Articles

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.

  • Avoiding Probate

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

  • Preserving My Estate

    Life insurance can be used to help preserve your estate’s value for your heirs.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • IRA Rollover

    If you leave a job or retire, you should consider your options regarding your employer retirement plan assets.

  • 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.

  • Why Purchase Annuities

    Annuities, an insurance-based financial vehicle, can provide many benefits that retirement investors might want.

  • Annuity Living Benefits

    Living benefits can help protect variable annuity owners from running out of money in retirement.

  • 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.

  • Your Business and Retirement

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

  • Planning Options

    There are a variety of retirement planning options that could help meet your needs. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Social Security Income

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

  • Self-Employed Retirement Plans

    Tax-deferred retirement plans for self-employed individuals have higher contribution limits than IRAs.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

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

  • 401(k) Plans

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

  • Roth IRAs

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

Tax Planning

  • 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.

  • Tax-Advantaged Investments

    Many traditional tax-advantaged investment strategies have gone away, but there are still some alternatives.

  • Tax Deductions

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

  • Tax-Free Investments

    It’s important to understand tax-exempt vehicles when establishing a comprehensive tax planning strategy.

Investing

  • Stock

    Before investing in stocks, it is important to understand some of the basics and the risks involved in owning stocks.

  • Diversification

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

  • Bonds

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

  • Mutual Funds vs. Stocks

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

  • Annuities

    An annuity is a flexible financial vehicle that can help protect against the risk of living a long time because it provides an option for a lifetime income.

  • 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.

  • Stock and Bond Investing Alternatives

    There are other ways to invest in stocks and bonds besides owning individual shares or bonds.

  • 529 Plans

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

Cash Management

  • Doubling Your Money

    Before making investment decisions, it is helpful to determine the real rate of return on the investment.

  • Money Market Funds

    Money market funds can be a highly liquid and effective cash management tool.

  • College Financial Aid

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

  • Effects of Inflation

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

Risk Management

  • 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.

  • Protecting Your Home

    Since your home is one of your greatest assets, you should make sure it is adequately protected. That's where homeowners insurance enters the picture.

  • Long-Term Care Costs

    The odds of needing long-term care increase as you age. Prior planning can help protect you from financial ruin.

  • Long-Term-Care Needs

    If you were to suffer an illness or disability that required long-term nursing care, would you be covered?

  • Types of Life Insurance

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