Useful tips at wealth & estate planning seminar

Michael Jankowski, President, Wealth Planning Network, host of the seminar
Michael Jankowski, President, Wealth Planning Network, host of the seminar

CHICAGO: It was second in line of the series of seminars on investment and wealth planning that a leading group of financial advisors at Wealth Planning hosted here on March 3 and 4, and by all account both the events met with success judging from the response from the attendees.

The educational seminars focused on the major financial concerns for physicians, business owners, and corporate executives as they are approaching, or are already in retirement. Both nights, the room was full of guests taking notes while enjoying the dinner at Seasons 52 Restaurant in Oak Brook, a south west suburb of Chicago.

The first major concern that Vice President Larry Gatz talked about was the markets, and how to properly structure your investments to ensure that you are not taking on too much risk. “As you approach retirement, your risk tolerance decreases, because you have a much shorter timeline to recover from any sort of financial loss.” He then went on to talk about the different investment strategies and the pros and cons of those options.

He took time to focus on mutual fund investing, and outlined some simple strategies that everyone could use on their own portfolios to evaluate their fund portfolios. “As with any investment, it is important to focus on three factors: cost, risk, and performance.” He also noted that investors should be asking their advisors to provide them with Morningstar reports of each of the funds that they recommend, as well as getting a clear understanding of their fees.

Vice President Larry Gatz
Vice President Larry Gatz

After Mutual funds, Larry spoke about safe money options, and the typically low interest rates that they offer. “One standout among the safe money options are indexed products, either as insurance or annuities. They offer an opportunity to capture a portion of the market’s gain, while guaranteeing that the account will never earn less than 0 percent.”

President and CEO of Wealth Planning Network, Michael Jankowski, was next in line and touched upon the subject of estate planning. He first reviewed the new Federal Estate Tax Exemption of $5.43 million, and the 40 percent tax that applies to anything above that amount. The State of Illinois has also estate duty and it charges 16 per cent after the exemption limit of $4 million.

“Without proper planning, taxes, attorney’s fees, and probate costs can eat away a substantial amount of one’s estate. Without a proper estate plan in place, even the best investment strategies will not be able to make up for what the government will take in taxes” he said.

Citing a few case studies, he pitched that smart investors with their estate plans ensure that their assets are protected, taxes are minimized, and their heirs receive the largest share possible. He suggested the use of a marital trust to avoid probate and ensure the security of both estate tax exemptions, and also consider setting up an irrevocable trust to pull assets out of the estate and leverage them using a life insurance policy for the benefit of the heirs.

His next topic was about income tax planning. Giving an example he said that one of his clients had a large IRA account and was concerned about his Required Minimum Distributions as it would hike his income tax. To remedy the solution, he compared a Roth IRA conversion with a Liquidate and Leverage strategy. Both strategies involved withdrawals from the IRA Account paying the income taxes as a lump sum and using the Roth Conversion option.

The Roth IRA assets will grow tax-free. “The Liquidate and Leverage strategy takes the money and puts it into a beneficiary trust, where it is leveraged with life insurance to provide maximum death benefit to the heirs, and it is out of the estate. With the Roth IRA Conversion, the money now grows tax-free, but it is still within the client’s estate, and has to rely on the markets for future growth.”

The event gave the attendees plenty to consider as they make their estate and retirement plans. Wealth Planning Network can be contacted by phone: (708) 481-4000, email:, or by visiting

Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service

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