Happy Holidays!

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It’s probably no coincidence that the year ends at the same time we experience the longest nights and coldest days; a perfect excuse to spend a little extra time with family, reflect on the past 365 days and consider what may be ahead in the coming New Year.

If you are reading this, it is likely during those quiet days between Christmas and the New Year holiday where time seems to slow just enough for us to count our blessings and prepare for the coming new year.

A new year brings uncertainty, but also hope for a better future.

In the weeks and months that lie ahead I will roll out major changes to my website, update how we communicate with our people, and possibly even add some new people to my team. I can’t wait to share all this and more with you in 2019.

My blog posts will resume their regular weekly schedule in January. Until then, I wish you and your family a safe and blessed holiday season.

Happy New Year!

Mike Branch

Consolidate Charitable Gifts To Make The Most of End of The Year Giving

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Americans are a generous bunch. According to Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy,  Americans gave more than $400 billion to charity last year. 70% of that number was from individuals; people like you and me.

This year, however, that could change.

For the 2018 tax year the standard deduction rises from $12,000 for a married couple filing jointly, to $24,000. This is good news for many people, but it also means that you may not receive a tax deduction on your charitable donations if your itemized donations (which includes charitable gifts) total up to less than $24k.

But there may be a workaround.

The Best Way To Handle A Volatile Market

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Markets go up and down. Sometimes a lot in a short period. When markets will go down, when they will rebound, and why is anyone’s guess. But you knew that already.

The question on everyone’s mind is what to do about it.

Below are five ways to handle a volatile stock market.

Only 2 Days Left For Seniors To Make A Major Healthcare Decision

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If you are a Minnesotan age 65 or older and have what is known as a Medicare Cost Plan, you may experience changes to your insurance that will go into effect in 2019.

The State of MN estimates that up to 200,000 Minnesotans will be required to take action during the current enrollment period to obtain replacement coverage for 2019. Another 125,000 or so may be “auto-enrolled” into new Medicare Advantage Plans with their current insurer.

Over 70 And Own An IRA?

 

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Adding money to your IRA or retirement account is the relatively easy part of accumulating assets in tax-deferred retirement plans. The hard part comes later in life when money comes out of those accounts.

Get it right and you will enjoy (figuratively speaking anyway) the lowest possible tax bill. Get it wrong and the taxes and penalties can be hefty.

According to the IRS all IRA owners, and many 401k owners as well, must begin taking Required Minimum Distributions (or RMDs) by April 1 of the year afterthe year they turn 70 ½.

Failing to do so could result in a penalty of 50% of the RMD amount. This is in addition to any tax you may owe on that distribution and any interest you might have incurred by not taking your RMD when you should have.

Here is how it works: