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What is a funeral trust?

A funeral trust is an arrangement entered into with a provider of funeral or burial services. Prepaying funeral expenses may allow you to “lock in” costs for future funeral or burial services at an agreed-upon price. The funeral home sometimes serves as trustee (manager of trust assets), and you usually fund the trust with cash, bonds, or life insurance. A revocable funeral trust can be changed and revoked by you at any time. An irrevocable trust can’t be changed…

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Expect the Unexpected: What to Do If You Become Disabled

In a recent survey, 46% of retirees said they retired earlier than planned, and not necessarily because they chose to do so. In fact, many said they had to leave the workforce early because of health issues or became disabled.1 Although you may be healthy and financially stable now, an unexpected diagnosis or injury could significantly derail your life plans. Would you know what to do, financially speaking, if you suddenly became disabled? Now may be a good time…

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Student Loan Debt: It Isn’t Just for Millennials

It’s no secret that today’s college graduates face record amounts of student debt. Approximately 68% of the graduating class of 2015 had student loan debt, with an average debt of $30,100 per borrower — a 4% increase from 2014 graduates.1 A student loan debt clock at finaid.org estimates current outstanding student loan debt — including both federal and private student loans — at over $1.4 trillion. But it’s not just millennials who are racking up this debt. According to…

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Four Numbers You Need to Know Now

When it comes to your finances, you might easily overlook some of the numbers that really count. Here are four numbers you need to know now and pay attention to since they really matter in the future. Retirement plan contribution rate What percentage of your salary are you contributing to a retirement plan? Making automatic contributions through an employer-sponsored plan such as a 401(k) or 403(b) plan is an easy way to save for retirement, but this out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach…

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What is an ERISA fiduciary?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was enacted in 1974 to protect employees who participate in retirement plans and certain other employee benefit plans. At the time, there were concerns that pension plan funds were being mismanaged, causing participants to lose benefits they had worked so hard to earn. ERISA protects the interests of plan participants and their beneficiaries by: Requiring the disclosure of financial and other plan information Establishing standards of conduct for plan fiduciaries Providing for…

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Are you Ready to Retire?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you are ready to retire. Is your nest egg adequate? It may be obvious, but the earlier you retire, the less time you’ll have to save, and the more years you’ll be living off  your retirement savings. The average American can expect to live past age 78.* With future medical advances likely, it’s not unreasonable to assume that life expectancy will continue to increase. Is your nest…

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Is It Wise to Trade Your Pension for a Lump Sum?

Most private employers have already replaced traditional pensions, which promise lifetime income payments in retirement, with defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. But 15% of private-sector workers and 75% of state and local government workers still participate in traditional pensions.1 Altogether, 35% of workers say they (and/or their spouse) have pension benefits with a current or former employer.2 Many pension plan participants have the option to take their money in a lump sum when they retire. And since 2012,…

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Tax Benefits of Homeownership

Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits of homeownership are available to make homeownership more affordable and less expensive. There may also be tax benefits under state law. Mortgage interest deduction One of the most important tax benefits of owning a home is that you may be able to deduct any mortgage interest you pay. If you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return, you can deduct the interest you pay on a…

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Is Smart Beta a Smart Strategy for You?

Traditional investment indexes such as the S&P 500 are weighted based on market capitalization, the value of a company’s total outstanding stock. This means the largest companies in the index may have much greater influence on index performance than smaller companies. For example, the 10 largest companies in the S&P 500 account for more than 18% of the index’s performance, as opposed to about 2% for the 10 largest if every company were weighted equally.1 Funds that track market-weighted…

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What are bond ratings?

Bond ratings are an essential tool when considering fixed-income investments. Ratings provide a professional assessment of credit risk, or the risk of default, which can be measured to some degree by analyzing the bond issuer’s financial condition and creditworthiness. Credit rating agencies perform this type of analysis and issue ratings that reflect the agency’s assessment of the bond issuer’s ability to meet the promised interest payments and return the principal upon maturity. The best-known independent rating agencies — Standard…

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