Yearly Archives:2017

Replacing New Year’s Resolutions with New Year’s Routines

We all know what happens to New Year’s resolutions. By now most of them are a memory; or you might be thinking that some of these would be better left until next year. But in your financial world, resolutions should be replaced by routines.

Routinely, at the start of a new year you should be:

Setting goals. And putting them in writing. What would your perfect year look like? What are you major life plans for 2017? Share this information with your financial advisor.

Checking your credit score. Go to Credit Karma’s website, which is free and does not hurt your score.

Reviewing your credit report. We suggest Annual Credit Report’s website for free annual reports. Be sure to correct any erroneous information that can be hurting your credit score.

Reviewing your Social Security benefits and providing the 4-page report to your financial advisor. These are important for preparing your annual retirement analysis.

Doing an annual retirement analysis. Call us to set an appointment.

Reviewing your beneficiaries on your employee benefits, insurances, and investment accounts. Expensive mistakes are made when beneficiary arrangements are not complete.

Updating your Family Letter and your Estate Planning Documents. If you do not have a Family Letter, ask us for one. If you do not have Estate Planning Documents, ask us for a referral to an attorney who can handle these. For many people, the cost of dying without a will can be much more expensive than the cost of preparing these documents.

Ordering an inforce illustration on your life insurance policies to see that they are guaranteed to stay in force for as long as you find necessary. Some policies can lapse over time. (Not sure how to do this? Ask us!)

Finding a great CPA. If you need one, we know some! Ask her or him for a data collection booklet to help you gather your tax information so that no deductions are missed. Remember, if people cheat on their taxes it is usually because they cheat themselves…by not getting all that is owed to them.

Reviewing your property and casualty insurance. When was the last time you sat for a review with the people who handle your car and homeowners insurance? Do you really know what you are covered for? Or not?

Checking for unclaimed property. Start at If you have ever lived in another state, try its website, too. We have had a number of clients find money that is just sitting out there, waiting to be claimed. This is better than the lottery because you can do it for free!

Joining our Starting Out/Starting Over program. A great way for young people to begin their financial life, or a great way for anyone to start their financial life over again. Learn all about the program on our website.

Remembering that no one plans to fail, but often people fail to plan. If you need help with your plan, we are here.

Good Grief: The Gift of Final Expense Planning

By: Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CRPC, CLTC

cairnIf you would rather spend your free time in retirement researching your next car or vacation instead of final expense options, you’re probably not alone. We all know that the earlier you begin saving for retirement, the better.

But what happens after you retire? Does your planning stop? Of course it doesn’t. We transition our focus to the next 30 years, or long term care planning. But sometimes that focus can be a little cloudy. When we retire, we spend a lot of time on our financial and physical health, strategizing our income and choosing the best medical coverage.

Long term care planning is the thoughtful consideration of our needs into and through retirement, and it is an integral part of a financial plan.

We often discuss plans for our home–will we “age in place” or downsize? We consider our social options, an encore career, time spent volunteering with an important cause, or spending more time with our friends and our family. And of course, there are the vacations.

With all of the distractions, it’s no wonder that we meet so many clients who are ready to retire but haven’t looked at their insurance, wills, or powers of attorney since their last major life event. In many cases this major life event was the purchase of the first home, marriage, a job change, or children.

The best time to start working on your long term care planning is before your health changes, and here are 5 tips to get started:

1. Review your Life Insurance Policies: If planning to use for final expenses, will they be in force 20-30 years from now? If used for final expenses, will you leave anything to your family? Are beneficiaries accurate?

2. Talk to your Attorney: Does your will follow your wishes? Is your power of attorney updated?

3. Talk to your Funeral Home: Pre-paid funeral plans are sold by funeral homes and allow you to make arrangements in advance. Is your plan complete?

4. Review Your Final Expense Insurance: Final expense insurance is there to cover any expenses or costs directly related to your funeral. Does your insurance coordinate with your pre-planning?

5. Review Your Family Letter: Is your letter accurate and does your family know where to locate it?

Most people are recognizing that final expense planning, especially planning a funeral in advance of the need, demonstrates a thoughtful gift. Pre-planning allows family to spend time together as they go through the grieving process.

As planners, we believe in the importance of pre-planning to ensure that your final wishes are met without causing financial strain on family. So before you start planning that next vacation, spend a few minutes getting started with the tips above.


cpm-2016Christine Pikutis-Musuneggi, CRPC, CLTC is a Financial Planner with The Musuneggi Financial Group. She guides clients in everything from budgeting basics to milestone moments like buying a home, paying for education, running a business, planning for retirement, and creating a legacy. Have questions about pre-planning or long term care planning? You can reach Christine at 412-341-2888 x314 or

Planning After the Election: What to Expect Under President-Elect Trump

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” –Hal Borland

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will become the 45th President of the United States. Earlier in January, the Senate and House will convene with Republican majorities. How you update and manage your estate plan and financial plan under the Republican controlled Congress and Presidency can make a significant difference in your tax burdens and the way your wealth continues to accumulate. We’re here to help guide you during this time of transition and change.

We are monitoring the situation vigilantly, and we are already strategizing for a wide range of potential tax and regulatory changes in order to provide you with the best possible advice about any changes to your estate plan.

Let’s look briefly at how some of the preliminary details of President-elect Trump’s proposals could affect your estate.

Donald Trump’s proposals

Donald Trump has proposed across-the-board reforms in the tax codes, and while he promises to close up some loopholes, the general trajectory of his proposals is toward lowering taxes overall.

You can find the details of his tax plan on his website, but the most pertinent points are:

* Lowering income tax rates across the board, including significant raises to the standard deductions

* Reducing the number of individual income tax brackets from 7 to 3, with a maximum tax rate of 33 percent (down from 39.6% today)

* Reducing the business tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent

* Eliminating the estate tax

Remember that any change to the tax laws requires Congressional approval and won’t happen automatically. In spite of Republicans being in control of the Presidency and Congress, there will still be negotiation and compromise reflected in the “final” tax law that comes out of Washington. And remember, the rules are only “final” until the government decides to change them again. This is one reason you must remain in contact with us as 2017 begins.

Recommendations, assuming President-elect Trump’s agenda is put into law:

* Be cautiously optimistic. The elimination of the estate tax in particular is likely to be welcome news if you have higher net worth (or even if you are on your way there), but this proposal may be subject to opposition or compromise in Congress. This compromise could range from a “sunset” provision to gradual phase-in or something else entirely. We’ll have to wait and see. Don’t assume that the “death tax” is automatically gone on Day 1 of the Trump Presidency.

* It’s more than taxes. Although taxes have long had top billing in many conversations about estate planning, the real reasons for estate planning are present, no matter who is in the White House and Congress. This includes planning for medical or financial decisions during incapacity, directing your financial legacy to your intended beneficiaries, asset protection, and more. No matter how hard Congress may try, they can’t seem to legislate away lawsuits, wasteful spending by young beneficiaries, and other issues that can be overcome through proper planning. The great news is that we might soon be able to focus our time with you on these issues almost entirely.

* Stay tuned for updates.

As tax and regulatory reform starts being fleshed out in Washington and ultimately enacted, we will provide recommendations to you.

Preparing your estate for the next administration

With all the volatility surrounding this now-concluded election cycle, the only thing of which we can be certain is change. Regardless of who you supported, any election requires you to take some action to protect yourself. Proactivity is the best way to protect your wealth against any changes to come.

Between now and when President-elect Trump becomes President Trump, you would be wise to schedule an appointment with us for a full review of your will, trust, and estate plan. Depending on your circumstances, there may be actions that need to be taken now, some that might need to wait, and some that need to be back burnered until we know the “final” tax rules that come from President Trump and the Republican Congress.

As always, we are here to help. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.



Securities & Investment Advisory Services Offered Through H. Beck, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC.
H Beck, Inc. and The Musuneggi Financial Group, LLC are not affiliated. To comply with the U.S. Treasury regulations, we must inform you that (i) any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this newsletter was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any person for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal tax penalties that may be imposed on such person and (ii) each taxpayer should seek advice from their tax advisor based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances.