Tips to Show Compassion to Family Members with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Few things are more difficult to watch than a loved one suffer from memory impairment and watch them slowly drift away. During this time emotions are raw, and it is imperative we show compassion to those that are dealing with memory impairment.

Things You Should Not Do:

  • Don’t try to do this on your own!
  • Don’t think you are alone in this!
  • Don’t try to reason with them!
  • Don’t argue or be confrontational!
  • Don’t remind them that they forgot something!
  • Don’t take things personally!

Things You Should Do:

  • Give short and simple explanations. For example, “It is time to go so put your shoes on.”
  • Allow them extra time to process the information.
  • Repeat instructions the same way. For example, repeat “It is time to go so put your shoes on.”
  • Don’t use words like “but” or other words that can cause confrontation.
  • Be patient! They are not lazy or dumb, but they need more time and help.
  • Be flexible! They can be overwhelmed and often it is best to go with the flow.
  • Focus on their emotions and not their words. This helps them feel understood and avoids confrontation.
  • Agree with them or offer a distraction.  They may have a reason valid or not. For example, if you have a commitment and are short on time instead of confronting, accept blame or offer distraction.
  • Forgive them no matter what. They forget or are confused and living in constant fear.
  • Accept the blame even if it is not true. They may make things up or may not understand so it is best to reassure them.

Some Good Examples:

  • They say they do not need to go to the doctor’s appointment, and they are fine…
    • Don’t argue or tell them they forget.
    • Do accept blame by saying, “Sorry I didn’t tell you, but it is a check-up.”
    • Do distract them like I understand this is not fun but once we are done, we can get some Starbucks (or whatever else may help motivate them).
  • They make an untrue statement like “I don’t ever see my grandkids anymore.”
    • Don’t mention they are wrong, “You just saw them two weeks ago.”
    • Do offer help, “I know you miss them. Maybe we can call them today to talk with them and set up a time to see them soon.”

Please do not try to do this alone and know that we are here for you and there are excellent resources out there. Be patient and kind at all times and do not be afraid to leave the room if you are afraid you will not handle the situation well. Ethical dilemmas may come up like them mentioning a dead family member being alive and it is ok to not remind them the person passed away as it will cause more emotional damage to them. Losing a loved one once is tough enough and it can be difficult for them to go through those emotions again.

Disclosure: BFSG does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to BFSG’s web site or blog or incorporated herein and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Please see important disclosure information here.

I’m Marrying Someone with Bad Credit. How Will This Affect Me?

You are not responsible for your future spouse’s bad credit or debt, unless you choose to take it on by getting a loan together to pay off the debt. However, your future spouse’s credit problems can prevent you from getting credit as a couple after you’re married. Even if you’ve had spotless credit, you may be turned down for credit cards or loans that you apply for together if your spouse has had serious problems.

You’re smart to face this issue now rather than wait until after you’re married to discuss it. Attitudes toward spending money, along with credit and debt problems, often lead to arguments that can strain a marriage. Order copies of both of your credit reports from one or more major credit reporting bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Then, sit down and honestly discuss your past and future finances. Find out why your future spouse got into trouble with credit.

Next, if there is still outstanding debt, consider going through credit counseling together. Credit counseling may help your future spouse clean up his or her credit record and get back on track financially. One nonprofit organization, Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS), offers one-on-one credit and debt counseling that may help you learn how to better handle your joint finances. Visit credit.org to learn more.


Finally, seriously consider keeping your credit separate, at least until your spouse’s credit record improves. You don’t have to combine your credit when you marry. For instance, apply for credit by yourself instead of applying for joint credit after you’re married. You can have separate “associate” cards issued for your spouse to use. Even if your spouse has bad credit, your credit rating will remain unaffected. However, keeping separate credit can be complicated. For one thing, your spouse may resent that you control all of the credit in the household. It’s also possible that you’ll have a harder time qualifying for loans (e.g., a mortgage) alone than if your spouse’s income could also be counted.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2021

5 Emotional Roadblocks That Impact Your Estate Plan

As CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals, we get to discuss everyone’s two favorite topics, death and taxes. The reality is that no one wants to discuss their death and this is the greatest hurdle to overcome and the reason so many people do not have an estate plan. Below are some other common roadblocks that can reduce the quality of your estate plan.

1. Not Discussing Finances with Your Heirs

Some interesting studies have shown inherited wealth typically does not make it past the first generation of heirs. The wealth that does make it and is passed to several generations have one common trait, the heirs were well prepared to handle the inheritance properly. The reason for this is the parents did a great job of communicating and teaching the proper values to their kids. This does not mean telling them everything they will receive but instead communicating your values and wishes for them to follow.

2. Thinking This Will Never Happen To Me

It is human nature to see something happen to a friend or on the news and think that could never happen to me. Many individuals do not want to consider their mortality and instead live with a feeling of invincibility. This trait is most common in men for sure but it can impact anyone. Delaying your estate plan is a recipe for disaster and this is a common reason why this occurs.

3. Deciding Who Gets What and How Much

Family dynamics are difficult to navigate, even for the closest of families. As you begin the process, uncomfortable truths will begin to emerge and are difficult to navigate. Who gets family heirlooms? Are there items that have strong emotional ties to you or heirs? The best way to get started is to make a list and start with the easiest assets and slowly work your way down.

4. Not Clearly Defining Your Goals or Objectives.

As you develop the estate plan, it is important to clearly define how you want to leave your legacy. Is there an alma mater or charity you want to leave money to? Do you have a child with substance abuse problems and how do you leave money to them in a way that doesn’t fuel their addiction? If you have a child that is well off and another that is struggling financially do you not split the assets evenly? How do you protect your kids from themselves, their potential ex-spouses, or creditors? It is important to have an estate plan that navigates difficult issues by clearly stating how your estate is to be handled in those circumstances.

5. Paying For and Working With An Attorney

People seem to have a fear of working with an attorney, just like many people have a fear of going to the doctor. Nobody sees an attorney for the fun of it and many people dread the topics discussed and also the seriousness of the topic typically begins to creep in. The other part of this is everyone knows working with an attorney is not cheap. While creating a good estate plan is not cheap, it will pay for itself tenfold by reducing hassles and costs for your estate when the documents are finally needed.

We also recommend you watch the replay of our Summer Webinar Series “Estate and Legacy Planning” which discusses estate planning basics, the documents you will need, and common estate plan designs.

Habits of Self-Made Millionaires

Over the years there have been many studies on the wealthy to find what habits they share.  This is important because the reality is our habits shape us and impact our health, wealth, and happiness. Let us explore just a few of the most common habits that have to lead many individuals to become self-made millionaires:

1. They do not follow the crowd – Often these individuals are independent, critical thinkers and do things that go against the grain.

2. They are constantly reading – While most individuals watch hours of tv each day, the rich typically read at least half an hour daily and focus more on education than being entertained.

3. They exercise regularly. – The same habits that are needed for good health like consistency and discipline are also needed to grow wealth, so it is not a surprise to see that they exercise often.

4. They develop and pursue goals – To become a self-made millionaire does not happen by accident. These individuals often dream and set realistic goals to attain their dreams. They are often self-motivated because they are pursuing a passion.

5. They surround themselves with other successful people – As the old saying goes we are the company we keep. Often these individuals seek other like-minded individuals to spend their time with. This allows them to consistently learn from and motivate each other.

6. They get up early – For many people this is quite painful and again an example of how millionaires tend to not follow the crowd. Getting up early is a great life hack. It provides more opportunity to prioritize your day and allows you to accomplish important tasks (like reading and working out) without disruption.

Year-End Tax Planning

The window of opportunity for many tax-saving moves closes on December 31, so it is important to evaluate your tax situation now, while there’s still time to affect your bottom line for the 2020 tax year.

Timing is Everything

Consider any opportunities you have to defer income to 2021. For example, you may be able to defer a year-end bonus or delay the collection of business debts, rents, and payments for services. Doing so may allow you to postpone paying tax on the income until next year. If there’s a chance that you’ll be in a lower income tax bracket next year, deferring income could mean paying less tax on the income as well.

Similarly, consider ways to accelerate deductions into 2020. If you itemize deductions, you might accelerate some deductible expenses like medical expenses, qualifying interest, or state and local taxes by making payments before year-end. Or you might consider making next year’s charitable contribution this year instead.

Sometimes, however, it may make sense to take the opposite approach — accelerating income into 2020 and postponing deductible expenses to 2021. That might be the case, for example, if you can project that you’ll be in a higher tax bracket in 2021; paying taxes this year instead of next might be outweighed by the fact that the income would be taxed at a higher rate next year.

Factor in the AMT

Make sure that you factor in the alternative minimum tax (AMT). If you’re subject to the AMT, traditional year-end maneuvers, like deferring income and accelerating deductions, can have a negative effect. That’s because the AMT — essentially a separate, parallel income tax with its own rates and rules — effectively disallows a number of itemized deductions. For example, if you’re subject to the AMT in 2020, prepaying 2021 state and local taxes won’t help your 2020 tax situation, but could hurt your 2021 bottom line.

Special Concerns for Higher-Income Individuals

The top marginal tax rate (37%) applies if your taxable income exceeds $518,400 in 2020 ($622,050 if married filing jointly, $311,025 if married filing separately). Your long-term capital gains and qualifying dividends could be taxed at a maximum 20% tax rate if your taxable income exceeds $441,450 in 2020 ($496,600 if married filing jointly, $248,300 if married filing separately, $469,050 if head of household).

Additionally, a 3.8% net investment income tax (unearned income Medicare contribution tax) may apply to some or all of your net investment income if your modified AGI exceeds $200,000 ($250,000 if married filing jointly, $125,000 if married filing separately).

High-income individuals are subject to an additional 0.9% Medicare (hospital insurance) payroll tax on wages exceeding $200,000 ($250,000 if married filing jointly or $125,000 if married filing separately).

IRAs and Retirement Plans

Take full advantage of tax-advantaged retirement savings vehicles. Traditional IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 401(k) plans allow you to contribute funds on a deductible (if you qualify) or pre-tax basis, reducing your 2020 taxable income. Contributions to a Roth IRA (assuming you meet the income requirements) or a Roth 401(k) aren’t deductible or made with pre-tax dollars, so there’s no tax benefit for 2020, but qualified Roth distributions are completely free from federal income tax, which can make these retirement savings vehicles appealing.

For 2020, you can contribute up to $19,500 to a 401(k) plan ($26,000 if you’re age 50 or older) and up to $6,000 to a traditional IRA or Roth IRA ($7,000 if you’re age 50 or older). The window to make 2020 contributions to an employer plan typically closes at the end of the year, while you generally have until the April tax return filing deadline to make 2020 IRA contributions.

Roth Conversions

Year-end is a good time to evaluate whether it makes sense to convert a tax-deferred savings vehicle like a traditional IRA or a 401(k) account to a Roth account. When you convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, or a traditional 401(k) account to a Roth 401(k) account, the converted funds are generally subject to federal income tax in the year that you make the conversion (except to the extent that the funds represent nondeductible after-tax contributions).

If a Roth conversion does make sense, you’ll want to give some thought to the timing of the conversion. For example, if you believe that you’ll be in a better tax situation this year than next (e.g., you would pay tax on the converted funds at a lower rate this year), you might think about acting now rather than waiting. Whether a Roth conversion is appropriate for you depends on many factors, including your current and projected future income tax rates.  We recommend you talk with your financial advisor and/or tax professional.

Changes to Note

Recent legislation has modified many provisions, generally for 2018 to 2025.

  • Personal exemptions were eliminated.
  • Standard deductions have been substantially increased to $12,400 in 2020 ($24,800 if married filing jointly, $18,650 if head of household).
  • The overall limitation on itemized deductions based on the amount of adjusted gross income (AGI) was eliminated.
  • The AGI threshold for deducting unreimbursed medical expenses is 7.5% in 2020, it returns to 10% in 2021.
  • The deduction for state and local taxes has been limited to $10,000 ($5,000 if married filing separately).
  • Individuals can deduct mortgage interest on no more than $750,000 ($375,000 for married filing separately) of qualifying mortgage debt. For mortgage debt incurred before December 16, 2017, the prior $1,000,000 ($500,000 for married filing separately) limit will continue to apply.
  • A deduction is no longer allowed for interest on home equity indebtedness. Home equity used to substantially improve your home is not treated as home equity indebtedness and can still qualify for the interest deduction.
  • The top percentage limit for deducting charitable contributions was increased from 60% of AGI to 100% of AGI for certain direct cash gifts to public charities for 2020 only.
  • The deduction for personal casualty and theft losses was eliminated, except for casualty losses attributable to a federally declared disaster.
  • Previously deductible miscellaneous expenses subject to the 2% floor, including tax-preparation expenses and unreimbursed employee business expenses, are no longer deductible.

Extended Provisions

A number of provisions are extended periodically. The following provisions have been extended through 2020 and are not available for 2021 unless extended by Congress.

  • Above-the-line deduction for qualified higher-education expenses
  • Ability to deduct qualified mortgage insurance premiums as deductible interest on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040
  • Ability to exclude from income amounts resulting from the forgiveness of debt on a qualified principal residence
  • Nonbusiness energy property credit, which allowed individuals to offset some of the cost of energy-efficient qualified home improvements (subject to a $500 lifetime cap)

Talk to a Professional

When it comes to year-end tax planning, there’s always a lot to think about. A tax professional can help you evaluate your situation, keep you apprised of any legislative changes, and determine whether any year-end moves make sense for you.

In case you missed our Year-End Tax Planning webinar, check out the replay HERE. Many of these tax-saving moves are discussed in greater detail.

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020