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

Continue reading
0 Hits

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

Continue reading
7 Hits

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.

Continue reading
11 Hits

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

Continue reading
16 Hits

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.


Continue reading
11 Hits

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

Continue reading
17 Hits

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

Continue reading
26 Hits

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

 

Continue reading
44 Hits

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

Continue reading
37 Hits

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

Continue reading
29 Hits

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

Continue reading
46 Hits

Medicare Reminders

With today being the first day of autumn I thought it would be a good time to send out a reminder about Medicare open enrollment that happens every year from October 15th- December 7th. If you would like to make any changes to your Medicare plan now is the time to do it. If you are currently working, most companies also have their open enrollment times as well and it is a great time to review your current benefits. Be sure you are taking advantage of a flexible savings account for healthcare or childcare. Also, you may want to increase your 401k contributions because of a recent raise in pay. Those are just a couple things to consider when reviewing your benefits.

Another important reminder is if you've received a medicare premium increase due to a higher annual income but you have had a major lifestyle change that has decreased that income you can appeal the higher premiums. Life changing events such as retirement, divorce, death of a spouse, or work reduction are a few examples of a basis for an appeal.

Here is a link to an article that gives you step by step instructions on how you can make an appeal.

https://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/omha/the-appeals-process/part-b-premium-appeals/index.html

 

 

 

Continue reading
38 Hits

Grab and Go Folder

With the recent hurricanes we thought it was a good time to send out a reminder about keeping an emergency folder with important details such as account numbers and passwords. We like to call this your "Grab and Go folder". Here is a list of information you should have in the folder.

  • Assets: checking and investment accounts, private business interests, location of safety deposit boxes, annuities, individual retirement accounts and 401(k)s, trust agreements, real estate, vehicles, collectibles 
  • Liabilities: credit cards, mortgages, car payments, cell phone bills, other recurring bills
  • Social media/online accounts: passwords and login information for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Netflix, Hulu, iCloud or other cloud storage accounts, online photo storage accounts 
  • Miscellaneous subscriptions/memberships: airline rewards programs, Sam’s, BJ’s or Costco memberships, toll tag accounts, magazines, newspapers 
  • Insurance: life insurance, long-term care, disability, home, auto 
  • Home maintenance: water, gas, electricity, telephone, alarm, lawn care, cable television, Internet service 
  • Medical: medical conditions, medications, emergency contacts 
  • Personal: burial/cremation preferences, funeral plans, pre-paid funeral expenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, Social Security card 
  • Key contacts: financial and legal advisors, doctors, family members, close friends

No one likes to think that something bad will happen to them but it's always good to be prepared in case it does.

Continue reading
51 Hits

Equifax Cybersecurity Breach

Equifax has announced that they were hacked between May- July 2017. This is very scary because the personal information for millions of people has been exposed. This data includes all of your sensitive information such as; birth date, social security number, drivers license number, address, credit card numbers etc.

Equifax has a tool that lets you check to see if you may have been exposed to the hack and is offering a year of free credit monitoring through their Equifax TrustedID Premier Service for those who were.

Follow the link below to read all about the breach, see if you were affected and to sign up for the free credit monitoring.

https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/

 ****UPDATE- Before signing up for the free credit monitoring service that Equifax is offering please read the fine print that goes along with the terms of agreement. You may be giving up your rights to a law suit if you take advantage of their offer.****

 

 

Continue reading
55 Hits

Happy Labor Day

In observance of the Labor Day Holiday we will be closed on Monday, September 4th.

We will be returning to normal business hours on Tuesday, September 5th.

We hope that everyone enjoys their holiday weekend!

Continue reading
59 Hits

Hurricane Harvey

Our thoughts are with those in Texas who have been impacted by the devastating flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. For those of you who are looking for ways to help, TD Amertitrade is matching donations dollar for dollar. This is a great way to make your contribution go even further to help more people. If you would like to donate please click on the link below.

TD Ameritrade Disaster Relief Donation

 

Continue reading
51 Hits

Block Those Annoying Robocalls

Nothing is more annoying then getting numerous calls a day from unknown or out of the area numbers. They never leave a message and tend to be unwanted robotic sales calls. I was starting to see an increase in these calls and I was getting frustrated with the constant disruptions in my day. Luckily for me Sandy came accross a service called Nomorobo. Nomorobo is a service that automatically detects phone calls from illiegal robocallers and blocks them from going through to your phone. Legal robocalls, from schools and doctors' offices for example, are allowed through. The service is free for VOIP landline phones and they recently released an app for iPhones, the Android app is coming soon. Sandy and I each started the free trial for the iPhone app and are really pleased with how it has been working so far. I have not received a single unwanted call since signing up. Another great feature of the app is that if a robocall accidentally gets through you can report it directly on the app and they will add it to their blacklist right away. This is by far better than the Do Not Call Registry that doesn't seem to do much to deter scammers from calling. I have included a link to the Nomorobo website below with a screen shot of some features it offers. If you are annoyed by these calls it's definitely a service to check out!

https://www.nomorobo.com/

Nomorobo

Have a wonderful weekend!

Melani

Continue reading
59 Hits

API Ice Cream Event

imagejpeg 0 web

We would like to say thank you to everyone who came out to help us celebrate National Ice Cream month at our ice cream event last week. We all had a great time and truly enjoy events where we're able to relax and have some fun with our clients. I have some great pictures of everyone and will be posting them on our Facebook page.

I look forward to seeing you all at our next one!

Sandy

 

Continue reading
71 Hits

Asset Planning is recognized in Financial Advisor Magazine

We are pleased to announce that Asset Planning has been recognized in Financial Advisor Magazine's annual top RIA rankings. Click the link below to read the full article and see the rankings.

Financial Advisor Magazine's annual top RIA ranking

 

Continue reading
70 Hits

I Scream...You Scream...We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Come help us celebrate National Ice Cream month this Thursday, July 27th from 1pm-3pm at Churned Creamery in Cypress. We would love to see you!

Ice Cream Event Flyer 2

 

Continue reading
65 Hits

Search Blogs Module

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar