Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

Deadline for 2017 IRA Contributions

The deadline for getting your 2017 IRA contributions to us is Wednesday, April 11th. Tax season is an extremely busy time so the sooner you get these in the better. Feel free to stop by the office anytime from 8am-4pm to drop them off.

Have a great weekend!

Melani

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New Developments in Dementia and Alzheimer's Testing

Amy Florian from Corgenius released some information regarding new tests to alert you to the early signs of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The first study was about sense of smell and the second one was about personality changes.

Here are some highlights taken directly from her research on the studies that we thought were important.

Regarding smell, scientists studied several factors in reasonably healthy people and then followed them for five years to see who developed dementia. They found that when combined with baseline cognitive function at the start, the most important factor was sense of smell. They specifically studied five scents – orange, leather, peppermint, rose, and fish. The greater number of scents that created difficulty and the more poorly a person could discern these smells, the more likely they were to exhibit dementia five years later. Researchers noted that this can’t be relied on as a singular test, but rather as a realization that sensory function is closely related to brain function, and may be among the first areas to exhibit deficiencies.

Another study focused on the long-recognized fact that personality changes are an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, especially becoming uncharacteristically angry, aggressive, paranoid, or inappropriate. Now researchers have developed a 34-question quiz that can help determine the breadth and depth of behavioral changes, and they are proposing an intermediate diagnosis of mild behavioral impairment. You can take the quiz here. Note that these changes should persist for 6 months and be fundamental changes in behavior in order to indicate problems.

We are always looking for ways to keep you informed on the latest news with issues we come accross and cognitive decline is an important one.

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Facebook Privacy Update

There's been a lot of recent reports on how much information Facebook really has on you and it is scary. When is the last time you looked to see how many of your apps are connected to your Facebook profile? Even if youre not using the app anymore, once you grant them permission to your Facebook profile they will continue to collect your data, including your friends list, pictures, browsing history etc, until you revoke their access.

We found a really good article on CNBC that gives you a step-by-step guide on how to check your privacy settings, see who has access to your information and how to remove them. Follow the link below to check it out.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/20/how-to-see-which-facebook-apps-have-access-to-your-data.html

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Ebook: Tips to Planning a Successful Retirement

Check out our new Ebook! In it you will find some valuable tips and guidance for retirement planning from our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS®.

Tips_to_Planning_a_Successful_Retirement.pdf

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Thanks for Your Support!

We would like to thank everyone who donated pet supplies and medications to our cause! Animals are near and dear to our hearts and it means a lot to have so many clients show support with their generous donations. We are so happy that these donations will go to pets in need, especially those affected in Puerto Rico and the disaster areas.

Pet Donation 3

                                                                                                                         Samantha and Melani dropping off the pet supplies to the SPCALA

                         

                                                                                                                       

 

 

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API Anniversary Dinner

The API girls out celebrating API's 20th anniversary. We couldn't do it without our wonderful clients!

API Anniversary Dinner

From left to right: Carol, Joanne, Sandy (Top), Erin, Samantha and Melani

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Asset Planning, Inc. Celebrates 20 years!

NewAssetPlanningLogo

Asset Planning is proud to announce that we are celebrating our 20 year anniversary this week. API continues to expand and now has clients in 16 states and manages over 260 million dollars.  This is an exciting milestone for our company and we know that we would not be here today if it wasn’t for the commitment and support that we receive from our clients; some who have been with us from the very beginning. Our clients mean the world to us and we thank you for your continued loyalty and referrals that allow us to keep growing.

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Market Moves

The Dow Jones and S&P 500 posted a loss of 7.92% and 7.17%, respectively, in the last 5 days, however this is not a reason to panic.  The market has been steadily increasing without a significant market move or correction and we have enjoyed 15 consecutive months with positive returns.  The headlines can be misleading, but this is just volatility returning to markets.  Some of the loss today was likely due to computerized algorithms that were triggered to start selling as the market reached certain levels.  This increased selling intensifies the loss, but will normalize when those same algorithms buy back in to the market.

We have been anticipating this correction and will take advantage of this opportunity.

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Ancestry & Genetic Testing

Many people are interested in their ancestry and genetic testing and the popularity of DNA test kits shows this new trend. The most popular tests are AncestryDNA, National Geographic genetics and 23andme. 23andMe has over 2 million customers that have given consent to have their data used for research. Yes, the data is sold. The premise is that the data is sold for research and the buyers are institutions and nonprofits. You do have to consent to your data being used and 80% of their customers do give consent. So, what are the dangers? For a young person who may be applying for health insurance or life insurance in their future, I would advise that their data not be shared and their sample not be kept for future testing. Despite genetic privacy laws, life insurers can request genetic testing information and thus deny coverage based on your disease risk profile. Law enforcement also has the right to your data.


For people living to age 85, there is a 34% chance of having Alzheimers. Age is also a big risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. If you find you have the APOE gene, your risk of Alzheimer’s is increased. How the research can help is that the right patients could be put in specific clinical trials. Carol and her kids have been tested. I spit in the tube and sent my sample off to 23andMe to be tested for ancestry results just because I am curious even though all my maternal side came from Sweden. I have not given consent for learning my genetic risk for diseases yet. If you have an interest in this topic, email us for our links to the articles and research.

Sandy

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Time for a Financial Checkup

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the start of a new year, most people start to look ahead and like the idea of a fresh start. Take advantage of this motivation by applying it to your finances as well and giving yourself a financial checkup.  Yes, I know that taking a good hard look at your finances is not always something that you look forward to. But being realistic about your current financial situation, making some goals and putting an action plan together will put you on the right track to having a successful retirement with less to worry about and more time to enjoy yourself.

I found an article in the December 2017/January 2018 edition of AARP magazine written by Michelle V. Rafter, that outlines some steps to get you started on your financial check up journey. Check it out by clicking the link below.

https://www.aarp.org/money/credit-loans-debt/info-2017/financial-checkup.html

May 2018 be your most financially fit year ever!

Samantha

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Reminders: Pet Donations and Document Shredding

All of us at Asset Planning hope everyone has had a great start to their New Year! I wanted to send out a few reminders as you may still be cleaning and organizing from all of the holiday madness.

We are still accepting pet supplies and old medications to donate for disaster relief until January 15th. If you have anything to donate please drop them off at our office by then.

Also, around this time you may be getting ready to do your taxes and are going through paperwork. This is a perfect time to remind you that we offer free document shredding for our clients all year long. If you have any sensitive paperwork that needs to be shredded you can bring that to the office any time.

If your items are bulky or heavy and you need assistance please call me in advance and I will be glad to help you.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Melani

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Tax Reform: Summary of Changes

President Trump signed the tax reform bill this morning. Most provisions are set to take effect in 2018, but many of those are also set to expire or sunset in 2025. Here's a summary of what we think are the major changes that will affect our clients. We will have a more in-depth analysis and summary in our year end newsletter.

1. Reductions in individual tax rates. The bill retains the current structure of seven investor tax brackets, but lowers five of them. It also includes the sunset provision, meaning it's a temporary arrangement from 2018 to 2025.
Here's the breakdown of the new vs. current marginal tax rates:

Current Marginal Tax Rate

Proposed Marginal Tax Rate

Income Level (Single Filers)

Income Level (Couples Filing Jointly)

10%

10%

$0 -- $9,525

$0 -- $19,050

15%

12%

$9,525 -- $38,700

$19,050 -- $77,400

25%

22%

$38,700 -- $82,500

$77,400 -- $165,000

28%

24%

$82,500 -- $157,500

$165,000 -- $315,000

33%

32%

$157,500 -- $200,000

$315,000 -- $400,000

35%

35%

$200,000 -- $500,000

$400,000 -- $600,000

39.60%

37%

$500,000 and up

$600,000 and up

2. Reduction in corporate tax rate to a maximum rate of 21% (a reduction from 35%). Also, corporate income earned abroad and brought back to the United States will be taxed between 8 and 15.5%, instead of the current 35%. These are permanent reductions.

3. Standard Deductions increasing nearly 90%. For married couples filing jointly, the standard deduction rises to $24,000 from $12,700; for single filers, it moves to $12,000 from $6,350.

4. Additional changes to Itemized Deductions. These vary, and some might be more impactful than others.

  • Personal exemption ending, but child tax credit increasing. The bill ends the personal exemption of $4,050 for you, your spouse, and your dependents; it doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 per dependent child under age 17.
  • Limits to state and local taxes ("SALT"). Under the bill, you may only deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes, including sales, income, and property taxes. This deduction was not previously subject to limitation.
  • Caps on mortgage interest. The bill allows mortgage interest deductions for current homeowners, but caps the interest deduction at $750,000 in mortgage debt for homes bought in 2018 and beyond, down from the $1 million limit in place now. It eliminates deductions for interest on home-equity loans, as well as deductions for moving expenses and employer-provided expense reimbursements (except for members of the military).
  • Expands medical deductions. Current law allows for deduction of medical expenses over 10% of adjusted gross income (AGI). The bill lowers the threshold to 7.5%.

5. Changes to estate planning.  The bill doubles the estate tax exemption to $10 million, but it's also indexed for inflation after 2011. The bill also calls for doubling the value threshold on the 40% levy on estates worth nearly $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples. The estate tax exemption also has the sunset provision, meaning that the bill calls for a reversion back to current exemption amounts in 2026.

6. Charitable deductions. Although the current tax deductions stay in place, the doubling of the standard deduction to $24,000 essentially raises the threshold on deductibility. Taxpayers will have to itemize donations to get the benefit.

      From all of us at Asset Planning, Inc. we wish you a wonderful Holiday Season!


*Asset Planning, Inc. does not provide tax advice. We suggest clients consult with a tax-planning professional with regards to their personal circumstances.

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Bitcoin Mania

There is no denying it, Bitcoin is all anyone is talking about right now. We know that a lot of you have questions as to what it is, how it works, the risks etc. I came across an article this morning on Seeking Alpha written by Victor Dergunov that I feel has been the most comprehensive in explaining exactly what Bitcoin is and the risks involved when investing in it. I thought I'd share it with you to give you some insights on the mysterious cryptocurrency that is taking over the headlines. Follow the link below to read the article.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4132006-bitcoin-big-short-coming?lift_email_rec=false&utoken=896c83f5aaeb6c09476c6308df1c6ef8

Have a great weekend!

Samantha

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Pet Donations Needed for Disaster Relief

Seeing the news about all of the displaced animals due to the hurricanes and wild fires has deeply touched our hearts. We have decided to try to do our part by collecting donations for local relief efforts as well as Puerto Rico. The rescue organizations are in desperate need of medications and new or gently used pet supplies. If you would like to donate to this cause feel free to drop off any of the items listed below at our office from now until Jan 15, 2018. 

MEDICATIONS- They accept dog, cat and people medications. Expired medications are fine too.
Antibiotics (ANY)
Especially: Clavamox,
Baytril, Albon, Biaxin,
​Doxycycline, Ciprofloxin,
Orbax, Augmentin,
Amoxicillin, Cephalexin,
Clindamycin, Erythromycin,
Azithromycin, Fungal Meds,
Heartguard, Nexgard,
Ivermectin, Dewormer
Lixotinic, ​Frontline, ​Revolution
Capstar, NutriCal
Ear & Eye Infection Medications

Pain & Anti-Inflammatory Medications

We will be shipping the medications directly to Puerto Rico.

New or gently used items such as:

Dog beds
Grooming supplies
Leashes and collars
Dog toys
Dog sweaters
Dog crates
Dog treats- hard and soft
Dry or canned dog/puppy food
Dog carriers and crates
Poop bags
Stainless steel bowls

These items will be dropped of at a local SPCALA location to be distributed by DART (Disaster Animal Response Team) where they are needed the most.


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Two-Step Verification

Two-Step Verification is a process that requires you to use two methods of authentication before logging into an account. You'll log into your account with the password that you set up and then they will either text, call or email you a code to verify that it is you logging in. There's also an option to remember the device, so if you're on your personal computer that you trust you won't have to get a new code each time. This may seem like a little bit of a hassle but it adds an extra layer of security to your accounts and we think is so important to set up, especially with so many data breaches happening every day. I personally have it set up on all of my accounts and I feel confident knowing that I will receive a notification letting me know that my account was logged into on a different device.

If you need any help setting this up on your accounts feel free to call me to make an appointment and I will be happy to help you.

Enjoy your weekend,

Melani

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Smartphone Security

Most of us live on our smartphones. Our whole lives are connected to them, from social media to online banking and more, so keeping them secure is more important than ever. I found a great article I wanted to share with you that has some tips on keeping your smartphone safe.

https://socialnomics.net/2017/05/10/7-best-practices-for-ensuring-smartphone-security/

I hope you find these tips useful!

Samantha

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Notary Services

Don't forget that if you're ever in need of notary services, we offer them free to our clients. Give me a call at 714-827-5794 to set up an appointment.

Have a great weekend!

Melani

 

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Go Bag for Emergencies

After witnessing the devastation from the recent hurricanes and California wildfires I thought it was a good idea to send out a reminder about having a “go bag” or emergency kit ready. In the case of the wildfires the residents had little to no notice. This gave them no time to collect any of their belongings for themselves or their pets. Having this “go bag” ready and easily accessible is extremely important. On the FEMA website I found a comprehensive list of what you should have in your emergency kit as well as some additional tips to help you prepare for an emergency.It is attached below. Take some time to look over the list and get your "go bag" ready.

Emergency_Kit_Checklist-_FEMA.pdf

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Healthcare Emergency Planning for Adult Children

As I mentioned in the last newsletter, my daughter is now a college freshman. We also recently celebrated another milestone with her, the 18th birthday. Though, Ashley is technically an adult, I know she has some years ahead before she is truly an adult with real responsibilities and maturity. With that in mind, I knew I didn’t want to be caught in an emergency situation where I was unable to help my daughter because of her “legal” adulthood. I once experienced a medical emergency nightmare with my unmarried adult brother whom was hospitalized in an incapacitated condition. Due to HIPPA privacy laws and no established health care directives, we could not see him, get any information, nor make any decisions about his care.

To be prepared in a healthcare emergency, a HIPPA release and Healthcare Directive are two forms that can be prepared in advance by your adult children or any adult. A signed HIPAA release permits healthcare providers to disclose your health information to anyone you specify. A stand-alone HIPAA form does not have to be notarized or witnessed.

An Advanced Healthcare Directive form allows you appoint an “agent” to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you are incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for yourself. You can also specify your wishes regarding life support. Each state has different laws and forms governing these legal documents. If your child is out of state, complete the away and home state forms. Here are the links to the state of California’s standard forms. Also be sure to check with your insurance company or Medical Provider if they have their own form to sign as well. I know Kaiser does.

https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/consumers/ProbateCodeAdvancedHealthCareDirectiveForm-fillable.pdf

http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/Documents/Authorization%20for%20Release%20of%20Protected%20Health%20Information%20DHCS%206247.pdf

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Credit Freeze

It seems like everyday we are hearing about yet another major company being hacked and our personal information getting exposed. It's frightening to think of all the harm that could come from a criminal using that information to wreck havoc on your finances. If you haven't done so already, putting a freeze on your credit is something that you should strongly consider. A credit freeze restricts companies from seeing your credit report which would prevent them from opening new accounts in your name. If you want to open a new account or apply for a loan you will have to call and have the credit freeze lifted to do so. This may seem like an inconvenience but it's definitely better than trying to clean up the financial mess that fraudulent activity creates.

To place a freeze on your credit you will have to contact the credit reporting agencies directly at the numbers below:

Equifax 800-349-9960

Experian 888-397-3742

TransUnion 888-909-8872

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