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79% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Welcome to our research center! We've put together a library of information on important financial topics that we believe you'll find helpful.

Simply click on one of the general financial topics below and you'll find a selection of easy-to-understand information sheets about related financial concepts and strategies. This information is updated regularly to reflect the latest facts, figures, legislation, and economic trends.

Estates & Trusts

  • Estate Planning

    Wills and trusts allow you to spell out how you would like your property distributed, but they also go beyond that.

  • Living Trusts

    A living trust can help control the distribution of your estate upon death.

  • Avoiding Probate

    The probate process can be lengthy and complex. There are strategies you can use to help avoid the probate process.

  • Charitable Giving

    To retain the tax advantages associated with charitable giving, your gift must be made to a qualified organization.

  • Controlling the Distribution

    If you haven’t taken steps already, consider planning now for the distribution of your estate’s assets.

  • Paying Estate Taxes

    If you believe your estate will be subject to estate taxes, consider how your heirs will pay the bill.

  • Gifting Strategies

    Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different gifting strategies available for planned giving.

  • Charitable Lead Trusts

    Charitable lead trusts are designed for people who would like to benefit a charity now rather than later.

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts

    A designated income beneficiary could receive payment of a specified amount from a charitable remainder trust.

  • Wealth Replacement Trusts

    A wealth replacement trust could be used to gift appreciated assets to a charity as well as provide for heirs.

  • Family Limited Partnerships

    One estate planning strategy that families with closely held businesses could consider is the family limited partnership.

  • Property Ownership

    Sole ownership, joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and community property have special benefits for property owners.

  • History of the Federal Estate Tax

    Careful estate planning is still one of the most important ways to manage and protect your assets for your heirs.

Retirement

  • SEP IRAs

    A SEP IRA is a type of plan under which the employer contributes (up to a certain limit) to an employee’s IRA.

  • SIMPLE Plans

    The SIMPLE plan may appeal to small business owners as it is easy to set up, administer, and allows for a tax deduction.

  • Stretch IRAs

    A “stretch” or “multigenerational” IRA may be a useful approach to extend tax-deferred savings that can benefit your heirs for generations.

  • Roth 401(k)

    A Roth 401(k) is funded with after-tax money, and allows for tax- and penalty-free withdrawal of earnings if requirements are met.

  • 403(b) Plans

    A 403(b) plan is a tax-deferred retirement savings plan that can only be offered by a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity.

  • How Much Do I Need to Save?

    Many realize it’s important to save for retirement, but knowing exactly how much to save is another issue altogether.

  • A New Chapter for Retirement

    With the changing pension landscape, it is important to take charge of your own retirement security.

  • 1035 Exchanges

    A Section 1035 exchange is a tax-free exchange of an existing annuity contract or life insurance policy for a new one.

  • Unforgettable Birthdays

    There are key dates after you turn 59 that can impact your taxes, Medicare eligibility, and retirement benefits.

  • Your Business and Retirement

    Allocating too much of your retirement investments to one company, even your own, can be a risky proposition.

  • Future of Social Security

    Greater demand is being placed on the Social Security system as the baby boom generation has begun to retire.

  • Social Security Income

    The Social Security Administration’s retirement estimator gives estimates of your future benefits based on your actual Social Security earnings record.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

    When receiving money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have two options: lump sum or annuity.

  • Traditional IRAs

    If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might consider a traditional IRA.

  • 401(k) Plans

    401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plans have many benefits, including that the funds accumulate tax-deferred.

  • Managing Retirement Plans

    Employer-sponsored retirement plans are more important than ever, but managing the assets can be confusing.

  • Roth IRAs

    Qualified Roth IRA distributions in retirement are free of federal income tax and aren’t included in gross income.

Tax Planning

  • Capital Gain Tax

    Capital gains are profits realized from the sale of assets; a tax is triggered only when an asset is sold, not held.

  • Estate Tax

    Everything you own, whatever the form of ownership, is subject to federal, and possibly state, estate taxes.

  • Gift Tax

    The federal gift tax applies to gifts of property or money while the donor is living.

  • Retirement Plan Limits

    IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans are subject to annual contribution limits set by the federal government.

  • Required Minimum Distributions

    Required minimum distribution is the annual amount that must be withdrawn from a qualified retirement plan/account.

  • Charitable Trust Tax Benefits

    For the grantor, there are a few potential tax benefits that can come with setting up a charitable trust.

  • Retirement Plan Taxes

    With traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn.

  • Withdrawing Before Age 59.5

    Tax-deferred retirement account withdrawals before age 59½ generally triggers a 10% federal income tax penalty.

  • Tax Deferral

    There can be a substantial benefit to deferring taxes as long as possible.

  • Tax Deductions

    Changes to the tax code have left a few key deductions for itemizers, like medical, dental and some business expenses.

  • Tax-Advantaged Alternatives

    While stable, CDs can create quite an income tax bill. Fixed annuities and municipal bonds can offer tax advantages.

Investing

  • Diversification

    An important element to successful investing is to manage investment risk while maintaining the potential for growth.

  • Types of Bonds

    Bonds are issued by many entities and share many characteristics, each type of bond has certain benefits and risks.

  • Bonds

    A bond is simply evidence of a debt from a government entity or a corporation and represents a long-term IOU.

  • Bond Ratings

    Bond ratings gauge a bond issuer’s financial ability to repay its promised principal and interest payments.

  • Mutual Funds vs. Stocks

    The difference between purchasing an individual stock versus shares in a mutual fund to potentially earn dividends.

  • Investment Risks

    Understanding different types of investment risk can help investors manage their money more effectively.

  • College Savings Plans

    There are several funding methods for a child's college education including mutual funds and Section 529 plans.

  • Dollar-Cost Averaging

    Dollar-cost averaging involves investing a set amount of money on a regular basis, regardless of market conditions.

  • 529 Plans

    529 plans are tax-advantaged college savings plans that generally allow people of any income level to contribute.

Cash Management

  • Cash Management Basics

    A sound cash management program uses a disciplined approach: accounting, analysis, allocation, and adjustment.

  • Cash Management Tools

    Short-term cash management instruments can help you establish a sound cash management program.

  • Biweekly Mortgages

    Biweekly mortgage payments can have a dramatic effect on the amount of interest homeowners have to pay.

  • Smart Financing Ideas

    Here are some smart ways to refinance your home.

  • College Financial Aid

    It's important to understand the options, such as financial aid grant programs, when having to pay for college.

  • Savings Alternatives

    There are a number of savings alternatives that could help you earn a reasonable rate of return.

  • Effects of Inflation

    Historically, one of the best ways to fight the effects of inflation has been to utilize growth-oriented investments.

  • Home Equity Loans

    Shifting some debt to a home equity loan, which typically allows interest payments to be tax deductible, could have its advantages.

Risk Management

  • Life Insurance for Business Owners

    Company-owned life insurance is one way to help protect a business from financial problems caused by the death of a key employee.

  • Term Life Insurance

    Term life insurance differs from permanent forms of life insurance in that it offers temporary protection.

  • Whole Life Insurance

    Some of the pros and cons of whole life insurance.

  • Maximizing Your Insurance Benefits

    Several factors could undermine the financial security provided by the proceeds of your life insurance policy.

  • Insuring Your Future

    To help you choose insurance wisely, determine how much coverage and what kind of policy is best for your situation.

  • Types of Life Insurance

    When selecting a life insurance policy, examine all your options, as well as the positives and negatives of each type.

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