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Estate Planning - NOT Estate TAX Planning

The recent doubling of the federal estate tax exemption under the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) was just the latest in a series of increases over the past 20 years. The exemption is now over $11 million per person, rising from just $600k back in 1997. With the federal exemption set at such a high level, many people feel they don’t need to worry about “estate planning”. After all, if their “estate” is below that $11.18 million level ($22.36 million for married couples), they don’t have to worry about paying any estate tax, so why worry about planning?

2018 3rd Quarter Market Commentary - The Yield Curve

The third quarter was yet another strong one in the markets, particularly for U.S. stocks. The S&P 500 returned close to 8% on the quarter and is now up over 10% for the year. Small cap stocks didn’t fare quite as well this quarter with the Russell 2000 index finishing up 3.5%, but they are up 11.5% year to date. International stocks bounced back a little bit with a positive 1% return and are only down about 1% on the year now, as measured by the MSCI EAFE index. Emerging Markets stocks continued to trail all other stock categories with a 1% decline and they are down over 7% on the year.

More Frequent Reporting or Less?

We recently went through a major software transition that allows us to present investment performance reporting to our clients on a daily basis, as opposed to quarterly as we had done in the past. The reason for the upgrade wasn’t so that clients could check their portfolio every day, in fact this is a behavior that we try hard to discourage among our clients. However, we found that quarterly performance reports put too much focus on a specific time period with a set ending date every 3 months.

Retirement With A Purpose

How you are going to spend your time in retirement is just as important a question as how you are going to pay for it. What will the role of “work” be going forward? Work should be defined as engagement that brings value to others and meaning to you. It is important to have enough purpose in your life to wake up in the morning and enough money to sleep at night.

Be More Secure With Virtru

In case you weren’t already aware of how unsecure email can be, hopefully the well publicized and controversial hacks surrounding the 2016 election opened your eyes. We have been preaching to clients for years not to share confidential or identifying information in e-mails and have encouraged you to use our secure portal instead.

Finding Perspective in East Africa

I just had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Tanzania and Zanzibar. As some of you may know, Ellen and I typically take a vacation with each of our kids and their families each summer. Our family is all very close and everyone is local, but this gives us a chance to spend dedicated time with each of them. We planned the Africa trip with our youngest daughter, Jessie, who also tacked on a 10 day fitness/safari retreat she was leading in Uganda after our trip. Here are some of the lessons I learned (or reinforced) in east Africa.