The relationship between pot and life insurance premiums

Here is a link to the most authoritative guidance I’ve seen regarding how life insurance companies view marijuana usage.  LLIS article

Note:  Do not call LLIS directly for life insurance.  They serve fee-only advisors and their clients, not the general public.  Through fee-only advisors, LLIS offers coverage from many high quality insurers without unnecessarily high charges.
Contact us at Alpha Financial if you have any questions.
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Here are some key takeaways:

As legalization becomes more widespread, insurers are refining how they view consumption.

Insurers consider frequency and quantity of marijuana consumed.  Users can be classified by “heavy”, “frequent”, “seldom” similar to tobacco consumption.  Using a vaporizer might lower premiums.

Occasional use will not disqualify an applicant from “preferred rate class” premiums.

Lying on the application could result in refusal of coverage from any insurer, if the blood test comes back positive for usage.

Use a fee-only advisor who can work with LLIS.com to find the life, disability, and long term care insurance that meets your unique needs.

Alpha Financial Management is a fee-only financial planning practice with offices in Alpharetta and Savannah Georgia.

Buffett bets on S&P 500, wins $1M wager against hedge fund manager

In case you missed it, in 2017 Warren Buffett won $1 Million for an Omaha charity last year after a hedge fund manager conceded defeat in a 10 year bet.

In 2008 Buffett claimed the S&P 500 would beat any basket of hedge funds the hedge fund manager could construct, over a 10 year period.

It wasn’t even close.  Despite the 2008 crash, the S&P 500 averaged 7.1% compounded annually vs. the hedge fund return of 2.2%.

LINK

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This story supports my claim hedge funds do much better for hedge fund managers than they do for hedge fund investors.

If you want to know what does outperform the S&P 500, give me a call.

Alpha Financial Management acts as a fiduciary and provides fee-only investment advice with offices in Savannah and Alpharetta, Georgia

Hedge Funds underperformed again in 2017

Average Hedge Fund return in 2017?  6.5%   (link)

The S&P 500 returned 21.8%.   (link)

Once again, the guessers lost.

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You’d have been much better off simply investing in the broader market.

You’d be better off not guessing market ups and downs and not guessing which market sector will be hot.  Call us if you would like a more sensible approach to investing.

Alpha Financial Management acts as a fiduciary and provides fee-only investment advice with offices in Savannah and Alpharetta, Georgia

Expense ratios: why they matter

Why expense ratios are important

As your financial advisor, we at Alpha focus on what we can control  We don’t control markets, but we can control expense ratio.  We pride ourselves on portfolios with expense ratios averaging below 0.25%.

This article from Dr. Craig L Israelsen demonstrates why expense ratios matter.

Highlight:

If a retiree starts with a $1 Million portfolio, reducing portfolio expense ratio from 2% to 1% permits retirees to earn and spend an extra $500,000 over a 20 year retirement..

Bring your portfolio into Alpha Financial for an analysis.  We will show you what your expense ratios are. That’s one of the advantages of using a fee-only advisor.  No hidden fees.

Alpha Financial Management acts as a fiduciary and provides fee-only investment advice with offices in Savannah and Alpharetta, Georgia

Charitable Donations: Dec 31, 2017 is a Sunday

Before you go on Christmas vacation this year, remember Dec 31 falls on a Sunday. This means any charitable donations must be postmarked or processed by Dec 30 to be deductible on your 2017 taxes.donation memified

As the tax reform legislation shapes up, you’ll soon know whether you will get an itemized deduction for charitable contributions next year. It might make sense to make next year’s donations this year. Some donors may end up donating large amounts one year and none for a few years, just to maximize their tax deductions.

Other donors are setting up Donor Advised Funds so they get the deduction in a single year and can pace out the donations to charities over multiple years.

Call us if questions about tax planning.

Michael Dayoub, CFP® for Alpha Financial Management, a fee-only financial planner with offices in Savannah and Atlanta. Alpha includes tax planning and charitable giving as part of its comprehensive financial planning services. 

Huricane Irma tax relief

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If you had storm damage from Hurricane Irma you may be eligible for tax relief. IRS link

Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are not covered by insurance or other reimbursements. For details, see Form 4684 and its instructions.

You also would be eligible for the time to file returns, pay taxes, and perform other time sensitive acts.

We at Alpha Financial are doing year end tax planning for all our clients and want to make sure you get this deduction and relief if eligible.

We don’t do tax returns. We work with your preparer or your CPA to do tax planning.  Call us if we can do tax planning for you.

Michael Dayoub, CFP® for Alpha Financial Management, a fee-only advisor with offices in Savannah and Atlanta. Alpha includes tax planning and estate planning as part of its comprehensive financial planning services. 

Tax planning we’re doing for our clients right now at end of 2017

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Speculation continues regarding tax code changes Congress is now considering.

Regardless of the outcome, there’s still plenty of tax planning work for us to do at Alpha Financial.

 

• Whether to take any IRA distributions this year to roll over into a Roth since our client has earned income this year in semi-retirement.

• When to start Social Security retirement benefits. After RMD’s start at age 70, our client will be pushed into a higher tax bracket. That means we might take some distributions before age 70, and our tax rate on those distributions will be lower if we wait until age 70 to begin Social Security retirement benefits. Taxes, life expectancy, risk, and expected investment return are all part of the Social Security decision.

• Whether to take some gains on a taxable stock portfolio this year in order to pay down a mortgage. The science of it is calculating the gains. The art of it is to determine how much of the home equity to consider as part of the “bond” part of our client’s asset allocation. Paying down the mortgage does provide a bond return (the after-tax mortgage rate is higher than bond rates right now).

• Whether to surrender a poorly performing annuity the client already had. There are some gains in the annuity. The client will be filing SINGLE next year, so we would pay more gains next year. The client also has quite a bit of other gains pending in rental properties, so we want to schedule the gains over multiple years.

• How much expense to incur in 2017 vs. 2018 for businesses that may have an opportunity to pay a lower tax rate next year if the “pass through” S-Corporation tax rate is lowered.

• Adjustments to W-4 withholding through the end of the year so we reduce our expected refund. We don’t want our clients to have large refunds delayed by any possible identity theft fiasco the IRS or Equifax hasn’t warned us about yet.

Much depends on the tax changes for next year. We’re guessing most of the proposed tax code changes won’t be enacted, but want to at least consider the effect of each change in case it passes.

Let us know if we can work through some of these scenarios for you or your tax projections.

Alpha Financial Management, with offices in Alpharetta and Savannah, Georgia, is a comprehensive wealth management firm which works in concert with tax and estate attorneys to optimize wealth transfer and income tax strategies.

Business Owners: the power of a transition plan

47% of business owners over age 65 have no transition or exit plan despite the fact that long term transition planning usually results in higher business values, lower taxes, and more peace of mind for all stakeholders.

— source: “The Power of Planning” by Wilmington Trust

The earlier you plan, the more confident your customers are in your business’s longevity.

The earlier you plan, the more confident your employees are in building your business.

The earlier you plan, the more opportunity there is for better tax strategies for your business exit.

Use an advisor who knows the taxes, can help improve your business valuation, and find the right strategy that accomplishes all your goals.

Alpha Financial is a fee-only advisory firm with offices in Atlanta and Savannah.  Fee-only means the firm is only compensated by fee, does not get commissions the “fee based” advisors receive, and must disclose all potential conflicts of interest as a fiduciary. Fiduciary is a higher standard of care compared to the “suitability” requirement stock brokerages must satisfy.

Equifax Data Breach — Alpha’s current recommendations

Below is the current advice I am providing my clients regarding the Equifax data breach. It may apply to you as well. If you’d like to talk about it, contact me.

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Dear Alpha clients,

This is a follow-up from last week’s email regarding the Equifax data breach.  That email is included below my signature.

In that email I recommended you go through the process of finding out if your data at Equifax was compromised (Step 1) and go ahead and enroll in their “TrustedID Premier” service which included credit file monitoring and a credit report lock (Step 2).
Equifax has now made their TrustedID  service free for a year.

I am still recommending you do Step 1 and Step 2.

Q. Should I freeze my credit at the other two service bureaus?  (The lock at Equifax does not also lock at Experian and TransUnion.)  Here’s a link how to do it: LINK)

A. I don’t know. The safest thing to do is to lock them.  It might become annoying for you, though, if the service bureaus do not provide an inexpensive and simple way to lift the freeze each time we need credit to buy an iPhone, car, refrigerator, etc. on a payment plan.  “Free credit” isn’t free if you have to pay for the credit check!
I am freezing at all 3 bureaus.  If it becomes time-consuming or expensive to lift the freeze each time I want “free credit” then maybe in a year I will re-think the idea of using “free credit” or I might just leave my credit freeze lifted.

Q. Should I freeze my children’s credit at all 3 bureaus?   (Here’s a link how to do it: LINK)

A. I don’t know.  If you think they could potentially become a victim of credit fraud or identity theft then the safest thing is to freeze their credit.  Definitely do Step 1 to find out if their data at Equifax was compromised.

If you have questions, give us a call.

Sincerely,

Michael Dayoub, CFP®, MBA
Alpha Financial Management 912.353.9343     alpha-sav.com      linkedin/in/mikedayoub/
11175 Cicero Drive | Suite 100 | Alpharetta, Georgia | 30022
7505 Waters Avenue |Suite E1 |  Savannah, Georgia  |  31406

From: Michael Dayoub
Sent: Friday, September 08, 2017 10:35 PM
To:
Subject: Equifax data breach — Alpha recommendation

Dear Alpha Client, Yesterday, Equifax announced a major data breach potentially impacting over 140 million people – nearly half of all Americans. The breach exposed names, addresses, social security numbers, birth dates, some driver’s license and credit card numbers.

Given the extremely broad scope of this breach, it’s highly probable your data at Equifax was compromised.

Of course no Alpha data was compromised, but we want to help you keep your data safe. Alpha’s trusted data security professionals recommend you take these two steps as soon as possible:

1. Sign up for credit monitoring (which can be accessed via https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com).

2. After you have signed up for credit monitoring, place a security freeze on your credit profile, which will prevent individuals from obtaining a new credit card using your identity.  You will be able to do Step 2 about a week after Step 1.

There’s a good chance you are preoccupied with Hurricane preparations. Clicking on Step 1 above will only take two minutes.  I just did Step 1 for myself.

I’ll send you a reminder in about a week.

Be safe this week! Call us if questions.

We are checking voicemails all weekend and throughout this hurricane emergency.

Michael Dayoub, CFP®, MBA | Financial Advisor |
Alpha Financial Management 912.353.9343     alpha-sav.com      linkedin/in/mikedayoub/ 11175 Cicero Drive | Suite 100 | Alpharetta, Georgia | 30022
7505 Waters Avenue |Suite E1 |  Savannah, Georgia  |  31406
________________________________________

Would I recommend LegalZoom.com?

You get what you pay for.

I am careful to not offer legal advice. Only attorneys can do that.

I refer clients to attorneys and often use a team approach alongside an attorney to develop the estate plan.

Sometimes people can’t afford an attorney for estate planning work. I’d send military to their JAG office. I might suggest using forms from NOLO.com as a last resort.

I wouldn’t send anyone to LegalZoom.

Google searches sometimes lead to LegalZoom columns.  These columns may be insightful but they might also be grievously wrong.

This column on “Advantages of an Irrevocable Trust” is an example. The author seems to believe Medicare covers long nursing home stays. This is false. Irrevocable trusts may sometimes be used for couples about to apply for Medicaid to help cover long term nursing home care.

LegalZoom has no way to contact the author to clear up mistakes. That gives LegalZoom a permanent problem with quality control.

Caveat emptor.

LegalZoom may give you an idea of a legal topic, but don’t assume you have access to current and correct information.

Alpha Financial Management, with offices in Alpharetta and Savannah, Georgia, is a comprehensive wealth management firm which works in concert with tax and estate attorneys to optimize wealth transfer and income tax strategies.