Tuesday, August 2, 2016

I regrets to inform you that I will not be publishing new blog posts until further notice due to increasing difficulty in getting posts to pass compliance approval which is a requirement by Broker Dealers for anything published to the public. 
Please contact me directly with any questions regarding retirement and income planning or visit my web site: pacificgroupadvisors.net for contact information as well as information about retirement planning and segments of our radio show "Securing Your Retirement".

Eli Mizrahi

Why is it crucial for you to review your Beneficiary Designations?

You should review your beneficiaries during your annual review; however, another good time to review your beneficiaries is when a life event takes place.  Marriage, divorce, death, births, and adoptions are all circumstances that may cause a need for beneficiary reviews. In many instances you may no longer wish to leave  your retirement account to your ex, or you may want to add a new grandchild as a beneficiary.  It’s important to remember these circumstances and their potential impacts.   Regardless of the estate planning you have done with an attorney, if your beneficiary designations don’t match up with your current wishes, wills, and trusts, your estate may not be settled according to your current wishes. If beneficiary designations are not kept up to date or made at all, assets that were intended to be transferred outside of the probate system may inadvertently become subject to probate.   .
Furthermore, failure to keep beneficiary designations up to date may lead to unexpected tax consequences for the beneficiary.  However, an advantage to properly maintaining these designations may allow you to provide future income to your beneficiaries.  The checks they may get will generate fond memories of you for possibly many years to come.

Investment advisory services offered through AE Wealth Management, LLC. 
Neither AE Wealth Management nor its agents or representatives may give tax or legal advice and nothing presented in this article should be considered to be tax or legal advice.  Nothing presented in this article constitutes as tax or legal advice.  You should consult with a qualified professional for guidance before making any investment decisions. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Was you ID compromised?. What can you do about unfamiliar debt?

When you get notice about debt you don’t recognize, you may instinctively assume you’re a victim of ID theft. While this is possible, most often it is possible the debt belongs to someone else or it may be debt collection scam. There are some tips to help you sort it out. 
Get as much Information as possible
When a debt collector contacts you about a debt you don’t recall, you should first gather information. Don’t make a mistake and pay out of concern or fear. You have time to verify debts before making a payment. 

Few things to ask for during your initial contact:
Information About the Collector 
Legitimate debt collectors will be ale to provide you with basic information like the name of the debt collector, the company’s name, address, and phone number. If they refuse to provide this information, assume the call is a scam.

Information About the supposed Debt 
Make sure the debt is in your name and not someone else’s. 
Find out the amount of the debt, who the original creditor is, etc.

Validation Notice 
Ask for a written validation notice stating the original creditor, the amount owed, and what are your options to dispute the debt. If the collector doesn’t already have your address, or has an incorrect one that you’ve never used, don’t volunteer any information.
If the collector trys to verify your personal information do not correct any errors in their information such as wrong name, address, etc. since this can make disputing an illegitimate debt more difficult later. Do not provide any additional personal information the debt collector does not have.

Verify legitimacy
If the debt is legitimate, the collector would send you a validation notice upon request. When you receive the notice, do some investigative work to verify if it is your debt. 

A few things you can check if you suspect ID Theft or a scam.
Check Out the Debt Collector– Verify the debt collection company by doing an internet search. 

Look for sign of scams. Verify Information with the Original Creditor 
Contact the original creditor and ask for any additional information about the debt. Often they will help you determine if the debt is real and if the debt collector is an authorized collector on their behalf.

Check Your Credit 
Check if the debt appear on your credit report by pooling a credit report and seeing if the debt shows up.
With this information you should be able to determine if the debt is legitimate or not and be able to make a decision on your next move.

Good luck! 

This information is provided for educational purposes only. Always verify your credit issues with credit beauros.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Are we headed toward a recession in the near future.?

On the international and national level, the past few weeks have seen 2016 roll in, and along with it Chinese markets that tripped markets circuit breakers, tensions were rising between Iran and Saudi Arabia. North Korea claimed it has developed a hydrogen bomb. All these events helped create short-term (we hope) instability in several asset classes, notably equities and commodities.
We need to remember that in the United States December was a strong month for the labor market, adding approximately 292,000 non-farm jobs, and giving some hope that a meaningful increase in average hourly wages is on the horizon (which has been a missing piece of the economic puzzle for some time). 
With all of the recent volatility, I wanted to give you a few points to make sense of what is going on:
  • Everyday investors are panicking over the most recent wave of volatility, but professional investors seem to be remaining calm for the time being.
  • Three key indicators tell us a lot about the mindset of professional investors, which matters because of their dominance in the U.S. equity market.
  • The market appears as if it may remain decoupled from fundamentals for the time being, but that in of itself will not shift the direction of the U.S. economy
  • The volatility is no more than a continuation of what we saw last year (China, commodities, currency, etc.). It does not indicate a material shift in our economy. This is all emotionally driven volatility.
  • We all need to focus on information that drives the fundamentals instead. Consumer confidence is at a high, auto sales have never been stronger (a huge deal), services data is strong in the U.S. (as recently released), unemployment is at a decade low, the Fed raised interest rates (this is a huge deal because it is a belief that our economy is getting stronger).
  • There have been 8 interest rate cycles since the 1950s. On average, the S&P 500 rose for 30 months after the first rate hike in each cycle. The shortest time period of stock price gains was 10 months. On average, one year after the first rate hike, the market was up 9.5%. Past results don’t guarantee that history will repeat only that it’s usually a good sign when rates rise (initially).
  • Although everyone may feel nervous and you may feel the urge to make big changes in your portfolio or go all into cash, often times it is best to stay the course. Cash only loses money (purchasing power) safely. On the other end going further up the risk curve will only expose you to more volatility and subsequently risk you selling into panic. Perhaps the best thing to do is focus on the yield that you are receiving and be patient.
  • The risk of a recession remains low.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Do you have Questions about New Social Security Claiming Rules?

Five Questions and Answers about New Social Security Claiming Rules

When Congress unexpectedly eliminated two Social Security claiming strategies as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, retirement planning got a little more complicated for people who expected to use those strategies to boost their retirement income. Here are some questions and answers that could help if you are wondering how the new rules might affect you.

What's changing?

The provision of the budget bill called "Closure of Unintended Loopholes" primarily addresses two Social Security claiming strategies that have become increasingly popular over the last several years. These two strategies, known as "file and suspend" and "restricted application for a spousal benefit," have often been used to increase cumulative Social Security income for married couples. The budget bill has eliminated those strategies for most future retirees, but you may still have time to take advantage of them, depending on your age.

File and suspend

Under the old rules, an individual who had reached full retirement age could file for retired worker benefits in order to allow a spouse or dependent child to file for a spousal or dependent benefit. The individual could then suspend the retired worker benefit in order to accrue delayed retirement credits and claim an increased worker benefit at a later date, up to age 70. For some couples and families, this strategy increased their total lifetime combined benefit.

Under the new rules, effective for suspension requests submitted on or after April 30, 2016 (or later if the Social Security Administration provides additional guidance), the worker can file and suspend and accrue delayed retirement credits, but no one can collect benefits on the worker's earnings record during the suspension period, effectively ending the file-and-suspend strategy for couples and families. The new rules also mean that a worker who files and suspends can no longer request a lump-sum payment in lieu of receiving delayed retirement credits for the period during which benefits were suspended. (This previously available option was helpful to someone who faced a change of circumstances, such as a serious illness.)

Restricted application

Under the old rules, a married individual who had reached full retirement age could file a "restricted application" for spousal benefits after the other spouse had filed for retired worker benefits. This allowed the individual to collect spousal benefits while delaying filing for his or her own benefit, in order to accrue delayed retirement credits.

Under the new rules, an individual born in 1954 or later who files a benefit application will be deemed to have filed for both worker and spousal benefits, and will receive whichever benefit is higher. He or she will no longer be able to file only for spousal benefits.

The bottom line

A limited window still exists to take advantage of these two claiming strategies. If you are currently at least age 66 or will be by April 30, 2016, you may be able to use the file-and-suspend strategy to allow your eligible spouse or dependent child to file for benefits, while also increasing your future benefit. To file a restricted application and claim only spousal benefits at age 66, you must be at least age 62 by the end of December 2015. At the time you file, your spouse must have already claimed Social Security retirement benefits or filed and suspended benefits before the effective date of the new rules.

Why did Congress act now?

Both the file-and-suspend and the restricted application strategies were made possible by the Senior Citizens Freedom to Work Act of 2000. Part of this Act's original intent was to enable individuals to change their minds in the event they determined that they wanted to work longer but were already receiving Social Security retirement benefits. However, this opened up some claiming strategies, that while legal, went beyond the original intent of the legislation. Congress used the budget bill to close these loopholes in order to save money and slightly reduce the long-range actuarial deficit faced by the Social Security trust funds.

What if you're already using one of these strategies?

If you are already using the file-and-suspend or the restricted application strategy, you will not be affected by the new rules. You have already met the age requirements.

How are benefits for surviving spouses affected?

Rules affecting surviving spouses have not changed. If you are eligible for both a survivor benefit and a retirement benefit based on your own earnings record, you can still opt to receive one benefit first, then switch to the other higher benefit later.

What planning opportunities still exist?

Even if you can no longer take advantage of the file-and-suspend and restricted application strategies, you may still benefit from considering your Social Security filing options. The age when you begin receiving Social Security benefits can significantly affect your retirement income and income that is available to your survivors.

Basic options for claiming Social Security remain unchanged. Currently, the earliest age at which you can receive Social Security retirement benefits is 62, but if you choose to take benefits before your full retirement age (66 to 67, depending on the year you were born), your benefit will be permanently reduced by as much as 30%. On the other hand, if you delay receiving Social Security benefits past your full retirement age, you'll receive delayed retirement credits, which will increase your benefit by 8% for each year you delay, up to age 70.

Determining when to file for Social Security benefits is one of the biggest financial decisions you'll need to make as you approach retirement. There's no "one-size-fits-all" answer--it's an individual decision that must be based on many factors, including other sources of retirement income, whether you plan to continue working, how many years you expect to spend in retirement, and your income tax situation. It's especially complicated when you're married because you and your spouse will need to plan together, taking into account the Social Security benefits you each may be entitled to, including survivor benefits.

Although some claiming options are going away, plenty of planning opportunities remain, and you may benefit from taking the time to make an informed decision about when to file for Social Security.  
Contact us for a no cost review of your own situation.

If you sign up for a my Social Security account at the Social Security website, socialsecurity.gov, you can view your Social Security Statement online. Your statement contains a detailed record of your earnings, as well as estimates of retirement, survivors, and disability benefits, along with other information about Social Security that will be very useful when planning for retirement. If you're not registered for an online account and are not yet receiving benefits, you'll receive a statement in the mail every five years, from age 25 to age 60, and then annually thereafter.
The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances and is not meant to provide specific investment, tax or legal advice.

The information above is provided for educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable.The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.  

Saturday, November 7, 2015

So you thinks Bonds are SAFE?

Regulator's caution speaks volumes about bleak prospects for debt investors
fixed income, bonds, finra
Once again the Feds at their last meeting agreed not to increase interest rates and hold interest rates at bay since the economy is not strong enough yet. This brings to mind the fact that many of my radio callers or people who attend our workshops, when asked how safe their portfolio is, refer to having bonds or bond funds as a large portion of their portfolio as a sign that they are not being too risky and assume that bonds are a “safe” investment. I beg to differ.   
A warning FINRA issued to investors back in Feb. 17, 2013 about the risks in bonds is still timely and still reflects the fact that according to the industry regulators, bonds are far from being safe.    The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. told investors in the alert it issued that in the event of rising interest rates, “outstanding bonds, particularly those with a low interest rate and high duration, may experience significant price drops.”
Other big investors at the time ranging from Bill Gross, co-founder of Pacific Investment Management Company LLC who was manager of the world's largest bond fund, to Jim Rogers, who was chairman of Rogers Holdings, as well as The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., already have warned that risk in the bond market. According to the alert, posted on FINRA's website, a bond fund with a 10-year duration will decrease in value by 10% if rates rise 1 percentage point.
*NAPA slide
I often meets investors who don't realize they can lose money in what they think are safe bond funds.We see it all the time. We see bond funds with 5% yields and go through the holdings and see this awesome 'other' category of holdings that are difficult to evaluate. I think the FINRA warning from 2013 is helpful but he said the regulator could be more aggressive about warning investors off risky, complex products. FINRA urged bond fund investors to check on the duration in the product's fact sheet, and said individual bond investors can check with their investment professional, the bond's issuer or use an online calculator to get the figure. The FINRA alert points out that not even short-duration bonds are free of risk. “Bonds and bond funds are subject to inflation risk, call risk, default risk and other risk factors,” the warning said.