Estate and Tax Planning
Private Fiduciary Services
Retirement Planning
Long Term Care
Risk Management

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Viatical Quotes

May 18, 2010 | Filed Under Insurance | Comments Off
By: Robert Lawrence

The word ‘viatical’ originates from the word ‘viaticum’ which was part of the last rites performed on a dying Catholic in order to prepare him for his destiny. History shows us that its early beginnings can also be found in Greece.

Viatical settlements are offered by dozens of companies around the world. Why? To aid senior citizens (viators) in their poor financial situation. Viatical settlements provide a way out of crisis scenarios by giving terminally or chronically ill patients the option of selling their life insurance policy for a premium amount. Naturally, the higher the bid, the more profit you make. Although this form of instant cash has a sad tone, it has been highly beneficial to people who have high medical bills and other critical emergencies. If your policy is a Term, Universal Life, Whole Life, Joint/Survivor or a Group contract, then the good news is that you are eligible for a viatical quote.

The person who buys the policy is called an investor. An investor can be the final third party who is interested in the policy or a viatical company that holds it as an investment. If it is a company that is buying the policy they can resell it at a profit. When buying a life policy of another person you to have complete knowledge of the viator’s medical history. You can either buy the whole policy or a part of it. Usually a policy will state the life expectancy of the individual because the quote will depend on how long the seller is expected to live. Once you buy the policy, you gain if the seller dies before the expectancy date but your return will be lower if he lives longer. In some cases you might loose a little form your principal amount if the seller lives a long life!

Due to this risk factor, viatical settlements and quotes need to be regularized and controlled. Thus, the State Insurance Commission gives out licenses to selected companies who are capable of handling this intricate business. However, in some US states the viatical industry is not regulated at all. Companies often buy the policies and then offer it to prospective buyers at higher rates. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Federal Trade Commission are two legal bodies that offer information with regard to viatical quotes and settlements.

If you are a Viator, then you have two choices. Either you can sell your life insurance policy directly to another person or you can use the services of a broker. Viators generally hire a broker because they know the market and can negotiate for a better viatical quote. The quote depends of many variables such as the state, age and medical condition of the viator. Prior to suggesting a bid, the investor, broker and viator will meet to highlight details of the case. The investor will want to know the medical prognosis so he can offer a more realistic quote. Once the quote has been offered and the bid accepted, the life insurance policy is transferred to the new holder. This completes the process and the viator is given a lump sum payment.

In conclusion, viatical quotes will differ from state to state and can be settled upon only after reviewing all the factors involved in the case. The viator and the investor have to come to an agreement is which mutually beneficial. While being a perfect avenue for the viator, he should also be wise to make sure the sale is worth his while.

Author Bio
Robert co-founded Insurance4USA.com, an insurance quote shopping service, in 1999. He has been a licensed insurance agent in New York State since 1990.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Buying Life Insurance Over the Telephone the Safe and Easy Way

May 18, 2010 | Filed Under Insurance | Comments Off
y: Eric Osman

WHY WOULD I BUY LIFE INSURANCE OVER THE TELEPHONE?
Buying life insurance will never be exciting; however, it is becoming much easier and more convenient now that many companies are willing to allow their lowest cost products to be sold over the telephone. As a consumer you have the opportunity to deal with a real, and normally knowledgeable, representative who can provide you rates and information within minutes.

There is no longer the need to have an agent come to your home and spend hours trying to sell you something that won’t fit into your budget. If you choose an agency that uses software designed to compare most the products available in your state, you will combine convenience with the lowest possible rate you are eligible for.

IS IT SAFE?
Yes, if you use common sense.

Applying for life insurance requires you to provide sensitive and personal information to the insurance company that will issue your policy. Use common sense in deciding with whom you share your Social Security Number, Date of Birth, and Driver’s License Number with.

Here are some indicators that you are dealing with professionals:

• Have the people you have spoken with acted in a knowledgeable and professional manner?
• Have they asked you about your medical and personal habits history before they quoted you a rate?
• Have they clearly explained the application process and the procedures you must follow to obtain a policy at or near the rate you were quoted?
• Have they clearly explained that your policy may not pay a claim if you do not provide accurate answers on the application?

If the answer to all of the questions above is yes, then you have reason to be confident that you have made the right choice; however, if you have any lingering doubts there are a few more qualifiers you can look for:

• Have you been instructed to make your check payable to the insurance company and NOT the agent or agency?
• Have you contacted your state insurance department to confirm that the insurance company (NOT the agent or agency) is licensed to do business in your state?
• How did you find this company? Did they send you something in the mail; did you find their web site?

Again, if the answers are yes then you have found a winner. Let’s face it: Very few crooks act like professionals.

HOW DO I FIND INSURANCE OVER THE TELEPHONE?
The internet has become the choice of many for fast and easy information. Type “Insurance by Telephone” or similar key words in the search field of your Internet Browser and you will get many pages of links to chose from. Look for toll free or other telephone numbers and begin calling. Ignore the sites that have only forms to submit your information. Most of them will have insurance calling you in an attempt to set up a visit to your home.

HOW DO I GET THE BEST RATE?
Finding the lowest rate that you qualify for is more about what you shouldn’t do than what you should. Here is a list of things you should not do if you want to pay the lowest arte you are eligible for:

DO NOT provide false information about your health or personal habits during the quote or application process. Life and disability insurance rates are based on your actual health and personal habits, not on what you would like them to be. State insurance regulations require insurance companies to issue a policy at the rate you qualify for. There are no exceptions! This means you cannot negotiate, ask for a discount, or provide false information in the hope that you will get a better rate. Be honest during the process and you will receive the best rate offered by that company.

DO NOT deal with any agency that does not use rate comparison software to develop a quote. This new technology allows for the comparison of literally hundreds of different companies in order to provide you the best rate you are eligible for as long as you answer each qualifying question as accurately as possible. For example: five (5) pounds of weight might make the difference whether Company A or Company B is the cheapest. Give the representative the truth and they will find you the lowest rate.

DO NOT believe you are entitled to, or will receive, a discount or special price from anyone. Any licensed agent making such an offer is violating state insurance law. YOU ARE NOT AN EXCEPTION! Consider this: normally only greedy people get conned.

DO NOT delude yourself into thinking that a referral from your CPA, broker, lawyer, tax person, or a friend will get you the lowest rate. Remember, the object is to pay the lowest rate, not subsidize someone’s drinking buddy. As previously stated, there are no discounts. You will have to decide whether to do business with anyone that considers violating the law to be an acceptable business practice. If you want to do business with a referral, use the qualifiers detailed earlier in this article. If the referred agent passes those standards, you should receive a competitive quote.

SUMMARY
It is now possible to make an unpleasant task easier and less expensive. If you combine the tools listed above and a little common sense, you have reason to be confident that you have paid the lowest rate you are eligible for.

Author Bio
Mr. Osman is the pen name of a nationally recognized, award winning, life insurance Master General Agent and marketing expert. He has been consulting about mortgage protection and life insurance for almost twenty five years. For more information visitwww.termlifeinsurancewebsite.com (605-336-6644) or contact him at eric@ericosmanbooks.com.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | The Advantages of Term Life Insurance

May 18, 2010 | Filed Under Insurance | Comments Off
By: Stacey Zimmerman

There are two main types of life insurance that are available to everyone; there is whole life insurance and term life insurance. Many people are unaware even of the existence of term life insurance, which is a shame because term life insurance is usually much cheaper than the whole life insurance equivalent. If you are a shrewd investor then term life insurance could be just the option you are looking for. It can work out thousands of dollars cheaper every year giving you that extra money to invest yourself. Insurance companies are normally very conservative when investing your money; some people like this while others prefer a more risky but greater return investment opportunity.

Cost
The obvious advantage of taking a term life insurance policy over a whole life insurance policy is the cost. Often a term life insurance policy will cost you hundreds of dollars a year but a similar whole life insurance policy can cost as much as thousands. In fact, there are some term life insurance policies that will cover you to the value of $100,000 over a ten year term that cost less than ten dollars a month. Obviously, similar factors are taking into consideration when applying for term life insurance as they are when applying for whole life insurance; factors such as health, family history, lifestyle and age.

Flexibility
Term life insurance offers you a greater level of flexibility over it’s whole life insurance counterpart. For less money you are able to take out short 10, 20 or 30 year plans and you are able to determine the exact level of cover that this offers. You may have a 4-year-old son and a partner who has opted to stay at home and look after him. Right now he is dependant on your earning money to feed, clothe and care for him but in twenty years he will have finished school, finished college and hopefully got himself a job. This means he is no longer your dependant and you may not need to make financial allowances for him in your life insurance. Alternatively, your mortgage may expire in ten years. You won’t need to pay to cover your mortgage once it has been fully paid up.

Investment
A term life insurance policy costs you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a year less than a whole life insurance policy. This means that you can invest your money yourself instead of relying on the insurance company to do so. Insurers are typically very conservative when investing your money, so by taking a term life insurance policy you are able to be a little less strict over the type of investment you choose affording you a greater potential to make more money.

Author Bio
Stacey Zimmerman is the owner and webmaster of Free Insurance Quotes. His site offers free online insurance quotes for homeowners, auto, life, health, car and long term care insurance. Be sure to visit his site www.freeinsurancequotes.us for the latest articles, news and tips on all types of insurance.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Life Settlement

May 18, 2010 | Filed Under Insurance | Comments Off
By: Robert Lawrence

The life settlement industry was propelled into popularity by the viatical settlement industry. History has shown us that the early adopters of life settlement were those who were suffering from AIDS and who had only a couple of years to live. They sold their insurance policies assuming they would get immediate cash in return from the person who bought it. When medical breakthroughs found their way to fight the AIDS virus, these senior citizens lost out because they had to pay premiums for a long time. Some fraudulent companies also resorted to marketing this concept in order to make a fast buck by giving senior citizens the hope of further investment.

Life settlement occurs when the holder of a policy willingly sells the same for a price to the buyer, who then becomes the sole owner of the policy. The new buyer has to pay for the premiums from the date of purchase. It is common for senior citizens above the age of sixty-five to opt for life settlement, especially if there has been a negative change in their health situation. The immediate cash option is attractive because the seller is then able to fund his medical bills and take care of other responsibilities.

If you are planning a life settlement then it is best to take advise from experts who know the market. Accountants, Charitable Trust Officers, Financial Planners and Attorneys are just some of the people you can contact. Since they know the regulations and formalities involved, you will be able to make a more informed decision. The idea behind life settlement is to get a high bid for your policy. This could take a lot of work if you are working alone. A broker is sometimes arranged to find the right seller who can offer a fair market value. The benefit of hiring a broker is that you can get bids from different sellers. Thus you can choose the most favourable bid among the offerings. It sometimes becomes necessary to provide your medical history in order to secure a good bid.

Once the life settlement bid is accepted by the buyer, he then returns any confidentail papers that he might have taken for verficaiton. Change of ownership forms are then exchanged and the final deal is closed.

Some authorized life settlement agents are Action Advisors Inc, Advanced Settlements Inc, Allsettled Group Inc, Berkshire Settlements Inc, Brown & Brown Associates PC, Darrell L Tate, Don Karns Insurance Agency Inc, Fairmarket Life Settlements Corp, etc. To find an agent in your area there are several listings on the Internet. Brokers will also give you a free consultation so you can freely and confidentially discuss your financial situation.

To summarize, a life settlement is done when a person wants to sell his or her policy in return for cash. The reasons behind this could be high premiums, medical problems, employment changes, bankruptcy, etc. It is wise to be well informed about the process and even more important to find a broker or a financial advisior who can make your life settlement worth your while.

Author Bio
Robert co-founded Insurance4USA.com, an insurance quote shopping service, in 1999. He has been a licensed insurance agent in New York State since 1990.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Long Term Care Insurance

May 18, 2010 | Filed Under Insurance | Comments Off
By: Robert Lawrence

Most young people ignore the fact that they will grow old one day. It is the wise ones who not only think about it but also provide for their future. Statistics show us that almost one out of two Americans require long term care when they grow old. Due to immobility and illness people become dependant on families and institutions to carry out normal daily activities such as dressing and bathing.

Long-term care refers to a system where this can be taken care of in your own home, a hospital, a home center or an assisted living facility. It could be a reality to many who have led a strong and active life earlier. This is why its importance is growing each day. Most Medicare programs and State Medicaid programs do not provide the necessary facilities for payment. Some only cater to those who fall below the poverty line. Therefore, it is prudent to consider applying for a Long Term Care Insurance policy early in life.

If you have worked all your life and have made a substantial saving, then perhaps you can fund your own long-term care. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky and therefore long-term care insurance is very vital to secure a safe future especially for those who have a history of health problem in the family.

Like for any other policy, it is best that you know all the details prior to buying one. Often times, people forget that premiums for life insurance policies increase over time. This makes it difficult to pay especially when there is no enhancement of the financial situation. Thus, policies are cancelled when they are needed most because policyholders cannot continue to pay high premiums. It is easy to get drawn into buying a policy because market savvy sales executives make it sound so easy. But, it is up to the individual and insurance advisors to properly instruct prospective customers.

One sure way of protecting yourself is to be sure of all the terms and conditions given in the long term care insurance policy document. If the insurance sector is not your cup of tea; you could hire an agent or a broker who will act on your behalf. They will be experts on quotes, claims, processes and other issues. You need to also be careful on selecting the right broker at the right cost. Long-term care insurance not only provides security for you, but for the entire family. So you can take their advice before buying a policy. Remember, to choose an insurance company that is reputable and trustworthy. You can take it for granted that sales people will only state the benefits of a policy. They will not tell you the flip side of the story. Do not rely on brochures and other sales oriented literature to make your decision.

To summarize, a long-term care insurance policy can be used for different types of long term care such as skilled nursing, intermediate nursing and custodial care. The kind of care you choose largely depends on your physical health and situation. This kind of insurance is definitely worthwhile and affordable when you think of life beyond 65 years of age.

Author Bio
Robert co-founded Insurance4USA.com, an insurance quote shopping service, in 1999. He has been a licensed insurance agent in New York State since 1990.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Annuity Quotes

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Robert Lawrence

To gain an understanding of annuities, we need to start at the beginning. In the year 1740, the Presbyterian Church began to use annuities in order to aid widows and the priestly order. The simple purpose of an annuity is to ensure that you have a sound financial back up during retirement. Today, there are different kinds of products sold by Insurance companies and agents. Before you take out an annuity ensure that the Insurance Company has a license to practice in your state. The State Insurance Commission is a legal body that regulates Insurance companies to make sure they have adequate funds so that investments are not jeopardized.

Different companies have annuities with different rates and returns. There could be several reasons why you would want an annuity. For example, an annuity helps you pay reduced tax, avoid probate and save for the future. You can look out for your future and that of your heirs. By putting money away for an inheritance, you are making a wise decision for your family. When choosing an annuity quote it is important to remember your financial status and goal for the future. Annuity quotes differ according to the annuity you choose. There are several companies that offer quotes for Immediate Annuities, Fixed Annuities, Equity-indexed Annuities and Variable Annuities.

If you choose an Immediate Annuity, then you can expect to receive a fixed or variable sum of money every month or quarter or according to your specification. The amount of money you receive is based on your initial deposit and the time duration of your annuity. If you choose a variable plan then make sure that your investments do very well. A Fixed Annuity is a low risk annuity because you receive a minimum interest whether or not your investments do well. These are more stable in nature and you will always know what to expect. There is no gamble in investing in such an annuity. Some companies that offer this are National Western Life, Jefferson Pilot Life, Great American Life Insurance Company, Allianz Life, American National Insurance Company etc.

Equity Indexed Annuities, as the name suggests is based on the stock market index. If your chosen index rises then you gain and vice versa. There is a certain amount of risk in this product; however, the bright side is that you gain if your investments do well. Variable annuities give you the freedom to decide where you want to invest, but it also does not protect you in case of loss. The benefit is that you get to keep all the profit. These annuities are good for those who are completely aware of the market dynamics. Therefore, before choosing an annuity quote you must first know what kind of annuity you really require. There are several online insurance portals that offer to give you an annuity quote instantly. All you have to do is fill out an online form and your quote will find its way to you.

In conclusion, choose an annuity quote that comes from the right source. Ensure that your agent is licensed, knowledgeable, reputable and experienced. It is always best to go for an agent that comes as a recommended source. Further, you can opt to receive multiple annuity quotes so you have a choice in front of you.

Author Bio
Robert co-founded Insurance4USA.com, an insurance quote shopping service, in 1999. He has been a licensed insurance agent in New York State since 1990.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Morningstar Mutual Funds Fiduciary Grades: What Investors Need to Know

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Sam Subramanian

Mutual fund investors use Morningstar RatingTM as a sign post of mutual fund performance. These ratings have proved to be a valuable tool for objectively comparing the performances of different mutual funds.

In 2003, New York Attorney General, Elliott Spitzer launched actions against some mutual fund companies for allowing their privileged clients to profit from improper activities such as late trading.

In the aftermath of these developments, investors realize that they need more than the historical performance based Morningstar Ratings to evaluate mutual funds. The Morningstar Ratings do not get at critical intangibles. How seriously does the mutual fund company take its fiduciary responsibility to mutual fund investors? How aligned are the interests of the mutual fund manager and the mutual fund company with those of the mutual fund investor?

To address this need, Morningstar has embarked on a system called the Fiduciary Grade. Morningstar has so far graded about 635 mutual funds, including 500 of the largest ones. Morningstar plans to provide Fiduciary Grades for a total of 2000 mutual funds over time.

The Morningstar Fiduciary Grade System Basics

The Morningstar Fiduciary Grade is based on the evaluation of five areas critical for mutual fund governance and mutual fund operations. Morningstar generally assigns to mutual funds points ranging from 0 (Very Poor) to 2 (Excellent) in increments of 0.5 for each of these five areas.

1. Regulatory Issues: Morningstar examines if the mutual fund company has had any regulatory issues within the past three years. If so, what corrective actions has the mutual fund company implemented? Unlike the other four areas, the minimum score here can be a minus 2.

2. Board Quality: Morningstar looks for a demonstrated track record of the mutual fund board protecting the interests of mutual fund investors. Mutual funds get kudos if their independent directors invest in the mutual funds.

3. Manager Incentives: This score is based on Morningstar’s evaluation of mutual fund ownership and compensation structure. Mutual funds where the fund’s manager owns a meaningful stake in the fund score high on the fund ownership dimension. A compensation structure that rewards the mutual fund manager for long-term mutual fund performance is favored.

4. Fees: Mutual funds are rewarded for having expense ratios lower than that of their peers and for effectively reducing their expense ratios with growth in their assets.

5. Corporate Culture: Morningstar looks for tangible evidence that the mutual fund company takes its fiduciary responsibility seriously. Among the factors Morningstar considers are softer issues like whether the company closes mutual funds when they get too large and whether the company starts trendy mutual funds to garner assets.

The points scored on each of the above areas are aggregated and the Fiduciary Grade is assigned based on the total: A=9-10, B=7-8.5, C=5-6.5, D=3-4.5, F=2.5 or less.

How Investors Can Use the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade

Here are some ways investors can use the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade.

1. Buy and Hold Investors: Buy and hold mutual fund investors first need to examine how mutual funds held in their portfolios stack up on the two dimensions, Morningstar Rating and Fiduciary Grade.

Mutual funds that rank favorably on both dimensions may be retained and mutual funds that rank unfavorably on both dimensions may be replaced by ones that rank favorably.

For mutual funds that rank favorably in one dimension but not in the other, the answer is not clear-cut. Retaining a fund with strong Morningstar Rating but lower Fiduciary Grade is a matter of personal choice. Conversely, a mutual fund’s Fiduciary Grade may be satisfactory but the Morningstar Rating may be unfavorable. This may just be a case of the mutual fund manager going through a temporary bad patch. Investors have to weigh these factors along with tax consequences before deciding to sell a mutual fund.

Given the number of mutual funds available, investors seeking new mutual funds to add to their portfolio should in general have no trouble in finding mutual funds with favorable Morningstar Rating as well as Fiduciary Grade.

2. Tactical Asset Allocators: A tactical asset allocator uses an active investment strategy and typically invests in mutual funds such as sector funds. For example, AlphaProfit uses its ValuM investment process to periodically alter the mix of its mutual fund model portfolios to take advantage of specific trends (e.g. rising natural gas prices, introduction of new wireless technologies).

Since tactical asset allocators seek superior performance during their mutual fund holding period, factors such as superior long-term performance which determine Morningstar Ratings are less important to them. However, these investors typically seek to own mutual funds within a single family such as Fidelity Investments for purposes of administrative ease. As such, tactical asset allocators will find the Fiduciary Grade useful in evaluating and choosing mutual fund families to implement their strategies.

Our Take on the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade System

The Fiduciary Grade system is a blend of several metrics. The grading of mutual funds on regulatory issues is backward looking rather than a prognosticator of potential future trouble. The grading system includes a quantitative dimension in mutual fund fees. Also included are qualitative dimensions such as mutual fund corporate culture, manager incentives, and board quality.

The Mutual Fund Fiduciary Grade ranking provides mutual fund investors with much needed insight on the governance and operations of mutual funds. The Morningstar Fiduciary Grade System is a good first step. We believe Morningstar will refine the Mutual Fund Fiduciary Grade system over time, just as they refined the Morningstar Ratings system.

While Morningstar Ratings do an excellent job of objectively evaluating past performance, financial markets by their very nature do not allow the investor to predict future performance based on these ratings alone. Many times, funds with Morningstar Ratings of 4- or 5-star do not live up to their expectations.

The utility of the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade will be significantly enhanced if superior Fiduciary Grade either by itself or in combination with the Morningstar Rating becomes a better indicator of superior future performance. We believe the Morningstar Fiduciary Grade has the potential to become a worthy metric of mutual fund stewardship over time.

Notes: This report is for information purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer to buy or sell securities or to give individual investment advice. This report does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. The information contained in this report is obtained from various sources believed to be accurate and is provided without warranties of any kind. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC does not represent that this information, including any third party information, is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions herein. Opinions expressed herein reflect the opinion of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC and are subject to change without notice. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC disclaims any liability for any direct or incidental loss incurred by a pplying any of the information in this report. Morningstar RatingTM is a trademark of Morningstar, Inc. The third-party trademarks or service marks appearing within this report are the property of their respective owners. All other trademarks appearing herein are the property of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Owners and employees of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC for their own accounts invest in the Fidelity Mutual Funds. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC neither is associated with nor receives any compensation from Fidelity Investments. Past performance is neither an indication of nor a guarantee for future results. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Copyright © 2004 AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author Bio
Sam Subramanian, PhD, MBA is Managing Principal of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Sam developed the ValuMTM Investment Process for managing investments. He edits the AlphaProfit Sector Investors’ NewsletterTM, a publication that discusses no load mutual funds. For the 1 year period ending August 30, 2005, the AlphaProfit Focus model portfolio gained 44% and was rated #1 among all mutual fund portfolios tracked by Hulbert Financial Digest. To learn more about AlphaProfit and to subscribe to the newsletter, visit www.alphaprofit.com.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | New Retirement Savings Plan – Roth 401(k) Coming Into Effect

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Retirement Savings | Comments Off
By: Lance Williams

The Retirement savings plan, Roth 401(k) introduced by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, 2001 will come into force from January 2006. Unlike a traditional 401(k) Retirement Plan, a Roth 401k plan applies to all employees but the latter requires the contributions to the plan account with after-tax dollars while a 401k plan allows for contributions with pre-tax dollars.

You may not be allowed to contribute to a Roth IRA if your income level is higher but you can certainly qualify for a Roth 401(k) plan, as there are no income specifications here. In addition, you can contribute up to $15,000 for 2006, as in a 401(k) plan and the limit reaches $20,000 for individuals turning 50 years of age or older by the end of the year. The increase in the limit is termed as the catch-up contribution which was a provision of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

As far as the employers’ contributions are concerned, these amounts will be matching the contributions of employees but with pre-tax dollars. The employer contribution will be rolled up in a separate account and funds withdrawn from that account will be subjected to taxes on withdrawal.

The Roth 401(k) plan may not allow you to get the benefit of the contribution from pre-tax dollars but it allows you to withdraw tax-free money after retirement. You can avoid paying income tax on the cash you withdraw from your plan account after retirement. But your age should be 59 and 1/2 years and you should have held the plan account for more than 5 years or more. In case you withdraw money before retirement, you will have to pay taxes (almost 35% of the contribution) and a 10% penalty.

A Roth 401(k) plan can be helpful as it prevents you from tax payments on withdrawal after retirement. But this will help you only if your tax bracket after retirement is same or higher than what it is now. If your current tax bracket is low, then you can contribute more towards the Roth 401(k) plan account. Your savings thus increase and you get to withdraw a higher amount at retirement. You can also roll over your Roth 401(k) balance into a Roth IRA whenever you leave your employment.

You can contribute a part of the allowed limit, which is $15,000 to a Roth 401(k) plan account and the rest to a 401(k) account, and thereby reduce the tax payments. This is because a Roth 401(k) allows you to contribute after-tax dollars whereas a 401(k) plan account allows for pre-tax contributions.

With a Roth 401(k) plan contribution, you don’t take home several dollars since you are allowed to accumulate after-tax dollars into the plan account. But then you don’t have to pay taxes on the amounts taken out after retirement and this helps you especially if the tax bracket is higher at that time.

Author Bio
Lance Williams is working as a content developer for : www.mortgagefit.com. He specializes in mortgage and real estate concepts.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Investment | Secure Your Retirement with a Rollover IRA

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Sam Subramanian

Switching your job? Retiring? Congratulations! A window of opportunity opens for you with the Rollover Individual Retirement Account or Rollover IRA.

In an era of corporate restructuring and outsourcing, Rollover IRA is among the most powerful means available for securing one’s retirement. Yet, its potential to enlarge one’s assets for the golden years commonly remains under-appreciated.

The Rollover IRA dramatically increases the range of choices available to you for investing your retirement savings. By offering investment choices hitherto unavailable in employer-sponsored plans such as 401k, 403b, or Section 457 plans, Rollover IRA provides you the means to have direct control of and more aggressively grow your nest egg.

This article discusses the advantages of Rollover IRA over employer-sponsored retirement plans.

So, if you are leaving your job and have accumulated assets in the employer-sponsored retirement plan, continue reading this article to learn about your options and more.

Four Options

You have four options on what you can do with your savings in your employer-sponsored plan when you are switching jobs or retiring.

1) Cash your savings.
2) Continue with the retirement plan of your previous employer.
3) Transfer your savings into the retirement plan sponsored by your new employer.
4) Set up a Rollover IRA account with a mutual fund company and move your retirement savings into that account.

Unless you have a pressing need, it is best not to cash your retirement savings. First, cash withdrawals from the retirement plan will be subject to federal and state taxes. Second, your retirement savings diminish and you will have fewer assets to grow tax-deferred.

While the three other options will not erode your retirement savings and will allow it to grow tax-deferred, they are not equal in their ability to help you boost its growth rate.

Increased Investment Choices

Most employees earn meager returns on their employer-sponsored retirement plan savings. A Dalbar study reports that the average 401k plan investor achieved an annual return of just 3.5% during a 20-year period when the S&P 500 returned 13.0% per year.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that most retirement plans offer only a limited number of investment choices. A Columbia University study finds the median number of mutual fund choices in 401k plans to be just 13. The actual number of equity mutual fund investment choices however is less, since the median number includes money market funds, fixed income funds, and balanced funds.

With fewer investment choices, employer-sponsored plans limit your ability to take advantage of different market trends and to continually position your retirement savings in mutual funds with superior risk-reward profiles.

If you set up a Rollover IRA with a large mutual fund company such as Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price or Vanguard Group, you will break the shackles imposed by your employer-sponsored plan and dramatically increase the number of mutual funds available for investing your retirement savings. Fidelity, for example, provides access to several thousand mutual funds besides the more than 180 mutual funds it manages.

Setting-up the Rollover IRA

Let’s say you decide to move your retirement savings to a Rollover account with a mutual fund company. How do you make it happen?

Contact the mutual fund company in which you wish to open an account and ask them to send you their Rollover IRA kit. Complete the form for opening the Rollover IRA account and mail it to the mutual fund company. Next, complete any forms required by the retirement plan administrator of your previous employer and request transfer of your assets into the Rollover IRA account.

You have two choices for moving your retirement savings to your Rollover IRA account. One is to elect to have the money transferred directly from the employer-sponsored plan to the Rollover IRA account. This is called direct rollover. With the indirect rollover alternative, you take the distribution from the retirement plan and then deposit it in the Rollover IRA account. Unless exceptions apply, you have 60 days to deposit the distribution and qualify for tax-free rollover.

Boosting Your Rollover IRA Performance

You need a strategy to benefit from the wide range of investment choices available in the Rollover IRA. You can develop the strategy yourself or leverage ideas from investment newsletters such as AlphaProfit Sector Investors’ Newsletter to enhance the growth rate of your nest egg.

AlphaProfit’s Focus and Core model portfolios have grown at an average annual rate of 33% and 21% respectively, compared to an average annual return of 13% for the S&P 500 Index from September 30, 2003 to March 31, 2006.

Let’s say you transfer $50,000 from your employer-sponsored retirement plan to the Rollover IRA and the wider range of investment choices helps you increase your annual return from 8% in the former to 12% in the Rollover IRA. At the end of 20 years, your Rollover IRA will be worth $482,315, more than double the $233,048 it would be worth had you stayed on with the employer-sponsored plan — that too without any cash additions to your Rollover IRA.

Adding to Your Rollover IRA

You can leverage the potential of your Rollover IRA further by adding to it each time you change jobs. With the Rollover IRA already setup, all you have to do is to instruct the retirement plan administrator of your last employer to transfer assets to the Rollover IRA. There is no limit on the amount of money you can transfer.

You may also add money to your Rollover IRA through regular annual contributions. They are however subject to the annual limit for IRA contributions.

Summary

When you are switching jobs or retiring, the Rollover IRA opens a window of opportunity for you, widening the range of investment choices for your retirement assets hitherto not available in the employer-sponsored plan. The self-directed Rollover IRA empowers you to construct and manage a mutual fund portfolio to boost the growth rate of your retirement savings.

Notes: This report is for information purposes only. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer to buy or sell securities or to give individual investment advice. This report does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation, and particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. The information contained in this report is obtained from various sources believed to be accurate and is provided without warranties of any kind. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC does not represent that this information, including any third party information, is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC is not responsible for any errors or omissions herein. Opinions expressed herein reflect the opinion of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC and are subject to change without notice. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC disclaims any liability for any direct or incidental loss incurred by applying any of the information in this report. The third-party trademarks or service marks appearing within this report are the property of their respective owners. All other trademarks appearing herein are the property of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Owners and employees of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC for their own accounts invest in the Fidelity Mutual Funds included in the AlphaProfit Core and Focus model portfolios. AlphaProfit Investments, LLC neither is associated with nor receives any compensation from Fidelity Investments or other mutual fund companies mentioned in this report. Past performance is neither an indication of nor a guarantee for future results. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. Copyright © 2006 AlphaProfit Investments, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author Bio
Sam Subramanian, PhD, MBA edits the AlphaProfit Sector Investors’ Newsletter. The investment newsletter, ranked #1 by Hulbert Financial Digest, offers model portfolios that are popular with Fidelity 401k and Rollover IRA investors. To learn more about the investment newsletter, visit http://www.alphaprofit.com

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Shari Mattingly-Bevan | Investment | What Is a Stock Split?

May 13, 2010 | Filed Under Investment | Comments Off
By: Harry Hooper

A stock split occurs when a corporation decides to issue new stock and distribute it to it’s current stockholders. This is a decision made by the company’s board of directors.

The most common stock split is a 2 for 1 split. When this happens the stockholder will now own twice as many shares as before the split but at half the price. The total value of your stock does not change. For instance, if you owned 100 shares before the split and the price was $50 a share, after the split you would own 200 shares at $25 a share. After the split the shareholder owns exactly the same percentage of the company as before the split, only the number or shares and share price has changed.

While a 2 for 1 split is the most common, companies also distribute 3 for 1 splits, 3 for 2 splits, 5 for 1 splits, etc.

Why does a Company Split their Stock?

Companies will split their stock when they feel that the share price has grown to the point that it will no longer be considered affordable by many investors. Since most stock transactions are in round lots (lots of 100 shares), the total cost for 100 shares might be out of reach for some investors. Once a stock price hits $100 a share, for instance, evidence shows that many investors consider it to be too expensive. If the price per share were reduced it would be more affordable. The effect of more people buying the shares will hopefully lead to a price gain.
What effect does a Stock Split have on the Share Price?

When a company splits it stock it sends the message that the company has been profitable and it will probably continue to prosper. Companies normally announce their upcoming stock split some time in advance. Many investors and traders search for these companies and consider them prime candidates for a further price increase.

In theory a stock split should have no impact on the value of the stock, it should be a neutral event. The only thing that has changed is the share price and number of shares. When you do the math you still have the same value and the same percentage of ownership in the company. In practice however, companies who split their stock most often see price increase when the split is announced or after the split actually occurs. The company knows this and is eager to see it’s stock price increase.

Reverse Split

Sometimes a company will issue a reverse split. When this happens the shareholder will have less shares at a greater price. For example, a typical reverse split is a 1 for 10 split. For example, if a company has been trading at $1 a share and you have 100 shares, after a 1 for 10 split you will have 10 shares at $10 a share. A company might perform a reverse split when their share price has dropped to a very low level and they want to increase the share price to appear more respectable to potential investors. In addition, some exchanges will de-list a stock when the price drops below a certain level for 30 days.

Author Bio
Harry Hooper has over 30 years experience in portfolio management. He is the senior stock tracker for http://www.stock4today.com.

Article Source: http://www.ArticleGeek.com – Free Website Content

Next Page »