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75% of Americans agree they would benefit from having basic financial education and information.

Source: The 2016 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey, The National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Welcome to our research center! We've put together a library of information on important financial topics that we believe you'll find helpful.

Simply click on one of the general financial topics below and you'll find a selection of easy-to-understand information sheets about related financial concepts and strategies. This information is updated regularly to reflect the latest facts, figures, legislation, and economic trends.

Estates & Trusts

  • Estate Planning

    Wills and trusts allow you to spell out how you would like your property distributed, but they also go beyond that.

  • Living Trusts

    A living trust can help control the distribution of your estate upon death.

  • Avoiding Probate

    The probate process can be lengthy and complex. There are strategies you can use to help avoid the probate process.

  • Charitable Giving

    To retain the tax advantages associated with charitable giving, your gift must be made to a qualified organization.

  • Controlling the Distribution

    If you haven’t taken steps already, consider planning now for the distribution of your estate’s assets.

  • Paying Estate Taxes

    If you believe your estate will be subject to estate taxes, consider how your heirs will pay the bill.

  • Benefits of A-B Trusts

    An A-B trust can be an effective way to help reduce estate taxes and preserve family assets for heirs.

  • Charitable Lead Trusts

    Charitable lead trusts are designed for people who would like to benefit a charity now rather than later.

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts

    A designated income beneficiary could receive payment of a specified amount from a charitable remainder trust.

  • Wealth Replacement Trusts

    A wealth replacement trust could be used to gift appreciated assets to a charity as well as provide for heirs.

  • Family Limited Partnerships

    One estate planning strategy that families with closely held businesses could consider is the family limited partnership.

  • History of the Federal Estate Tax

    Careful estate planning is still one of the most important ways to manage and protect your assets for your heirs.

Retirement

  • Planning Options

    There are a variety of retirement planning options that could help meet your needs. Here are some of the most popular.

  • Self-Employed Retirement Plans

    Tax-deferred retirement plans for self-employed individuals have higher contribution limits than IRAs.

  • Retirement Plan Distributions

    When receiving money accumulated in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you have two options: lump sum or annuity.

  • Traditional IRAs

    If you do not participate in an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might consider a traditional IRA.

  • 401(k) Plans

    401(k) employer-sponsored retirement plans have many benefits, including that the funds accumulate tax-deferred.

  • Managing Retirement Plans

    Employer-sponsored retirement plans are more important than ever, but managing the assets can be confusing.

  • Roth IRAs

    Qualified Roth IRA distributions in retirement are free of federal income tax and aren’t included in gross income.

Tax Planning

  • Capital Gain Tax

    Capital gains are profits realized from the sale of assets; a tax is triggered only when an asset is sold, not held.

  • Estate Tax

    Everything you own, whatever the form of ownership, is subject to federal, and possibly state, estate taxes.

  • Gift Tax

    The federal gift tax applies to gifts of property or money while the donor is living.

  • Retirement Plan Limits

    IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans are subject to annual contribution limits set by the federal government.

  • Required Minimum Distributions

    Required minimum distribution is the annual amount that must be withdrawn from a qualified retirement plan/account.

  • Charitable Trust Tax Benefits

    For the grantor, there are a few potential tax benefits that can come with setting up a charitable trust.

  • Retirement Plan Taxes

    With traditional IRAs and most employer-sponsored retirement plans, taxes are not payable until funds are withdrawn.

  • Withdrawing Before Age 59.5

    Tax-deferred retirement account withdrawals before age 59½ generally triggers a 10% federal income tax penalty.

Investing

  • Diversification

    An important element to successful investing is to manage investment risk while maintaining the potential for growth.

  • Stock Indexes

    Stock market indexes can be useful benchmarks for gauging the performance of an investment portfolio over time.

  • Mutual Funds

    A mutual fund is a collection of stocks, bonds, and other securities with certain benefits and risks.

  • Closed-End Funds

    With closed-end funds, investors pool their money together to purchase a professionally managed portfolio of stocks and/or bonds.

  • Mutual Fund Loads

    It’s important to understand mutual fund loads, or sales charges, and exactly what they entail so you can make informed investing decisions.

  • Annuities

    An annuity is a flexible financial vehicle that can help protect against the risk of living a long time because it provides an option for a lifetime income.

  • Fixed vs. Variable Annuities

    Both fixed and variable annuities could be appropriate options for an individual interested in purchasing an annuity.

  • Investment Risks

    Understanding different types of investment risk can help investors manage their money more effectively.

  • Asset Classes

    There are five broad asset classes that you should take into consideration when constructing your investment portfolio.

  • Asset Allocation

    Asset allocation is a method used to help manage investment risk; it does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss.

  • College Investment Options

    Starting to invest early for college and remaining consistent can help investors reach their goals.

  • Dollar-Cost Averaging

    Dollar-cost averaging involves investing a set amount of money on a regular basis, regardless of market conditions.

  • 529 Plans

    529 plans are tax-advantaged college savings plans that generally allow people of any income level to contribute.

Cash Management

  • Cash Management Basics

    A sound cash management program uses a disciplined approach: accounting, analysis, allocation, and adjustment.

  • Doubling Your Money

    Before making investment decisions, it is helpful to determine the real rate of return on the investment.

  • Cash Management Tools

    Short-term cash management instruments can help you establish a sound cash management program.

  • College Financial Aid

    It's important to understand the options, such as financial aid grant programs, when having to pay for college.

Risk Management

  • Why Purchase Life Insurance

    If you have a family who relies on your income, it is important to have life insurance protection.

  • Property and Casualty Insurance

    Property and casualty insurance can help protect a variety of assets. Find out what it does and doesn’t cover.

  • Business Owner Policies

    A business owner policy is an insurance package that assembles the basic coverages required by a business owner in one bundle.

  • Life Insurance for Business Owners

    Company-owned life insurance is one way to help protect a business from financial problems caused by the death of a key employee.

  • Split-Dollar Life Insurance

    Split-dollar life insurance is an arrangement to purchase and fund life insurance between two parties.

  • Last-Survivor Life Insurance

    Couples who want to help protect their legacy from estate taxes could consider last-survivor life insurance.

  • Disability Income Insurance for Business Owners

    As a business owner, a disability can create an economic hardship putting both your personal finances and business at risk.

  • Term Life Insurance

    Term life insurance differs from permanent forms of life insurance in that it offers temporary protection.

  • Whole Life Insurance

    Some of the pros and cons of whole life insurance.

  • Universal Life Insurance

    Consider a universal life insurance policy if you want the flexibility to change your premium or death benefit.

  • Insuring Your Future

    To help you choose insurance wisely, determine how much coverage and what kind of policy is best for your situation.

  • Assessing Disability Income Insurance

    Knowing the basics of a disability income insurance policy is a good first step toward protecting your family.

  • Long-Term Care Costs

    The odds of needing long-term care increase as you age. Prior planning can help protect you from financial ruin.