Ask John

Pure and simple—they don’t know how. It’s been my experience that most people can appreciate the value in planning. Specifically, planning to avoid making mistakes that so many others before them have made. Unfortunately, the financial marketplace exists to sell products, not advice.

I am a founding member of Ed Slott’s Elite IR Advisory Group. I train throughout the year with Mr. Slott and retain his office in the care of my clients. For more information on this group, go to This will provide a deeper insight into how we help our clients.

The IRA beneficiary form, or more frankly, the lack of one. Far too often this beneficiary form is done as an afterthought. This may have big consequences.

  • It will determine whether your family will be able to stretch the IRA over their lifetime, substantially reducing taxation.
  • It will determine who receives the IRA funds, and whether the distribution is per capita or per stirpes.
  • It will determine whether or not there is a bloodline distribution.

All too often, I meet with families to determine who will be on the beneficiary form, only to hear “the bank has it.”

This is a NO-NO and has caused many families an unnecessary amount of pain.

Planning. Few people have a written plan for retirement. Planning is important because it is easier to avoid a mistake than to fix one. We went to college with a plan, we marry with a plan, build our house with a plan, raise our children with a plan…plan our vacations, plan our careers, but when it comes to retirement few people have a set plan.

So, there are some mistakes that cannot be fixed. At JCN, a premium is placed on knowledge and education. This is something we have control over—more control than over investments or taxes. Consider how much time we spend on formal education and on-the-job training, yet many of us approach retirement unprepared. I continually see mistakes made that wreck retirement. All too often, these mistakes could have been avoided by a greater understanding of the rules.

We at JCN Financial offer a number of educational options. Throughout the year, we sponsor a course called “Retirement Planning Today.” This course is offered in various schools and universities. We also host a series of Speakers’ Bureaus along with a client advisory board. We retain speakers to discuss topics that are important to our clients. Contact our office to obtain a current class schedule.

This is a very good question to ask. Our firm is an advisory firm. It has been my experience that it is easier to avoid a mistake than to fix one. By starting with a plan, it gives us the ability to anticipate challenges and develop a plan, eliminate the challenge or at least minimize it. After the plan is developed, we make investment recommendations. By starting with a plan, we can anticipate challenges and plan for them, eliminating the challenge or at least minimizing it. However, our income is not based on the investment that is used; hence, our firm is fee based.

Another great question. For many people, the proper use of a Roth IRA may be a way to keep more by saving more. It is important to understand that an IRA is one of the most taxable accounts that one can own. In addition to taxes, there are potential penalties each year if the RMD is taken as little as one day late. Also, money that’s left to loved ones in a Roth IRA would distribute substantially more after-tax money. A tax-free distribution analysis would provide clarity in what is best for you. This area is our specialty. Feel free to contact us for more on this matter.

IRA accounts are different than typical investment accounts. They have a different set of rules. Many people make the mistake that if they bequeath their retirement account to their loved one to the wills, makes sense doesn’t it? However, that doesn’t make it right. The IRA is transferred via the beneficiary form, NOT the will. If there is no designated beneficiary, the family will likely still receive the IRA, but at the highest, most-disadvantaged tax rates. This doesn’t happen on purpose, it happens by mistake because people simply don’t know any better.

We don't just offer advice. We teach understanding.

If you're ready for highly personalized financial guidance that also strengthens your own financial understanding, talk to JCN Financial & Tax Advisory Group today.

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