Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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  1. How do I develop income in retirement?

    Retirement income plans are not just for the wealthy. As retirement nears, the traditional strategy has been to move growth-seeking products to more conservative, fixed-income products. This may have worked fine back when retirement was only expected to last five to ten years. These days, however, people are living longer. Thanks to new prescription drugs and medical technology, it’s not unusual for someone retiring at age 65 to live to age 90 or longer. You may need to plan for your nest egg to potentially last 25 to 30 years. One drawback to a longer life is the greater possibility of outliving your savings – creating all the more reason to develop a retirement income plan designed to last a longer lifetime. A significant loss in the years just prior to and/or just after you retire can have a damaging impact on the level of income you receive over the course of your life. In fact, if a loss occurs earlier in life, there is also the chance that you have more time to recover (versus a significant loss occurring later in retirement). Why? Simply because a smaller pool of assets is left to sustain you throughout your retirement years. We can help you design a guaranteed* retirement income strategy which incorporates insurance and annuity vehicles to create opportunities for long-term growth as well as guarantee income throughout your retirement. *Guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing company, and may be subject to restrictions, limitations or early withdrawal fees. Annuities are not FDIC insured.

  2. Will I run out of money before I die?

    Time doesn’t stand still, and neither does money. That’s why you can use time to your advantage when investing for wealth accumulation. The longer you invest, the more potential your money has to compound interest. If your portfolio has not fully recovered from losses in recent years, you may wish to consider a more aggressive allocation to make up for lost ground and get back on track to accumulating wealth. However, given recent lessons learned in stock market investing, it is important to remember that more conservative retirement strategies typically have only a portion of the assets invested in the stock market. Other allocations should be set aside for more conservative investments and/or secured income contracts such as annuities. Annuities are long term vehicles designed to generate supplemental income during retirement. They have minimum guarantees backed by the strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. After all, the last thing you want to do is lose more ground during the next market correction.

  3. How much risk should I be taking in retirement?

    Because the market does not provide security, you may want your financial strategies to include some secured income products. For example, annuities, which are insurance products with guarantees*, can provide a source of supplemental income throughout your retirement. Twenty-first century asset protection calls for more than just strategic asset allocation. Product allocation—buying instruments that can protect your monies from market declines throughout retirement— can be an effective means of protecting assets. Diversifying your retirement assets among a variety of vehicles— both through insurance products and investments depending on what is appropriate for your situation—may offer you the best chance of meeting your retirement income goals throughout your lifespan. *Guarantees are backed by the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

  4. Am I taking advantage of every tax reduction opportunity?

    Rising taxes are a concern for many individuals approaching retirement. It's important to incorporate tax planning into your financial decisions. Investing in or purchasing a tax-deferred vehicle means your money can compound interest for years, deferring income taxes, providing the potential to earn interest at a faster rate. While very few financial vehicles avoid taxes altogether, insurance products only allow you to defer paying them until retirement – when you may be in a lower tax bracket. Please note that withdrawals will reduce the contract value and the value of any protection benefits. Additional withdrawals taken within the contract withdrawal charge schedule will be subject to a withdrawal charge. All withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to 59 1/2, may be subject to a 10% federal additional tax.

  5. Will my family be protected if I need Long Term Health Care?

    As the oldest Baby Boomers begin to wind through their 60s, one of the biggest concerns may not be outliving income, but outliving good health. For seniors, home health care can cost $50,000 or more per year1, and nursing home care can run as high as $80,0002 per year. Does your retirement income plan account for this kind of possibility? Would you be prepared for twice that number as a married couple? Considering that you have to exhaust virtually all of your financial means before Medicaid will pay for long-term care and neither your employer group health insurance nor major medical insurance will cover long-term care, it’s critically important to plan ahead in order to plan for these potential expenses. We can help evaluate your situation and determine if purchasing a long-term care insurance policy may be the right move to help insure your financial future. 1 Genworth 2012 Cost of Care Survey: Home Care Providers, Adult Day Health Care Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes 2 MetLife: The 2011 Market Survey of Long-Term Care Costs

  6. How can I leave a legacy to my kids or grandkids?

    Estate planning is simply determining (while you’re still alive) where your assets should go after you die. Without a properly structured estate plan, your wishes may not be fulfilled, and your loved ones could be hurt both emotionally and financially. While the concept is simple, the vehicles, planning and implementation process can be rather complex. Because of the potential impact of changes to estate tax law for 2013 and emerging vehicles to help you protect and transfer your assets effectively, it’s important to work with experienced estate planning professionals who stay current in this field and advise clients on a day-to-day basis. We can refer you to professionals to help meet your individual needs.

  7. How can I minimize impact of taxes on my retirement plan?

    IRA accounts have become one of the largest types of assets inherited by beneficiaries. If you don’t anticipate needing your IRA money in retirement, you may wish to consider a legacy planning strategy to reduce taxes and increase the payout your beneficiaries will receive upon your death. A properly structured IRA may provide your beneficiary(ies) a regular stream of income while leaving the balance of IRA assets invested for tax-deferred growth. The result may yield substantially more money paid out over the course of your beneficiary’s lifetime. We can help you evaluate your financial situation to determine if IRA legacy planning may be the best means for ensuring a long-lasting inheritance for your heirs.

  8. What estate plan documents do I need?

    There are many different types of trusts, and they can be complex to set up and execute. However, a trust can be a very flexible and advantageous means to transfer your assets in the future. Most trusts can also provide current benefits, such as tax deferral and deductions. Unlike a will, a trust may help avoid probate upon your death. To learn more about trusts and how they may benefit you, we will be happy to help you consult a qualified estate planning attorney who may help meet your individual needs in these matters.

  9. What can I do to protect what I’ve worked so hard for?

    Life insurance isn't for those who have died—it's for those who are left behind. When shopping for life insurance, consider needs such as replacing income so your family can maintain its standard of living, as well as paying for your funeral and estate costs. A general rule is that you should seek coverage between five and seven times your gross annual income. As far as the various types of policies go, they can generally be placed into one of two categories: Term and Permanent. Term insurance generally provides coverage for a specified period of time and pays out a specified amount of coverage to your beneficiary only if you die within that time period. In a level premium term policy you pay the same amount of premium from the first day of the policy until the term ends. A permanent insurance policy, on the other hand, will stay permanently in effect for the rest of your life so long as premiums continue to be paid.

  10. How much will it “cost” me to die?

    Probate is the potentially lengthy and costly legal process that oversees the transfer of your assets upon your death. If you do not create a will or set up a trust to transfer your property when you die, state law will determine what happens to your estate. This is called intestate. Without a will or some other form of legal estate planning, there is the chance that your assets may not be distributed in the manner that you desire.

  11. Can I get better opportunities by taking control of my retirement money?

    When you change jobs or retire, there are four things you can generally do with the assets in any employer-sponsored retirement plan: Leave the money where it is Take the cash (and pay income taxes and perhaps a 10% additional federal tax if you are younger than age 59½ ) Transfer the money to another employer plan (if the new plan allows) Roll the money over into an IRA Rolling over from one qualified plan to another qualified plan allows your money to continue growing tax-deferred until you receive distributions in retirement. A rollover can help put you in control of your money rather than being limited to the investment options in your retirement plan. We can help you determine if a rollover is the right move for you. If you determine to cash out of a previous retirement plan, we can help you find suitable vehicles to help you reach your retirement income goals. For guidance on your securities holdings, please consult with your own broker/dealer representative or registered investment advisor.

  12. How do I sort through the clutter of which Medicare plan to choose?

    Choosing a healthcare plan in retirement can not only be confusing, but overwhelming. Town Hall meetings, friends’ advice and media articles can confuse the issue even further. Which way should you go - Medicare Supplement or Advantage Plan? If y choose an Advantage plan, which one is better for you - UPMC, Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield or Advantra? Synergy Financial can make this decision more streamlined and understandable by examining where you receive your care, the providers you use and your budget concerns. We’ll then match up the plan that best suits your healthcare and financial needs. Because we can offer all providers and are always staying on top of the healthcare environment, we have the expertise and ability to save you time and money. You do not pay for this service, and the monthly premium rates are identical to what you can get direct, so you have no risk in a free evaluation.




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