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Address:
7413 Six Forks Rd., Unit 303
Raleigh, NC 27615

Office: 919-612-7450
Fax: 919-882-8929

E-mail: info@blueatlanticinsurance.com

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Retirement Planning

Retirement Planning

Annuities

An annuity is a contract between an individual and an insurance company which provides growth of an asset, while preserving options for immediate or deferred income as needed by the annuity owner. Fixed annuities are safe insurance products which offer guarantees to the owner; such as return of principal, minimum interest credits, guaranteed income options, and in some cases, guaranteed death proceeds to beneficiaries. Favorable tax treatment of the interest earned in an annuity makes them a great financial tool, and especially useful in the management of assets and income during and in preparation for retirement.

Fixed annuities come in various types, providing flexible, secure options for many different financial needs. Income from fixed annuities can be deferred or immediate, the difference being when the income begins.

  1. Deferred annuities allow for an asset to grow until the owner needs to access the money for income. With multiple withdrawal and income options available, these annuities provide excellent liquidity, without sacrificing the potential for good long term gains. All growth inside an annuity accumulates tax deferred until those gains are taken out of the policy by the owner. Deferred annuities can offer different strategies for crediting interest, such as those with guaranteed fixed rates. Innovative products, like fixed indexed annuities, guarantee minimum returns, protect against loss of principal, but allow for the potential of higher non-guaranteed interest credits based upon the amount of change in the named index over a stated period of time.
  2. Immediate annuities begin paying the annuitant a guaranteed income stream right away. The duration of the guaranteed income period is chosen by the owner at the time of purchase, and options may include a fixed number of years, up to a guaranteed lifetime income. By combining the use of immediate and deferred annuities in a structured retirement plan, it is possible to provide for the income needs of the annuity owner over many years using an immediate annuity, while growing the balance of the asset back to the original amount using deferred annuities.

Today’s Fixed Annuities provide return options with guarantees which are unprecedented in the financial marketplace. Finding the right annuity with the best features and with a reputable company requires knowledge of the industry, understanding of retirement planning issues, and most of all, a thorough understanding of the needs and concerns of each client. Helping our clients find the best financial solutions for their unique circumstances is what sets Blue Atlantic Group apart.

401k Rollover

The most prevalent retirement plan, currently used by companies who want to offer a tax advantaged savings opportunity for their employees, is the 401k.With aggressive payroll deductions and company matching contributions, if available, many people build up a significant amount in their 401k accounts. When they leave that place of employment, however, few understand the negative implications of letting their money remain in the 401k plan at the company they have just left. Limited and high risk investment options, restrictions on when or how they can get their money out, or even questions about the financial integrity of the company, all create concern for leaving your nest egg behind once you exit your place of work. These same issues also make rolling a previous 401k balance into the plan at your new place of employment, a similarly unwise financial move.

The recommended option, when leaving a company for any reason, is to roll 401k money into a personal IRA, using a savings vehicle of your choosing. In the company 401k, you are offered few investment choices, with little or no guarantees; but in an IRA, you have the potential to put your money into any savings or investment you like. Because the tax treatment on money in a 401k and an IRA are similar, you can “roll” your money from the company plan to the IRA with no tax implications whatsoever. In many cases, you can even roll your 401k money out of the company plan and into a personal IRA while you are still working and continuing to make contributions.

The human resource department, at your place of work or previous place of employment, is not trained to provide you information about options for your retirement money, and they are restricted in the advice or recommendations they are allowed to discuss. You need independent professional help to determine the right place to store the hard earned pot of money which will eventually become the foundation of your retirement income. Handling 401k rollovers is routine for a professional who understands the steps necessary to successfully roll your nest egg into an IRA. Helping you pick the best place for that IRA in order to maximize your retirement potential, requires an understanding of your individual needs and retirement objectives, risk concerns, and time frames. Whether you are changing jobs, with decades left before retirement, or, you are ready to retire now, we at Blue Atlantic Group have the expertise to provide you the customized personal assistance you need on all matters pertaining to 401k rollovers.

Estate Conservation

All of our working adult life, we are geared to accumulate assets. While we receive earned income from our business or place of employment, we have the flexibility to adjust the level of savings we want to accrue and we have the time necessary to make it possible. Working longer and delaying retirement by a few years, if that option is available, gives you an opportunity to make up for losses due to down markets or bad investments, or just fill the pot a little more. Over time, our accumulation of appreciable assets grows in value, adding to our total net worth, and often our family obligations and debt load are reduced later in life, further helping us prepare for our financial needs in retirement.

Eventually, as we approach the end of our working careers, we have to change our emphasis from accumulation to preservation. Once we reach retirement years and earned income stops, most people begin to live off fixed income with fixed assets, no matter what size their estate. Unless you own an income producing business or property, some type of pension or retirement income, combined with Social Security and earnings off your investments, provide the basis for the cash flow you will receive in retirement. Since pensions are becoming a thing of the past, and the future of Social Security is uncertain, the asset base owned by retirees becomes significantly more important to the replacement of income, which was once covered by salary.

Just in the past decade, we have experienced two major declines in the stock market with a rebound sandwiched in between. History tells us that these cycles are inevitable, and the timing and severity of them typically lasts for many years. What that means for seniors is that they no longer have the luxury of time to wait for the return of the bull market, after their asset base has lost significant value. Additionally, once they start taking out of that pot that has dropped in value, the problem is compounded by further reducing an already devalued base, making it nearly impossible to restore retirement accounts to previous levels.Taking risk with essential money is not a good financial decision at any age, but it can be devastating for someone in retirement. In order to maintain a lifestyle in retirement that is reasonably close to what you enjoyed while working, if you are retired or even close to retirement, you can no longer afford to take risks with your principal retirement asset. You have to develop a plan which preserves your nest egg, while earning enough interest to keep you ahead of inflation.

Our agents at Blue Atlantic Group have solutions that can provide you safe growth for your hard earned retirement assets, whether you are already in the middle of your golden years, or just preparing for it in the near future. We have financial products that can offer you the opportunity for good return on your money WITHOUT risk of principal and even offer you guaranteed income options you can never outlive. By helping you prepare for every possibility, so that you don’t have to worry whether you will run out of money in retirement, one of the most important things we can help you achieve is peace of mind. Our retirement specialists can advise you of options that meet your particular retirement needs for safety, security, income, return, and potential to transfer the maximum estate to your heirs and beneficiaries. With the right plan in place, your retirement years can be the best time of your life, just as you always hoped and dreamed it would be.

We are insurance professionals dedicated to you, the client, rather than any one insurance company. Here at Blue Atlantic Insurance Group we are more than insurance agents. Contact us today for your estate planning needs.

Stretch an IRA

 

It has been said that an IRA is the worst asset you can own at your death.  How can such a valuable and important part of your retirement become a liability when you leave it to loved ones?  The simple answer is “taxes.”

All of the money in an IRA has never been taxed.  That means that every dollar that is withdrawn, by whoever takes it out, WILL be subject to income taxes, and there is no way to avoid that inevitability.  In retirement you only took out the amount you needed each year, at least meeting your required minimum distributions.  In smaller increments, added to any other income you may have had, you rarely affected your overall tax rate by the addition of your IRA income.  Consider what happens, however, if you leave the balance of a sizable IRA to your kids or grandkids, and they suddenly have a large five figure, or even six figure addition to their other income all in one year.  What impact will that have on their tax bill?  Most likely, they will rise to the top, or nearly the top tax rate. Add the cost of state taxes to the federal taxes, and now the $100,000 IRA you left your grandson gets diminished by about half, and he only nets $50,000.  This is not what you intended to happen in the passage of your hard earned money to your loved ones.

Unfortunately, this sad scenario takes place on a regular basis, as unsuspecting IRA owners leave their most valuable asset to their beneficiaries with no planning or preparation for them to be able to manage the way they will have to pay taxes on that inheritance.  The IRS has allowed a provision which can eliminate the lump sum inheritance of an IRA, stop the single year tax bill, and permit the beneficiaries to take withdrawals over time, as much as their entire lives; thus “stretching” the IRA for up to another 80 years.  This provision even allows the growth inside the IRA to continue to accumulate tax deferred for as long as the original beneficiaries, or even their beneficiaries, stretch out the withdrawals.  Depending upon the age of the beneficiaries, this delayed system of distributing an inherited IRA can cause the original amount left at the death of the owner, to easily balloon to 5-10 times that figure or more, over the course of incremental lifetime payments to the beneficiaries.  All of the money will still eventually be taxed, but only as it is withdrawn, over the course of the beneficiary’s life.

The catch?  It takes a very deliberate and specific implementation of required steps, by both the IRA owner and the beneficiaries, in order to take full advantage of this IRS provision; and, if one little step is improperly done, the entire provision is nullified, and the beneficiary is forced to pay all the taxes at once.  If you could magnify the value of the assets you leave to your heirs by up to ten times, simply by taking a few simple planning steps today, wouldn’t you want to do that for your family and loved ones?  The steps required by the original IRA owner to provide the stretch option, in no way affect their control or use of the own money during their lifetime.  But taking those steps will make all the difference in whether your beneficiaries receive half as much you wanted them to receive, or ten times as much.

If you own an IRA, talk to your Blue Atlantic Group agent about getting a free IRA analysis to see just how significant preparing for the opportunity to “stretch” your IRA could mean to those you want to eventually benefit from your hard earned efforts to accumulate that asset.  This is a perfect example of where “knowing” how things work makes all the difference in the world.  Don’t risk your opportunity to leave such a legacy to your family by not getting the right information or not taking the right steps.  Our expertise in the area IRA management will help you ensure that your IRA will meet your retirement income needs, while preserving all the stretch potential possible for those loved ones to whom you want to ultimately receive the benefits of your hard work and savings.

 

Advanced Wealth Transfer

Over the course of our lifetime we accumulate things. We save and make money with our savings in various types of interest accounts and investments. We buy homes, cars, furniture, and other items. We may buy or start a business. Sometimes we inherit assets or money from family; or, we may be the beneficiary of insurance proceeds from the death of our parents or loved ones. Whatever things of value we have collected over the course of our lives, is what we have come to know as our estate. Since we can’t take it with us, eventually, everything we own will belong to someone else. It may seem that simply naming people in a will is sufficient to ensure proper passage of your belongings to your heirs, but the reality is that, transfer of wealth from one person to another is a complicated process that is riddled with traps and pitfalls, that can quickly erode the value of your estate and derail your good intentions.

Life insurance is a great financial planning tool that can be used to help offset those final expenses, including taxes, unpaid bills, medical expenses, settlement of debts and mortgages, or any other estate costs. Life insurance can also increase the size and value of the estate you leave, providing benefits to your heirs much greater than the cumulative value of your estate alone.

If you are concerned about your estate being subject to estate taxes, it is important to understand how the value of your estate will be calculated, what is your current exemption amount, how and when are estate taxes paid, and at what rate are estate taxes assessed. The estate tax laws are subject to change, but if the current schedule remains, the prevailing estate exemption for the amount of estate you can leave estate tax free will level off at $1,000,000 per person beginning in 2011. With estate tax rates at 55%, it is important for anyone with assets near that amount to seek help from a qualified estate planning professional to see what steps can be taken today, to keep your family from handing more than half of what you worked your entire life to save, over to the government upon your death.

Regardless of how much your estate is worth, it is important to understand by what means we can and should leave our estate to those whom we wish to be the eventual beneficiaries of all that we presently own and enjoy; and, what taxes and expenses will affect that remainder value itself. While estate, inheritance, or death taxes will not affect more than the top few percent of people in this country, other issues will threaten to diminish the value of the estate you intend to pass on unless you do the proper planning. Using up to date legal documents will not only ensure that the people you want to get your assets actually end up with them, they can save your estate time, expense, and help your estate and beneficiaries avoid unnecessary public scrutiny. Other estate planning strategies can help you to reduce the hit taxes and expenses will have on the amount you ultimately leave to others.

Blue Atlantic Group has estate planning experts available to review and advise you about any estate planning concerns you may have or need to address, so that your lifetime of work not only benefits you to the fullest, it becomes a legacy you can leave to enhance the lives of your family and loved ones for generations to come.

Together we can insure that the ones you love will be well taken care of when you are no longer here to see to their needs. Let us give you the peace of mind that you deserve.

We are Blue Atlantic Insurance Group.

Call us Today! 919-612-7450