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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

Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Explaining Process of Probate

December 10, 2014 Amy and Dan Smith, Columns Comments Off on Amy & Dan Smith’s Planning for Life: Explaining Process of Probate
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The term “Probate” derives from the Latin Probatio meaning “proof.” The term came to be applied specifically to proof of wills. In common practice, when a person dies, the proponent of a will takes it to court (usually a probate clerk) and “proves the will”; that is, the proponent submits the will as the true and authentic last will and testament of the deceased person (the “decedent”). In addition, a death certificate or an obituary notice must be produced and a “list of heirs,” which consists of the names and addresses of the people who would take an estate if the decedent died without a will.
The term “probate” now is commonly used to refer to the process of administration of a decedent’s estate whether he/she died with or without a will. If there was no will, the decedent is said to have died “intestate,” in which case the estate will pass to the “heirs at law.” Each state by statute lists the order of family members who will take the estate of a person dying without a will. … Continue Reading


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columns

Human Fingerprints on Climate Change

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Presented to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors – June 23, 2016 Recently I was asked whether humanity’s fossil fuel use was the cause of the current global warming. This is a good question and I’m not surprised that there …

Ice house, Hot House and Mad House

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Recently, I was asked: “I know we are putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and scientists say that will warm the planet but there were also ice ages and warmer climates in the past before humans so what caused those …

Sugar Crash

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Sugar runs inside our body and fuels our very being. In biology they teach us that sugar is really glucose which is broken down in the body to produce ATP (adenine tri-phosphate). So why bring this up? Well, sugar is …

The Art of Memory

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By Samuel Moore-Sobel Still Alice. A movie that not only elicits tears, but naturally incurs reflection. This heartrending movie was the starting point of a personal wrestling with the implications of human memory. Remembering can bring us back to a …

Living in Debt

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Dr. Mike, My husband has issues with money that are hurting our relationship and family. He makes a lot of money, but he spends more than he makes and we are in debt. He can’t just have a luxury car, …

June in the Garden

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Conserve Water, Beat the Heat and Keep Things Blooming By Andrea Gaines It’s getting hot out there. And, there’s nothing more discouraging for a gardener that to come home after a weekend away – or miss a regular watering schedule …

Editorial

Grief and Greed

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By Matthew Parse What would drive a single individual to cause so much emotional stress and financial burden on hundreds, if not, thousands of families? What would drive the Town …

Op-ed

Oh No, It’s the Christians!

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By Nicholas Reid In the hours and days following every massacre perpetrated by radical Muslims, there is one unifying theme across most news coverage of the massacre, wherever it may …

Dear Editor

Thank You

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It is with great anticipation that I look forward to Monday, June 27, 2016. On that day new Purcellville Town Council members will be sworn into office, at Town Hall. …

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

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Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input …

Student News

Four Scouts Achieve Eagle Scout Rank

3 Feb 2016

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Joel Gicker, Kyle Siecker, Sam Soltis and David Watson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at Blue Ridge Bible Church in Purcellville on January 9. The four Eagles are members of Troop 711 of …

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8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

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Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

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Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

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Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

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Calendar

July 2016
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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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It’s a Beach Thing . . . featuring lamp-work glass artist Julie Bahun and abstract painter Karen Hutchison

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Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

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Lifestyle

Rummage Sale Trailers Open July 9

27 Jun 2016

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78th Annual Ladies Board Rummage Sale Ready For Donations The Ladies Board of Inova Loudoun Hospital is officially accepting donations for the annual Rummage Sale. The first Donation Day of the summer will be on Saturday, July 9 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Inova Loudoun Hospital, 44045 Riverside Parkway, Leesburg, and at Inova Loudoun Medical Campus – Leesburg, …

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Troy and Paula Haag Perform at Old Stone School

9 Jun 2016

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Troy and Paula Haag, will appear on The Gap Stage at the Old Stone School on Saturday, June 18. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Dinner will be sold by Big Mike’s BBQ, drinks will be sold by the glass, and there will be desserts at intermission. Troy and Paula will be joined by Max Haag …

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Here’s To the Colorists, Manicurists and Blow Dry Mavens… Thanks for Listening!

1 Jun 2016

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Sunday, June 26 is Beauticians Day, celebrating the cosmetology and other experts who keep us looking and feeling our best – whether it’s with a haircut and style, a facial, a manicure, or just some quiet and light conversation.

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Around Virginia

HUD Awards $2 Million in Housing Counseling Grants To Virginia

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Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced today that Catholic Charities USA, headquartered in Alexandria, will receive $951,150 in federal funding, and the Virginia Housing Development Authority, located in Richmond, will receive $1,040,918. This nearly $2 million grant by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) …

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Four Hop, Skip and a Jump Local Destinations

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Last month we encouraged our readers to consider visiting any one of five great destinations within just a stone’s throw of Loudoun’s history-lined borders – Berryville and Harper’s Ferry among them. This month we feature four destinations – two right here in our much-celebrated county, and two just over the …

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Out and About Loudoun and Beyond

The Plains’ charming restaurants, shops and sidewalks.

Five Stone’s Throw Spring and Summer Destinations By Andrea Gaines Bordered by the Potomac River to the north and beautiful mountains to the west – and with easy access to Rt. 95, the Dulles Toll Road and Route 66 – Loudouners have no short list of fun spring places to …

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Sports

The Lady Vikings Earned Back-to Back Conference Title

1 Jun 2016

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The Lady Vikings earned the back-to back conference title with a 4-1 win over Heritage in late May. The team earned a first round playoff bye finishing first in the conference and then went on to defeat Rock Ridge 12-0 in the conference semi-finals. The Lady Vikings ended their regular …

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Big Baseball Coming To Fireman’s Field

1 Jun 2016

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Got Your Father’s Day Gift Lined Up Yet? The Purcellville Cannons’ Brett Fuller couldn’t be happier. He’s the owner of one of the most popular teams in the Valley Baseball League. The team, up until recently was called the Charles Town Cannons but now calls Purcellville its home.

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