Keep your finances on track this summer
Summer is here and you may have some extra time to get your personal financial house in order. To help U.S. taxpayers address some of the most pressing issues, here are six key action items that you and yours may want to consider during the coming months.
Long-term asset allocation
Does your portfolio allocation support your goals? Is it built for your time horizon, appetite for risk and the current stage of the economic cycle?
Are you relying too heavily on capital appreciation for investment returns? With valuations above long-term averages across asset classes, we are focused on securities that provide attractive cash flows.
Participation with protection
Do you own assets that might provide a buffer against a rough patch for stocks? As the cycle continues to mature, we believe it's prudent to add securities that could provide positive returns even if stocks decline in value.
Have you maximized your retirement plan contributions and reviewed your allocations within your retirement accounts? If you are 70 1⁄2 or older: have you taken your required minimum distribution (RMD) amount for the year?
If you are required to pay estimated tax, are your scheduled quarterly payments up to date? To check, ask your tax advisors to look at how much you’ve paid in the first two quarters and evaluate whether you should adjust upward or downward in the next two quarters.
Adjustable rate mortgages
Is the interest rate on your ARM resetting? Many of our clients have arms that are resetting in the next 12-24 months—which may result in a significant increase in the interest rate. Check to see if it makes sense for you to extend duration, given your particular goals and the low interest rates.
Have you named all the fiduciaries necessary to carry out your wishes? Are all the executors, trustees and (if you have children) guardians you need in place? Are they all still the right choices?
To as many people as you like, you can give, tax-free, $15,000 this year ($30,000, if you’re a married couple). It’s best to make these gifts as soon as possible in the year, so that recipients can enjoy any appreciation in these assets.
Have you taken advantage of your full lifetime exclusion amounts? Even if you’ve already used your full amount, you can still top off every year, as the lifetime exclusion amount is adjusted each year for inflation. Keep in mind that the sooner you make transfers to your heirs, the sooner appreciation on these assets will be out of your estate (and no longer subject to the estate tax).
Funding for education and healthcare
Direct payments—Any tuition or medical expenses you pay directly to the provider are tax-free no matter who the beneficiary is. So speak with your advisors about whether it makes sense for you to pay out of pocket for your child's (or other family member's) education and healthcare.
529 plans—If you are using a 529 plan, an especially good tool for older grandparents, consider frontloading 5 years of annual gifts at once, which puts more money in earlier allowing any growth to be tax-free. Given that it’s already midyear, you may want to consider contributing for just one year now but then in January frontloading another five (if your plan permits.) Be sure to consult your advisor to see if this option is viable and suitable for you.
What to donate? Consider that it may be better to give appreciated assets held for more than a year; so you may want to review which assets it’s best for you to donate.
When? You may want to consider whether, given the new tax law, it makes sense for you to bundle several years of gifting into one year to ensure maximum tax deductibility. (Check with your accountant first.)
How? If you want the immediate deduction but are not sure yet who the charitable recipients should be, you may want to make that bundled contribution to a donor advised fund.
Regardless of how many of these items you get to this summer, be sure you involve your advisors—and family members—in these decisions. A J.P. Morgan Advisor is available to help you with your financial planning needs. However, please reach out to your tax advisor or accountant regarding your tax situation.
Opinions and estimates offered constitute our judgment as of the date of this material and are subject to change without notice, as are statements of financial market trends, which are based on current market conditions. We believe the information provided here is reliable, but do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. The views and strategies described herein may not be suitable for all investors. This material has been prepared for informational/educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, accounting, legal or tax advice. References to future returns are not promises or even estimates of actual returns a client portfolio may achieve. Any forecasts contained herein are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be relied upon as advice or interpreted as a recommendation.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., its affiliates, and employees do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal and accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any financial transaction.
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