Financial Research Center

Financial Research Information Made Easy

79% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial research, education and information.

 

Source: The 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

 

Welcome to our financial 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 simple articles about related financial concepts and strategies.

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.

 

Living Trusts
A living trust can help control the distribution of your estate upon death.

 

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

 

Charitable Giving
To retain the tax advantages associated with charitable giving, your gift must be made to a qualified organization.

 

Controlling the Distribution
If you haven’t taken steps already, consider planning now for the distribution of your estate’s assets.

 

Paying Estate Taxes
If you believe your estate will be subject to estate taxes, consider how your heirs will pay the bill.

 

Benefits of A-B Trusts
An A-B trust can be an effective way to help reduce estate taxes and preserve family assets for heirs.

 

Gifting Strategies
Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different gifting strategies available for planned giving.

 

Charitable Lead Trusts
Charitable lead trusts are designed for people who would like to benefit a charity now rather than later.

 

Charitable Remainder Trusts
A designated income beneficiary could receive payment of a specified amount from a charitable remainder trust.

 

Wealth Replacement Trusts
A wealth replacement trust could be used to gift appreciated assets to a charity as well as provide for heirs.

 

Family Limited Partnerships
One estate planning strategy that families with closely held businesses could consider is the family limited partnership.

 

Property Ownership
Sole ownership, joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and community property have special benefits for property owners.

 

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

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

 

Future of Social Security
Greater demand is being placed on the Social Security system as the baby boom generation has begun to retire.

 

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.

 

Indexed Annuities
An indexed annuity may provide some upside potential and downside protection.

 

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

 

Traditional IRAs
If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might consider a traditional IRA.

 

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

 

Managing Retirement Plans
Employer-sponsored retirement plans are more important than ever, but managing the assets can be confusing.

 

Save Now or Save Later
If you start saving for retirement sooner, the more money you are likely to accumulate and possibly retire sooner.

 

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

Investing

Types of Bonds
Bonds are issued by many entities and share many characteristics, each type of bond has certain benefits and risks.

 

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

 

Bond Ratings
Bond ratings gauge a bond issuer’s financial ability to repay its promised principal and interest payments.

 

Stock Indexes
Stock market indexes can be useful benchmarks for gauging the performance of an investment portfolio over time.

 

Investment Risks
Understanding different types of investment risk can help investors manage their money more effectively.

 

Asset Classes
There are five broad asset classes that you should take into consideration when constructing your investment portfolio.

 

Asset Allocation
Asset allocation is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss.

 

College Investment Options
Starting to invest early for college and remaining consistent can help investors reach their goals.

 

Dollar-Cost Averaging
Dollar-cost averaging involves investing a set amount of money on a regular basis, regardless of market conditions.

 

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

Tax Planning

Tax Deferral
There can be a substantial benefit to deferring taxes as long as possible.

 

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

 

Tax-Advantaged Alternatives
While stable, CDs can create quite an income tax bill. Fixed annuities and municipal bonds can offer tax advantages.

 

Tax Strategies for Retirement Plans
Consider a trustee-to-trustee transfer to an IRA versus a lump-sum distribution from a workplace retirement plan.

 

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

Cash Managment

Cash Management Basics
A sound cash management program uses a disciplined approach: accounting, analysis, allocation, and adjustment.

 

Financial Aid for College
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

Why Purchase Life Insurance?
If you have a family who relies on your income, it is important to have life insurance protection.

 

Property and Casualty Insurance
Property and casualty insurance can help protect a variety of assets. Find out what it does and doesn’t cover.

 

Business Owner Insurance Policies
A business owner policy is an insurance package that assembles the basic coverages required by a business owner in one bundle.

 

Life Insurance for Business Owners
Company-owned life insurance is one way to help protect a business from financial problems caused by the death of a key employee.

 

Split-Dollar Life Insurance
Split-dollar life insurance is an arrangement to purchase and fund life insurance between two parties.

 

Last-Survivor Life Insurance
Couples who want to help protect their legacy from estate taxes could consider last-survivor life insurance.

 

Disability Income Insurance for Business Owners
As a business owner, a disability can create an economic hardship putting both your personal finances and business at risk.

 

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.

 

Universal Life Insurance
Consider a universal life insurance policy if you want the flexibility to change your premium or death benefit.

 

Variable Life Insurance
Variable life insurance gives you the control to allocate your account value among a variety of investment options.

 

Auto Insurance
Even if your state doesn’t require certain types of auto insurance, it may be wise to purchase multiple types to ensure you are covered for a variety of situations.

 

Insurance Claims
When it is time to make an insurance claim, it helps if you are familiar with your policies and the steps you should take to file a claim.

 

Maximizing Your Insurance Benefits
Several factors could undermine the financial security provided by the proceeds of your life insurance policy.

 

Insuring Your Future
To help you choose insurance wisely, determine how much coverage and what kind of policy is best for your situation.

 

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.

 

Assessing Disability Income Insurance
Knowing the basics of a disability income insurance policy is a good first step toward protecting your family.

 

Types of Health Coverage
There are three basic types of medical insurance plans: fee-for-service, managed care, and high-deductible health plan.

 

Additional Liability Coverage
Consider additional liability insurance to help protect you from the potentially devastating effects of liability lawsuits.

 

HMOs and PPOs
Selecting health insurance is often one of the most important decisions you will make. Do you know the different types?

 

Evaluating Insurance Companies
Using a financially sound insurance company is an important part of ensuring your family’s financial security.

 

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

 

Medicare Coverage
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for those persons age 65 and over. But what does it cover?