The 2020 RMD Waiver and How it May Affect Your Retirement Plan

The 2020 RMD Waiver and How it May Affect Your Retirement Plan

The CARES Act (or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was an enormous piece of legislation enacted in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was designed to mitigate the effects that lockdown and lost business (and wages) were having on employers and employees. Its passage was preceded by the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement) in late December 2019. Both brought many changes to retirement plan design, participation, and administration.

Waiving the requirement for required minimum distributions

One change concerns the 2020 required minimum distribution (RMD) that retirement account owners or participants historically had to withdraw upon reaching age 70½ .These distributions must be taken for Traditional IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, SEP IRAs, rollover IRAs, and most 401(k) and 403(b) plans. RMDs do not apply to Roth IRAs unless it is an inherited IRA.

However, for 2020, the CARES Act waives RMDs. Even if you’d already been taking this distribution, you no longer have to do so in 2020 (which enables you to keep those funds in a tax-advantaged retirement plan for continued investment and growth).

Here are some other updates regarding RMD regulations:

Additional RMD updates:

As with any retirement plan and investment, individuals are encouraged to consult their trusted advisor or tax professional to work out the best way to handle their required minimum distributions—whether to take advantage of this year’s waiver, do a rollover, or wait until age 72 to begin, depending on your age and situation. If you have a qualified retirement plan through work, check with the plan administrator about your options.

RMDs and self-directed retirement plans

The RMD waivers and updated provisions concerning these distributions apply to self-directed retirement plans as well. And, with the age increase for taking these distributions, self-directed investors with alternative assets within their plans have the potential to accrue more retirement income from real estate, precious metals, private equity, and many more nontraditional investments these plans allow. There is also now a longer time horizon for using self-directed funds for unsecured or secured loans, which are other popular ways to invest through a self-directed IRA.

The professionals at Next Generation are available to help you calculate your RMD when you’re ready—whether in 2020 or in the future—and will handle all the tax reporting and administration associated with your self-directed IRA. If you have questions about RMDs or about self-direction as a retirement wealth-building strategy, you can schedule a complimentary educational session. To connect with our team directly, call Next Generation at 888.857.8058 or email us at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Investing in Cryptocurrency in a Self-Directed IRA

One of the benefits of self-direction as a retirement strategy is the ability to include a broad array of nontraditional investments in an IRA or retirement plan. One such investment that has the attention of certain savvy investors is cryptocurrency.

Many people have heard of Bitcoin—a form of cryptocurrency—but what is this alternative asset all about?

What is cryptocurrency?

In short, it’s a digital or virtual currency—not paper money or metal coins—that is created on decentralized networks of computers using blockchain technology. Blockchain is a distributed/online ledger and an organizational method for ensuring the integrity and security of all transactional data—an essential component of many cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrencies are secured by encryption techniques called cryptography and allow for secure online payments as virtual tokens—these tokens are the ledger entries in the system. Cryptocurrencies are not held at a bank nor issued by any central authority such as a government agency or financial institution. No personal information is exchanged during a transaction and there is no third-party interaction with institutions such as a banks or credit card companies. The parties’ digital wallets are account addresses with a public key and the owner has a private key to sign transactions.

Bitcoin, launched in 2009, became famous as the first blockchain-based cryptocurrency; today, there are many others that compete with it. A more detailed explanation of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency can be found here.

Including cryptocurrency in a self-directed IRA

Diversifying one’s retirement plan through self-direction enables individuals to include many non-publicly traded alternative assets—such as cryptocurrency—in their retirement portfolios. Investors who know and understand this asset also know that market prices are based on token supply and trader/user demand, and the exchanges the currencies trade on.

(NOTE: There is a limited supply of this computer-generated currency by design; for example, Bitcoin was designed to cap at 21 million).

That said, like many nontraditional investments, cryptocurrencies can provide a hedge against stock market volatility and inflation, and unlike other alternative assets, are certainly easy to transport and use.

Investing in Cryptocurrency through an IRA at Next Generation

Note that any time you buy or trade a digital asset, this transaction is done through a digital wallet that is linked to a checking account. If you plan to invest in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, most self-directed IRA custodians, like Next Generation, require that this be done through an LLC; the LLC is funded by the self-directed IRA and opens a business checking account to use for the digital wallet. This checkbook control should ensure that the funds are held and used specifically for the purpose of buying or trading this digital asset (or other alternative assets within the IRA)

If you’ve done your research on cryptocurrencies—or if you’re already trading these digital assets outside of your existing IRA—you can form an IRA LLC with Next Generation and start building a more diverse retirement portfolio that includes Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. You can also schedule a complimentary educational session with one of Next Generation’s team members to discuss how this all works. For questions about self-direction as a retirement strategy, contact Next Generation by phone at 1.888.857.8058 or by email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

 

Retirement Planning in the Face of the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are all aware of the widespread economic impact that the lockdowns instituted to curb COVID-19 have had on U.S. businesses and taxpayers, which has moved Americans to rethink their retirement planning strategies.

Given the spikes in unemployment or reduction in wages experienced by millions of people – and unpredictable stock market performance, which so many rely upon for their retirement wealth – the pandemic is causing disruptions beyond the everyday.

Ken Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Age Wave, reported in an article on ThinkAdvisor said, “The pandemic has had the biggest impact on what we used to think of as retirement because now all the pieces on the table are moving around. It’s brought to light the importance of matching health span to life span. People are thinking more and more about the importance of health and what they can do to optimize it.”

Health spans, lifespans, and retirement lifestyles

Americans have enjoyed longer lifespans over the generations and have had to plan on saving more for retirement to enjoy their lifestyles for longer periods of time. However, COVID-19 has older adults also thinking more about their health. As Dychtwald puts it, they have suddenly been thrust into thinking about what matters most in life. He feels that for many people, the psychological impact of the pandemic has been not only to consider what happens if they die, but how they want to live their lives—more streamlined, pared down to the essentials of a good life, and optimizing their health.

That said, according to Dychtwald, there’s more optimizing to do for retirees in the realms of technology and financial literacy. He says this population needs to adapt to and adopt technology to connect to new ways of socializing, access medical care (via telemedicine), or research financial information. A Pew Research study reported that only 62% of Americans over age 75 use the internet and 28% use or feel comfortable connecting to social media. And when it comes to financial health, Dychtwald notes many retirees don’t understand their options for retirement savings and what it all means, including Social Security benefits.

So where does retirement planning come into this new pandemic-colored picture?

A new post-pandemic lifestyle?

For many people, they’ve been experiencing a quieter, simpler lifestyle in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns and safety guidelines— and may be re-evaluating what their retirement looks like. Will it include more travel or less travel? Time spent with loved ones or more time for hobbies or volunteering? Staying in a sprawling home or downsizing to a cozy bungalow, moving to an urban environment from the suburbs or getting that cabin in the woods?

Given the business closures—even temporary ones—business owners who may have been putting off retirement before the pandemic might be looking at retiring earlier than originally planned … and are taking a fresh look at their retirement accounts and how the funds are invested.

Taking control of your financial future with self-directed IRAs

Luckily for self-directed investors, they’re connecting, researching, and are savvy about the types of investments they’re including within their retirement accounts. Rather than rely on the ups and downs of the stock market or tolerate sluggish returns on Treasuries, self-directed investors are taking stock of their goals, perhaps shifting their priorities, and planning for the future—despite these uncertain times—with nontraditional investments such as real estate, private equity, secured and unsecured loans, hedge funds, precious metals and many more.

While this retirement strategy is not for everyone, many individuals are seeking a hedge against stock market volatility (such as the recent market turbulence wrought by the pandemic), portfolio diversification and better control over their investment returns – all benefits offered by self-directed IRAs.

Are you looking to shift your retirement strategy to include alternative assets you already know and understand? Do you want to develop a retirement portfolio that reflects your interests or an area of expertise? If you’re comfortable making your own investment decisions, it’s a great time to plan your retirement from a different perspective. You’ll find a plethora of information about self-directed IRAs on our website; and if you have questions about how to get started, you can schedule a complimentary educational session with someone from our team.  Alternatively, you can contact us directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Education Savings Accounts – It’s Never too Early to Start Investing in Alternative Assets

The baby’s born, the gifts and cards are delivered . . . and investors with an eye toward the future open an education savings account (ESA).

An ESA is a federally sponsored, tax-advantaged, flexible savings tool that enables friends and family to help fund a child’s education through contributions to the account. Any adult can establish an ESA for any child under 18 years old or with special needs.

The funds can pay for private elementary or high school, trade school, or college. Qualified expenses include:

Designated beneficiaries can receive distributions, tax-free, to cover qualified education expenses. These expenses can also be paid directly from the account to the educational institution. The beneficiary has until age 30 to use the funds for all qualified expenses.

If the original beneficiary won’t be using all the funds in time (excluding special needs students), the account can be transferred to another family member under age 30. The funds can also be distributed to the beneficiary when he or she reaches age 30; this distribution is taxable and a 10% penalty may be triggered if the distribution is not for qualified education expenses.

In addition:

Self-directed ESAs

Education savings accounts have certain limitations, such as income restrictions for contributing individuals and an annual contribution limit per individual beneficiary of $2000. However, opening a self-directed ESA can help boost the growth of those contributions by investing in non-publicly traded alternative assets.

Instead of relying on stocks, bonds or mutual funds, the account owner can invest in real estate, private placements, hedge funds, precious metals and many other nontraditional investments a self-directed ESA would allow. Including alternative assets within an ESA provides a hedge against stock market volatility and diversifies the portfolio.

Self-directed ESAs are handled by a third-party administrator for self-directed retirement plans, like Next Generation Services. As with any self-directed retirement plan, the account owner makes the investment decisions and provides instructions to the administrator. In the case of Next Generation, our sister firm, Next Generation Trust Company, custodies the assets, providing comprehensive account services under one corporate umbrella.

If you’re interested in opening a self-directed ESA for a minor under the age of 18, schedule a complimentary educational session to get answers to your questions about self-direction as an investment strategy. Alternatively, you can contact us directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email us at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Investing in Private REITs with a Self-Directed IRA

A  real estate investment trust (REIT) is a company that invests in/owns and usually operates all types of income-producing commercial real estate: multi-family housing/apartment buildings, student housing, retirement and senior communities; warehouse and industrial properties; retail centers, hospitality, and office buildings.

In order to qualify as a (REIT), the company must file with the SEC and meet certain SEC requirements. Although most REITs are publicly traded on stock exchanges (known as public, traded or listed REITs), there are also private REITs; like their stock exchange-traded counterparts, private REITS must register with the SEC and are subject to the same IRS regulations. That includes the requirement to return 90 percent of their taxable income to shareholders annually.

One big difference in public vs. private REITs is that the latter are not as susceptible to demand-driven price volatility as public REITs, whose value fluctuates daily; private REITs are valuated annually.

Why invest in a REIT

Renters are on the rise—and so is rental property popularity

Multi-family housing represents a large portion of real estate investments, thanks to an increase in the renter population, which has been in growth mode for a few years and continues to rise. There are several reasons for this:

Investing in private REITs with a self-directed IRA

As you know, a self-directed IRA can include many different types of nontraditional investments, with real estate being the most popular class of alternative assets within these plans.

When your self-directed IRA invests in a private REIT, all income and expenses related to the asset flow in and out of the retirement plan. However, private REITS are not the only type of real estate investment you can include in a self-directed IRA. Other types of real estate investments might allow you to partner your self-directed IRA with another buyer, transact a “fix & flip” and take the profit on the sale of the property, or buy and hold the asset, so the IRA earns tax-advantaged rental income over time.

After you’ve researched a REIT or any other real estate investment you’d like to include in a self-directed retirement plan, it’s time to open and fund your account. At Next Generation we not only provide comprehensive transaction support, we also provide client education about investing in real estate and other alternative assets through a self-directed retirement plan. Of particular importance is understanding prohibited transactions and disqualified persons as defined by the IRS.

If you have questions regarding this strategy, don’t hesitate to contact Next Generation at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or call 888.857.8058. Alternatively, you can schedule a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives.

Considering Taking a Hardship Distribution from Your Retirement Plan?

The coronavirus pandemic is leaving millions of Americans on furlough or out of a job, dealing with reduced hours or workload… but NOT with reduced monthly bills to pay. For many, this is a time of financial hardship. Sadly, according to a 2018 Federal Reserve report, 40 percent of adults cannot cover a $400 emergency expense and the current situation goes far beyond that.

Sometimes, individuals consider dipping into one’s retirement plan to cover short-term expenses. Among the emergency expenses that may qualify for such a withdrawal are tuition/education expenses; down payment or repairs on a primary residence, rent or mortgage payments (to thwart possible eviction or foreclosure); out-of-pocket medical expenses; and funeral costs.

Historically:

Changes with the CARES Act

This stimulus package has loosened the rules around taking hardship withdrawals from retirement plans, and loans from 401(k) plans. A CARES Act provision allows individuals who are facing adverse financial consequences due to COVID-19 to withdraw funds from their retirement accounts without penalty (regardless of age). This applies to IRAs and 401(k) plans.

The withdrawal must be made before December 31, 2020 and can be up to $100,000. Tax payments on this income are extended out three years. For those taking loans against their 401(k)s, that amount is also raised to $100,000. Note that there are no loans from IRAs.

Why gamble with your retirement savings?

Many financial experts argue against taking out a hardship loan from one’s 401(k) plan to avoid reducing any retirement savings, when there are other loan options available (such as a home equity loan, SBA loan, or other lines of credit). And, all good intentions aside, it may be difficult to replace the funds from a hardship distribution from an IRA or other retirement plan—and then rebuild on that money for retirement.On top of that, the stock market has suffered a tremendous downturn, with subsequent volatility almost daily, as a result of COVID-19 and the economic stressors stemming from lockdowns.

Weathering market volatility through self-direction

Self-directed investors have greater leeway when it comes to hedging against that stock market volatility. That’s because of the many alternative assets that can be held in a self-directed retirement plan. Investing in real estate, precious metals, private equity, or other non-publicly traded assets give savvy investors many more ways to build a more diverse retirement portfolio that have stronger potential to weather the COVID-19 storm (and other times of economic uncertainty). One reason is because the returns on nontraditional investments in a self-directed IRA do NOT directly correlate with stock market returns.

You can even loan funds from your self-directed IRA to someone who is dealing with a cash flow shortage, with the terms worked out between both parties, and receive interest and principal paid back to your IRA.

As always, it is best to consult your trusted financial adviser about how to navigate financial hardship as it relates to your retirement plan. At Next Generation, we’re here to answer any questions you have about self-direction as a retirement strategy, or about the many alternative assets allowed in these plans. You can schedule a complimentary educational session to learn more or contact us directly via phone at 888.857.8058 or email NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Want Out of the Stock Market? Consider Precious Metals in a Self-Directed IRA

Buckle up, investors—the stock market is taking millions of people for a very uncomfortable ride during the Covid-19 pandemic. Individuals who maintain retirement portfolios with traditional assets like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds have seen precipitous declines in their retirement accounts this month as the markets, businesses, and the world deal with the virus.

Advisors will say that diversification is always the key to a healthy portfolio—something self-directed investors know and practice. One way to hedge against the volatility of the stock market and reduce risk is to include alternative assets within a self-directed IRA. Along with real estate, precious metals are among some of the most popular nontraditional investment options that can be held in a self-directed IRA. In fact, there has been a recent spike in demand from investors who wish to diversify their retirement accounts with metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. You can read the particulars of including precious metals in a self-directed IRA in this blog post.

Why include precious metals in a self-directed IRA?
Long before there was paper currency, there were gold and silver, traded around the world. Key benefits to including precious metals in a self-directed IRA is that these assets have no credit risk, serve as a hedge against market volatility, and also do so vis-à-vis political instability, currency weakness, and economic collapse. As Goldman Sachs was quoted this week, “gold is the currency of last resort.” Given the news swirling around us right now, it’s no wonder precious metals are in higher demand as a long-term investment.

In a move to stabilize the U.S. economy and ward off a credit crunch, the U.S. Federal Reserve has committed to purchasing an unlimited number of Treasuries and securities tied to residential and commercial mortgages. This process, called “quantitative easing,” is meant to enhance liquidity of financial markets. Pushing more money into the market affects gold prices inversely; as more money is available, interest rates go down and the value of gold goes up. This article on MarketWatch explains further and predicts gold will increase sharply in value in the coming weeks.

If you’re already knowledgeable about investing in precious metals or want to include this alternative asset in your retirement plan, check out our helpful Precious Metals Guide to learn more. If you have questions about self-direction and the other kinds of nontraditional investments these plans allow, register for a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives. Alternatively, you can call us directly at 888.857.8058 or send an email to  NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.

Women’s History Month: A Look at Women and Their Financial & Investing History

Ever since the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s a lot has changed for women in America, thanks to spitfire pioneers who generated shifts in societal attitudes and pushed for legislative changes.

The National Organization of Women advocated for six measures to ensure women’s equality: enforcement of laws banning employment discrimination, maternity leave rights, childcare centers (so mothers could work), tax deductions for childcare expenses, equal and unsegregated education, and equal job-training opportunities for women in poverty. These all took many years to pass.

Eventually, as more women entered the workforce employers were barred from firing a woman because she was pregnant. More women began running for political office. No-fault divorce laws arose. Women began serving in combat, became astronauts, and sat on the Supreme Court bench. Moreover, they could finally apply for a credit card or loan in their own names.

Women in financial history

Women have been making their mark on the financial sector since our country’s early days. In fact, future First Lady Abigail Adams began trading in government-issued bonds during the Revolutionary War with strong results, and a woman named Victoria Woodhull opened her own brokerage house in 1870 with her sister; she also ran her own newspaper company and was the first woman to run for U.S. President.

Some more notable firsts in modern times:

Women and investing

The women’s liberation movement notwithstanding, it’s been an uphill climb for women to take their rightful places in the workplace and take their seats at corporate tables. As of January 1, 2020, there have been 82 individual women in Fortune 500 CEO roles in total, with three serving as CEO twice.

However, more women are undergoing a new women’s liberation movement when it comes to their investment choices . . . and discovering they can take more control of their financial futures through self-directed investing.

Self-directed IRAs enable investors to better control their retirement savings by investing in alternative assets they know and understand. Although historically, women have taken a more moderate approach to risk, those who prefer to make their own investment decisions can open a new self-directed retirement plan and include non-publicly traded, alternative assets to build a more diverse retirement portfolio. These investments might include real estate, private equity, private lending, partnerships, precious metals or impact investments.

Self-directed investors also conduct their own research and due diligence about the alternative assets they wish to include in their retirement plans. They may already be investing in these assets outside of their existing retirement accounts. In fact, that’s how our founder and CEO, Jaime Raskulinecz, started Next Generation.

Next Generation’s Women in History

Jaime was a seasoned real estate investor who wanted to include real estate in her IRA; she discovered self-direction as a retirement strategy that would allow her to do so. As a pioneer in her own right, Jaime started a company in 2004 to enable more investors to include nontraditional investments in their retirement plans and Next Generation, a third-party administrator for those plans, was born. Continuing to build on her success, in 2017 she led the formation of its sister firm, Next Generation Trust Company, which now acts as custodian for all of its accounts.

Jaime and her partner Linda Varas, Principal of Next Generation, have always believed in the power of women in the workplace and our team is a testament to that. Jaime and Linda have cultivated a career-building environment for women (and men, too!), as you’ll see on our team page.

We are proud to recognize Jaime’s many professional achievements as we continue to educate more women on the power of self-directed investing. Want to take control of your future, today? Sign up for a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives. Alternatively, you can email us directly at NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or call 888.857.8058 to get started.

Amid Stock Market Downturn, Consider Self-Directed IRAs

Many investors are dealing with yet another stock market downturn, which is in reaction to current events such as global concerns about the Coronavirus and U.S. politics during an election year. These and other factors—from geopolitics to macroeconomics, trade issues to plant closings to a company’s profitability and earnings—can influence a stock market downturn.

Stocks by nature are volatile, which is why many investors look to alternative assets to build their retirement savings and avoid stock market downturns that are often hard to predict. That means looking at self-directed IRAs, which allow individuals to include a variety of nontraditional investments and build a more diverse retirement portfolio based on assets they already know and understand.

Look at it this way: unless they work there, many people are not experts on what a Blue Chip or Fortune 500 company produces or sells, and they certainly cannot control what those companies do in the marketplace. However, many people know a lot about investing in real estate, precious metals, or private equity. Others like the idea of including secured or unsecured loans in their retirement plan, with terms they determine with the borrower. All of these investment types can be included in a self-directed IRA, where investors build retirement wealth with alternative assets—and have better control over their earnings.

A self-directed IRA has the same tax advantages as regular retirement plans with the added bonus of being a great hedge against stock market volatility. For those who are comfortable making their own investment decisions and conducting their due diligence, self-direction is a powerful retirement strategy.

Typical retirement plans offered by brokerage houses or banks limit investors to publicly traded stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, and mutual or exchange-traded funds. But a self-directed IRA allows you to hold the alternative investments noted above plus notes, private placements, limited partnerships, tax lien certificates and more.

Our whitepaper library has a lot of great information about self-directed IRAs and our helpful team is here to answer your questions about self-direction. To find out more about self-direction, you may call us at 888.857.8058 or send an email to  NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com. Alternatively, you can sign up for a complimentary educational session with one of our knowledgeable representatives.