21 Nov 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
Over the next few articles, I will be writing about year-end tax planning strategies and issues you may need to consider. However, before we get to that, there were a number of important tax developments during the third quarter of 2017 that you may find interesting or useful to know. The following is a summary of some of these developments that that may affect you, your family, your investments, and your livelihood. President Trump and ...
7 Nov 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
As year-end approaches, some parents and grandparents turn their thoughts to year-end tax and estate planning strategies. Among these strategies often is making year-end gifts to children or grandchildren to take advantage of the annual gift-tax exclusion. However, if the kiddos are receiving college financial aid (or possibly applying for such in the future), these gifts can cause a problem. You see, such gifts, while perhaps being good tax and/or estate planning strategies, can often ...
24 Oct 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
As you likely know by now, Equifax, one of the three major US credit reporting agencies, recently reported a massive breach of their database, in which roughly 143 million Americans' personal information was hacked. It is very likely you were affected, but the question is, do you know if you were? And if so, what do you do now? Here is how you can find out and what you can do to protect yourself. First, ...
10 Oct 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
Having a 401k plan account may be one of the best and most popular ways to save for retirement. And while focusing on the performance of your investments is crucial to maximizing the funds you will have at retirement, it is not the only critical factor. It is easy to overlook some of these other factors when times are good, such as during the market's current bull run. But even in the "boom" times, there ...
4 Sep 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
In this space two weeks ago, we began discussing the wisdom of educating our kiddos in the area of personal finance and age-appropriate concepts that should be taught, getting up to about age 11. This week let's continue on with ideas for older children. 11 to 12 Year-olds: At this age, I think it is appropriate to begin teaching youngsters about credit cards. I don't mean letting them have one necessarily, but at least introducing ...
21 Aug 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
But personal finance is one of those subjects that will impact our children for their entire lives! It's imperative that we, as the grownups (i.e., parents) figure out a way to teach this stuff to our children because they likely won't get it anywhere else. In a blog earlier this year on BusyKid.com, Mike Prusinski wrote "We don't allow teenagers to drive a car, fly a plane or operate heavy equipment without requiring sufficient education ...
8 Aug 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
A couple of weeks back, this space was devoted to up front tax breaks that could aid in building up savings to help pay for college and other education costs. But what if you are already in the throws of shelling out the big bucks for current education? Well, good news, there are significant tax benefits that may help subsidize those costs you are incurring now! First and foremost among these benefits are a couple ...
25 Jul 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
The numbers can stagger the mind! According to the College Board, a "moderate" budget for sending your kiddo to a four-year public college for the last academic year was $24,610. Have something more upscale in mind for Baby Einstein? Average cost for a four-year private school was $49,320, according to the organization. It's ok to swallow hard here! So with that in mind, short of being Daddy Warbucks, how will you pay for your child's ...
11 Jul 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
Transferring wealth to a loved one who is disabled is a gesture filled with wonderful intentions, but in some cases it can cause problems that were not foreseen and certainly never intended. What do I mean by that? Perhaps an example will help explain. Suppose for purposes of this example that a family has a minor child who is permanently disabled and is receiving SSI and Medicaid benefits because the family has limited assets and ...
23 Jun 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
When it comes to transferring assets from one generation to the next, there are many commonly used strategies, including life insurance, "transfer on death" accounts, trusts of various kinds, beneficiary designations, durable power of attorney, charitable gifts, and business succession plans. Usually, the main focus is the passing of personal or real property, or financial assets while minimizing tax exposure. Many people, however, view wealth as more than money or their "stuff". Wealth, for these ...
16 Jun 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
It's just the beginning of summer, but many college age kids are gearing up to head to college, if not already there. And with them goes their stuff! It's not like it used to be, where the most expensive thing a college kid took with him might be a cheap stereo. Today, it's not unusual for students to have a virtual army of computers, plus smart phones and other high-tech devices, all of which they ...
29 May 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
You may remember last fall when news broke that millions of fake bank and credit card accounts had been created from 2011 to 2015 by employees of Wells Fargo in the names of the bank's customers without the customers' permission. Wells Fargo was subsequently nailed with $185 million in fines in response and over 5,000 bank employees were let go. Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf was also, as a result, forced out in October 2016, ...
22 May 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
As I write this, it's Spring Break time, with the resultant trips to the beach, ski slopes or favorite amusement parks for many families. Even more are in the planning stages for summer vacation trips. If that's you, my guess is that while you're busy lining up travel options, making sure you don't break the budget and arranging to be gone from work and other responsibilities, you probably aren't giving much thought to financial planning ...
15 May 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
Chances are you have heard of revocable living trusts. After all, living trusts have become a very popular estate planning and wealth transfer tool. But living trusts are not necessarily for everyone, and likely you have questions about them. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you know more about this useful tool, and perhaps help you decide whether one is right for your situation. Question: How does a living trust work? Answer: With ...
8 May 2017 | The Sun-Times | Lane Keeter
If you are an employer, you know that interviewing job candidates has never been an easy task. A growing list of legal pitfalls is making that tough job even tougher. Fortunately, there are techniques that can help you hire the right person and stay out of trouble while you are doing it. Here are some of the most important: Talk less, listen more. Most interviewers talk too much. They spend too much time discussing the ...