The Pandemic, Your 2021 Benefits and Year-End Planning Tips

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Tue, Nov 03, 2020 @ 06:00 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

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The Pandemic,Your 2021 Benefits and Year-End Planning  

2021-pexels-olya-kobruseva-5408689When making decisions and planning for 2021, it makes sense to consider the residual effects on your life and current circumstances created by Covid-19.  The degree to which life has changed since February 2020 will vary from person to person but the key thing is to look at your decisions for the future through the lens of your new reality.  

 Here are a few things to consider:  

It’s open enrollment period for employee benefits.   

open-enrollment-clipart-2 (1)In 2020, Covid-19 caused many doctors, dentists and other health providers, as well as dependent care programs, including programs supporting people with disabilities, to close their offices to all but emergency situations. Given the uncertainties of the current environment, be sure to consider how the pandemic may affect you and your family when reviewing and making decisions regarding your benefits elections for 2021 

Flexible spending accounts (FSAs)They are use it or lose it 

Many employers offer flexible spending accounts funded with pre-tax dollars from your paycheck that may be used to pay for qualified health (FSAs, HSAs), dependent care (DCAP) and commuting expenses The trade-off for being able to use these tax-free dollars is that you are required to spend them within a specified time period, most often the calendar year you are deferring in. If you do not use the funds, you will lose the money in the account (it reverts back to your employer).  

At this time imay make sense to: 

  • Change your elections to reflect your new or the situation you project for 2021. 
  • Check the remaining balances in your employee benefit accountsDepending on your plan, you may be able to carry-over up to $550 to next year (to be used by March 15, 2021) and this may bring about a change in your election amounts for 2021.  
  • If you have a balance you may use up your remaining FSA dollars to stock up on supplies you use on a regular basis. Here is a list of FSA qualified expenses. 

 Job change? It’s important thing to know:  

  • If you lose your job during a calendar year and do not elect COBRA, you will not be able to access the funds in your FSA after your employment is terminated.   
  • If you change jobs or leave your job, you will not be able to access the funds in your FSA after your employment is terminated.   

 

Step up the 401K election, if possible. There are many things in your budget that you probably did not get to do during the pandemic: travel for vacation, dine in restaurants, send your child to camp, or go to concerts, ballgames or conferences. As a result, you may have accumulated some cash in your accounts that can step in to cover an increased retirement plan contribution.  

If you are not already contributing the amount that is matched by your employer- this is in essence “free money”- this is a great time to up your contribution. If possible, max out your 401K contribution; for 2021 the maximum contribution is $19,500, or $26,000 if you are age 50 or over.  

Your taxes: It’s not too late to act for 2020 

 A charitable deduction for all.  

Everyone may take an “above the line $300 charitable deduction- This year, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides that all tax filers, whether they itemize or not, may take an “above the line” (meaning direct deduction) from their adjusted gross income or AGI,  of up to $300 in cash donations they make to qualified charities.  And if you can itemize, the tax benefits are even better. You can deduct all of your cash donations, up to 100% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). Normally, this limit is 60% of AGI.  

Retirement Accounts 

Consider contributing to an IRAYou can contribute a maximum of $6,000 to an IRA for 2020, plus an extra $1,000 if you are 50 or older. You will have until the filing deadline (right now, April 15, 2021) to make the IRA contributions, but the sooner you get your money into the account, the sooner it has the potential to start to grow tax-deferred. 

Is your current tax rate lower than your anticipated future tax rate? A Roth conversion may make sense for your IRA.   

Retired and want to convert your retirement savings to a tax-free legacy for your heirs? If you have space in your marginal tax bracket, it may make sense to convert some retirement savings to a Roth this year.  

Don’t need the $ from your RMD?  Don’t take it. Thanks to the CARES Act, let the money grow tax-deferred another year and it will not be added to your taxable income this year.  

 We hope you found this helpful and are here to answer questions and help you plan for the future.  

Contact us with questions about how these and other changes may impact your  planning. 

Sources:  

SHRM: Planning 2021 Benefits Changes for the Covid-19 era 

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/howdoescobraapplytohealthflexiblespendingarrangements.aspx 

 

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes.  

 Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. 

 Traditional IRA account owners have considerations to make before performing a Roth IRA conversion. These primarily include income tax consequences on the converted amount in the year of conversion, withdrawal limitations from a Roth IRA, and income limitations for future contributions to a Roth IRA. In addition, if you are required to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) in the year you convert, you must do so before converting to a Roth IRA. 

 Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax deductible in the contribution year, with current income tax due at withdrawal.  Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax in addition to current income tax. 

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor. 

Affinia Financial Group, Special Needs Financial Planning, and LPL Financial do not provide tax advice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Retirement Planning, Taxes and special needs families, financial planning

Retirees! RMD Waiver deadline extended

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Wed, Jul 15, 2020 @ 06:30 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team John Nadworny, CFP, CTFA | Cynthia Haddad, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP,  CTFA

RMD Rollback extended to August 31, 2020

Pexels_roll-of-american-dollar-banknotes-tightened-with-band-4386476The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act) enabled any taxpayer with an RMD due in 2020 from a defined-contribution retirement plan, including a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, or an IRA, to skip those RMDs this year. This includes anyone who turned age 70 1/2 in 2019 and would have had to take the first RMD by April 1, 2020. This waiver does not apply to defined-benefit plans.

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that anyone who already took a required minimum distribution (RMD) in 2020 from certain retirement accounts now has the opportunity to roll those funds back into a retirement account.  The 60-day rollover period for any RMDs already taken this year has been extended to August 31, 2020, to give taxpayers time to take advantage of this opportunity.  This repayment is not subject to the one rollover per 12-month period limitation and the restriction on rollovers for inherited IRAs.

If you have taken an RMD in 2020 and wish to roll those funds back into your retirement account, or have additional questions about your existing retirement account, please contact us. For savers/investors  considering rolling over an existing retirement account, we offer a complementary telephone consultation to discuss your individual situation.

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Tags: Retirement Planning

The "10- Year Rule" and After-Tax Strategies to Consider

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Feb 29, 2020 @ 06:00 AM

We are committed to presenting complimentary educational workshops to  organizations and parent groups. We are currently booking presentations for 2020. Please contact Alex Nadworny(anadworny@affiniafg.com / 781-365-8586) to  schedule a talk for your group. 

 

the stretch is goneThe SECURE Act* eliminates the “stretch” IRA distribution option for non-eligible designated beneficiaries (see Who is effected). It requires all assets be distributed to non-eligible designated beneficiaries by the end of 10 years - called the "10 year rule"- however annual RMDs are no longer required from these accounts.

In our last blog, When a Special Needs Trust is the Beneficiary of a Retirement Account, we discussed the strategy of having a Special Needs Trust (SNT), with the family member with a disability as eligible designated beneficiary of the SNT, become the owner of an IRA or other qualified retirement plan. 

For everyone who is not an eligible designated beneficiary, the financial impact of the "10 year rule" and deferring distributions is more substantial than one might think.

Case Illustration:

Considering Roth Conversions when subject to the "10 year rule"

Note: This is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation.  Your results will vary.  The hypothetical rates of return used to do not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing. 

Consider the case of Michael, a 40-year-old doctor whose mother passed away suddenly last month leaving him an IRA with a balance of $1 million.

His pre-SECURE Act plan had been to establish a legacy from his mother to his children.  He would draw out the minimum required distribution from the account each year and leave the balance to grow tax -deferred to pass on upon his death.

Now with the mandatory 10-year distribution rule, Michael needs a new analysis to make an informed choice of how to handle the distributions from his inherited IRA.

He reached out to his financial advisor who modeled 2 options for him given the current law. It was shocking to see the massive effect tax- deferred investing has on savings; the SECURE Act potentially cost Michael more than $1 million over a 30-year period.

Michael’s action with the inherited IRA

After-tax account value in 30 years

assuming a 6% pre-tax earnings rate and 30% income tax rate on the earnings and distributions

BEFORE the Secure Act (not an option now)- just take RMDs, let balance stay in the account

$3, 375,243

Leave the money to grow in the tax deferred account for 10 years and then withdraw a lump sum.

$2,805, 905

Take the $1,000,000 distribution today and pursue growth in a taxable account for 10 years.

$2,308,139

 

Watch out for bracket creep

Michael has an established medical practice and is entering his peak earning years. Taking distributions from a qualified tax deferred account does not seem appealing but he has to do something within the next 10 years. The chart above shows taking a large distribution at the end of 10 years as the optimal choice under the new law but there could be drawbacks for Michael. It is important that the distributions not increase his income to the point of increasing his marginal tax rate, effecting his eligibility for qualified business deductions or subjecting his investment income to an additional surtax.

Key_backdoor_ROTHCould converting to a Roth IRA be helpful?

Michael’s advisor asked him to consider converting a portion of the inherited IRA to a Roth IRA. He has space available within his current tax bracket to take a distribution without raising his marginal tax rate and he also has the cash available to pay the taxes that would result from this action. 

Having the full amount of money invested in the new Roth could potentially reap the yield benefits of being allowed to grow tax- free and although Michael’s beneficiaries would also be subject to the 10-year rule upon his death, there would be no tax liability under current laws on distributions from a Roth.  

* The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement or SECURE Act was signed into law on December 20, 2019, becoming effective January 1, 2020. The law provides important changes for individuals and small businesses to consider in their retirement, estate and tax planning.

 

The Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account.  Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply.  Withdrawals  prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being open for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS tax penalty. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth IRAs. Their tax treatment may change.

 Traditional IRA account owners should consider the tax ramifications, age and income restrictions in regard to executing a conversion from a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The converted amount is generally subject to income taxation.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor

Financial planning and investment advice offered through Affinia Financial Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Special Needs Financial Planning LLC, Affinia Financial Group, LLC and LPL Financial are separate entities.

 

 

Tags: Retirement Planning, Roth IRA

When a Special Needs Trust is the Beneficiary of a Retirement Account

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Feb 22, 2020 @ 06:00 AM

We are committed to presenting complimentary educational workshops to  organizations and parent groups. We are currently booking presentations for 2020. Please contact Alex Nadworny(anadworny@affiniafg.com / 781-365-8586) to  schedule a talk for your group. 

stretching into the futureThe SECURE Act* eliminates the “stretch” IRA distribution option for non-exception beneficiaries. It requires all assets be distributed to beneficiaries by the end of 10 years however annual RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions) are no longer required from these accounts.

What was the “stretch” IRA anyway?  

Prior to the SECURE act, retirement account beneficiaries were able to “stretch” the distributions from inherited accounts over the course of their lifetime.  This practice was an especially great benefit to young heirs and heiresses, as RMDs from the inherited accounts were based upon the age of the beneficiary.  The younger the beneficiary, the smaller the RMD, allowing the bulk of the assets to grow tax-deferred over the course of their lifetime and to potentially be inherited by the next generation.  

What it means:

Non-exception beneficiaries inheriting 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans, traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs from individuals who died after 1/1/2020, are subject to the “10-year distribution rule”; they are required to receive a full distribution of all assets of an inherited retirement account by the end of 10 years.

Who is effected: 

Non-exception beneficiaries of people inheriting 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans, traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs from individuals who died after 1/1/2020, are subject to the “10-year distribution rule”. 

If you own an inherited IRA from a person who died before 12/31/2019, the 10-year rule does not apply to that IRA over your lifetime. At your death, beneficiaries of this IRA will be subject to the 10-year rule.

Exception beneficiaries are NOT subject to the 10-year rule. They may treat the inherited IRA as their own and take distributions over their lifetime.

  • Spouses
    • A designated beneficiary will inherit the account, and overrides any provisions in a will.
    • If there is no will or beneficiary designation, the spouse will generally inherit the IRA. 
    • There are some exceptions, specifically in community property states.  
  • Disabled or chronically ill individuals
  • Individuals who are not more than 10 years younger than the account owner
  • Minor children. But once the child reaches the age of majority, he or she has 10 years to withdraw the money from the account.

   (Source: Elder Law Answers) 

Impact on the retiree/ IRA owner's planning:

The elimination of the stretch provision impacts both the retirement account owner and the beneficiaries. Given the current demographics, many recipients of inherited IRAs will have to take distributions during their peak earning years, potentially bumping them into a higher marginal tax bracket. It may make sense for retirees to consider strategies to mitigate this effect. Individuals with sizable retirement accounts are advised to speak with their tax advisor to discuss the impact of this change on their estate planning 

When a Special Needs Trust (SNT) is the beneficiary of the IRA.

There are 2 types of trusts that are often set up as beneficiaries of a retirement account: (1) a conduit or pass-through trust and (2) an accumulation or complex trust. The diagram below depicts the treatment of distributions from the inherited IRA when a trust is the beneficiary.

IRA RMD

 

Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) are accumulation or complex trusts. The trustee will have the authority to use the funds on behalf of the beneficiary over their lifetime. The RMD will be calculated using this “stretch” formula.

Even though the stretch provision still applies for beneficiaries with special needs, the elimination of the stretch provision for beneficiaries who do not have special needs may necessitate a change in planning strategy. In the past, many estate planners recommended that non-qualified assets be designated for funding a SNT upon a parent’s death. Individuals who have pursued this strategy may want to revisit both their own and their beneficiaries’ situations to determine if this still makes sense given the eligibility of the family member with a disability for the “stretch’ provision of an inherited IRA.

New Strategy: The SNT, with the family member with a disability as an exception beneficiary of the SNT, will inherit the IRA and become the owner.

In addition to the inherited IRA, the SNT will also own a non-retirement account for the purposes of receiving distributions (annual RMDs) from the inherited IRA and will pay taxes on this distribution.  The trustee may utilize this money to pay for expenses for the individual while also protecting their eligibility for government benefits.

Upon the death of the beneficiary with special needs, proceeds of the IRA will flow to the contingent beneficiary and the 10-year rule will go into effect.

 

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week with further discussion of planning considerations and strategies in light of the SECURE Act.

* The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement or SECURE act was signed into law on December 20, 2019, becoming effective January 1, 2020. The law provides important changes for individuals and small businesses to consider in their retirement, estate and tax planning.

 

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.

Financial planning and investment advice offered through Affinia Financial Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Affinia Financial Group and LPL Financial are separate entities.

 

 

Tags: Retirement Planning, Special Needs Trusts

The Secure Act and Your RMD 🎂

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Feb 15, 2020 @ 06:00 AM

We are committed to presenting complimentary educational workshops to  organizations and parent groups. We are currently booking presentations for 2020. Please contact Alex Nadworny(anadworny@affiniafg.com / 781-365-8586) to  schedule a talk for your group. 

February is time to show your Retirement Planning some Love❤️.

The Secure Act and your RMD🎂

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement or SECURE act was signed into law on December 20, 2019, becoming effective January 1, 2020. The law provides important changes for individuals and small businesses to consider in their retirement, estate and tax planning. 

Congratulations You're 70 1/2- 72The SECURE act moves the age at which a retirement account owner must begin to withdraw from their account from 70½  to 72 years of age.  The account owner will need to take an RMD from each of their qualified retirement accounts by April 1 of the following year.

What it means:  Individuals  are able to defer taking distributions from their qualified retirement accounts for an additional 18 months.  

The fine print: For those between the ages of 70½ and 72, there is no grandfather clause. 

Case study: Who has to take distributions in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Note: All individuals and situations cited in this case are fictional and for illustration purposes only.

Example 1: Sam’s birthday is June 30, 1949.  He turned 70 in 2019 and 70 ½ on December 30, 2019.  He is the youngest person to whom the old rules apply. Sam, and everyone older than Sam, are required to take an RMD beginning in 2019 and must do so by April 1, 2020.  Sam is also required to take a distribution for every year thereafter, meaning 2020, 2021, ….  

Example 2:  Sandy’s birthday is one day later than Sam, July 1, 1949. Under the new law, she is required to take a distribution from her qualified retirement accounts the year she turns 72 or 2021. Sandy will have until April 1 of 2022, to take the distribution(s) for 2021 and she will be required to take an RMD from her retirement accounts every year following 2021. She needs to be aware that if she does wait until 2022 to take the first distribution, she will be required to take a second distribution that same year (2022).  

 To read more, see our previous blog, 10 Answers You Need Before Planning for Retirement.

 

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor

Financial planning and investment advice offered through Affinia Financial Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Special Needs Financial Planning LLC, Affinia Financial Group, LLC and LPL Financial are separate entities..

 

Tags: Retirement Planning

It's February: Show Your Retirement Some Love❤️

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Feb 08, 2020 @ 06:00 AM

 

The Year in Special Needs Planning

Retirement Planning and The SECURE Act: It really is all about YOU.

grey-ceramic-landmark-during-daytime-62318 (1)The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement or SECURE Act and its impact on retirement planning has been outlined extensively in the mainstream media.  The law contains significant changes that are important to understand and talk through with your financial, tax and legal advisors.

Throughout February we will offer a series of 4 blogs focused first upon general retirement planning strategies, followed by a discussion and case examples of the SECURE Act and its potential impact on your planning.

I. Ten Answers You Need to Begin Retirement Planning

We often work with individuals and families having complex life situations. For families of people with disabilities, this means planning for two generations as many children with a disability will need support their entire lives.

Over the past 20 years, we have learned that a broader, multi-dimensional approach is required in order to take into consideration all of a family’s goals and responsibilities.

number-10-text-1339845It is also our experience that families are very busy and when making decisions may provide answers before all of the questions have been asked.  Here are 10 answers you need to have to consider in your analysis before beginning planning for retirement.

1. The ages of you and your spouse.
Are you a 67-year-old with a 55-year-old spouse? Your ages could significantly impact the decision on how to most effectively fund your retirement accounts.


2. Your health status.
Do you and/or your spouse have any significant or potentially significant health considerations? This could be important in funding and withdrawing from retirement accounts; you may consult your accountant to determine tax implications of allowable medical expenses.

 

3. Your health insurance coverage.
Be aware that your employment circumstances, compensation and benefits may change over the remainder of your working life. Understand your options including COBRA eligibility.
Many folks assume Medicare will cover everything they will need when they retire but dental, vision, hearing and long-term care are all examples of additional policies or out-of-pocket expenses,

 

4. If you are divorced, be sure you have designated your beneficiaries to align with your current wishes.
It is relatively common for a divorcing couple to enter into a property settlement agreement in which each spouse waives any interest in the other spouse’s retirement plans. It is still critical to amend your plan documents to reflect your new beneficiary designations. Courts have recognized that Plan Administrators are obliged to act in accordance with Plan documents and this supercedes the legal waiver. (Kennedy v. Plan Administrator For Dupont Savings & Investment Plan, 555 U.S. 285 (2009)).

 

5. You have a family member with a disability.
Individuals with a disability (consistent with IRS regulations) are exceptions to the SECURE Act. Is a Special Needs Trust one of the beneficiaries of your IRA?  The SECURE act may have a significant effect on this planning strategy. See our blog later this month, The SECURE Act: “Stretch” IRA no longer.

 

6. Know your financial position.
Be completely familiar with your personal balance sheet: what you have and what you owe.
Know and understand your marginal tax bracket and implications of state income taxes in retirement.

 

7. How much will you have coming in and what you will spend when you are retired.
Will you receive social security (over a certain level it is taxable), a pension or retirement plan distribution?
Many people assume their expenses will be lower when they retire but sorry, data does not support this assumption. You may want to start by assuming your expenses will be the same less what you contribute to retirement savings.

 

8. Know what percentage of your money is in retirement assets and non-retirement assets. 
This is a key determinant in choosing a strategy determining which accounts should be drawn upon for your income needs.
In the current low interest rate environment, you must be sure your asset allocation provides the opportunity to keep pace with inflation.

 

9. Know your level of financial security and understand what you need for your personal well-being.
It is easy to be mis-led by standard formulas and calculators. Even if you think you know what you want for your future, life is unpredictable. There is no magic number for everyone. How much you will need in retirement depends on how much you will spend when you retire. Think about it and add it all up.

 

10. Know your personal goals and objectives.
What do you want to work toward?  Is it about early retirement, paying off the mortgage, travel, a second home, downsizing, leaving money for your children or paying for college for the grandkids? Write it down and set your priorities!
While it is great to gather information, don’t let other people’s opinions influence your priorities and goals.
One thing is for sure and that is nothing is for certain.  Have a Plan B!

 

Coming next:

II.  The SECURE Act: If you keep working, you can keep saving
III.  The SECURE Act: You and your RMD -
IV.   The SECURE Act: “Stretch” IRA no longer

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor

Financial planning and investment advice offered through Affinia Financial Group, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Special Needs Financial Planning LLC, Affinia Financial Group, LLC and LPL Financial are separate entities.

Tags: Retirement Planning

For Grandparents: Save for Retirement and Grandchildren’s Education

Posted by Haddad Nadworny on Sat, Jan 13, 2018 @ 07:36 AM

The Special Needs Financial Planning Team  Cynthia Haddad, CFP | John  Nadworny, CFP | Alexandria Nadworny, CFP  We are committed to offering educational workshops to organizations and parent  groups.  Please call Alex or click here to attend a workshop or discuss a presentation  to your group.


pexels-photo-355948.jpegA Roth IRA may be an option for grandparents to consider when saving for retirement and while also saving for their grandchildren’s education. The Roth IRA allows account owners to save with tax-free growth* and with the added flexibility to allocate and use the funds when they choose and for any purpose.

What is a Roth IRA:

 A Roth IRA is a retirement account funded with after-tax dollars. The contributions generally are not tax deductible but when you start withdrawing funds, qualified distributions are tax-free.

 Defining characteristics of a Roth IRA:

  • The money invested in a Roth grows tax-free*.
  • Contributions can continue to be made once the taxpayer is past the age of 70½, as long as he or she has earned income, which may be basically defined as W2 income.
  • Eligibility for a Roth account depends on taxable income.       Generally, in 2018 you are eligible if :
  • you are a couple filing jointly and your MAGI (modified adjusted gross income) is less than $189,000.
  • you file as an individual and your MAGI is $133,000.
  • Contribution amounts: In 2018 an individual may make an annual contribution of up to $5,500 to a Roth IRA. Individuals who are age 50 and older by the end of the year for which the contribution applies can make additional catch-up contributions (up to $1,000 in 2018). An individual may also establish a Roth IRA for their spouse with little or no income.
  • The taxpayer can maintain the Roth IRA indefinitely; there is no required minimum distribution (RMD) during the account holder's lifetime.

* Withdrawals from the account may be tax-free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ or prior to the account being opened for 5 years, whichever is later, may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax.

Case Study

John and Alice (fictional names) are grandparents of 2 grandchildren, one of whom has special needs.  John and Alice have $10, 000/year to contribute toward their retirement savings should an emergency or unforeseen need arise. They also want the opportunity to put these funds toward the goal of funding their grandchildren’s educational expenses and don’t want to miss this opportunity to save for them should the unforeseen or emergency never happen.

 Their first thought was to establish a 529 plan & ABLE account for each of their grandchildren. However, while John and Alice feel saving for college is an important goal toward which they want to contribute, they need and want flexibility and control over these funds. Their grandchildren may opt not go to college or John and Alice may have an unforeseen need come along for which they would use this savings. 

In meeting with John and Alice and discussing this goal, we suggested another alternative: establishing and funding a Roth IRA. This alternative is open to John and Alice as they both have earned income, file taxes jointly and do not exceed the $189,000 combined household maximum income threshold for Roth IRA contributions. There is no age limitation on opening or contributing to a Roth IRA.

The benefits of saving the $10,000/year in a Roth IRA are tax-free growth, with no limitations on use of funds or withdrawal rules( with exceptions noted above- see *).  John and Alice may each contribute up to $5500/ year to a Roth IRA. Today they feel as though they can afford to give their grandchildren money for their futures, but ideally John and Alice would like the option to have the money available to them if there was an unforeseen need. Should they have additional grandchildren, having the money in the Roth IRA can make it easier to distribute the money amongst all grandchildren.

 Potential drawbacks to using this approach might occur if the funds were left in the account and John and Alice required nursing care. This savings would be considered in their assets and also, should they pass away, this account would be included as a part of their estate assets. To control disposition of the assets upon their death, they may designate their children or grandchildren as beneficiaries of the account.

When making the decision of how best to save for your grandchild’s future, recognize that every family’s situation is different and that will have an impact on the final decision regarding the best savings option to consider.    

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual, nor intended to be a substitute for individualized tax advice. There is no assurance that the techniques and strategies discussed are suitable for all individuals or will yield positive outcomes. Please consult tax advisor regarding your specific situation.The Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Future tax law can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth IRAs. Their tax treatment may change. The experiences described here may not be representative of any future experience of our clients, nor considered a recommendation of the advisor’s services or abilities or indicate a favorable client experience. Individual results will vary.

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Tags: Special Needs Financial Planning, Retirement Planning, financial planning, planning for college