Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

Carol Somoano, MBA, CFP®
Financial Advisor

Carol Somoano, Vice President of Asset Planning Inc., is a Certified Financial Planner, CFP®, and is responsible for portfolio and financial plan analysis. Before Carol joined API, Inc in 2005 she worked as a management accountant for 15 years before deciding to concentrate on financial planning. ...

Carol Somoano, MBA, CFP®
Financial Advisor

Carol Somoano, Vice President of Asset Planning Inc., is a Certified Financial Planner, CFP®, and is responsible for portfolio and financial plan analysis. Before Carol joined API, Inc in 2005 she worked as a management accountant for 15 years before deciding to concentrate on financial planning.  Carol obtained her B.S. in accounting from Cal Poly Pomona and her MBA from Cal State Fullerton.  She completed the UCI Financial Planning program and passed the CFP exam in March of 2004.  She is also a Notary Public and Realtor®

She is an active member of the Orange County Financial Planning Association and has participated in the OC Register Annual Financial Planning Hotline.  She is an active volunteer in her community and has received an Honorary and Continuing Service Award from the California State Legislature in 2003 and 2007.

Carol’s core values are client-focused, emphasizing long-term relationships built on confidence and trust.  She works diligently to increase her client’s net worth, plan for their future, and ultimately enhance their lives today.

Carol's hourly financial planning rate is $250. Carol's portfolio management fee is a maximum of 1% and is discounted for portfolios over $250,000.

PH: 714-827-5794 | Email Carol 

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Big Changes in the Somoano Household

IMG 1990

I am an official empty nester: Kimberly graduated with her Masters in Communicative Disorders and accepted a job as a Speech Language Therapist with the Rialto School district! My other daughter, Kathleen is engaged! She is still living in Australia but will be married in California in 2018. And Kyle has transferred to UC Santa Barbara to complete his last two years of college. I am very proud of all their accomplishments.

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Fake Check Scams

I came across an article about fake check scams and what to look out for if you receive an unexpected check in the mail. Unfortunately, these types of scams are happening more and more frequently. The following are some really good tips on what to do and what not do if you find yourself in this situation.

To avoid fake check scams, follow these tips:

Don’t “keep the change”- No legitimate company will overpay you and ask that you wire the difference back to the company or to some third party. Be extremely wary of any offer-in any context- to accept a check or money order in an amount greater than you are owed.

Don’t cash the “unexpected” check- Companies rarely if ever send checks that don’t include some explanation of why the check was issued. Unless you are expecting the check- and you are absolutely certain it is meant for you- do not cash it.

Call the company directly to verify the check- Remember that some fake checks will have a legitimate company’s actual account number with the correct bank routing number. Call the company directly to verify the check, using a telephone number you obtain on your own from directory assistance. Do not use any telephone number that appears on the check or any instructions you receive.

Know the hallmarks of fraud- Fake check scams typically have a number of red flags, such as:

-Typos: Watch out for online postings or emails that are riddled with typos and poor grammar.

-Mismatched names: Compare the name of the person or company posting the opportunity with the name on the check you receive- and beware if they don’t match.

Pressure to act quickly- Be aware that it can take 10 days or even more for your bank to determine that a check is a counterfeit. Don’t wire or transfer funds until you have verified with your bank that the check has cleared- even if the bank allows you to withdraw the money sooner.

If you do receive a suspicious check, contact one or more of the following organizations right away: local police, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center), or the U.S. Postal Inspections Service (if the check arrived by U.S. mail).

Source: Compliance E-News, May 31, 2017, Published by The Consortium®

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Congratulations Melani!

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We are pleased to announce that Melani has earned her Registered ParaplannerSM designation. The coursework she completed has given her the financial knowledge necessary to assist our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERSTM in constructing financial plans for our clients. She will work closely with our advisors and is a valuable member of our financial planning team.

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Reminder: 2016 IRA Contributions

We wanted to send out a reminder that it's not too late to contribute to your IRA accounts for 2016 as long as you are still working and have not yet met your contribution limit. The IRS deadline for contributions is April 18, 2017. Please give us a call if you would like to make a contribution or have any questions.

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Medicare Premiums

 

The law requires an increase to your monthly Medicare Part B & D premiums if you have “higher Income”. The higher your income, the more you pay. Most people do not pay the higher premium but we want you to be aware that this might happen if you sell a home or stocks with large capital gains or take large distributions from your IRA accounts because it will increase your AGI. Your 2017 Medicare premium will be based on your Adjustable Gross Income (AGI) from your 2015 tax return. Each year the premium is re-evaluated based on your taxes. If you have a large windfall in one year you will only have to pay the increase for one year and then the premium will go back down.

The following is a table that shows the income amounts that were used in 2016:

Medicare Premiums Income Limits

The Social Security cost of living increase and Medicare premium increase have not been announced yet but is expected to be less than 1%. The open enrollment period to change your Medicare plan is from October 15-December 7.

It is also that time of year for Open Enrollment if you are employed with benefits. Make sure you review all the benefit options you have and choose what is right for you. Take advantage of Flexible Savings accounts for healthcare or childcare. Has your income increased – did you also increase your 401K contributions?

Note: You can dispute the increase if your income has decreased substantially. The number one reason is due to death of spouse or divorce. The Medicare website has a list of what reasons are acceptable and what you need to do to dispute the increase.

 

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Advisors in Transition Speaking Engagement

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Sandy was invited to speak at The Advisors in Transition meeting on September 14, 2016 at the offices of Brown and Streza in Irvine, California. She was asked to tell the story of how her career started and how she has transitioned through different phases to become the successful financial advisor she is today. This speaking engagement allowed Sandy to share her best practices, help, mentor and inspire other members to grow to new heights.

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Understanding Medicare

 

Medicare seems like a simple concept but just like social security, there are many rules and details that you should understand. First of all, the best place to go for answer is: https://www.medicare.gov  The website is very informative and where I go to if I need to research a Medicare question.

The major components of Medicare are Part A, B, C and D. Parts A, B and D combined are comparable to a PPO insurance plan while Part C is comparable to a HMO plan. You must sign up at age 65 to avoid a penalty but if you can prove that you were covered elsewhere the penalty is waived.

Part A is Hospital Insurance. It is designed to help cover the cost of your care in a hospital, rehab facility, and home health care for a limited period of 100 days per benefit period. There is no premium cost for Part A but there is a $1,288 deductible per year.

Part B is Medical Insurance. It covers doctor services, preventive and outpatient care. The premium cost for new enrollees is $121.80/month and your co-payment is normally 20% of the expenses incurred. The premium is deducted from your social security check but if you delay starting social security you must pay the premium directly to Medicare.

Part D is Prescription Drug coverage. This covers prescription drugs. This coverage is provided by an insurer that is approved by Medicare. To avoid a late penalty you should also sign up for this at the same time as part A & B. You can change the coverage in later years if the coverage is not enough.

Part C is medical insurance offered by private insurers. It is also known as Medicare Advantage. This is offered by HMO type insurers like Kaiser. Medicare deducts the cost of the insurance from your social security check and pays the insurer (e.g., Kaiser) for your benefit. Prescription drug coverage is normally covered as part of this plan too.

Next time, I will discuss medi-gap policies and Medicare premium amounts and what causes them to increase or decrease.

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Protecting Your Home While on Vacation

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer and for many people, summer is a great time to plan a vacation. Unfortunately robbers know this and it can also be a prime time for home break-ins. Having a house sitter stay in your home to watch your pets, water your plants, gather any mail or flyers, and turn lights off and on is definitely your best option for insuring your home is safe but this may not be an option for everyone. Here are a few tips to safeguard your home while you are away.

  1. Have your mail stopped. Nothing screams that no one is home more than a bunch of mail and flyers piling up on your doorstep. You can visit the post office website and submit a request online.
  2. 2.Get timers for your lights. Leaving your lights on 24/7 is a dead giveaway that you are not home and will make your electric bill sky rocket. Instead, put your living room lights on timers to come on at dusk and turn off at bed time.
  3. 3.Ask a neighbor for help. Usually a neighbor will not mind keeping an eye out for anything suspicious going on at your house and may even be willing to pull out the trash cans for you. Asking doesn’t hurt and I’m sure they would appreciate the favor in return.
  4. 4.Make sure everything is locked up. This seems so obvious but one of the biggest mistakes people make is leaving a door or window unlocked in their rush to get going on their vacation. If your house is locked up tight the thief will have to work harder to break in and will most likely leave if it is taking too long.
  5. 5.Don’t post about it. Everyone loves getting away on vacation but posting this information on social media will notify all of your connections that you are away from home. Think twice before giving out too much information. You can always post those great vacation pics when you get home!
  6. 6.Get a security system. If you travel a lot or are away from home most of the day in general it may be a good idea to get an alarm or a camera security system. The cost for these systems may be small in comparison to the peace of mind you will have knowing that your home is protected.

Most importantly, enjoy your vacation knowing that your home is secure while you are away!

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Spring Cleaning

 

As soon as I finish my taxes I also do some spring cleaning of my paperwork clutter and finances. Here are some tips to get your financial house in shape:

  1. Organize financial papers: Do not leave financial documents around that contain information that could be used to steal your identity. Shred paperwork you no longer need. Save important papers in a secure place and if possible, digitally (scan and save on external drive/usb, etc.) and secure with a password.

  2. Bills, paystubs, bank and investment statements should be kept for one year and then just keep the year end summaries and shred the rest.

  3. Keep invoices and all bills for major repairs, improvements and construction on your home. This is vital to have when and if you ever sell your home for increased cost basis.

  4. Tax returns and all supporting documentation should be kept for at least 7 years. A good rule is to scan your older tax returns and keep them forever.

  5. Run your credit report to see if there are any unusual transactions. Annualcreditreport.com allows one free report per agency per year.

  6. Automate adding to investments and savings.

  7. Adjust tax withholdings on your income (paycheck, IRA’s, etc.) if you owed too much tax or received a large refund.

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Money Makeover

I had the pleasure of being asked to be the financial advisor for this month's Los Angeles Times Money Makeover.  Here is the link to the article:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-money-makeover-frey-vogel-20130818,0,2305366.story
 

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