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Retirement

Tools and information to support your personal retirement strategy.

We invite you to visit the collection of articles, calculators and other resources we think you'll find useful in helping plan for your retirement goals.

At Equitable Advisors, we take your privacy seriously. Equitable Advisors is committed to keeping all information we have about you confidential and secure.

Roadmap To Retirement – A short, five-minute presentation on steps you'll need to take to reach your ideal retirement.

Retirement Scope e-Seminar – Longevity Risk Planning for the 21st Century

Calculators

Cost of Retirement – Use this calculator to estimate how much income and savings you may need in retirement.

Cost of Retirement – Use this calculator to estimate how much income and savings you may need in retirement.

Flipbooks

Envisioning Your Retirement: How to Prepare Today for a More Fulfilling Tomorrow – The road to retirement is seldom smooth. You need a sound savings strategy to help overcome obstacles in your path.

Understanding Social Security and Medicare: America's Retirement Safety Net – Social Security and Medicare rules can be complex. To help maximize benefits, it pays to understand your options.

Research Articles

How can I control the distribution of my estate?

There are a number of ways your estate can be distributed to your heirs after your death. Each allows a different degree of control over distribution, and each poses different challenges and opportunities. If you haven't taken steps already, it's important to consider planning now for the distribution of your assets.

Intestacy

If you die without a will, it is called dying “intestate.”

In these situations, the probate court will order your debts paid and your assets distributed. Unfortunately, your assets will be distributed according to state law. Since the state doesn't know your preferences, the probate court may not distribute your assets according to your wishes.

Because intestacy is settled in the probate court, your heirs may have to endure a long, costly, and public probate process that could take six months to a year or more. They will have to wait until the probate process is over to receive the bulk of their inheritance.

And depending on the state, probate fees could be very expensive.

Wills

A will is your written set of instructions on how you want your estate to be distributed. While using a will guarantees probate, it is a more desirable alternative than intestacy.

In a will, you can name a “personal representative” of your estate. This person or institution (e.g., a bank or trust company) will act as the executor and will be appointed to carry out your wishes according to your testament. You can also nominate a guardian for your minor children and their estates. Without such a nomination, the court can appoint a guardian based on other information, often depending upon who volunteers.

A will can also set forth the trust terms, including who you have named as trustee to manage the assets for the benefit of your beneficiaries. This is often referred to as a “testamentary” trust because it is created as part of the last will and testament and takes effect at the probate of the will.

Trusts

A trust is a legal arrangement under which one person, the trustee, manages property given by another party, the trustor, for the benefit of a third person, the beneficiary. Trusts can be very effective estate planning tools.

Trusts can be established during your life or at death. They give you maximum control over the distribution of your estate. Trust property will be distributed according to the terms of the trust, without the time, cost, and publicity of probate.

Trusts have other advantages, too. You can benefit from the services of professional asset managers, and you can protect your assets in the event of your incapacity. With certain types of trusts, you may also be able to reduce estate taxes.

If you use a revocable living trust in your estate plan, you may be the trustor, trustee, and beneficiary of your own trust. This allows you to maintain complete control of your estate.

While trusts offer numerous advantages, they incur up-front costs and ongoing administrative fees. These costs reduce the value of future probate savings.The use of trusts involves a complex web of tax rules and regulations. You might consider enlisting the counsel of an experienced estate planning professional before implementing such sophisticated strategies.

Joint Ownership

Another way to distribute your estate is through jointly held property — specifically, joint tenancy with rights of survivorship. When you hold property this way, it will pass to the surviving co-owners automatically, “by operation of law.” Because title passes automatically, there is no need for probate.

Joint tenancy can involve any number of people, and it does not have to be between spouses. “Qualified joint tenancy,” however, can only exist between spouses. In common law states, this arrangement is generally known as “tenancy by the entirety.” Qualified joint tenancy has certain income and estate tax advantages over joint tenancy involving nonspouses.

How you hold title to your property may have substantial implications for your income and estate taxes. You should consider how you hold title to all of your property, including your real estate, investments, and savings accounts. If you'd like to know more about how the way you hold title may affect your financial situation, consult a professional.

Contracts

The fifth and final way to pass your property interests is through beneficiary designations.

If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, an IRA, life insurance, or an annuity contract, you probably designated a beneficiary for the proceeds of the contract. The rights to the proceeds will pass automatically to the person you selected. Just like joint tenancy, this happens automatically, without the need for probate.

It is important to review your employer-sponsored retirement plan, IRA, life insurance, and other contracts to make sure your beneficiary designations reflect your current wishes. Don't wait until it's too late.

Many Considerations

A variety of considerations will determine the distribution methods that are appropriate for you. For example, you must consider your distribution goals. By examining your situation and understanding how your assets will pass after your death, you may be able to identify the methods that will help you achieve your goals most effectively.

Likewise, the larger your estate, the more you may want to use a trust to help guide your estate distribution. In addition, you will have to consider any special situations you may have — such as a divorce or a disabled child. All these are important factors to think about.

 

The information in this article is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2018 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Will Social Security Retire Before You Do?

People have traditionally seen Social Security benefits as the foundation of their retirement planning programs. The Social Security contributions deducted from workers' paychecks have, in effect, served as a government-enforced retirement savings plan.

However, the Social Security system is under increasing strain. Better health care and longer life spans have resulted in an increasing number of people drawing Social Security benefits. As the baby boom generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) has begun to retire, even greater demands are being placed on the system.

In 1950, there were 16.5 active workers to support each person receiving Social Security benefits. In 2016, there were only 2.8 workers supporting each Social Security beneficiary. And it is projected that there will be only 2.1 active workers to support each Social Security beneficiary by 2040.1

Although Social Security payments are typically adjusted for inflation, your own income and expenses may rise at a faster pace. And you might have to wait longer than you anticipated to qualify for full benefits.

It used to be that full benefits were available after you reached age 65. But since 2003, the age to qualify for full benefits has been increasing on a graduated scale based on year of birth. By 2027, the age to qualify for full Social Security benefits will have increased to age 67, where it is currently scheduled to remain.

That means you may have to wait longer to qualify for full Social Security benefits to start replacing a smaller percentage of your pre-retirement income.

When calculating the income you will have in retirement, you might recognize that Social Security benefits may play a more limited role. Some financial professionals suggest ignoring Social Security altogether when developing a retirement income plan.

Source:
1) Social Security Administration, 2016

Note: The Social Security Administration no longer mails an annual estimated benefit statement to all taxpayers. You can view your statement online by visiting www.ssa.gov/myaccount and creating your own personal Social Security account on the Social Security website.

 

The information in this article is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2018 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

How Should I Manage My Retirement Plan?

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are more valuable than ever. The money in them accumulates tax deferred until it is withdrawn, typically in retirement. Distributions from a tax-deferred retirement plan such as a 401(k) are taxed as ordinary income and may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty if withdrawn prior to age 59½. And contributions to a 401(k) plan actually reduce your taxation income.

But figuring out how to manage the assets in your retirement plan can be confusing, particularly in times of financial uncertainty.

Conventional wisdom says if you have several years until retirement, you should put the majority of your holdings in stocks. Stocks have historically outperformed other investments over the long term. That has made stocks attractive for staying ahead of inflation. Of course, past performance does not guarantee future results.

The stock market has the potential to be extremely volatile. The return and principal value of stocks fluctuate with changes in market conditions. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Is it a safe place for your retirement money? Or should you shift more into a money market fund offering a stable but lower return?

And will the instability in the markets affect the investments that the sponsoring insurance company uses to fund its guaranteed interest contract?

If you're participating in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you probably have the option of shifting the money in your plan from one fund to another. You can reallocate your retirement savings to reflect the changes you see in the marketplace. Here are a few guidelines to help you make this important decision.

Consider Keeping a Portion in Stocks

In spite of its volatility, the stock market may still be an appropriate place for your investment dollars, particularly over the long term. And retirement planning is a long-term proposition.

Since most retirement plans are funded by automatic payroll deductions, they achieve a concept known as dollar-cost averaging. Dollar-cost averaging can take some of the sting out of a descending market.

Dollar-cost averaging does not ensure a profit or prevent a loss. Such plans involve continuous investments in securities regardless of the fluctuating prices of such securities. You should consider your financial ability to continue making purchases through periods of low price levels. Dollar-cost averaging can be an effective way for investors to accumulate shares to help meet long-term goals.

Diversify

TDiversification is a basic principle of investing. Spreading your holdings among several different investments (stocks, bonds, etc.) may lessen your potential loss in any one investment.

Do the same for the assets in your retirement plan.

Keep in mind, however, that diversification does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss; it is a method used to help manage investment risk.

Find Out About the Guaranteed Interest Contract

A guaranteed interest contract offers a set rate of return for a specific period of time, and it is typically backed by an insurance company. Generally, these contracts are very safe, but they still depend on the security of the company that issues them.

If you're worried, take a look at the company's rating. The four main insurance company rating agencies are A.M. Best, Moody's, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch Ratings. A.M. Best ratings are based on financial conditions and operating performance; Fitch Ratings, Moody's, and Standard & Poor's ratings are based on claims-paying ability.

Periodically Review Your Plan's Performance

You are likely to have the chance to shift assets from one fund to another. Use these opportunities to review your plan's performance. The markets change. You may want to adjust your investments based on your particular situation.

 

The information in this article is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2018 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Retirement Plan Distributions

When it comes to receiving the fruits of your labor — the money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan — you are faced with a few broad options. Should you take the payout as systematic payments, a lifetime annuity, or a lump sum?

Systematic withdrawals

Some retirement plans may allow you to take systematic withdrawals: either a fixed dollar amount on a regular schedule, a specific percentage of the account value on a regular schedule, or the total value of the account in equal distributions over a specified period of time.

The lifetime annuity option

Your retirement plan may allow you to take payouts as a lifetime annuity, which converts your account balance into guaranteed monthly payments based on your life expectancy. If you live longer than expected, the payments continue anyway.*

There are several advantages associated with this payout method. It helps you avoid the temptation to spend a significant amount of your assets at one time and the pressure to invest a large sum of money that might not last for the rest of your life. Also, there is no large initial tax bill on your entire nest egg; each monthly payment is subject to income tax at your current rate.

If you are married, you may have the option to elect a joint and survivor annuity. This would result in a lower monthly retirement payment than the single annuity option, but your spouse would continue to receive a portion of your retirement income after your death. If you do not elect an annuity with a survivor option, your monthly payments end with your death.

The main disadvantage of the annuity option lies in the potential reduction of spending power over time. Annuity payments are not indexed for inflation. If we experienced a 4% annual inflation rate, the purchasing power of the fixed monthly payment would be halved in 18 years.

Lump-sum distribution

If you elect to take the money from your employer-sponsored retirement plan as a single lump sum, you would receive the entire vested account balance in one payment, which you can invest and use as you see fit. You would retain control of the principal and could use it whenever and however you wish.

Of course, if you choose a lump sum, you will have to pay ordinary income taxes on the total amount of the distribution (except for any after-tax contributions you've made) in one year. A large distribution could easily move you into a higher tax bracket. Another consideration is the 20% withholding rule: Employers issuing a check for a lump-sum distribution are required to withhold 20% toward federal income taxes. Thus, you would receive only 80% of your account balance, not 100%. Distributions taken prior to age 59½ (or in some cases age 55 or 50) may also be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.

To avoid some of these problems, you might choose to take a partial lump-sum distribution and roll the balance of the funds directly to an IRA or other qualified retirement plan in order to maintain the tax-deferred status of the funds. An IRA rollover might provide you with more options, not only in how you choose to invest the funds but also in how you access the funds over time.

After you reach age 70½, you generally must begin taking required minimum distributions from traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans. These distributions are taxed as ordinary income.

Note: Special rules apply to Roth accounts.

Before you take any action on retirement plan distributions, it would be prudent to consult with a tax professional regarding your particular situation. Choose carefully, because your decision and the consequences will remain with you for life.

*Annuity guarantees are subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the insurer.

 

The information in this article is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2018 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Save Now or Save Later?

Most people have good intentions about saving for retirement. But few know when they should start and how much they should save.

Sometimes it might seem that the today's expenses make it too difficult to start saving for tomorrow. It's easy to think that you will begin to save for retirement when you reach a more comfortable income level, but the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to accumulate the amount you need.

The rewards of saving early for retirement far outweigh the cost of waiting. By contributing even small amounts each month, you may be able to amass a great deal over the long term. One helpful method is to allocate a specific dollar amount or percentage of your salary every month and to pay yourself as though saving for retirement were a required expense.

Here's a hypothetical example of the cost of waiting. Two friends, Chris and Leslie, want to start saving for retirement. Chris starts saving $275 a month right away and continues to do so for 10 years, after which he stops but lets his funds continue to accumulate. Leslie waits 10 years before starting to save, then starts saving the same amount on a monthly basis. Both their accounts earn a consistent 8% rate of return. After 20 years, each would have contributed a total of $33,000 for retirement. However, Leslie, the procrastinator, would have accumulated a total of $50,646, less than half of what Chris, the early starter, would have accumulated ($112,415).*

This example makes a strong case for an early start so that you can take advantage of the power of compounding. Your contributions have the potential to earn interest, and so does your reinvested interest. This is a good example of letting your money work for you.

If you have trouble saving money on a regular basis, you might try savings strategies that take money directly from your paycheck on a pre-tax or after-tax basis, such as employer-sponsored retirement plans and other direct-payroll deductions.

Regardless of the method you choose, it's extremely important to start saving now, rather than later. Even small amounts can help you greatly in the future. You could also try to increase your contribution level by 1% or more each year as your salary grows.

Distributions from tax-deferred retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans and traditional IRAs, are taxed as ordinary income and may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty if withdrawn prior to age 59½.

*This hypothetical example of mathematical compounding is used for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment. Rates of return will vary over time, particularly for long-term investments. Investments offering the potential for higher rates of return involve a higher degree of investment risk. Taxes, inflation, and fees were not considered. Actual results will vary.

 

The information in this article is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2018 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

Social Security Income

Estimating your future Social Security benefits used to be a difficult task, but not any longer. For an estimate of your projected benefits, go to www.ssa.gov/estimator. The retirement estimator gives estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record.

The website form will ask you for a number of facts, including your name, Social Security number, date and place of birth, your mother's maiden name, additional information you provide about future earnings, and the age at which you expect to stop working.

Based on this information and your actual earnings history as maintained by the Social Security Administration, the Retirement Estimator generates an estimate of the amount you would receive if you were to retire at age 62 (the earliest date you can receive benefits), the amount if you waited until full retirement age (which currently ranges from 65 to 67, based on year of birth), and the larger benefit you would receive if you continued working until age 70 before claiming retirement benefits.

It's interesting to note that the 2016 Social Security Trustees Report includes a warning about the serious problems facing Social Security in the future. The trustees indicated that program costs (benefits paid) have been more than non-interest income (Social Security payroll taxes) since 2010, and they expect this situation to continue. Without changes, the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2034 and there will be enough money to pay only about 79 cents for each dollar of scheduled benefits at that time, declining to 74 cents by 2090 (based on the current formula).1 This is a reminder that taxpayers are ultimately responsible for funding their own retirements and that their future Social Security benefits may be lower than indicated by the Retirement Estimator.

Source:
1) Social Security Administration, 2016

 

The information in this article is not intended as tax, legal, investment, or retirement advice or recommendations, and it may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek advice from an independent professional advisor. The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. This material was written and prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions. © 2018 Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.


 

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The Retirement Income Factor – How much money will you bring to retirement?

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