Meet Michelle Hoppe
Michelle Hoppe is an administrative associate who primarily supports personal trusts. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Early morning coffee dates are her favorite.
Below she shares a few things about herself.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up on the Canadian border in Minnesota, near Baudette. I learned about life with my two brothers and two sisters from some pretty amazing parents. I also have a crazy amount of extended family that I am close with, most of whom live near Baudette.
Self-Trustee vs. Corporate Trustee for Your 401(k) Plan
Early in my career, I attended a three-day training in the Twin Cities for 401(k) plan administration. I met my niece one evening for dinner and she was shocked to hear that it took three days to train on 401(k) plans. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was attending a basic training!
Retirement plans are complicated to administer. As complicated as the laws are, it is challenging to learn the nuances of this industry while staying abreast of the ever-changing regulations and how to interpret them.
How does all of this tie into self-trustee vs. corporate trustee? While others may downplay the importance of having a corporate trustee, we believe it is critical to the well-being of your business and your retirement plan.
Charitable Contributions from IRAs
When planning your IRA withdrawal strategy, you may want to consider supporting a favorite charity with tax-free contributions from your IRA. These contributions are known as qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) or charitable IRA rollovers.
How QCDs Work
You must be 70½ or older in order to make QCDs. You direct your IRA trustee to make a distribution directly from your IRA (other than SEP and SIMPLE IRAs) to a qualified charity. The distribution must be one that would otherwise be taxable to you.
You can exclude up to $100,000 of QCDs from your gross income in 2018. If you file a joint return, your spouse can exclude an additional $100,000 of QCDs in 2018.
Don’t Let Emotions Swing with the Markets
It’s no secret that investing is an emotional process. Markets swing and news organizations take full advantage to pump their ratings and incite fear, oftentimes without fully understanding the economy or how markets work.
Even veteran investors can act impulsively and lose perspective when markets correct or become volatile.
All of this said, volatility is normal.
That’s why it’s essential for all of us to consider the big picture during periods of market stress. If you’re contemplating a change to your portfolio, there are two important questions you should ask: 1) have my goals changed, and 2) has my time horizon changed?
What are catch-up contributions?
If you are 50 or older, or you will reach age 50 by the end of the year, you may be able to make contributions to your IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan above the normal contribution limit. Catch-up contributions are designed to help you make up any retirement savings shortfall by bumping up the amount you can save in the years leading up to retirement.
Catch-up contributions can be made to traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as to 401(k) plans and certain other employer-sponsored retirement plans. But if you participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, check plan rules – not all plans allow catch-up contributions.
Meet Denise Lies
Denise Lies is a senior administrative associate who primarily supports retirement plan administration. She enjoys cheering on her teenage sons and spending time on the farm where she grew up.
Below she shares a few things about herself–and her yummy recipe for taco soup.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up on a small dairy farm about a mile outside of New Rockford, North Dakota. I moved to the Fargo area after high school to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead where I obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. I currently live in West Fargo (Go Packers!). I am married and have two sons, Tyler, who is 17, and Tanner, who is 14.
Are 529 college savings plans a good way to save for college?
Yes, they can be an excellent way to save for college. College savings plans are established by states and typically managed by an experienced financial institution designated by the state. Each plan has slightly different features.
A 529 college savings plan lets you save money for college in an individual investment account that offers federal tax advantages. You (or anyone else) can open an account in your child’s name and thereafter contribute as much money as you wish, subject to the plan’s limit.
The state’s selected money manager takes your contribution and invests it in one or more of the plan’s pre-established investment portfolios, which typically consist of mutual funds. Some plans automatically place your contribution in a portfolio that’s tailored to the age of your child. (The younger your child, the more aggressive the percentage of stocks. As your child grows older, the portfolio gradually shifts to more conservative investments.) Other plans let you choose the portfolio you want at the time you join the plan, without regard to your child’s age. This lets you take into account your risk tolerance and other factors that may be important to you.
Caring for Your Aging Parents
Caring for your aging parents is something you hope you can handle when the time comes, but something you probably hope you never have to do. Caring for your aging parents means helping them plan for the future, and this can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. When the time comes for you to take care of your parents, you may be certain of only two things: Your parents need you, and you need help.
Talk to your parents about the future. Start caring for your aging parents by talking with them about their needs and wishes if they are able. In some cases, however, they may not be willing to talk to you about their future, either because they are afraid to face it or because they resent your interference. If this is the case, you may need to do as much planning as you can without them, or, if their safety or health is in danger, step in as caregiver anyway.
Building Trust in Our Business
People often say the one constant in our lives is change. This has certainly been true in the financial industry. It’s hard to keep track of who’s who and who’s where. What is the bank or insurance company’s new name? Which broker is with which firm, and in which office are they located?
This leads to the big question: How can their clients receive the personal attention they deserve?
Just a reminder: As our organization continues to grow, we are still the original Heartland Trust Company. We are still independent, still locally owned, and still headquartered in Fargo. We set our own policies, make our own decisions, and answer our own phones. All of our employees live in, participate in, and support our local communities.
Giving to Charities in 2018
“I am not going to give to charity in 2018 because I can no longer receive a tax deduction for my gift.” This was the comment shared while I discussed the new 2018 tax laws with a development officer colleague who works at one of our great local nonprofit organizations.
Wanting clarification, I asked more questions to determine the context of the statement. It was made by an unnamed donor who felt he and his wife were not going to be able to give in 2018 to the organization that they had supported regularly for a number of years. He was basing his opinion on reports they had seen on TV and read in the newspaper.
In my mind there is a greater story to be told. Politics aside, for an overwhelming majority of people, the new tax law will increase their overall tax deductions and should put more money into their pockets. That money can be used, in whole or in part, to support their charities of choice.