Wills: The Cornerstone of Your Estate Plan
Adapted from Broadridge Investor Communication Services
If you care about what happens to your money, home, and other property after you die, you need to do some estate planning. There are many tools you can use to achieve your estate planning goals, but a will is probably the most vital. Even if you are young or your estate is modest, you should always have a legally valid and up-to-date will. This is especially important if you have minor children because, in many states, your will is the only legal way you can name a guardian for them. Although a will does not have to be drafted by an attorney to be valid, seeking an attorney’s help can ensure that your will accomplishes what you intend.
We have all been confronted with challenges over the past 10 months.
Whether we needed to find a new way to complete a familiar task or wrestled internally with some difficult questions, this pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives.
In response, we’ve had little choice but to move onward.
While finding a way forward can be uncomfortable, it’s actually a good thing. Challenges promote growth. When we face obstacles, we learn how to be more efficient and prioritize what’s important to us. We’re forced to recognize and cherish the small things in life.
As we turn the page to a new year, I celebrate the ways the team at Heartland Trust has moved forward with confidence and purpose. I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished professionally and personally in a year where nothing was expected. Even as the world changed around us, we hung on to the values that mean so much to us and you.
I’m proud of the challenges we’ve faced and look forward to seeing how we continue to grow. Onward!
IRS Updated Life Expectancy Tables
With many other things going on in November, it was easy to miss when the IRS issued new life expectancy tables. This is important because these tables are used to calculate Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from IRAs and qualified retirement plans.
The old tables will still be used when determining 2021 RMDs, but as of January 1, 2022, the new tables become effective.
This change has been long overdue. The current life expectancy tables were last updated in 2002. The new tables better reflect the improved life expectancy of individuals. These changes will generally reduce the amounts required to satisfy RMDs, meaning account owners can retain a larger amount in their retirement accounts and defer taxes longer. Coupled with the fact that the RMD age was lifted to 72 in 2020 and no RMDs were required in 2020, there is potential to keep more money sheltered in tax-advantaged accounts.
Retirement Plan Limits for 2021
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has set inflation-adjusted limits for IRAs and company-sponsored retirement plans for 2021. While some of the contribution limits have remained the same, other limits important to determining the amount you can save have changed.
The basic salary contribution limit for a 401(k) and similar company-sponsored retirement plans remains the same at $19,500; and the catch-up contribution for those who are 50 years of age or better, also remained the same at $6,500. However, the overall annual additions limit for these types of plans goes up from $57,000 to $58,000 in 2021.
The table below provides additional information regarding the 2021 contribution limits for retirement accounts as well as prior limits for the past five years. It is for informational purposes only.
Meet Ethan Linder
Meet Ethan Linder
Ethan is one of our newest employees, having joined the team less than five months ago. He is the administrative associate for Brian Halverson and Gary Hanson’s accounts. He assists them with keeping track of accounts and entering information into our database.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Esko, Minnesota, a small town outside of Duluth. I am the youngest of six children and we all live in or around Minnesota. I attended Concordia College and graduated the spring of 2020 with a business management major and an environmental studies minor. I currently live with my girlfriend and one of my brothers in Fargo.
Balancing Work and Family
Adapted from Broadridge Investor Communication Services
At one time, the typical American family looked like this: a breadwinner father who commuted a short distance to work and earned a very good living, and a stay-at-home mother who took care of the kids and family home with aplomb. Life seemed easy and manageable, with plenty of time for family meals, parent relaxation, and important life lesson discussions, and little in the way of work or technological distractions.
Today, things are different. There are many more two-parent, dual-income families and single-parent households, along with increased work expectations, longer commutes, and a 24/7 mindset. The result is often a more harried existence for today’s parents as they try to balance their work commitments and family obligations – a juggle that is one of the major issues people face during their working years.
30 Years: Our Core Culture Has Stayed The Same
Well, HTC has passed another milestone – 30 years.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is still true that two out of three start-up businesses, with employees, will only last two years and about half of the remaining ones will last five years. I guess we can say we made it.
With a milestone like that, we should have a big celebration but due to the Covid situation, we have not really had a chance to celebrate.
After 30 years of history, a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same at Heartland Trust Company. Obviously, the Covid-19 virus has caused us to make some very radical changes. We have kiddingly said that in two short months we adopted technology changes that normally would have taken five years to implement. Also, some new words and concepts have crept into our everyday language. For example, the idea of a virtual or Zoom meeting was a rare thought a year ago but in today’s world, it seems to be an almost daily event.
What is a Trust Officer?
To understand who a trust officer is and what they do first requires that you understand what a trust is. Here’s a quick review: A trust is a vehicle used to hold property. A trust can hold the title to anything (like art, vehicles, and even pets!) but the most common assets in a trust are investments, real estate (residential, commercial and farmland), and sometimes partnerships and LLCs.
Trusts are established by someone known as a grantor/trustor who wants to establish control of these assets during their life and after they are deceased. There are various reasons for this control. Sometimes it is due to estate and tax planning but almost always there is an underlying desire to protect the assets for the trust’s beneficiaries, those who will benefit from the trust once the grantor is gone.
Trusts are managed by a trustee, who in turn is a fiduciary. A fiduciary must follow legal and ethical standards that binds the trustee to make decisions in their client’s best interest and provides the highest level of care a client can receive. A trustee’s responsibility is to safeguard the assets of the trust and ensure they are managed according to the terms of the trust document, while following current state and federal laws.
What’s the Deal With Interest Rates?
As I write this, I just got a mortgage for 2.75%, my student loans are about to get refinanced at 1.5%, and my auto loan is 0%. And as a consumer, you might think ultra-low interest rates are the greatest thing since sliced bread. That might be true for consumers, but for investors looking for low-risk and a decent return, not so much. A couple of things to start you off:
- The Federal Reserve controls interest rates. Congress and the executive branch do not. That separation is a good thing.
- The yield on a bond is how much income you’re being paid. If a $100 bond has 3% yield, you get $3 per year.