Asset Planning, Inc Blog

The latest from the team.

BP shares largely held by state pension systems across the US

Below is a an excerpt from a Marketwatch article  that details the BP shares owned by state pension.  BP is coming under political pressure to cut it's dividend even though the company has the financial means to keep paying it.  The shortfall in funding of state pensions has been much publicized over the past few years. We can expect the states will fight back to preserve BP's dividend and share value.

  • The New Jersey Division of Investment (51 million shares)

  • The California Public Employees Retirement System (36 million shares)

  • The Pennsylvania Public School Employees Retirement System (7.1 million shares)

  • The Teachers Retirement System of Alabama (4.5 million shares)

  • The Employees Retirement System of Texas (4.1 million shares)

  • The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (1.1 million shares)

  • The Illinois State Board of Investment (1.1 million shares)

  • The Indiana Public Employees' Retirement Fund (0.7 million shares)

  • The Washington State Investment Board (1.2 million shares)

Of special note, the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund holds 21.9 million shares of BP.

 

Continue reading
  1042 Hits
1042 Hits

Stock Circuit Breaker Implementation

Tomorrow - Friday, June 10, the SEC will implement new circuit breaker rules on all US stock exchanges.

This is what the circuit breaker does: when a stock in the S&P 500 drops 10% in a 5 minute period, there will be a 5 minute trading halt across all exchange platforms for that stock. The new rules are aimed at preventing a repeat of the May 6 "flash crash" in which the Dow Jones industrials lost 1,000 points in less than a half hour.

This is a pilot program for 6 months. For some reason ETFs are not included in this test. I am hopeful that they will be included soon, because an ETF is traded just like a stock and should come under the same rules.

Continue reading
  936 Hits
936 Hits

New LA Times Money Makeover

For those of you that didn't catch last Sunday's paper, Sandy was the featured planner in the Money Makeover article. This time, she helped a young couple that was spending quickly through a large inheritance develop a budget and preserve what's left of their windfall.

Click here to read the full article. 

Continue reading
  1169 Hits
1169 Hits

Did you take your meds today?

I just saw this article called Track Your Meds Better wtih This Little Trick by Real Age

When you take a daily pill, it can be tough to remember if you're on schedule or thinking of yesterday's dose. So use this little trick to jog your memory.

Be original. Each time you take your pill, do something different. One day, pat the top of your head. Another day, knock on the doorframe. Next time, do a slow twirl afterward. Adding a complex or unusual action helps people remember a routine task.

Enhance Your Memory
Unfortunately, your tendency to forget routine things gets worse as you get older. Pairing a quirky action with a routine task makes it more memorable because the action requires you to pay extra attention to what you're doing. Another easy tactic: Get a day-of-the-week pill dispenser. A little organization may be all you need to avoid missing or doubling up on doses.

I guess I will be twirling around in the morning now.

Continue reading
  1036 Hits
1036 Hits

Programs for Underwater Homeowners

Two new bills went in effect in April to aid distressed homeowners. The first bill is called the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative Program or for short HAFA. HAFA is intended to help people that don't qualify for a loan modification under the first government program HAMP. Under HAFA borrowers and lenders will get cash from the government to complete a short sale. A short sale, basically, is when a lender agrees to accept less than is owed on a property in order to sell the house to a new buyer. In addition to the financial incentive given, the government program requires lenders to approve and set the terms of the short sale prior to the house being listed and release the borrower of all future liability on the first lien mortgage. The program will be in effect April 2010 until December 2012.

The second government program offered this month is from the state of California. This law changes California tax code to absolve homeowners from income tax owed on canceled debt. Perviously, debt forgiven in foreclosure, short sale, or loan modifications was treated as taxable income. This change in California tax code mirrors the 2007 Federal Government tax relief program called the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act.

Continue reading
  858 Hits
858 Hits

Health Care Law Brings Out Scam Artists

This week the Secretary Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, issued a word of precaution against scam artists claiming involvement in the new health care reform.

Imposters are going door to door claiming you must sign up and pay now for the expanded government assisted health coverage. They are telling their victims that there is a "limited enrollment period". The coverage for the uninsured doesn't even begin until 2014. Please be guarded with anyone showing up at your home or calling offering to sell you coverage. In general, when dealing with unfamiliar solicitations, I recommend you always take the sales person's name, employer, and phone number so you can research them before proceeding.

Continue reading
  879 Hits
879 Hits

Financial Planning Regulation

Senator Kohl (D-Wisc) has added a provision to the financial reform bill to regulate financial planners. This important provision will fill a significant regulatory gap and provide consumers with the ability to identify qualified financial planners who can help them make sound financial decisions on their path to the American dream. As a financial planner, I urge you to support this needed consumer protection reform.

Currently, financial planners are unregulated as a profession. Instead, they operate under a patchwork of regulation that allows hundreds of thousands of people to hold themselves out as financial planners without meeting baseline competency, practice, or ethics requirements. Because there are currently no standards or regulations prescribing who can identify themselves as a financial planner, incompetent and unethical people have free reign to call themselves financial planners. Many of these individuals have given bad advice, engaged in unethical behavior, and even committed outright fraud, costing consumers huge financial losses and further diminishing confidence in the American financial system.

One example involves a so-called financial planner who sold a 90-year-old man a fixed annuity that could not be cancelled for 13 years. Individuals such as these take advantage of the goodwill created by legitimate financial planners to profit from unsuspecting consumers. New standards with clearly defined requirements for becoming a licensed financial planner will help the public identify qualified financial planners and prevent these types of abusive practices.

The Financial Planner provision would establish a professional oversight board for financial planners. The board would require financial planners to pass a competency examination and meet ethical standards, and would have the power to discipline those who fail to meet the standards. In order to better protect the public, the oversight board would make information about licensed financial planners available to consumers so they can better evaluate a financial planner before hiring one. The ability of consumers to identify a competent and ethical financial planner is a key component to restoring consumer confidence and financial health.

Continue reading
  989 Hits
989 Hits

Social Security Disability Payments Expanded

Social Security disability payments have been expanded to include individuals with early onset Alzheimer's. Prior to the Social Security Administration's ruling, young individuals with Alzheimer's were faced with lengthy legal battles to qualify as disabled and receive benefits. To learn move about the changes you can visit the Alzheimer's Association and the Social Security websites.

Erin

Continue reading
  865 Hits
865 Hits

New Credit Card Rules

New credit card rules went into effect today. The legislation hopes to mitigate confusing credit card practices and help consumers manage their debt. Below you will find a summary of the new credit card rules moving forward:

  • Bills will be due at the same time each month
  • Notification of your payment due date must be mailed 21 days prior
  • Information regarding your account must be in "plain language & in plain sight"
  • Bills must include how much interest is charged for paying the minimum due
  • Calculations must be sent showing the pay off date if you only make the minimum payment & how much cardholders must pay to clear the balance in 3 years
  • Nearly all interest rate hikes are prohibited on outstanding balances
  • Consumers will be notified 45 days before any interest rate increases
  • No interest rate increases are allowed in the year following the account's origination
  • Automatic enrollment in over limit/draft programs are prohibited
  • Most under age 21 must prove assets and or income equal or greater than the credit limit to be approved for credit or have a co-signer.

Erin

Continue reading
  881 Hits
881 Hits

1099 IRS Revised Deadlines

Just a quick blog to let you know that the IRS has revised the upcoming delivery deadline for 1099 tax statements for the 2009 tax year from January 31 to February 16, 2010. The IRS increased the deadline in an effort to reduce the number of 1099 revisions that many mutual fund clients receive. Last year it was not unusual for clients to receive 2 or 3 revisions. The revisions are mainly due to the reclassification of dividends from qualified to non-qualified and vice-versa. The custodians we use, TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab, are making the 1099's available on-line and mailing them out by 2/16/2010. If you do not receive your 1099, go on-line to the document section and click on tax forms to see if it is available. Or you can call or email us and we can send it to you via email or fax.

Continue reading
  1337 Hits
1337 Hits

Roth Conversion Raises Medicare Costs

With all the talk of Roth conversions in 2010, I’d like to bring attention to a little known consequence of doing a Roth conversion- it increases your income and therefore could trigger a higher Medicare premium.  Currently, most retirees pay $96.40 for part B coverage. However, if you claim the conversion income over one and/or two years you will likely be push into a very high income bracket and therefore have higher Medicare premiums for those corresponding years. To help with your planning, see Medicare’s income thresholds and subsequent premiums below:

Income

Monthly Medicare Premium

Individuals

Married Couples

$85,001   to $107,000

$170,001 to $214,000

$154.70

$107,001 to $160,000

$214,001 to $320,000

$221.00

$160,001 to $214,000

$320,001 to $428,000

$287.30

$214,001 or more

$428,001 or more

$353.60



Erin 

Continue reading
  890 Hits
890 Hits

TD Ameritrade Doubles FDIC Insurance

We are very pleased to announce that TD Ameritrade has arranged so our clients will receive double the amount of FDIC insurance for their cash. TD Ameritrade joint accounts will now have up to 1 million dollars in FDIC coverage and up to $500,000 in protection for individual accounts. TD Ameritrade is able to do this by adding a second bank under their umbrella. No action is needed on your part to get the extra insurance.

Erin

Continue reading
  1174 Hits
1174 Hits

Year End Tax Deadlines

The end of the year is coming upon us very quickly. Here are some important dates/deadlines to beware of:

December 10 - 1st installment of property taxes are due.

Charitable Contributions - The last date to make a charitable donation that can be deducted from your return is December 31, 2009.

If you contribute to a 401K/403b/457 retirement account, check to see if you have put in enough:
The limits for 2009 are $16,500 if you are under age 50;
and if you are over 50 you may contribute another $5,500 for a total of $22,000.

Continue reading
  926 Hits
926 Hits

Roth IRA Conversion

There's been a lot of conversation and buzz about the new rules for converting Traditional IRA accounts to Roth IRA's in the year 2010. Basically, there will be no income limits and everyone is eligible to convert their Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA.

What does this mean and is it something you should consider?

There are 2 types of IRAs – traditional and Roth. The tax deductible traditional IRA (including IRA rollovers & SEP IRAs) is funded with pre-tax income and lowers your income for tax purposes. The money grows tax free until you withdraw it and at that time you pay ordinary income tax rates on the entire amount withdrawn. There is an additional 10% penalty if you withdraw funds before age 59 ½. The IRS requires you to take minimum distributions at age 70.5.

A Roth IRA is funded with after tax income but you can only contribute if your Adjusted Gross Income is under $105,000 if you are single and $166,000if you file jointly. You can withdraw money tax free as long as you have the Roth for 5 years and you are older than 59 ½. You are not required to take mandatory distributions.

Currently, you are not allowed to convert from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA if your income is over $100,000 but in 2010 (and only 2010) there will be no income limits.

If you convert, you will owe taxes on the entire conversion amount. The new rule allows you to paythe entire tax due in 2010 or you can elect to pay ½ of it in 2011 and ½ of itin 2012.

Should you convert? There is not a one size fits all answer. Every situation is unique. While the calculation is fairly easy, there are many assumptions that the decision should be based on:
What is your tax rate now vs. what will it be a tretirement?
What will your tax rates be in 2011 and 2012 when the tax is due?
Will tax rates rise? We don't know, but they may.
Can Congress change the rules on tax-free withdrawals of the Roth in the future? It is always possible.
Will your income drop or be the same or more in retirement?
The funds to pay the tax need to come from funds outside the IRA. Would those funds be better invested elsewhere? Be cautious on the assumptions you use for inflation, future income tax rates and the rate of return of the IRA.

Everyone's situation and goals are different, so before you decide, consult your Certified Financial Planner or your CPA.

Continue reading
  1032 Hits
1032 Hits

Free Seminar on Alzheimer's Detection & Treatment

Mariners Church, Irvine
January 16, 2010
1p.m. - 3 p.m.

Patty Barnett Mouton, Director of Education & Public Policy, Alzheimer's Association, Orange County Chapter will discuss how to detect and treat the early signs of Alzheimer's and related disorders.

The event is offered online to those that can not attend in-person.

For event registration and details click here

Continue reading
  812 Hits
812 Hits

Homebuyer Tax Credit Extended

President Obama signed into law today the extension and expansion of the homebuyer tax credit. The tax credit will be extended through April 30, 2010, with a 60 day extension if a binding contract is in place prior to the deadline. First time home buyers will continue to receive a tax credit of up to $8,000, while existing homeowners will receive a credit of up to $6,500. Existing homeowners will be eligilbe for the $6,500 if they lived in their current residence for at least 5 years.

The credit is available for the purchase of principal homes costing $800,000 or less, meaning vacation homes are ineligible. The credit will be phased out for individuals with annual incomes over $125,000 and for joint filers with incomes above $225,000. Also added was that taxpayers can claim the credit on purchases completed in 2010 on their 2009 income tax returns. The credit does not have to be repaid, provided the home remains their primary residence for at least 36 months.

Also added to this bill was to extend unemployment benefits to those who have exhausted their benefits by the end of the year. They will receive 14 additional weeks if their states unemployment rate is under 8.5% and 20 weeks if the rate is higher (e.g., California). This is estimated to help 2 million people.

Continue reading
  904 Hits
904 Hits

Dow Hits 10,000

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 10,000 today for the first time since October 7, 2008. The Milestone was led by strong earnings reports from Intel and JP Morgan. Oil also reached a one year high today at $75/barrel. And the VIX (Volatility Index Indicator) hit a 52 week low, meaning that investors are more positive.

The first time the Dow hit 10,000 was March 29, 1999. Here are some interesting facts of then vs. now:
Gas was $1.20/ gallon
Gold was $280/ounce vs. $1,060/ounce today
The Dollar index, as compared to other currencies, was 100.36 and today it is 75.60 - 25% weaker!
US debt was $24.6 billion and today it is $50.8 billion and growing.

Continue reading
  940 Hits
940 Hits

Reverse Mortgage Guidelines

You have to be careful with what you're getting yourself into when it comes to reverse mortgages. Many retirees take out reverse mortgages to generate cash to live on without having to sell their home. While this type of product makes sense for some individuals, many find themselves paying excessive fees for an unnecessary product. To help consumers navigate the world of reverse mortgages the U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued the following guidelines:

1. Explore other loan products such as home equity lines of credit & cash out refinances first

2. Reverse mortgages are generally too costly if you plan to stay in your home for less than 10 years

3. Be cautious of agents that try to sell you other products, such as annuities, in addition to the reverse mortgage

4. Consult with a counselor from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before you commit to anything

5. If you do get a reverse mortgage, make sure the loan is insured under the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) so that if the lender can't or won't continue payments, the government will.

The complete guidelines on reverse mortgages can be viewed here

Erin

Continue reading
  942 Hits
942 Hits

Have investors missed the time to get back into the market?

The market had a rebound of nearly 50% in the S&P from the March lows to September. Has everyone jumped back into the market to capture these jaw dropping returns? I would say no. I think most individual investors are still sitting on the sidelines in the equity market. The inflows into bond funds so far this year prove this to be true. The majority of inflows into all mutual funds this year went to bond funds. 80% of money flowing into open end mutual funds went this way: 60% to taxable bond funds and another 20% flowed to municipal bond funds.

PIMCO Total Return Bond Fund is the top selling fund of the year and took in $5.5 BILLION in August alone. This one fund now accounts for 13% of the entire taxable bond fund universe to invest in. That is twice the size of the largest equity fund. Other mutual funds to have high volume inflows are the Templeton Global Bond Fund and the Dodge & Cox Income Fund.

I have worried over this equity market run up because the volume has been below the normal trading volume. Is a correction still coming? It looks as though most equity investors still believe so and are showing that belief by not reinvesting in the market. Although some investors have watched the S&P rise and are now concerned they are missing the rally, I think they still have time. It is very hard not to second guess decisions when memories are short. The market was in a complete melt down with financial stocks one year ago at this time. Merrill Lynch, Lehman Bros, AIG were daily headlines. What a difference a year makes!

Continue reading
  885 Hits
885 Hits

Alzheimer's Disease

Today is World Alzheimer's Day and their quest it to raise awareness of how widespread this disease is. According to their new report, there are 35 million people now living around the world with Alzheimer's or another dementia.

CBS news reports that this number is ten percent higher than what scientists had predicted just a few years ago. The report also suggests that the population with dementia will nearly double every twenty years.

Age is the biggest driver of Alzheimer's, but obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes seem to increase the risk of dementia also. Scientists aren't even sure of the true cause of Alzheimer's. There is no known cure, today's drugs only temporarily alleviate symptoms.

The US government invests 428 million dollars in Alzheimer research as compared to $6 billion for cancer, $4 billion for heart disease and $3 billion for HIV/Aids.

For more information: The Alzheimer's Association. www.alz.org

Continue reading
  865 Hits
865 Hits

Search Blogs Module

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
wells Fargo Roth IRA pet Treasury Department account numbers memorial Day weekend fun facts assets vacation credit freeze Facebook profile DNA test kits ID card Wells Fargo employees clients increase banking Independence Day Two-Step Verification card reader IRS deadline borrowing money Open House tax season chip-enabled EMV cards official certification debt gap insurance bottom line privacy settings car loans FEMA website April 11 Victor Dergunov retirement planning 2017 IRA contributions contribution limit consumer spending rescue organizations emergency kit April 18 2017. Open Enrollment estate ice cream event client portal drive /usb Social Security Administration home break-ins CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER exam Kraig Mathias identity theft Social Security IRA accounts notary services Healthcare trust National Ice Cream month asset Planning Supplemental Security Income driver license clone counterfeits information Facebook Medicare executive order pet industry disaster areas relief efforts D premiums fees Shred paperwork pet supplies https ://seekingalpha 23 andme insurance policy trustee summer identity thieves June 29 pets illiegal robocallers 401K spring cleaning president Trump July 4 policy prescription eyeglasses 4 pm -8pm Legal robocalls emergency folder Orange County estate planning money Fox News story insurance policies flash drive earthquake app home security Orange County Superior Court credit card company Brexit vote Wells Fargo customers 2017 TD Ameritrade National LINC Conference 20 year anniversary home mortgages retirement accounts birth certificates October 1 2020. retirement Puerto Rico non-prescripstion sunglasses home “ skimmer ”. Medicare Part B Auto insurance parking spots clients show support phishing scams house sitter VOIP landline phones portal vision screening credit score investment statements jury duty credit cards privacy notices interest rates opt-out paperwork clutter Mobile Banking Security Tips documents California Lions Friends Notary Public credit card fraud Medicare question 70 1/2. Affordable Care Act