Think Your Salary Can Bring You Safely to Retirement? Think Again.

In the sea of financial planning wisdom, there are too few messages about the importance of mindset. Gone are the days when simply saving money was enough to get you to retirement. With pensions practically a thing of the past, it takes more than just a big piggy bank to afford retirement.

Saving strategies aside, changing your mindset from that of a consumer to thinking like an investor, or even an entrepreneur through a side hustle, can give you the security you’ll need to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Many people believe that investing wisely is the key to taking your retirement planning into the 21st century, but is it really enough? Smart financial advisors recommend multiple income streams to ensure you can retire comfortably. Even with a healthy retirement savings, it is wise to look for ways to diversify your income sources.

Enter: the side hustle. Your side hustle (i.e. a second job, side business, or income-generating investment) boosts your income while minimizing risk that you’ll run out of money down the road. Your salary isn’t guaranteed, but with a side hustle (or a few), you won’t put your retirement in jeopardy if you lose your job or change jobs.

If an advisor focuses just on the certain amount you need to save by age 55 to retire, they might not have your best interests in mind. In reality, there is no magic number. No one can predict how much you’ll need or even tell you where you need to keep your money. That’s why it’s so important not to limit your retirement planning to simple money saving techniques.

If you are ready to take the next step toward planning wisely for your retirement on the road to reaching financial independence, start by sitting down with us. As Estate Attorney we will walk you step by step through creating a plan that will help you achieve your financial goals. Ask about your Money Map Planning Process or start with a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session, which will give you absolute clarity on what you own, and what will happen to all of it when something happens to you, so you can make informed, empowered decisions for the one’s you love. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth & Legacy  Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and about your wishes in case you become incapacitated or when you die.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 832.408.0505 to schedule a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session and find out how to better protect your family.

The Real Cost of Caring

Dealing with the financial stressors of caring for an aging loved one can affect your ability to provide them with the care and compassion they need. It can also put the security of your financial future at risk.

To mitigate these concerns, consider these useful tips to help you make informed decisions about how to protect your future retirement plans while caring for your senior loved one.

Don’t Leave Your Job

Many adult children end up putting their professional lives on hold to become a primary caregiver for their elderly parents. Financial experts advise against this because of the sudden loss of income and valuable benefits. Consider caregiving options that support your ability to maintain your earning potential.

Create a Budget

Review the actual costs of being a primary caregiver before making any drastic changes like leaving your job. Also, consider whether your loved one’s assets can be utilized to cover some of the costs involved in providing care inside or outside the home.

Look for Benefits Elsewhere

Free or low-cost benefits that can help cover some of the costs of caregiving, such as home health aides, are often available to seniors. Similarly, review the limitations of public benefit options such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Consider Relocating Your Parent

It is common for seniors to prioritize remaining in their own home while they age. Although understandable, this can be a very expensive and often unrealistic option. If opening your home to your loved one is an option, it can be far less expensive.

Seek Professional Help

Geriatric care managers can help you establish a caregiving plan that meets your needs and assist you in identifying resources to save time and money.

Protect Your Parent from Scams

Financial elder abuse is on the rise, so make sure your loved one’s finances are protected. Telephone, postal mail, and internet fraud is common and can be easily avoided when a close relative or friend is keeping tabs on the accounts of a senior loved one. Consider talking with your parents about stepping down as Trustee of their trusts and letting you step in now to monitor their finances, and if they do not have a Trust holding title to their accounts, meet with us now to look at whether it makes sense to set that up for them (and for you).

Discuss the Future

Now is an opportune time to review your loved one’s wishes for his or her estate and consider your own financial goals and how helping to care for a loved one might affect them.

Caring for a loved one can take a toll, both financially and emotionally. If you are ready to create a financial plan for caregiving, start by sitting down with a licensed Estate Attorney. An Estate Attorney can help you plan for changes in life at every stage. Our Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session guides you to protect and preserve what matters most. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth & Legacy Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what’s most important to you, and what you can do to ensure your family is taken care of.

 This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 832.408.0505 to schedule a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session and find out how to better protect your family.

How to Buy Life Insurance Like a Pro

Life insurance is a purchase only made once or twice in a lifetime, so it is common to be unaware of the ins and outs of policy protection. The potential pitfalls are significant, however, so review the following tips before purchasing a life insurance policy.

Get the Right Type and Amounts

Life insurance policies are generally sold by highly commissioned sales people or by order takers. In either case, you need to be sure you are in the know, before you buy, lest you get sold a policy or amount you don’t need, or you overlook the types and amounts that are right for you. We can help you make objective decisions about your insurance needs, with no commissions payable to us, so you know you’re getting our 100% on your side analysis.

Don’t Name a Minor as a Beneficiary

If you’ve named a minor child as a beneficiary, or even a secondary beneficiary, after your spouse, you could be creating double trouble. First, your life insurance would have to go through a court process and subject to the control of a financial guardian, and then second, whatever is left would be distributed to your minor child when he or she turns 18.

You can easily avoid this by naming a trust as beneficiary of your life insurance, thereby keeping your life insurance out of court and ensuring your child doesn’t receive control until he or she is ready. Plus, then you get to decide who takes care of the life insurance money you are leaving behind, until it’s distributed to your child. And, you can even build in protection against your child’s future divorce, or any creditor issues.

Term Insurance to Fund Divorce Settlements

If you receive child support and alimony, insist that your spouse have a  term life insurance policy to guarantee you are able to collect on your settlement, even if your ex-spouse dies while still paying out your divorce settlement.

Compare Quotes for Whole and Term

Experts suggest most people only need life insurance to cover their working years and while they raise a family. Term life insurance is typically affordable and covers you when you need it most. Permanent insurance is best when you know you will have estate taxes to cover OR if you want to use insurance as an investment vehicle with guaranteed returns, but often big commissions to make up in the early years of the policy. One of the services we provide to our member clients is to review all insurance policies, both in place and those being considered, to provide objective evaluation before you buy.

Don’t Overlook Living Benefits

A living benefits rider could allow you to access funds if you were diagnosed as terminally ill or with a chronic and debilitating condition.

If you are ready to purchase a life insurance policy that works for you, start by sitting down with an  Estate Attorney. As your Estate Attorney, we can walk you step by step through creating a financial plan that will help you provide for your family no matter what. At GP Schoemakers, PLLC, we offer Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Sessions that help you protect and preserve your wealth for future generations. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth & Legacy Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what your wishes are when you die.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 832.408.0505 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and find out how to better protect your family.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the Blockchain — What Happens When You Die?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Bitcoin. But, you may not know what it is or how it affects your estate planning. Or, maybe you’ve got yourself some Bitcoin, but haven’t given thought to what would happen to your digital currency in the event of your death or incapacity.

So today’s article will dive in with some initial thoughts, and then we’ll get deeper in future articles.

There are now over 800 digital currencies available, though Bitcoin is the most well known.

And each one operates a bit differently, and with a different purpose.

What they all have in common is that they are digital currencies, in the form of “tokens” that you can now buy (or invest in) and in some cases use to exchange for goods and services.

For example, more and more providers of goods and services are accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, just as they would cash or credit.

And, even a few accepting the lesser known currency called Ripple (XRP).

But, as of this writing, there are no providers we’ve heard of accepting, for example, the lesser known cryptocurrency of ProCoin (PROC), a coin based on shopping rewards. But, the coin is tradeable on the open coin market, currently at $.12, though it’s been traded as high as $.38.

If you want to learn more about how these digital currencies work, please do let me know and I’ll write more about it in the future.

For today, I want to cover what you need to make sure you’ve got in place from a “what happens when you become incapacitated or die” perspective if you are holding digital currency.

Because if you have not planned for the transfer of your digital currency at the time of your incapacity or death, it could literally be lost to the ethers. And, if you invested in Bitcoin back in the day before it got popular, that could potentially be millions of dollars lost to your loved ones.

There are two things for you to consider if you are holding digital currency:

  1. That your loved one’s (or whoever you would want to have your currency) know about it; and
  2. That they know how to access it and cash it in or hold onto it.

If you are holding your currency in an exchange, such as coinbase, with 2-factor authentication, it could be very difficult for your loved one’s to access your currency. We are in process of setting up a digital account administration system for our clients and you can look forward to that in the coming months. Having that in place would allow the executor of your estate to handle all digital accounts, not just crypto accounts.

Until then, best practice is to transfer your cryptocurrency into a “paper wallet”, which is kind of ironic given that it’s a digital currency. And it basically involves storing codes offline that allow you to access your currency. Here’s the thing, if you lose those codes, or your loved ones can’t find them, it’s the same as all of your currency being gone.

You can read more about the different storage options for cryptocurrency here.

Bottom line: if you have cryptocurrency and you want your loved ones to have it after you are gone, you should probably call us so we can make sure it’s not lost upon your incapacity or death.

As a new technology, cryptocurrency can be a bit confusing, and not many lawyers are even thinking about this issue yet. But we are, so give us a call and let’s have a Family Wealth Planning Session during which we can help you to  protect and preserve what matters most. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what’s most important to you, and what you can do to ensure your family is taken care of.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 832.408.0505 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and find out how to better protect your family.

Why You Should Never Buy Your Will From Living Social or Groupon

Of the handful of major life events that require your serious consideration, few are as emotionally charged as how to leave your assets for loved ones at the time of your death. This often complex process is accomplished via testamentary documents such as wills and trusts, which have recently become available for purchase online as standard forms.

The assets you have acquired during your life and the ways that you own them are often far more complex than a standard legal document or online service can anticipate.  When you make that all important decision to create a will or put your assets into a trust, you need an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you so that your wishes for life and death can be carried out without risk of your family getting stuck in court or conflict, when it’s too late.

Your incapacity or death will be an emotional time for your family. During this time, they need guidance, not a set of documents, which may not have even been kept up to date or adequately cover after-acquired assets.

In certain cases such as being married multiple times, having minor children, or owning a small business, legal assistance is especially necessary.

There may also be a variety different tax or asset protection implications for your inheritors. The right lawyer can advise you on the best way to handle the different assets you own such as real estate, investments, a small business, or personal property.

Is a trust right for your situation? Is there a way to transfer an asset before you pass, so that it will be protected from claims, creditors or taxation? Groupon can’t help you with that.

You may save money initially if you have a simple, small estate with few assets by just using a form that you find online. However, if you become incapacitated before death, your family could get stuck with a long drawn out court process, as they attempt to get control of your financial assets. And, if your document is unclear, contestable, or wholly or partially invalid, it’s your family who will be paying the price down the road.

Speak with a licensed Estate Attorney to create an estate plan that protects you and your loved ones.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Estate and Business Attorney. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth & Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 832.408.0505 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and find out how to better protect your family.

 

7 Steps to Creating an Estate Plan That Keeps Your Family Out of Court

Many people fail to create an estate plan because they don’t truly understand what is involved and therefore believe it is too complicated. But the real truth is that creating an estate plan during your lifetime is far less complicated than what your family will deal with after you are gone, if you don’t:

  1. Create a Trust. When most people think of preparing for the end of life, they think of writing a Will, but having a Will without a Trust is fast track to put your family in the Courthouse after you are gone.  Instead, to keep your family out of Court, you’ll want to set up a Trust and title all of your assets to be owned by that Trust.  While it might feel like a lot of effort, it will save your family a LOT of trouble after you are gone.
  2. Designate beneficiaries. Designating beneficiaries for your retirement accounts and insurance policies is critical because these assets do not pass through your Will or Trust.  Filling out beneficiary designation forms for each of your accounts will ensure these assets pass to the people you want to have them and stay out of the Court system.  Be sure to review your beneficiary designations periodically to be sure they align with your current circumstances. Hot tip: never name minor children as beneficiaries of your retirement account or life insurance policies AND if you have more than $150,000 in a retirement account, consider a special trust called a Retirement Trust to ensure the most beneficial tax treatment for your loved ones.
  3. Avoid estate taxes. Most of us will not have to worry about estate taxes since the federal estate and gift tax exemption is $5.49 million ($10.98 million for married couples) in 2017 and indexed every year for inflation.  However, if you are married and wish to take advantage of portability – where spouses are entitled to each other’s unused exemption – the surviving spouse must file the required paperwork to claim the exemption.

Plus, 15 states and the District of Columbia have state estate taxes, so you could still owe even if your estate is too small to owe federal tax. The big key here is to not just leave a set of documents that your family will have to figure out after you are gone, but give them the gift of a trusted advisor to turn to; call us if you’d like to consider having us be that trusted advisor for your loved ones.

  1. Leave a letter of instruction. Not everything you may wish to pass on to your heirs – like instructions for your funeral – should be put in your will or Trust.  Leaving a letter of instruction with your family or attorney can ensure your final wishes are respected.  And take it one step further with a Family Wealth Legacy CD or DVD in which you record your values, insights, stories and experiences for your loved ones to refer back to for generations to come.  We provide this service at no additional charge for our clients because we know this is one of the things families value the most and is least often handled.
  2. Sign a durable power of attorney. Estate planning is not just about death, but also ensuring your family can handle things in the event you become incapacitated.  Signing a durable power of attorney that designates someone to handle your financial affairs will save time, money and hassle for your family that, without it, will have to go to court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to manage your financial affairs. This could cost tens of thousands of dollars and is easily handled with one simple document and a trusted advisor for your family to turn to in a time of need.
  3. Create an Advance Healthcare Directive. This document designates a decision maker of your choosing to make sure your wishes are followed when it comes to the medical care you want – or do not want – to receive when you are incapacitated or near death.  You will also need to sign a HIPAA release form so your medical records can be released to your health care agent and medical professionals can discuss your medical care with that person.
  4. Organize your paperwork and digital files. Since many of us live our lives online these days, make sure your executor has access to all your digital information, including website addresses and the log-in information for those sites.  Put all your important paperwork – deeds, insurance policies, bank and brokerage statements, etc. – in one file and let your executor know where it is.

Bonus tip: If you have minor children at home (or adult children with special needs), don’t rely on naming guardians in your Will alone. Create a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan to ensure your children’s care is covered not just for the long-term, but for the immediate term as well and no one you don’t want raising your kids ever has a chance to take control.

Contact us about scheduling a Family Wealth Planning Session so we can sit down and talk about designing a plan that fits the needs of you and your family.  Surprisingly, sometimes the less you have, the more important it is to plan.

 

How Can I Plan for a Strategic Retirement?

Are you approaching retirement? Not sure how you can ensure a smooth transition from working life to retired life?  Walking away from regular paychecks and employer-provided benefits can feel a little nerve wracking. Minimize the impact of these major life changes by planning accordingly.

Time It

Get your timing right. Review and understand your employer’s policies on 401(k) matching and profit sharing. Make sure you plan to retire at a time when you can reap all the vested benefits you have coming to you before they expire. Sit down with your company’s HR department to maximize your retirement benefits.

Bridge the Insurance Gap

If you are retiring before the age of 65, you could have a lapse in insurance coverage before you are eligible for Medicare. If your employer doesn’t offer retiree health insurance benefits (and most don’t), look into COBRA insurance to extend your current coverage or an individual insurance plan to carry you over until Medicare kicks in. Don’t forget about life insurance and long-term care insurance either. If you do not have an insurance advisor you trust, we can refer you to someone, and we can also provide an objective backstop review on any insurance you do have in place to make sure it’s the right amounts and right types for you.

Petition for Your Pension

Apply for your pension at least five months before you retire. Get a benefits statement, and consider your payout options if you have them (e.g. lump sum vs. annuity). Coordinate your pension payout to minimize your tax liability while still meeting your financial needs.

Rearrange Your Retirement Funds

Consider consolidating accounts and rolling 401(k) funds into an IRA for more investment freedom and easier management. Conversely, some retirees find the investment options with employer-provided 401(k)s are cheaper than those bought independently. Make sure you discuss your options with a financial professional and choose the option that maximizes your income and gives you the flexibility you need. And, of course, ensure your beneficiary designations are set up to make sure your retirement benefits go exactly where you choose

Planning a strategic retirement takes forethought, and don’t short sell yourself on all the perks you may be owed. Make sure you take advantage of all the benefits your employer offers and carefully plan how you will manage your retirement income to minimize tax liabilities. Following these simple steps can help ensure you are financially prepared for retirement.

If you are nearing retirement, consider sitting down with a Personal Family Lawyer®. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can help you strategize your retirement to reap maximum benefit before you retire. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what you need to do to preserve your financial well-being and retire comfortably.

At GP Schoemakers, we don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a, no-pressure, Family Wealth Planning Session.

The Future of Finances: How to Teach Your Kids to Be Money Savvy

Part of being an enlightened parent is being thoughtful about how we teach our kids about adult life. Of course, you want to prepare them to make good choices as an adult, especially when it comes to finances. And, you may either feel not equipped, or you may be concerned about passing on your own bad habits.

So, how do you teach kids about smart financial decision-making? What lessons should you teach? Is leading by example enough? Raising a child to be money savvy doesn’t have to be hard, especially if you have valuable lessons to pass down. But it will take a little reflection on your own financial know-how and a commitment to make passing on these aspects of adult life conscious, rather than doing it unconsciously, as happens in most families.

Kids look to us to learn about life and they pick up far more from us about what we do than from what we say. Accordingly, we can best teach our children to be money savvy by modeling the habits we want them to take on for themselves and by involving them in the process. A good place to start is by being transparent about your financial habits when the opportunities arise.

For example, you could have a monthly financial meeting and include your kids, and each month review your household income and expenses, like a business owner, would when reviewing their profit and loss each month.

And, when you do your estate planning, involve your kids in the process by having a family meeting once the planning is done to explain the planning and introduce your child to us, as your personal legal advisor who they can turn to in the future when needed.

Modeling sound financial decision-making for your child is an excellent opportunity to take a deeper look at your own financial habits. This is a good time to take an honest look at your finances to make sure you are on track to meet your goals.

Assess your financial health and consider taking steps now to secure your financial future. Practice what you preach and know that your children are watching, so make sure you are modeling habits you’d be proud for them to develop as they enter adulthood.

If you need guidance in assessing your own financial health and habits, start by coming in to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session™. As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we can guide you in creating a comprehensive financial plan that protects and preserves your wealth while meeting all your financial obligations. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and what you want to leave behind.

At GP Schoemakers, PLLC we don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. Begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session.

Spring Cleaning For Your Legal and Financial Affairs

Spring has officially sprung and that means it’s spring cleaning time. Shake out the rugs, clean out the cupboards, and get your legal and financial affairs in order.

For plenty of folks, it’s easy to know what to do when it comes to home organization, but the idea of legal and financial ordering can be complex and confusing.

This article will give you a few places to start:

  1. Review Your Beneficiary Designations

Request updated beneficiary designation forms from your life insurance account and retirement account custodians. Look at the form and identify whether you have a minor designated as either a primary or contingent beneficiary. If you do, those assets will be tied up in Court, unnecessarily, and may not be available to the people you’ve named to care for your children.

Consider designating your life insurance and retirement accounts to be distributed to a trust for the benefit of your heirs, providing Court and creditor protection, and ensuring your children do not inherit money before they are properly prepared.

  1. Update Your Family Wealth Inventory

Your Family Wealth Inventory is where we document the assets that you own, so that in the event you become incapacitated or when you die, your family will know how to find what you own.

Without an updated Family Wealth Inventory, your assets could be lost to the state department of unclaimed property. There’s currently FOUR (4) billions of dollars of assets in our state department of unclaimed property because most people do not leave a clear record of their assets at the time of their incapacity or death.

  1. Consider If You Need to Name New Guardians (Long or Short-Term)

Review your guardian nomination designations. Have you named guardians for both the short-term (local) and the long-term (people you would trust to raise your kids fully)? If so, do they need to change? Is there anyone you would wish to exclude? Does the ID card for your wallet need to be updated? This is the time to check.

  1. Check Out the Title to Your House

Get a copy of the deed to your house and make sure that your trust is listed as the owner on the deed, if you want your house to stay out of court in the event of your incapacity or death. If you see your personal name on the deed, and there is not a trust listed, you can be sure that would result in your house having to go through the court process of probate in the event of your death. If you don’t want that, now is the perfect time to spruce up your planning.

  1. Come In and Meet With Us For a Family Wealth Planning Session

Last, but far from least, this is the perfect time of  year to come in and meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session, whether you’ve done planning in the past or not.  We will have a 2-hour working meeting that will get you more financially organized than you’ve likely ever been before (unless you’ve already done planning with us) and give you the confidence of knowing you’ve made the most empowered, informed and educated legal and financial decisions for the people you love.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love.

Call our office to schedule a time for a private conversation about your family wealth via a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best ways for you to ensure your legacy of love and financial security for your family.

Think Your 401(k) Is Flexible? 6 IRA Benefits Your 401(k) Doesn’t Have

When it comes to retirement plans, IRAs and 401(k)s provide many of the same benefits. But in certain situations, an IRA can outperform a 401(k). IRAs aren’t right for everyone, so you should become familiar with the advantages IRAs have over 401(k)s before you transfer funds or set up a new account. To help you do this, here are a few benefits you can reap from an IRA not available in a 401(k).

  1. Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs)

IRAs allow you to take QCDs and send them directly to the charity without including the distribution amount in your taxable income. This often results in a lower tax bill. You can also use your QCDs to offset your required minimum distribution.

  1. Penalty-Free Distribution for Higher Education

A 401(k) distribution for higher education expenses will incur both a tax and a penalty. Taking an early IRA distribution to pay for higher education expenses for you or certain family members is penalty-free.

  1. Freedom from Distribution Restrictions

Opportunities for early distributions of 401(k)s are limited at best. Subject to the plan administrator’s rules as well as the tax code, 401(k)s require a compelling reason such as a hardship, to receive an early distribution. Conversely, IRA distributions are restriction free. You can take an IRA distribution at any time and do not need an approved reason like 401(k)s.

  1. Aggregate Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) From Multiple Accounts

If you have multiple IRAS, you can aggregate the RMDs for your accounts and then take that amount out of one or any combination of your IRAs. Doing this with your 401(k)s results in steep penalties.

  1. No Withholding

You can opt-out of tax withholding from an IRA distribution but not with a 401(k) distribution. This is a great benefit for those who end up with little or no tax liability at the end of the year.

  1. Self Direction

One of the best parts of having an IRA, instead of a 401k, is that you have the most flexibility in how your IRA assets are invested, whereas with a 401k, your investment options are limited to those provided by the 401k Administrator. With an IRA, you can move your entire retirement account into a self-directed IRA account and then invest the money anywhere you want, including in real estate and start-ups. Yes, it’s true! You get to choose.  And, we can help you set up a self-directed IRA and invest your retirement account where you want.

Deciding whether to maintain your retirement account as an IRA or a 401k is a critical decision, and requires that you understand the benefits and limitations of both.

Relying on generalized information found online is not enough to protect your best interests. Guidance from a Personal Family Lawyer® provides personalized, legal assistance when planning for the care of your retirement portfolio.

If you are serious about ensuring you make the best legal and financial decisions throughout your lifetime, meet with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®. We offer Family Wealth Planning Sessions that help you protect and preserve your wealth for future generations. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment™ to complete that will get you thinking about your retirement goals, and we can help you achieve them.

 This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love.

Call our office to schedule a time for a private conversation about your family wealth via a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best ways for you to ensure your legacy of love and financial security for your family.