QAt what age should I take Social Security benefits?
Social Security is an important income source at retirement and the decision to take it early or defer has many short and long term implications. The financial planning professionals at Social Financial Group, LLC will work through the options available to you and help you apply this information to your family situation. There isn’t a single “right” answer to this question. When to start Social Security depends on the types of income (pension and social security benefits), level of assets (liquid and retirement), the ages of the husband and wife, and the health of each person in the family. The decision can also be impacted by any plans or hopes of leaving assets to children. One area of focus for this decision is to provide a higher income for a surviving spouse with fewer financial resources. A second area of focus could be encouraging an employed individual to work longer in order to have a higher and more secure retirement income.
QHow do I determine which survivor option to take on my pension?
The survivor option analysis is an important component in a retirement financial plan as this is a one-time decision that cannot be changed. Our financial planning staff will use information on your spending needs, the age of the survivor and remaining working income to determine if their pension, social security income and retirement assets are sufficient to meet the retirement need. From that information, we calculate the level of survivor option needed to fill this gap.
QHow should I save for college for my children?
Funding a college education for a child is a daunting financial task. The earlier a family embarks on this the easier it will be – but it will never be easy. As with many decisions in financial planning, there is no single correct answer but we generally break the college saving decision into two strategies. One strategy is for families who prefer to keep all assets under the parent’s control. For these families, we suggest a combination of Roth or Traditional IRA contributions and brokerage account savings. For families who prefer to have money set aside specifically in a “college account”, we suggest using a state 529 plan for the tax saving benefit. Once set up properly, these accounts can be used for the child’s education. If all funds are not used, the beneficiary can be changed to a younger child in the family and used for their future college education. One also needs to keep in mind if not all 529 contributions are used for college there are negative tax implications. Thus, a typical recommendation would be to save approximately half of the need in the 529 plan and half in the Roth/IRA/brokerage account set up.
QHow can I help my elderly parents?
Caring for family members – physically and/or financially – can put a burden on the caregiver and their family. We find it most helpful if the family has had a conversation prior to when the care is needed to determine the wishes of the whole family. Some wishes are not realistic. They may be well intentioned but not in the best interest of the parent or the child. If you want to help your parents as they age, talk with them about their finances and their concerns. Suggest they have a current will, power of attorney and health care proxy so if needs arise, someone will be in a position to step in and assist.
QWhat is the difference between a fee based and a commission based adviser?
Both fee based and commission based advisers have a role to play in the financial world, but many don’t understand the differences between the two. A commission based broker transacts the purchase or sale of a product. The product should be appropriate for the client, but there is no fiduciary duty to monitor that investment over time. A fee based adviser is a fiduciary who has an ongoing responsibility to monitor the investments in light of changing market conditions and any changes the client may be experiencing. A fiduciary relationship is based on trust, rather than one based on transactions.
QHow can I reduce my income tax liability?
Taxes are the largest expense of any individual or family and to make the most effective decisions knowing the tax system is of utmost importance. Common approaches to reducing your taxable income are participating in 401(k) or other employer based retirement plans, saving for college with 529 plans, and utilizing flexible spending accounts for medical and child care needs. Making Roth IRA contributions or employing a Roth conversion strategy are also viable options in reducing the tax burden over the longer term. There are certainly other, more complex tax strategies for individuals of higher net worth.
QHow do I determine how much life insurance we should have?
With insurance, you don’t want too much or too little; you want the right amount of the right kind. The best way to go about this is to actually define the need and calculate the shortfall. The shortfall is then filled by purchasing the appropriate insurance product. The licensed insurance professionals at Socha Financial Group, LLC will walk you through this process to best align your needs.
QIs long term care insurance recommended and what are the different types of coverage?
Long term care insurance is not for everyone, can be expensive, and needs to be used in the correct situation. Given the variety of insurance available, we have to understand the need and then determine what type of coverage, if any, is most appropriate. A common policy would cover you for a certain number of years but once that period concludes you would then be responsible again for the expenses of your care. These are called non NYS Partnership policies. A second type of policy is called a NYS Partnership policy. This covers your care for a period of years and if at the end of that period, you still need care, you would need to spend your income but you would not need to spend your assets.
These policies are not necessarily limited to New York but do need to originate in New York.
QWhat estate documents are appropriate for me at my age and family situation?
The three essential estate documents are a will, power of attorney and health care proxy. It may be difficult to address these topics but that does not mean the conversation should be avoided all together. Keep in mind each situation is unique and may require additional documents.
QHow can I effectively use my retirement savings to provide income in retirement?
There are several strategies for utilizing your accumulated assets to generate income in retirement; the bucket approach, the segmentation strategy, dollar cost averaging and the percent of asset withdrawal approach. As with most aspects of financial planning, not every scenario is appropriate for each individual. Our financial planning staff will help you to determine your need for income at retirement based on your investment risk tolerance, current assets and desired lifestyle.
QWhat communities do we serve?
We serve clients and their families in our local communities of Corning, Horseheads, Elmira, Binghamton, Ithaca, Watkins Glen, Hammondsport and Rochester as well as clients from Florida to Maine.
QWhat is Wealth Management?
Wealth Management is a term used to describe a menu of financial services ranging from financial planning and asset management to tax and insurance advice. Socha Financial Group, LLC provides comprehensive financial planning or planning for a specific concern depending on what is needed. We also provide fee based asset management services for those clients who are saving or are in the process of using savings to live on in retirement. Tax planning and tax preparation is an important, specialized service as income tax liability is the largest of all family expenses. Socha Financial Group, LLC also provides insurance work in the areas of life insurance, long term care insurance, medical and disability coverage.
QWhy is the spending information so important to provide?
The cash flow expense sheet, which we ask you to complete, is one of the most important tools we use to evaluate your financial situation. We use this information to determine if you are allocating your resources effectively and if adjustments can be made to accomplish short and long term goals.
QCan you help me make a decision on medical insurance choices at retirement?
Medical insurance has changed significantly over the years due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as in the area of retiree medical insurance. Most corporations and many nonprofit organizations have or will be eliminating retiree medical insurance coverage leaving employees/retirees to shop for coverage. Socha Financial Group, LLC has licensed insurance professionals who can explain your choices to help you make the most appropriate election for your situation and finances.