Financial Planning Briefings
Building and preserving wealth begins with a plan! Financial planning is at the heart of what we do here at MPCA. We're using this page to provide you access to the content we create to educate you and those around you on key topics that we hope you find timely, informative, and value-adding. Consume it and share it! Check back regularly, as we'll keep adding more - and please don't hesitate to request a topic that you'd like to see addressed here! Note that, due to the sheer volume of content, we had to move some older posts to a second page. You'll find a link to that page in the button directly below this note.
Year-end Planning Considerations (2023 edition)
As year-end quickly approaches and we’re in the midst of open enrollment for many employer benefits, it’s time to think about some planning opportunities and contribution changes. Here we're going to look at contribution rate increases for 2024, as well as announced adjustments to tax brackets for individuals and families. We'll then dive into some year-end planning considerations that should help you minimize taxes, bolster your financial plan, optimize your charitable giving, fine-tune your investment portfolio, and more.
Published: November 2023
Understanding Term Life Insurance
Life insurance is an integral consideration in every financial plan. Notice I didn’t say “element.” Instead, it should be carefully considered - as it is a critical piece for some, while being unnecessary for others. For those who do find a need to protect their financial plan with life insurance, term coverage can be a great solution - either forming all or part of a total life insurance solution. In this piece, we'll provide a thorough understanding of what it is and when it can be of value.
Published: October 2023
Options for using excess 529 funds
Perhaps the most frequent question we receive from a planning perspective is, “What happens to my 529 money if my kid doesn’t go to college?” We get it often, and the concern is understandable. After all, why would you want to put something into an account that has a designated use when there is no guarantee that you’ll need to use it? Fortunately, there are many great options. We'll unpack each of them here.
Published: September 2023
Will the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act actually expire (and how can you prepare)?
Many key provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TJCA)...aka the "Trump Tax Cuts"...are set to expire on Dec 31, 2025. While that's still over two years away, it's worth considering now what the implications may be. Why are they set to expire? Will they be extended? What implications would a continuation or expiration have on your financial plan? Let's explore!
Published: September 2023
How retirement accounts are protected from creditors
Not everything in financial planning is exciting. Making money is fun. Growing your money is fun. Spending your money is even more fun. Figuring out how to protect it – not as much fun. However, understanding how your retirement accounts are protected from creditors is an important step in structuring your financial plan. Let's explore.
Published: June 2023
5 Digits that Matter in Retirement
Retirement planning is often all about the numbers. Will I have enough money (numbers) to sustain my expected lifespan (more numbers). What returns (numbers) to I need from my investments (more numbers). With all that numerical talk, there are five other numbers that often get ignored in planning for a healthy, successful retirement – the five digits of your zip code.
Published: May 2023
Understanding a Capital Loss Carryforward
In down years like 2022, tax-wise investors will often take the opportunity to execute “tax-loss harvesting” opportunities. What results can be a net capital loss. How do you treat that in the current year, and what do you do with any excess, known technically as a "carryforward"? Understanding this important asset can be critical to effective tax planning and portfolio management.
Published: April 2023
Understanding Deposit Insurance
Last week we looked at the Silicon Valley Bank failure. Since then, worries about the health of the banking sector have only grown, leading many depositors to wonder if their deposits are truly secure. While we don’t know what the ultimate outcome of this current banking situation will be, we do know that it provides an opportunity to take control of things we can control. Here we'll look at deposit insurance across banks (FDIC), credit unions (NCUA), and investment accounts (SIPC). How are you covered and how can you maximize this coverage?
Published: March 2023
Incentive Stock Options at a Private Company
In the start-up world, it’s no secret that equity is a key component of your total compensation. It provides you with ownership and (potentially) meaningful upside opportunity, while minimizing upfront compensation costs for the company as it seeks to grow on a limited budget. Here we are going to focus on ISOs and the question of when to exercise these options. What are the tax implications and should they drive your decision making? What else should you consider?
Published: March 2023
5 Key Principles of Social Security
Social Security forms a key part of most retirement plans, and yet is an (overly/needlessly) complex program that leaves many retirees confused or even opting for suboptimal claiming strategies. We want you to make the most of this program, enabling it to best serve your broader financial plan. Here we will look at five key principles that we believe are critical to understand if you want to make the most of this important resource.
Updated: January 2023
House sales and Medicare
As people age, they may find themselves wanting to downsize or relocate or needing to sell in order to move to assisted living. In doing so, they often realize extraordinary capital gains on the house they have called home for many years, if not decades. While this gives a tremendous boost to their liquidity and thus adds to their financial flexibility, they may be caught off guard by two interrelated financial hits that follow: capital gains taxes and higher Medicare premiums. Let's look at how these work and ways you can minimize (or even eliminate) these unwanted burdens.
Published: January 2023
SECURE 2.0 - Key Provisions for Business Owners
The SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022 is a significant new piece of legislation impacting retirement plans and plan participants. Many of the most significant changes are ones impacting retirement plan sponsors (business owners). If you are an existing plan sponsor, these changes will require amendments to your plan design and document, careful coordination with your TPA, recordkeeper, and plan’s financial advisor, and communication with your employees. If you are a business owner considering offering a retirement plan, this Act aims to strongly incentivize you to get started. We're going to highlight the key changes and the potential implications of each.
Published: December 2022
SECURE 2.0 - Key Provisions for Individuals
Congress recently passed "SECURE 2.0," a significant piece of retirement focused legislation buried within the voluminous Omnibus Spending Bill. These new provisions present great opportunities for individual investors, and we'll look here at the most consequential provisions. These will go info effect as early as January 1, 2023 (many will be later), and will impact both retirees and those just getting started with saving towards retirement (and everyone in between).
Published: December 2022
Talking Taxes...a 2022 Year-End Edition
We're just over one month away from the end of the year. It's been a year marked by a little bit of everything, including bear markets in both stocks and bonds. In addition, we've seen new tax laws come into being. Put all of this together, and its probably wise that you carefully consider your tax picture before year-end. Yes, "tax season" starts in early 2023, but many of the levers you need to pull to minimize your tax bill and position yourself best for long-term success need to be pulled by December 31st. Join us as we take a trip around the horn looking at some of these key year-end considerations.
Published: November 2022
Health Savings Accounts + Open Enrollment
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas…those are the dates most of us are starting to look towards in the months ahead. However, another important set of dates comes at us as the leaves change colors and we gain an hour of sleep. It’s the annual ‘Open Enrollment’ season for health insurance. Whether you access health insurance through your employer or the individual markets, one thing you should consider during this open enrollment period is whether an HSA-eligible plan is right for you. We'll take a deep dive into these accounts to see what they are, how they work, and whether they are in fact a good fit for you.
Updated: November 2022
A big increase in Social Security benefits
An 8.7% cost of living adjustment for Social Security benefits was recently announced, much to the delight of seniors facing the seemingly unrelenting pressures of inflation. What this means to your monthly benefit checks is pretty clear. They will go up – and will be further accented by the slight decrease in Medicare Part B premiums. However, there are some natural questions and considerations that come with this reality. Let’s look at them now.
Published: November 2022