.

Money with watchNot everyone who has a traditional IRA is a good candidate for a Roth IRA conversion, according to The Motley Fool's article, "5 Things to Consider Before Making a Roth IRA Conversion." While every person's situation is different, there are five key elements to consider before making the change to your retirement accounts.

  1. Your tax bracket. These days it's not unusual for retirees to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement. However, many of us have the option of investing in a Roth IRA, which doesn't offer an up-front tax break—but lets you withdraw funds in retirement tax-free. If you think you are going to be in a higher tax bracket when you retire, you might consider converting some or all of your retirement savings to a Roth before you retire. Converting some or all of your traditional IRA money to a Roth IRA will also give you some tax diversification in retirement to hedge against future changes in tax rates and related rules.
  2. Estate planning. One of the great things about a Roth IRA is that it isn't subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs) at age 70½, unlike a traditional IRA, where you must withdraw an IRS-mandated amount annually at that age. Plus, it's subject to income taxes. Roth IRAs can continue to grow tax-free for as long as you live, and if your beneficiary is your spouse, he or she can roll over the account and make the Roth IRA his or her own with the same rules (non-spousal beneficiaries are subject to an RMD, but that distribution isn't taxed). In addition, non-spousal beneficiaries can take the RMDs over their entire life expectancy. This is a terrific benefit for younger beneficiaries like children or grandchildren.

Baby shoesThe last thing most new parents are thinking about is taxes, but the addition of a new baby to your family has some nice tax perks, according to "The Most-Overlooked Tax Breaks for New Parents" from Kiplinger's. First step: make sure your new addition has a Social Security number.

You'll need an SSN to claim your new baby as a dependent on your tax return. If you don't report the number, it can mean a $50 fine and tie up your refund. Request a Social Security number for your newborn at the hospital when you apply for a birth certificate.

Dependency Exemption. Claiming your son or daughter as a dependent will shelter $4,000 of your income from taxes in 2015, which will save you $1,000 if you are in the 25% bracket. You will receive the full year's exemption, no matter when the child was born or adopted during the year.

Signing tax formCertain transactions and situations that tend to occur more in retirement than during working years are red flags for the IRS. Even though only 0.84% of all individual tax returns are audited, knowing about these tips from Kiplinger's "9 IRS Audit Red Flags for Retirees" will help minimize your chance of being among the "lucky" ones.

Math errors may draw an IRS inquiry, but they don't usually mean an audit. Nonetheless, review these red flags that could increase the chances that the IRS will give the return of a retired taxpayer some very special and unwanted attention.

The overall individual audit rate is only about one in 119, but the odds go up significantly as your income increases—like if you sell a valuable piece of property or get a big payout from a retirement plan.

Divided wedding cake topperUpdating beneficiary designations is usually the simplest part of estate planning, but it's also the most likely part of estate planning to be overlooked. You have beneficiaries on pretty much every account, from 401(k)s to life insurance policies. Do you know who your beneficiaries are?

USA Today says that it's not just because many of us have the majority of our assets tied up in products like these. The article, "Your ex could get rich if you don't update your beneficiaries," explains that it's also because beneficiary designations on a 401(k) or IRA are legally binding and often take precedent over anything in your will. This can lead to some serious unpleasantries if your beneficiary information isn't updated.

Many times a person who has worked at the same company for 20 years has a beneficiary designation that they set up on their first day of work, and they never think about it again. However, their lives are rarely the same fifteen or twenty years down the line. For example, they might be divorced and remarried, or they might have children or grandchildren who weren't even a twinkle in someone's eyes way back then. Leaving an estate to an ex-spouse or disinheriting your own children is not a rare event when people don't update their beneficiary designations.

Woman toastingSeventy may not exactly be the new 50, but it's not that far off. According to a recent article in Money, "Happy 70th Birthday, Boomers!" researchers say that members of this generation – born from 1946 through 1964 – are healthier from a physical and mental standpoint than previous generations. This also means that the oldest boomers, who will turn 70 in 2016, are more likely to see their 85th birthday. Their grandparents at 70 had only a 28% chance to reach age 85. Want to feel even better? More than one in 10 of the oldest members of the baby boom generation will live to age 95, compared to their grandparents' generation of only three in 100.

You've plenty of time left to invest, protect, and enjoy your money. So, Roll Over Beethoven! Here's a financial to-do list that rocks!

To keep from pulling money out of a declining market for living expenses, have at least 12 months of cash on hand to cover day-to-day costs. Also, you should be taking Social Security now, since there's no upside to delaying once you hit 70.

Money in mayo jarExpect to see the word "phool" a lot in 2016 if a book by Nobel Economics Prize winners George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, "Phising for Phools," becomes a runaway hit this year. The two coined the phrase to describe a person who gets caught in a "phishing" scam, which covers a wide variety of financial scams. Save yourself by being smart enough to know what you don't know so you can focus on making money and building up your retirement nest egg.

The recent Forbes article, "One Powerful Money-Making Move for 2016," explains that most of us believe we know what's good for us, but when it comes to money we shoot ourselves in the foot—and wallet!

The root of phoolish behavior, Akerlof and Shiller say, is the self-conceit that you think you know more than all of the smart people who are trying to take your money every day. Can you compete with computers and sophisticated programs that take advantage of pricing glitches and make trades in milliseconds, as well as robots who move at the speed of light?

401 K blocksIt’s simple math. A plan to save more and spend less is a good plan for retirement.

But a recent Forbes article, "The Most Potent 401(k) Booster," says that if you have the self-discipline and the ability to plan, you can shrink your debts and add to your emergency, college, or retirement funds.

Saving is essential. A recent Wells Fargo survey says that 71% of those over 40 who are consistent savers believe they will have enough for retirement. The more you save, the more confident you will become in your ability to live the life you want.

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