The last thing anyone wants to think about when dealing with the loss of a spouse is taxes. Coping with the loss of a loved one is stressful enough. Not knowing what to do regarding finances and taxes presents yet another burden. If you are newly widowed, there are a few questions you may have regarding finances and potential tax breaks.

How do I know if I can file as a qualified widow(er)?

Filing for qualifying widow(er) status provides you the same exemption as if you were filing married jointly. You can usually file as a qualifying widow(er) if you meet the following requirements:

Last time, we discussed the various adoption opportunities (private, international and foster care) along with the average cost associated with each. We also walked through the basic steps for adopting one of the 428,000 children currently in foster care. In this article, we will review the different financial assistance available for those adopting children in foster care.

Financial Adoption Resources

In addition to Federal and State financial assistance for children adopted from foster care, families may be able to access employer-provided adoption benefits, tax credits, and loans or grants to offset adoption expenses.

So, you’re thinking about adopting a child. We think that’s admirable. But while raising children can be rewarding, there are also many financial considerations. Adoption comes with its own set of financial challenges. For some people, the question becomes, how can they best provide for their child financially as well as emotionally?

The Cost of Adopting a Child

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s Planning for Adoption: Knowing the Costs and Resources, the average U.S. private agency adoption costs can range from $20,000 to $45,000, and international adoptions can average between $20,000 to $50,000. While both of those are great opportunities for some families if finances are planned accordingly, for others, the costs associated with the process can be disheartening. There is another option, however – adopting a child in foster care.

Summertime is the time when many of us think about vacations. But maybe you’re retired and vacations just haven’t lived up to your expectations. Is something missing? If so, you might want to consider a volunteer vacation.

It’s a testament to human compassion that so many retirees are choosing to use their vacation time to volunteer nationally and internationally. But these unique options are about more than that. Retirees aren’t just looking to sit back and relax on vacations these days. More and more retirees are opting to immerse themselves into local cultures and do something meaningful. And if planned correctly, volunteer vacations, like other forms of giving, can also mesh with a solid, retirement financial plan.  

Last week, we discussed two types of funds – lifestyle funds and lifecycle funds – that aim at simplifying investment strategies for individual investors who may be choosing their employer retirement plan investments with limited options, or just beginning to invest. Lifestyle funds blend stocks, bonds and other investments in order to maintain a consistent level of acceptable risk. Lifecycle funds on the other hand, focus on managing your investments towards a target end date. This week, we will look at whether or not these are options that will best help you meet your financial planning goals.

Do you find the idea of creating a plan for allocating your assets overwhelming? How about choosing a mutual fund? Or designing your investment portfolio? If you’re like many people, investing in your future can be confusing.  

Last week, we discussed various reasons why women are anxious about their financial security and stability as they approach retirement. Many women are unaware or are not taking full advantage of the opportunities available to them for planning and saving for their golden years. This week, we will review ways that women (and men) can improve their outlook for financial stability in retirement.

It’s fair to say that in the United States, women today are better educated and have more career opportunities than previous generations. However, even with those advancements, many women are still anxious about being financially secure upon their retirement. According to the Annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of American Workers, only 10 percent of women are “very confident” in their ability to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle. In contrast to their male counterparts whose greatest financial priority is saving for retirement and building a large enough nest egg, women are focused on just getting by and covering their basic living expenses.

In Part I of this series, we provided a basic definition of deferred compensation plans and introduced questions to ask your financial advisor.

We said a deferred compensation plan is one in which a portion of an employee's pay is held until a specified date, usually (though not always) retirement. A deferred compensation plan:

Congratulations! You’re an executive and you now qualify for deferred compensation plans. But what does that mean?

You might have heard the term “deferred compensation plan” before. If not, you might be more familiar with the idea than the term, so this definition might ring some bells when you put it in context: A deferred compensation plan is one in which a portion of an employee's pay is held until a specified date, usually (though not always) retirement.

We talk a lot about financial education in this blog, especially as it pertains to our youth. But what about our entrepreneurs, seasoned business owners and executives who have experience in their fields but not in finance? What happens to them in business and in life if they do not become educated?

In my series on youth and finances, I try to share many ways to give young adults tools to make sure they keep their financial life as stable as they can while navigating high school, leaving home for University and, eventually, their first career building job choices. However, for many students, personal financial stability has never been a reality, even if they have come from a family with that stability. There are many reasons for this, but the most prevalent is lack of education.  

Go onto the IRS website or any financial planning site and start looking up retirement plans. Assuming you don’t work in investing or human resources, we can almost guarantee you will be tilting your head and asking, “What the…?” by the time you hit the second or third paragraph. No, it’s not just you. The way this information is presented is daunting at best.

It is a different world when our grandchildren are around. We invest time to spend and we relive so many wonderful memories. Investing in our grandchildren is also an investment in the future of our communities, and many people consider it a financial investment as well. And doing it while you are still living can serve to reduce your potentially taxable estate.

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