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Domicile, Residence and Homesteads, Oh My!

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.” ~ Confucius Question: As a retiree from another state, with homes in both places, I’m confused about the difference between residency, homestead and domicile. I read all the information on various workshops and seminars on this topic, yet I’m still confused. Please help. Answer: Actually, it’s not as complicated as it may appear. Let’s start with a little history to help understand the background of the subject matter and the differences between the three terms. Homestead In 1862, during the Civil War, Abraham ... Read More »

The China Syndrome: The Week That Was

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” ~ Thomas A. Edison Question: Could you explain what happened to the stock market during the first week of 2016? Answer: That’s a tall order, but here’s my best shot at describing a few of the market moving events that took place during that first week. For starters, China took center stage, overshadowing everything else. To borrow from the 1960s BBC political satire show featuring David Frost, “that was the week that was.” For anyone associated with financial markets in ... Read More »

Avoiding the Traps

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com Man is the only kind of varmint who sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it. ~ John Steinbeck   Question: Eager to begin the New Year with a fresh start, I’m wondering what separates successful investors from those who obtain mediocre or poor results? Answer: As the John Steinbeck quote above implies, we tend to be our own worst enemies. It’s safe to say that the classic emotional and psychological traps fall into five categories. These pitfalls, left unchecked, can sabotage otherwise sound financial planning. Trap 1: Overconfidence We trust ourselves, and ... Read More »

Family Financial Huddle

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “Give me the gift of a listening heart.” ~ King Solomon   Question: Our family will be together for the holidays. I’d like to take advantage of this time to discuss a few financial matters. What advice can you provide to make this conversation as valuable and productive as possible? Answer: Providing your family with the gift of communication is commendable. This is an opportunity to share financial philosophies, discuss planning strategies and listen to how others feel about monetary matters. Keeping the lines of communication open and flowing with information is vital to the ... Read More »

STASH CASH?

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it, and when he can.” ~ Mark Twain Question: With interest rates so slow and the stock market basically flat for the past year, how much money do you suggest I keep available in cash? Also, do you think interest rates will rise? Answer: The classic textbook answer to your question is to have a minimum of three to six months’ worth of living expenses readily available. If you’re still working then you may face additional risks, such ... Read More »

What is a Corporate Inversion?

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “The only source of knowledge is experience.” ~ Charles Kettering   Question: The term corporate inversion is in the news lately. Can you explain this and discuss why would a company want to invert? Answer: The dictionary definition of invert is “to turn something upside down, change the position, order or relationship of things so that they are the opposite of what they had been.” Corporate inversions are a hot topic in the presidential debates and are regular discussion items on financial news channels. Most recently, we’re hearing about the New York based drug maker ... Read More »

Estate Planning: Avoiding the “Oops”

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com   “The only source of knowledge is experience.” ~ Albert Einstein   Question: My brother passed away and his will and estate plan had not been updated. This left everything in disarray with the family fighting. What can I do to avoid this type of chaos for my family? Answer: My condolences on the loss of your brother. Life is unpredictable and each day is a gift. Situations change personally and professionally and estate documents are often overlooked and not updated. Grief and uncertainty never go well together. Proper planning is a gift you can give ... Read More »

Avoid Charity Scams

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud.” ~ Sophocles, Greek playwright born in 495 B.C. Question: How do I distinguish reputable charitable organizations from others that may be scams? Answer: It’s interesting that you ask this question now because I just received several calls requesting donations for the victims of the South Carolina floods and was leery of making donations to unknown entities. We know that as year-end approaches, the push will certainly be on for donations to numerous organizations. Weeding out the worthy ones from the unworthy can be tricky. For instance, in ... Read More »

Divorce: Rent or Own?

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com Question: I’m in the midst of a divorce and don’t know if it’s better to keep the house, sell it and buy another or rent. What are your thoughts? Answer: The answer is the same as it is for most questions, and that is “it depends.” This is an important time to regroup emotionally and financially. Realistic analysis of the economics of your new lifestyle, with financial planning, gets beneath the raw numbers as you go through this transition. Cookie-cutter advice isn’t specific enough to rely on for decisions of this magnitude. A woman in ... Read More »

Gifts to Charity

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “The best thing to give your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to your father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.” ~ Francis Maitland Balfour, British Biologist, 1851-1882   Question: What is the most efficient way to make gifts to charities? I support a number of organizations and want to know if the gifts need to be completed before year-end for tax purposes? Answer: Making charitable donations isn’t only commendable, ... Read More »

Shaken, Stirred and Perturbed, or Were You Prepared?

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “For those properly prepared in advance, a bear market in stocks is not a calamity but an opportunity.” ~ Sir John Templeton   Question: Why were financial markets so volatile during August? Was it all because of China? Answer: China’s currency devaluation and overall economic slowdown were the likely catalysts for the recent dramatic declines, yet other factors also fueled the fluctuations. It’s convenient and tidy to pinpoint one reason for the market’s downward drift, but it’s usually not that simple. Slow(er) Boat to China For the past twenty years, China has experienced frenzied growth. ... Read More »

Your Longest Vacation

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “Never lose sight of this important truth that no one can be truly great until he has gained knowledge of himself, a knowledge which can only be acquired by occasional retirement.” – Johann Georg von Zimmerman, Swiss Physician and Philosopher, 1728-1795.   Question: My husband and I are both 65. We don’t want to be caught off guard during retirement. What advice can you offer? Answer: While some surprises are positive experiences and lots of fun, eyes wide open is the way to go when planning for the financial reality of retirement, or the longest ... Read More »

Easy Money?

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “The influences on stock prices are so numerous and so complex that no person has ever been able to predict the trend of stock prices with consistent success.” ~ As stated by Sir John Templeton in August, 1958. Question: Once again, there is talk all over the news of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. Please explain why they would raise rates and how it would affect the economy. I’m not clear on the relationship between these two variables. Answer: Let’s start by examining the role interest rates play in the overall economy. In the ... Read More »

Greece is the Word

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “Complacency is a Problem.” ~ Ben Bernanke, Former Federal Reserve Chairman Question: Can you explain the relationship between Greece and the European Union? Answer: The European Union, also called the Eurozone (EZ), is an association of nineteen countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, among others. The common denominator of this union is a shared currency, the Euro, to provide an effective exchange rate system to facilitate ease of trade. Today’s Greek drama focuses on the amount of debt that Greece originally brought to the union and continued to add to the balance ... Read More »

To Roth or Not to Roth?

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “They are able because they think they are able.” ~ Virgil, 70 BC – 19 BC, Ancient Roman Poet   Question: What is the difference between a Roth IRA and a regular IRA? Is it true that I can convert my traditional IRA to a Roth IRA? Answer: Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are personal savings plans that provide tax benefits. The IRS allows certain favorable treatment of these assets to encourage U.S. taxpayers to contribute to these accounts as way to take responsibility for their future financial well-being. Let’s start by identifying differences ... Read More »

Nationwide Healthcare Subsidies Upheld

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “Health is not simply the absence of sickness.” ~Hannah Green, American Author, 1927-1996 Question: What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and what will it do to the stock market? Answer: The nine U.S. Supreme Court justices voted 6-3 in the King vs. Burwell case stating that taxpayer money will pay for federally funded healthcare exchanges. These exchanges are essentially subsidized health-insurance plans for the states (including Florida) that chose not to create their own exchanges. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 11.7 ... Read More »

Social Security

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt   Question: I am confused, when is the best time to file for my social security benefits? Answer: Welcome to the great debate. There are numerous strategies for “maximizing” the receipt of your benefits. The short answer is that most people will be better off to delay filing for Social Security to provide for a higher lifetime income, maximized survivor benefits and longevity protection. Longer life spans make the decision of when to file more important than ... Read More »

Our Best Investment

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ASK THE CFP® PRACTITIONER Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “An investment in knowledge pays the best dividends.” ~Benjamin Franklin   Question: What’s the best way to set aside funds for our grandchildren to help with college expenses? Answer: If your intention is to designate the funds exclusively for higher education expenses, there are three tax-advantaged strategies available. We’ll focus on these techniques because money not paid out in taxes is that much more available to offset rising college expenses. There certainly are other ways to save for future generations, but to answer your specific question, here are three tax efficient ways to help ... Read More »

The Key to Life is Balance

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Ask The CFP® Practitioner Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” General George S. Patton   Question: What are your thoughts on interest rates? Answer: When it comes to making predictions, I’ve learned over the years that it is helpful to plan for occasional economic wildcards and look for trends rather than absolutes. Current events such as dramatically lower oil prices, international tensions, a stronger than expected U.S. dollar and dramatically lower oil prices all influence interest rates and make it difficult to predict the timing of any movements. While expectations might be for rates to move ... Read More »

Online Identity and Your Legacy

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By Darcie Guerin darcie.guerin@raymondjames.com “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” – Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder   Question: Having just lost my mother, I’m now more aware than ever of how important it is to make things as easy as possible for my loved-ones after I’m gone or for when I cannot manage my own affairs. It was extremely difficult to gain access to my Mom’s on-line information for bill paying, email and other matter further complicating the situation. What recommendations can you make? Answer: First, my condolences on the loss of your mother. ... Read More »