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Overcoming Challenges and Creating A Legacy Plan

Sunset Dock

Recently, we came across this article from Financial Advisor Magazine, written by Robert G. Kuchner, entitled When is and Inheritance Too Big? At the outset of the article Mr. Kuchner outlines three legacy scenarios from real people. All three scenarios seemed well thought out, but only two turned out to be the right choice. In the third story, the woman who had passed away had established a trust for her son, but wanted her husband to be able to redirect a portion of her assets so that he would have financial options. Unfortunately, he was successful, due to this clause, in effectively nullifying the entire intent of her will and excluding his own children from the trust.

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Recently Widowed: You have choices when it comes to your spouse's IRA

Woman-walking-dog-faceforwardIn the aftermath of losing a spouse, it can be challenging to know which choices to make, when to make them, and sometimes, whether or not to make any choice at all. Identifying the opportunities that you may have in order to develop a framework for moving forward in a more positive direction in your life will help you to gain clarity through your transition. When you are grieving a loss and going through a major life change it can be extremely challenging to address the more practical aspects of your loss and it helps to have a trusted advisor who can help position you for a financial future with peace-of-mind and confidence.

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The Importance of Playtime at any Age

350 playing at the beach

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. ~Plato

As summer approaches, whether we notice or not, we all start to think about having a little more fun. There are cookouts, and Fourth of July parties, and summer vacations and we can all finally spend some time outdoors. There are a lot of memories to reminisce about and different ways to play and have fun. But there is something more to it actually. There is a reason we go through all of this trouble to have a good time.

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All the Shiny Things

Glacier6With the weather warming up, many of us will be taking vacations, weekend getaways and having parties to enjoy the summer season with family and friends. Planning and taking these getaways is not always relaxing, though. For many people, this can stem from having too many things to think about and do all at the same time. We talk with our clients a great deal about how to stay focused and and be present in order to find balance and well-being in life. This month's blog highlights how some of the Northstar team relaxes and how appreciation of simplicity can remind us that we don't need to keep piling it on: literally or figuratively.

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Book Review: The Opposite of Spoiled by: Ron Lieber

the opposite of spoiledThe Opposite of Spoiled

By: Ron Lieber (Harper Collins, 2015)

Money can be a touchy subject for parents of all income levels. However, if you are a parent who wants to teach your children how to handle their finances, you may be looking for some help talking the talk. This book is meant to be part of that conversation.

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What Investors Can Be Thankful About

stacking-coinsAccentuating the positive during a challenging year for Wall Street.

2015 has presented the world & the markets with considerable challenges. Terrorist shocks, the Russia-Turkey spat, the possibility of a fractured Eurozone, the wild ride for Chinese equities and the global manufacturing slump ... yes, they have weighed on minds and markets, but as the year draws to a close, there is also much to encourage us, and much we can be thankful about economically.

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Financial Literacy: The gift that keeps on giving

gift-of-financial-literacyThere are many opportunities you have as a parent to impart valuable life lessons to your children. Starting when they are very young, you teach them kindness and respect for others. As they grow older into teenagers and young adults, you can continue to teach and mentor your children, helping them gain the confidence to make their own decisions once they become fully independent.

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Hedgefunds Overpromise and Under-deliver

When people in the financial industry talk about institutional investors, they're often referring to pension plans. Pension managers oversee some of the largest portfolios of assets in the financial market, and they attract the interest of sophisticated investment managers and hedge funds, each of whom want a slice of that multi-billion-dollar pie.

Hedge funds market their appeal based on sophistication. They offer strategies that promise to outpace the returns offered by the benchmark indexes. Many hedge fund managers also seek to provide gains during falling markets.

But hedge funds are notorious for their exorbitant fees. That's the price investors pay to access a higher level of expertise and acumen—or so these managers say.

How well do hedge funds and sophisticated money managers make good on their promises? This article answers that question with an emphatic "no", citing research that found the performance of hedge funds hired by pension managers lagged the plan's overall performance. Moreover, these funds charged nearly as much in fees as they failed to deliver in performance, to the tune of over $15 billion.

The takeaway for individual investors is to be wary of sales pitches from sophisticated money managers and skeptical of claims of outperformance. Even the most savvy and largest investors often fall for their unfulfilled and costly promises. Remember, It's impossible for anyone "beat" market, and those claiming to do so are bound to lose sooner or later.

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Do you have a 5/10/20 Retirement Plan?

retirement-planning-20-10-5

We recently received a great piece from the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) that outlines the basics of how to build a solid plan 20, 10 and 5 years out from retirement. It encourages people to understand what they can do to improve their long term financial plan by providing a checklist that will prepare them for well-being and peace of mind in their golden years.

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Budget Bill Closes Social Security "Loopholes"

Just like that, two strategies that have helped our clients take advantage of Social Security benefits have been wiped out. As part of the budget bill (H.R. 1314) to raise the U.S. debt limit, two key Social Security "loopholes" have been closed: file and suspend and restricted application for spousal benefits.


The ban on file and suspend will start with suspension requests submitted 180 days after the enactment of the bill on May 1, 2016. The ban on filing a restricted application will apply to anyone who turns 62 in 2016 or later. Depending on your birthday, this may affect your Social Security planning. Retirees who have already filed and suspended or filed claims for restricted spousal benefits are grandfathered in under the new rules and will not be affected by the changes.

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