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It’s Time To Review Your Estate Planning Basics

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Beginners and billionaires alike should refresh their knowledge of these basic estate planning terms and concepts.

The word “estate” tends to conjure up images of billionaires and aristocrats, but estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It’s widely believed that estate planning in one form or another is needed by everyone, and it doesn’t need to be sophisticated, complex or costly to help fulfill final wishes and protect assets. Whether you are a prince or a pauper, refreshing on estate planning basics can help make sure your legacy is left the way you intended. … Continue Reading

Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn

February 3, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Six Things to Know to Weather a Market Downturn
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It’s natural to be nervous when the markets head for negative territory. Keep a positive perspective with these six investing reminders.
It can be very unsettling for investors when their portfolios and the markets start heading for the red and fear sets in that all you’ve worked for and set aside for retirement and other goals could be at risk. Here are six investing basics to keep in mind during volatile times:

Periods of volatility are normal – All markets move in cycles and periods of steep contraction are completely normal. While the length of market contractions varies, periods of growth and expansion are usually waiting on the other side. Since 1973, stocks have fallen more than 10 percent and subsequently rebounded eight times.

Don’t Panic – Letting emotions dictate your investing strategy is a risk you should not take. Short-term decisions can have long-term consequences on your portfolio. Being patient can pay dividends.

Know your portfolio – Understand your investments and how specific investments represent different goals and outcomes. Keep in mind your risk tolerance and investment timeline, and if either has changed, consider talking to your financial advisor about rebalancing your portfolio. Diversification can potentially help balance risk during a downturn and mitigate extreme swings in value.

Stay the Course – Remember your financial plan and long-term goals and stick to them. A disciplined investment approach is the best strategy for handling market downturns and will likely enable you to participate when the markets rebound.

Consider opportunities – Working with your financial advisor, determine whether periods of volatility are a good time to take advantage of investment opportunities in line with your long-term plan.

You’re not alone – Your financial advisor is available to help you when you need it. He or she can guide you through difficult markets and be the independent voice and “information bodyguard” that helps you stay focused on your long-term goals.

Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. The foregoing contains general information only and is not intended to convey investment advice. Amy V. Smith Wealth Management, LLC, an independent firm, CFP, CIMA, offers securities through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Her office is located at 161 Fort Evans Road, NE, Suite 345, Leesburg, VA 20176. (703-669-5022, www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com) Dan Smith is not affiliated with Raymond James.

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: When the Road To Success Leads Back Home

January 7, 2016 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: When the Road To Success Leads Back Home
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Despite our best efforts, sometimes grown children aren’t quite ready to enter the real world.

The day our children move out of the house, graduate from college, or land their first full-time job isn’t always-or even often-the day they achieve independence. Life is full of twists and turns, and even young adults with the best laid plans can veer off course, turning to their parents for support when things get tough. One study, conducted by Arizona Pathways to Life Success, says that half of recent graduates ages 23 to 26 depend on their family’s financial support to meet their current needs. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Giving and Taxes

December 2, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Giving and Taxes
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There is a relationship among income, gift and estate tax which can appear complex. However, in reality most of gifts are not affected by taxes.

This column addresses non-charitable gifts. Unlike a gift to charity, a gift to a person is not deductible by the donor for income tax purposes. A gift to a person is not taxable income to that person.

There is a federal gift tax but (with the exception of Connecticut and Tennessee) states don’t impose gift taxes. Here’s how the federal gift tax works: A person may make as many gifts as he/she wishes each year so long as the total value of gifts to each person for the year is within the amount of the “annual exclusion.” The annual exclusion is subject to adjustment each year and is $14,000 for 2015 and 2016. So Dad can give up to $14,000 of gifts apiece to each child, grandchild and neighbor without having to file a gift tax return, no matter how many children, grandchildren and neighbors he has. Furthermore, Mom can do the same. In fact, if Dad wants to give up to $28,000 per donee and Mom doesn’t want to give anything, Dad can “borrow” Mom’s annual exclusion for that year. However, Dad will have to file a gift tax return which Mom will sign to show she is allowing him to use her annual exclusion. (To avoid that requirement gifts can be made from joint property, as with a joint bank account.) … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Trusts

November 4, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Trusts
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A common estate planning device is the trust. A trust is simply an agreement between two people: the person who establishes the trust, who may be called the Settlor, the Grantor or the Trustor, and the person or institution who agrees to fulfill the terms of the trust, called the Trustee. There can be multiple Settlors, as, for example, a married couple; and there can be more than one Trustee. Quite often in estate planning the Settlor(s) and the Trustee(s) are the same person(s), as when a married couple creates a joint trust.

There are many different types of trust, too many to describe in the space of this article. In estate planning a “Revocable Living Trust” (RLT) is very common. This is a trust established during lifetime which the Settlor(s) can continue to change during lifetime. Usually the Settlor(s) and the Trustee(s) are the same person(s). … Continue Reading

How Divorce Affects Social Security Benefits

September 30, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on How Divorce Affects Social Security Benefits
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The 10-year rule and understanding your benefit options

When it comes to retirement income, Social Security typically accounts for the lion’s share, so it makes sense to understand how to maximize your benefits. As you may know, marital status is an important decision factor when it comes to timing benefits. But, did you know divorce also comes into play? Many people see divorce as a chance to start over, a clean slate, if you will. But just because your former spouse is out of the picture, doesn’t mean his or her Social Security benefits have to be, especially if he or she earns more money than you. In fact, your ex can actually mean extra when it comes to what you’re eligible to collect.

Here’s why. If you were married at least 10 years before your divorce, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record, assuming he or she is entitled to them. If your ex-spouse hasn’t applied for retirement benefits yet, you can still collect on his or her record if you’ve been divorced for at least two years. This holds true even if your former spouse has remarried. And, claiming benefits on his or her record has no effect on what a new spouse can claim. Of course, you have to qualify to do so. … Continue Reading

When To Take Social Security: Timing Is Everything

September 3, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on When To Take Social Security: Timing Is Everything
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As you approach retirement, there are several decisions that can impact the level of income you will receive when you stop working. One such decision will be about claiming your Social Security retirement benefit.

More than half of eligible Americans take their benefits “early”-after they reach 62, even though they are locking in a permanent reduction in their monthly payment by as much as 25 percent. Still, “early” makes sense for many if they have little in savings and simply need the money. However, many do it because they can, without realizing they are giving up progressively higher payments each year they wait to claim, potentially losing as much as 32 percent than if they had waited to age 70. Surveys have shown that nearly 40 percent in this camp actually regret their decision to claim “early” once they realize how much they have given up in lifetime income. For some couples, this could translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars for not adopting a “wait to take” strategy. … Continue Reading

A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan

August 7, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith Comments Off on A Social Security Strategy Could Enhance Your Retirement Income Plan
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By Amy & Dan Smith

What do you think of when someone mentions Social Security? Many people consider Social Security and retirement as one and the same. More than 90 percent of working Americans plan for Social Security to replace part of their current incomes when they leave the workforce. Sadly, what really happens is that, because of timing decisions, 75 percent of those already receiving benefits are drawing a reduced amount.*

Your benefits can be greatly affected by your specific circumstances during retirement. Your monthly payment amounts as well as your tax status can change if you decide to work part time or start a second career. There is also your and your spouse’s beneficiary eligibility to consider. … Continue Reading

Challenges for Blended Families

June 3, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Challenges for Blended Families
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By Amy & Dan Smith

The blended family has become more the norm than the exception in our society. As with most second marriages, Amy and I came into our marriage with our own children, our own careers and our own estates. We have experienced the challenges of the blended family.
Typically, a parent in a second marriage has conflicting loyalties. There is the desire to provide for the well being of the second spouse while, often at the same time, there is a felt duty to preserve some part of the estate (especially, of that acquired before the second marriage) for his/her children of the first marriage. This conflict can be especially acute if there is a significant age difference between the spouses. Thus, the older spouse could provide a trust for the life of his/her spouse, but this could delay significantly the benefit to the children of the first marriage by many years. … Continue Reading

Planning for Lives after Death

May 5, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Planning for Lives after Death
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By Amy & Dan Smith

This past month I once again experienced life as prelude to practice. It started with an email two weeks ago from a hospice caregiver at my father’s request with words every child dreads: “Your Dad has asked me to write and tell you he thinks the end is near. He says you’ll know what to do.” What had been planned as a birthday celebration in Florida within 48 hours ended as a death vigil for my father. My immediate family members were gathered at my parents’ home to say good-bye. Dad died quickly and peacefully after struggling for years with chronic pulmonary dysfunction. Two of us were on either side of him holding his hands while he was sitting up on the couch, and we noticed that he had stopped breathing. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Looking Beyond U.S. Borders

March 4, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Looking Beyond U.S. Borders
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By Amy and Dan Smith

Even though U.S. equities still represent the single largest portion of the world stock markets, more than half of the world’s total stock market capitalization lies outside the United States, and economic growth rates outside the United States have in some cases exceeded that of the United States. Investors are beginning to consider diversifying their holdings beyond U.S. borders as a result. In the past, I have often recommended allocating no more than 10-20 percent of an investor’s overall portfolio to international funds. However, with the growth of global markets and the European Central Bank’s recent initiation of quantitative easing, many experts now suggest an even higher percentage can be appropriate given the right circumstances. … Continue Reading

Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Five Equity Market Themes for 2015

February 3, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy and Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Five Equity Market Themes for 2015
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By Amy and Dan Smith

Each year I read many market forecasts for the coming year from investment experts around the globe. Accordingly, I’d like to provide you with a recent article from Jeffrey Saut, Raymond James Chief Investment Strategist titled “Five Equity Market Themes For 2015”. (Readers may find the complete 2015 Outlook from Raymond James Investment Strategy Quarterly on my website www.amysmithwealthmanagement.com under “Market Views.”)

Lower Fuel Prices

This extended period of lower fuel costs should benefit companies that are dependent upon fuel as an input, such as the airlines, trucking and cruise lines, railroads, shipper, etc. Additionally, consumers are paying less at the pump and the hope is that those savings will now flow into other areas of the economy, like the consumer discretionary sector. … Continue Reading

Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Planning Your Will

January 6, 2015 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Planning Your Will
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By Amy and Dan Smith

A will is a highly protected form of writing. The requirements for a valid will must not be casually regarded. With rare exception in Virginia, only the original of a will – not a copy – may be admitted to probate. To be admitted to probate a will must (1) be in writing, (2) signed by the testator (the person making the will) and (3) signed by two competent witnesses who were both present with the testator either to watch him sign it or to hear him acknowledge his signature. There is a popularly known exception for a will, which is entirely in the handwriting of the testator, called a “holographic” will. However, it is dangerous to rely on this exception because it is very narrowly applied by the courts.

The requisite formalities may not be strictly applied to wills made by persons in military service. Wills made by a person deemed of “unsound mind” or by a minor are not valid. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

2016 in the Books

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(Presented to the Board of Supervisors February, 2017) “The last three years have demonstrated abundantly clearly that there is no change in the long-term trends since 1998. A prediction from 1997 merely continuing the linear trends would significantly under-predict the …

A Rainy Romance

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” – a simple phrase uttered in an acclaimed musical that helped birth a star. The movie’s Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) catches his attention so completely that Don Lockwood (Gene …

Concerned Parents

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By Michael Oberschneider, Psy.D. Dr. Mike, Our 15-year-old son is out of control and we don’t know what to do anymore. He smokes pot and drinks, disobeys us left and right, is truant from school often, comes home whenever he …

It’s Time To Review Your Estate Planning Basics

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Beginners and billionaires alike should refresh their knowledge of these basic estate planning terms and concepts. The word “estate” tends to conjure up images of billionaires and aristocrats, but estate planning is not just for the wealthy. It’s widely believed …

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth: George Marshall Center

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I used to wonder why – after an assignment to visit the interior of this place, I’d return feeling exhausted – both mentally and physically worn out – as if I’d been carrying an extra couple hundred pounds or so …

Meeting the “Other America”

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By Nicholas Reid Ever since the presidential election last November, there has been a lot of talk about the “two Americas”: coastal and continental America. The many differences between these two sections of the United States are numerous and oftentimes …

The Trump Effect

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“Corals are marine magicians. As colonies of the tiny ocean organisms grow, they transform the calcium that circulates in seawater into enormous limestone reefs. These reefs—which can extend for more than 1,000 miles and provide homes for crabs, eels, sea …

Student News

Congratulations, Class of 2016

6 Jul 2016

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Woodgrove High School’s Class Of 2016 Graduation – By Amanda Clark On June 16, Woodgrove’s Class of 2016 was the 5th graduating class to walk the stage and accept their diploma. The ceremony was filled with anticipation as the chorus, …

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Buckland Earns Degree In Medicine

6 Jul 2016

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Molly Buckland, D.O., graduated from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine with a degree of Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine on May 28. While at WVSOM, Dr. Buckland received the Dr. Roland P. Sharp President’s Award and the James R. …

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Adams Promoted To Lieutenant

6 Jul 2016

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Lt. James Adams, from Sterling and a Potomac Falls Halls Graduate, earned the promotion to the rank of Lieutenant. Adams is a Navy Week and Executive Outreach Planner for the Navy Office of Community Outreach in Millington, Tennessee. U.S. Navy …

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Calendar

February 2017
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
January 30, 2017 January 31, 2017 February 1, 2017 February 2, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

February 3, 2017 February 4, 2017

CHINESE NEW YEAR EVENT

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Readers Theater

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

February 5, 2017
February 6, 2017 February 7, 2017 February 8, 2017 February 9, 2017

Chair Yoga

Yoga for Men

February 10, 2017 February 11, 2017

Valentine's Pizza & Champagne

Sweetheart’s Soirée- A Night of Dinner & Dancing

February 12, 2017

Candlelight Concert Fundraiser

GALLERY COFFEEHOUSE: Writers’ Night Out

February 13, 2017 February 14, 2017 February 15, 2017

Bob Brown Puppets: Dragon Feathers

February 16, 2017 February 17, 2017

ARTSPOWER: RAINBOW FISH

February 18, 2017

Wine & Chili Weekend

BALLET THEATRE OF ASHBURN AND EDGE PERFORMANCE COMPANY: MALONE BENEFIT CONCERT

Comedy Night feat. Tyrone Davis

February 19, 2017
February 20, 2017 February 21, 2017 February 22, 2017 February 23, 2017 February 24, 2017

February Fourth Friday

February 25, 2017

Samedi Gras Celebration

February 26, 2017
February 27, 2017 February 28, 2017 March 1, 2017 March 2, 2017 March 3, 2017

LAST HAM STANDING COMEDY IMPROV

March 4, 2017

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

March 5, 2017
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Lifestyle

Hillsboro Plans Mardi Gras Celebration on February 25

20 Feb 2017

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Mardi Gras celebration will be held in Hillsboro on Saturday, February 25 as a benefit for the Old Stone Schoolhouse. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. Hurricanes and New Orleans drinks, as well as Old 690 beer and local wines will be served in the Garden District Bar. The Cajun Cafe will feature New Orleans cuisine, including King Cakes. …

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Four Young Historians Discuss Civil War Turning Points

2 Feb 2017

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The Mosby Heritage Area Association will hold a talk featuring a panel of four young historians who will discuss turning points in the Civil War. The talk will be held at Unison Methodist Church, 21148 Unison Road, Middleburg, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 12. Tickets will be sold at the door or online at www.mosbyheritagearea.org/events for $15 …

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Love In All of Its Forms … Ain’t It Grand

2 Feb 2017

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Americans exchange hundreds of millions of cards on Valentine’s Day, February 14. The National Retail Federation estimates that we will spend some $20 billion to mark the day and demonstrate to friends and family how much we love them – on what marketers call “Love’s Holiday.” Love. It’s a big deal.

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Editorial

Priscilla Nabs Plum Planning Commission Post

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Appointment Shocks Many On January 3 Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) nominated Tom Priscilla for the Loudoun County Planning Commission to represent the Blue Ridge District. Priscilla was …

Op-ed

Opinion: Terrorism, Debt, and China: Oh My!

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– By Nick Reid world can be a very dangerous place sometimes, especially for a nation state such as the United States. Although danger is always present, the number and …

Metro Money Mess Pushing West

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– By Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33rd) A local paper recently quoted Loudoun Board Chair Phyllis Randall as saying that in her observation “some of the concerns raised by the people …

Dear Editor

Why Williams Gap Road Should Not Be Paved

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Today, most residents of Loudoun County know nothing about Williams Gap, even those living on Williams Gap Road (Route 711). Knowing who “Williams” was, why a gap in the Blue …

Vote No To the Minor Special Exception

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We are a group of Loudoun County citizens who will be adversely affected if the board grants a special exception for the Catesby Farm property at your upcoming meeting. You …

View From the Ridge

Broken Promises, Hidden by a Six-Foot Berm

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By Andrea Gaines On August 9, 1825 at the age of 69, French military officer the Marquis de Lafayette was honored in Leesburg by former President James Monroe. The French-born …

Around Virginia

Walbridge To Run for State Delegate in the 33rd District

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Tia Walbridge announces her run for the District 33 seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. Walbridge is a wife and mother of two daughters and an active member of the Round Hill community. “Like many people in our district, my family has found its prosperity in a Virginia-based small …

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Office Building on Capitol Square To Be Named After Civil Rights Pioneer Barbara Johns

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Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the newly renovated state building located at 202 N. 9th Street on Capitol Square in Richmond (currently known as the 9th Street Office Building) will bear the name of civil rights pioneer Barbara Johns. The building, which reopened last year, houses the Virginia Attorney General’s …

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Rep. Comstock’s Key Top Priority Legislation Initiatives

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Signed into Law in Her First Term Rep. Barbara Comstock, who serves the 10th congressional district in Virginia, recently reviewed the achievements of her first term in office, identifying 17 legislative initiatives that she supported that were adopted. She said: “My staff and I have met with stakeholders, local elected …

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Sports

Woodgrove Gymnasts Advance To States

15 Feb 2017

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Two Woodgrove High School gymnasts have qualified to advance to the Virginia State Championships Saturday, February 18, at Patriot High School in Nokesville. Sophomore River Stone placed fourth in the all-around competition at the 1A-5A North Regional Gymnastics Championships at Park View High School on Wednesday, February 8, which earns …

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Woodgrove Gymnastics Team Places First

1 Feb 2017

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The Woodgrove High School Gymnastics team for placed first at their home meet. The team competed against squads from Loudoun Valley, Park View and Riverside high schools. Seniors Kaycee Delitta and Sarah Snare were honored at the event for their contributions to the team. The Wolverines excelled in individual competition …

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