Retirement, Estate & College Savings Plans


 

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries who are incapacitated.

Simply stated, estate planning is the process of determining:

Ø  Who gets what?

Ø  When?

Ø  At what cost?

The plan needs to be reviewed frequently, as people, ideas, and tax laws change. Various financial products have simple beneficiary designations. These need to be reviewed and updated regularly. It is common to use a trust as the beneficiary, and sometimes the owner, of those financial products. Consult the guidance of an estate attorney for more information.

 

Fixed Annuities

fixed annuity is any continuing payment with a fixed total annual amount. The fixed annuity is guaranteed by (and, therefore, the risk is assumed by) the insurer that issues the contract.

Annuity may refer to:

Ø  Annuity (finance theory): any terminating stream of fixed payments over a specified period of time

Ø  Life annuity: a financial contract providing payments for a person's lifetime

Ø  Annuity (US financial products)

 

In the United States, an annuity contract is created when an insured party, usually an individual, pays a life insurance company a single premium that will later be distributed back to the insured party over time. Annuity contracts traditionally provide a guaranteed distribution of income over time, such as via fixed payments, until the death of the person or persons named in the contract, or until a final date, whichever comes first. However, many annuity customers use annuities only to accumulate funds free of income and capital gains taxes, and to later take lump-sum withdrawals without using the guaranteed-income-for-life feature.

 

401(k)

401(k), also referred to as a ‘cash or deferred arrangement’ (CODA), takes its name from subsection 401(k) of the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26 of the United States Code). 401(k) plans are defined contribution plans, with annual contributions limited, currently, to $18,000 (2017) and a catch-up contribution of an additional $6,000 for those who are 50 years of age or older.

Depending on the employer's program, a portion of the employee's contribution may be matched by the employer. Contributions are made as pre-tax deductions from paychecks, and growth is tax-deferred. A 10% Federal tax penalty is assessed on withdrawals made by an account holder prior to the account holder reaching the age of 59 ½.

 

Mutual Funds

mutual fund is a type of professionally-managed collective investment vehicle that pools money from many investors to purchase securities. While there is no legal definition of the term "mutual fund,” it is most commonly applied only to those collective investment vehicles that are regulated and sold to the general public. They are sometimes referred to as "investment companies" or "registered investment companies." Most mutual funds are "open-ended," meaning investors can buy or sell shares of the fund at any time.

 

529 Plan (Education Savings Plan)

 A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution, designed to help families set aside funds for future college expenses. It is named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, which created these types of savings plans in 1996.

State plans are usable for out of state colleges. 529 Plans can be used to meet costs of qualified colleges nationwide. In most plans, your choice of school is not affected by the state your 529 savings plan is from. You can be a an Oregon resident, invest in a California plan and send your student to college in Washington—or New York.

 

Which states offer 529 plans?

Nearly every state now has at least one 529 plan available. It's up to each state to decide whether it will offer one or more 529 plan options, and what each plan will look like. Research the features and benefits of your plan before you invest, research and compare state 529 plans, and contact a Pacific Benefit Consultant agent to assist you with determining the best plan for you.

 

Tax Benefits

As long as the plan satisfies a few basic requirements, the federal tax law provides special tax benefits to plan participants. Some states offer tax incentives to investors, as well. 

 

Types of 529 plans

529 plans are usually categorized as either prepaid or savings plans. Savings plans work in a manner similar to a 401(k) or IRA by investing your contributions in mutual funds or similar investments. The plan offers several investment options from which to choose. Account balances can fluctuate based upon the performance of particular selected options.

Prepaid Plans let you prepay all, or part, of the costs of an in-state public college education. They may also be converted for use at private and out-of-state colleges. The Private College 529 Plan is a separate prepaid plan for private colleges. Educational institutions can offer a 529 prepaid plan, but not a 529 savings plan (the Private College 529 Plan is the only institution-sponsored 529 plan to date).

The tax law now permits higher education institutions to offer their own 529 prepaid programs. These allow you to target your tuition prepayment to the sponsoring institution (or group of institutions). Currently, the Independent 529 Plan is the only such program in operation. It is necessary to research what restrictions may be placed on the colleges covered by the plan.

* Neither Voya Financial Advisors nor its representatives offer tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.