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79% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2018 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Welcome to our research center! We've put together a library of information on important financial topics that we believe you'll find helpful.

Simply click on one of the general financial topics below and you'll find a selection of easy-to-understand information sheets about related financial concepts and strategies. This information is updated regularly to reflect the latest facts, figures, legislation, and economic trends.

Estates & Trusts

  • Estate Planning

    Wills and trusts allow you to spell out how you would like your property distributed, but they also go beyond that.

  • Living Trusts

    A living trust can help control the distribution of your estate upon death.

  • Avoiding Probate

    The probate process can be lengthy and complex. There are strategies you can use to help avoid the probate process.

  • Charitable Giving

    To retain the tax advantages associated with charitable giving, your gift must be made to a qualified organization.

  • Preserving My Estate

    Life insurance can be used to help preserve your estate’s value for your heirs.

  • Controlling the Distribution

    If you haven’t taken steps already, consider planning now for the distribution of your estate’s assets.

  • Paying Estate Taxes

    If you believe your estate will be subject to estate taxes, consider how your heirs will pay the bill.

  • Benefits of A-B Trusts

    An A-B trust can be an effective way to help reduce estate taxes and preserve family assets for heirs.

  • Gifting Strategies

    Compare the advantages and disadvantages of different gifting strategies available for planned giving.

  • Charitable Lead Trusts

    Charitable lead trusts are designed for people who would like to benefit a charity now rather than later.

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts

    A designated income beneficiary could receive payment of a specified amount from a charitable remainder trust.

  • Wealth Replacement Trusts

    A wealth replacement trust could be used to gift appreciated assets to a charity as well as provide for heirs.

  • Family Limited Partnerships

    One estate planning strategy that families with closely held businesses could consider is the family limited partnership.

  • Property Ownership

    Sole ownership, joint tenancy, tenancy in common, and community property have special benefits for property owners.

  • History of the Federal Estate Tax

    Careful estate planning is still one of the most important ways to manage and protect your assets for your heirs.

Retirement

  • How Much Do I Need to Save?

    Many realize it’s important to save for retirement, but knowing exactly how much to save is another issue altogether.

  • Your Business and Retirement

    Allocating too much of your retirement investments to one company, even your own, can be a risky proposition.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

    When receiving money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have two options: lump sum or annuity.

Tax Planning

  • Capital Gain Tax

    Capital gains are profits realized from the sale of assets; a tax is triggered only when an asset is sold, not held.

  • Estate Tax

    Everything you own, whatever the form of ownership, is subject to federal, and possibly state, estate taxes.

  • Retirement Plan Taxes

    With traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn.

  • Withdrawing Before Age 59.5

    Tax-deferred retirement account withdrawals before age 59½ generally triggers a 10% federal income tax penalty.

  • Tax Deferral

    There can be a substantial benefit to deferring taxes as long as possible.

  • Tax-Advantaged Investments

    Many traditional tax-advantaged investment strategies have gone away, but there are still some alternatives.

  • Tax Deductions

    Changes to the tax code have left a few key deductions for itemizers, like medical, dental and some business expenses.

  • Tax-Advantaged Alternatives

    While stable, CDs can create quite an income tax bill. Fixed annuities and municipal bonds can offer tax advantages.

  • Tax Strategies for Retirement Plans

    Consider a trustee-to-trustee transfer to an IRA versus a lump-sum distribution from a workplace retirement plan.

  • Tax-Free Investments

    It’s important to understand tax-exempt vehicles when establishing a comprehensive tax planning strategy.

Investing

  • Bond Ladders

    A bond ladder is a strategy involving the purchase of bonds that have staggered maturity dates.

  • Dividends

    It is important to understand how dividends (taxable payments to shareholders) fit with your long-term goals.

  • Exchange-Traded Funds

    ETFs have unique attributes and attempt to track all types of indexes, industries, or commodities.

  • Zero-Coupon Bonds

    Zero-coupon bonds represent a type of bond that does not pay interest during the life of the bond.

  • Diversification

    An important element to successful investing is to manage investment risk while maintaining the potential for growth.

  • Investment Risks

    Understanding different types of investment risk can help investors manage their money more effectively.

  • Asset Classes

    There are five broad asset classes that you should take into consideration when constructing your investment portfolio.

  • Asset Allocation

    Asset allocation is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss.

  • Stock and Bond Investing Alternatives

    There are other ways to invest in stocks and bonds besides owning individual shares or bonds.

Cash Management

  • Doubling Your Money

    Before making investment decisions, it is helpful to determine the real rate of return on the investment.

  • Reverse Mortgages

    There are techniques that can enable older homeowners to use their property to finance their lifestyle.

  • Smart Financing Ideas

    Here are some smart ways to refinance your home.

Risk Management

  • Business Owner Policies

    A business owner policy is an insurance package that assembles the basic coverages required by a business owner in one bundle.

  • Life Insurance for Business Owners

    Company-owned life insurance is one way to help protect a business from financial problems caused by the death of a key employee.

  • Term Life Insurance

    Term life insurance differs from permanent forms of life insurance in that it offers temporary protection.

  • Whole Life Insurance

    Some of the pros and cons of whole life insurance.

  • Universal Life Insurance

    Consider a universal life insurance policy if you want the flexibility to change your premium or death benefit.

  • Variable Life Insurance

    Variable life insurance gives you the control to allocate your account value among a variety of investment options.

  • Assessing Disability Income Insurance

    Knowing the basics of a disability income insurance policy is a good first step toward protecting your family.

  • Long-Term Care Costs

    The odds of needing long-term care increase as you age. Prior planning can help protect you from financial ruin.

  • Medicare Coverage

    Medicare is the federal health insurance program for those persons age 65 and over. But what does it cover?