Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Wins the 2017 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service

Budros, Ruhlin & Roe has been named the Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service SHARE Award 2017 winner.

The Pillar Award for Community Service was developed by Smart Business and Medical Mutual to honor businesses and individuals dedicated to making the Central Ohio region a better place to live. The Medical Mutual Share Award is presented to one company annually that best exemplifies employee-driven community service, philanthropy and volunteerism.

“We are honored to be selected as the winner of the SHARE Award. Our employees are very passionate about the organizations they dedicate their time to,” said Matthew Ullmer, Wealth Management Administrator.

Budros, Ruhlin & Roe’s employees donate time to many organizations throughout the community including the Salvation Army, Life Care Alliance, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Every year BRR employees participate in a one day, firm-wide service project in the Columbus community. In 2016, the firm supported LifeTown Columbus, which helps kids with disabilities gain valuable life skills in a “pretend city.”  Another annual event is a fund raiser for a worthy cause.  For 2016, it was Blessings in a Backpack, which provides school-aged children with a backpack of food for the weekend and extended holiday breaks during the school year. Employees packed over 150 backpacks for three Columbus area elementary schools prior to the extended Thanksgiving break. Budros, Ruhlin & Roe also donated $2,700 to Dublin Chapman Elementary School’s chapter of Blessings in a Backpack.

“We at Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc. believe that volunteerism and corporate giving are integral parts of running a successful business. We see it as our responsibility to give back to the community that supports our business while also increasing employee engagement and comradery,” said Peggy Ruhlin, Chief Executive Officer of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe.

Budros, Ruhlin and Roe, Inc. employees will accept their award on Thursday, January 26, 2017 at The Ohio Statehouse.

For more information about the Medical Mutual Pillar Award visit https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/tab2.aspx?EventID=1882039

Top 3 Year-End Divorce Planning Considerations

Are you currently in the process of terminating your marriage or considering terminating your marriage? Either way, you may want to start considering all your options and planning ahead prior to year-end:

  1. How will you file your tax return for 2016? If you are married as of December 31, 2016, you will file as married filing jointly or married filing separately. If you are married as of December 31, 2016 and you have been separated for the last 6 months (spouse did not live with you), you may be able to file as head of household. If you are not married on December 31st of 2016, you will file as single or head of household. Filing as head of household is typically better financially, as you may be taxed at a lower rate. However, you must meet certain criteria to file as head of household (paying more than half the cost of maintaining your home, your spouse did not live there for the last 6 months of the year, a dependent lived with you for more than half the year, and if you are still married, your spouse must file as married filing separately). You should consult your tax advisor to discuss the options available to you.
  2. If you have children and/or you are still married and your spouse did not live with you the last 6 months of the year, track the nights your child/children spent at your home during the year so you may have the option as filing your tax return as head of household! Again, discuss with your tax advisor.
  3. If you make charitable contributions or have other large itemized deductions, can you postpone them until next year if you are still married and plan to be divorced in 2017? The itemized deduction(s) could be worth more to you in the year you are divorced.

At BRR Divorce Advisors, we are experts and leaders in the field of Divorce Financial Planning. Contact us today for an experienced and professional guide through your divorce and to help you consider all your options.

Amy Weldele, CFP®, CDFA™ Senior Wealth Manager

Identity Theft

As more and more Americans rely on online banking, online shopping and online access to pretty much everything else, the odds that they will become victims of identity theft at some point are rising every day. While it’s impossible to be 100% protected from identity theft, there are important steps that you can take as preventative measures, as well as knowing what to do if the worst happens and you find that your identity has been stolen.

How can people protect themselves from becoming victims? Many of the preventative steps are common sense, but things that not many of us actively do. One of the first steps is not making it easy for thieves by using the same simple password like “password,” or “123456.” Passwords should not be just a word or even a date. Use special characters, upper and lower case letters and numbers. Also, you shouldn’t use the same password for every online account. If a thief can crack the one password you use for everything, he then has the keys to the castle.

Another key step in protecting yourself is limiting the amount of information that you share on social networking sites. An overzealous sharer might reveal enough personal information that a thief could discover answers to security questions, or even your mother’s maiden name, which is often used when establishing credit or verifying your identity. Being careful about what and how much you share, as well as setting your privacy settings at the highest level, is an easy step you can take to protect yourself and your personal information.

Securing your computer, tablet and phone is another important step. Keeping your computer free of viruses by running anti-virus software is critical. If your computer is infected with a virus or malware, thieves can gain access to information stored on your computer, or in some cases they can log the keystrokes you use, granting them easy access to your usernames and passwords as you enter them. Another way to secure your devices is to avoid using public wi-fi. Thieves can easily intercept data on unsecure wi-fi networks. Use your cellular data, or wait until you are on your home network to login to sensitive online accounts. Also, make sure that you secure your home wi-fi network with a password to make it harder for thieves to access your network and your data.

One of the most important preventative steps people can take is actively monitoring their bank accounts, credit cards and credit reports. You don’t have to use one of the services that provide this monitoring, like ID Watchdog, Identity Force, or LifeLock. However, these services offer users the peace of mind knowing that they don’t constantly need to be checking things. If you want to take the do-it-yourself approach, actively monitoring your bank accounts and credit card accounts to keep an eye out for unusual activity is important, as is checking your credit reports on a regular basis. Consumers can access their credit reports, free of charge, every 12 months by going to the website www.annualcreditreport.com . Since there are three credit reporting bureaus, consumers can effectively get a free look at their credit report every four months by requesting from the different bureaus.

Even if you’ve taken all the preventative measures described above and perhaps even more, there is still a chance that your identity can be stolen. If that happens, it’s important to know what to do next. The first step is placing a fraud alert on your credit report by contacting one of the credit reporting bureaus. The bureau that you contact will then share this with the other two reporting bureaus. This will create hurdles to a thief trying to access credit in your name. You can also consider requesting a credit freeze, which will prevent creditors from being able to access your credit report and issuing credit in your name. Requesting a current copy of your credit report is also important to determine if any fraudulent accounts have already been created. You should also change all your online passwords to prevent continued theft. Creating an Identity Theft report on the FTC’s website, www.identitytheft.gov , is also important. The website will allow you to enter information and create an “Identity Theft Affidavit” along with a personal recovery plan. You should then file a police report using the Identity Theft Affidavit. Keeping copies of the Identity Theft Affidavit along with the police report that you file can be used as an Identity Theft Report and given to credit reporting companies, debt collectors and any businesses that opened accounts in your name. There is a great resource offered by the FTC called Taking Charge, which is a handbook of sorts for navigating through an identity theft incident.

Restoring or repairing your credit after a theft can be a very time consuming and labor intensive process. For those not wanting to take the do-it-yourself approach, most of the credit monitoring companies offer some sort of assistance in restoring credit in the event of theft. In addition, check with your homeowner’s insurance company to determine if you have ID Theft coverage, or if coverage can be added. Oftentimes, this coverage pays for the cost of legal fees or professional services to handle much of the work on your behalf.

Identity theft is a topic that more and more of us are becoming familiar with. A September 2016 Bankrate.com survey estimated that as many as 41 million Americans have had their identity stolen and another 49 million know someone who has been affected by identity theft. Utilizing some of these simple preventative steps can lower the likelihood that you become a victim, but it’s no guarantee it won’t happen. It’s important to know what steps to take if you do become a victim in order to restore your credit, your security and your name.

 

For additional information on identity theft, contact Budros, Ruhlin & Roe.

Budros, Ruhlin & Roe named one of Forbes and RIA Channels’ 2016 Top 100 RIA Firms

Since 2006, Forbes and RIA Channel have been showcasing the fastest growing RIA firms. To be considered for the list, each firm must be a registered investment advisor (RIA) with the SEC, provide wealth management services and serve individual clients. Budros, Ruhlin & Roe has climbed to number 72 on the list. Click here to view the full list.

Recently, Budros, Ruhlin & Roe’s Chief Investment Officer Dan Roe, spoke with RIA Channel’s Julie Cooling to give insights on BRR’s growth in assets over the last 10 years.

“We are based in Ohio with one office. We work with a wonderful group of high net-worth families and individuals and some foundations and retirement plans,” said Roe.

View the full interview here.

Disclosure: Forbes and RIA Channel’s 2016 Top 100 RIA Firms ranking recognizes wealth management firms by growth in assets over the past 10 years. In order to be considered for the ranking, each firm must be a registered investment advisor with the SEC, provide wealth management services, and primarily serve individual clients. As the RIA market continues to develop, RIA Database, sister company to RIA Channel, continues to adapt its ranking criteria to reflect the market environment. This year, Budros Ruhlin & Roe ranked 72nd on RIA Channel’s annual ranking of the Top 100 RIA firms with $1.1 billion in asset growth over the last 10 years. In 2015, Budros Ruhlin & Roe was ranked 91st with $2.1 billion in total assets under management. For more information, please visit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/juliecooling/2016/11/14/top-100-ria-firms-by-ten-year-growth/#5c6eb187247b

529 ABLE Accounts-What you need to know

With the advent of 529 ABLE  accounts, families that have members with disabilities can now set aside funds, which grow tax-free, for the needs of those members now and in the future. Modeled after the 529 education funding accounts, these accounts aim to fill a gap between simply setting aside funds in a taxable account and establishing a special needs trust.

Prior to the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act of 2014, the ABLE Act, if families wanted to set aside funds for disabled children without potentially affecting their government benefits, a very specialized special needs trust was required. This was often prohibitive due to the expense and complication of the trust. Offering families a way to save without jeopardizing government assistance was key to allowing anyone to have the ability to provide for a disabled family member, not just families wealthy enough to hire an attorney to draft the trust.

ABLE accounts are similar to 529 education savings accounts in a number of ways. Money invested in an ABLE account grows tax-deferred and is tax-free when used for qualified expenses. Those expenses are fairly broadly defined, ranging from housing expenses to employment training. In Ohio, families can also claim a $2,000 state income tax deduction when they contribute to an account. Funds in an ABLE account can also be invested, either in stock and bond mutual funds, or in an interest bearing bank product. One key difference is that contributions to the account are limited to $14,000 per year, from all sources.

Utilizing an ABLE account is advantageous because it protects individuals with disabilities from losing benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Medicaid benefits are completely unaffected by money in an ABLE account and SSI is simply suspended when an ABLE account balance exceeds $100,000. Once the value of the account drops back to $100,000 or below, full SSI benefits resume.

There are some key things to be aware of regarding these ABLE accounts. First, unlike some special needs trusts, after the death of the beneficiary, Medicaid can seek to file a claim for some amount of repayment for support it provided. In the world of special needs trust planning, this is called a Medicaid payback provision. Also, states will be able to set their own limits for how much can be held in these accounts. In Ohio, the current limit is $426,000. Obviously, at the limit of $14,000 of contributions per year, this is not a limit that will be easily reached, but it is something to be aware of.

Ohio has been a leader in creating a platform for these ABLE accounts to be created and administered, which, just like 529 accounts, can be opened in any state, not only the state of residence. Ohio has named their accounts “STABLE accounts” and have created a very comprehensive website at www.stableaccount.com . For residents of the state of Ohio who have a family member with a disability, this could be a very useful tool. However, for families that are concerned about the Medicaid payback provisions, or who are just concerned that the STABLE account will not be substantial enough to provide for their loved one, it will likely make sense to use these new STABLE accounts in conjunction with a traditional special needs trust.

For additional information on ABLE accounts, contact Budros, Ruhlin & Roe

Follow Scott Kidwell on twitter at @BRR_ScottK

Open Enrollment Season

Now that the U.S. presidential election is behind us, employees across the U.S. can focus their attention on open enrollment season — the time of year when employees can enroll in “fringe benefits” for the upcoming year. Do not fall into the trap of just enrolling in the same “fringe benefits” as you have in the past, specifically if you have experienced any changes in your family dynamics throughout the course of the year. Below are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Health Insurance

  • Health Savings Account (HSA) vs. Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)
    • When comparing HSA’s, HRA’s and more traditional health insurance offerings, concentrate on comparing coverage, premiums, deductibles, out of pocket maximum limits, pre-tax contribution limits and employer contributions. Keep in mind, the best plan is not always the plan that your employer is making the largest contribution towards.
  • Spousal Surcharges
    • Spousal surcharges are becoming more widespread as health insurance premiums continue to rise. These are additional charges to employees who choose to keep a spouse on their employer’s plan when the spouse is employed and eligible for health insurance through his/her own employer. If these charges are applicable, certainly consider the costs and benefits of each spouse being on their own employer’s plan.
  • Wellness Incentives and Health Insurance Premium Discounts
    • These incentives and discounts may seem insignificant on a per pay basis but they can add up to some significant savings over the course of a year.

Flexible Savings Account (FSA)

  • Dependent Care FSA
    •  Dependent Care FSA’s allow you to save pre-tax money to get reimbursed for what you pay toward childcare for children up to age 13. The annual contribution limit is $5,000. Given that average annual costs for childcare for a child 5 or under is $10,000 per year, Dependent Care FSA’s for this demographic are a “no-brainer.”  For children between ages 6 and 13 you may need to approximate the contribution based on anticipated childcare costs over the course of the year. Just remember, if you do not incur expenses up to the amount you contributed you will lose a portion of your contributions, as all FSA’s have a use it or lose it clause.

Insurance

  • Life/Disability/Long-Term Care Insurance
    • Some employers offer supplemental life and disability insurance benefits. Prior to signing up for these benefits, confirm you need the benefits. To the extent you do need the benefits, request quotes from an independent agent to verify you are not overpaying for the coverage.

 

For additional information on employee benefit enrollment, contact Budros, Ruhlin & Roe.

Follow Kevin Wuebker here on twitter @BRR_KWuebker .

Six BRR Senior Professionals named Five Star Wealth Managers by Five Star Professional

Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc., the largest independent, fee-only wealth management firm in Columbus, Ohio, announced today that six of its senior professionals have been named Five Star Wealth Managers by Five Star Professional.

Aaron Armstrong, CFP®, CFA, Danny Due, CFP®, Andrea Ellis, CFP®, Jessica Lee, John McHugh, CPA, CFP®, CAP® and Amy Weldele, CFP®, CDFA® were recognized with the 2016 distinction.

“We are very proud that Aaron, Danny, Andrea, Jessica, John and Amy have been recognized as top wealth managers in Columbus,” said Peggy Ruhlin, CEO of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc.  “This is a testament to our commitment to provide our clients with the highest level of financial planning and investment management services.”

Disclosure: The Five Star Wealth Manager award, administered by Crescendo Business Services, LLC (dba Five Star Professional). Award candidates were evaluated against 10 objective eligibility and evaluation criteria. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star Wealth Managers. For more information on the Five Star award and the research/selection methodology, go visit: www.fivestarprofessional.com.
For additional disclosure information, please visit: https://www.fivestarprofessional.com/wmdisclosures/COLWM16 

QDROs and Beneficiary Designations

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) and Beneficiary Designations

Without exception, our clients want to move on with their lives as quickly as possible after their divorce. Moving on includes taking control of their own finances. There is a long list of things to do in order to take control of post-divorce finances that are beyond the scope of this article (we would be happy to send you a guide upon request). Our recommendation is to enlist the services of an experienced Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA™) professional before the divorce is final to ensure that the final agreement does not have negative long-term consequences.

We regularly engage with clients to complete these items and there is one simple (to us) but infuriating (to clients) road-block that almost all face: retirement plan beneficiary designations.

If the divorce is not yet final and the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is in process, our clients will need to obtain a signed consent from their current spouse to name someone else as beneficiary. Most financial institutions require spousal consent for a non-spouse beneficiary designation. Experts believe this is simply a policy protection from beneficiary-related litigation for custodians.

For example, an agreement awards 50% of Jim’s 401K account to Sally via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). In order to receive the funds, we are opening a Rollover IRA account in advance of the QDRO in Sally’s name. This way, we can tell the 401K plan administrator exactly where the funds should go and avoid any potential hiccups in the transfer process. However, custodian policy requires that an individual name their spouse as beneficiary of retirement funds, and our client is not yet officially divorced. As CDFA professionals experienced in the intricacies of account transition, we will inform Sally that she has three options to remedy the situation:

  1. Obtain her former spouse’s signature as a spousal consent on the new account paperwork. Jim must effectively agree to allow Sally to name her children as the beneficiaries of the funds she was just awarded in the divorce.

Client Quote: “You mean I just spent 18 months and X dollars fighting over this money and I still need his permission to do what I want with my money?!” Practical Consideration: What if the relationship has deteriorated to the point where Jim refuses to agree to the change in beneficiary? It may cost X dollars in attorney fees to force him to do so. Practical Consideration : What if Sally doesn’t want Jim to know who her financial advisor will be post-divorce? Name the former spouse as beneficiary temporarily. Although, If Jim and Sally no longer communicate, she could simply name Jim as beneficiary with the intent of updating the beneficiary designation as soon as the divorce is final. Client Quote : “You mean we have come all this way and I have to keep him as my beneficiary and he will inherit my money if I die?!” Practical Consideration : What if we decide to postpone but somehow forget to change the beneficiary designation once the divorce is final? Does the judgment awarding the 50% to Sally protect her? Practical Consideration : What if something happens while the judgment is pending? Who inherits Sally’s money? Delay the transfer of funds. QDROs take time: the QDRO cannot be carried out until the final judgment is signed by a judge. Client Quote : “But you said ‘Taking Control Now’ was the most important part of my financial transition after the divorce! Now you are telling me to wait?! Wait for what?!” Practical Consideration : So what is the harm in waiting? One major concern is the management of investments inside of the account. When transfers are delayed, the funds are often managed by the former spouse or his/her investment advisor. The advisor used by a couple during marriage is rarely appropriate for both parties to work with after a divorce. Either they will be aligned with one party, unfamiliar with the specific needs of one spouse, or unable to provide the necessary services. In addition, there is often a lack of trust. Practical Consideration : The account could lose value during the dissolution proceeding. Guess who gets blamed for the losses? Usually the former spouse – which means the client may not trust anything they have to say and turn into X dollars of additional unnecessary discovery efforts. Practical Consideration : We may want to obtain authorization and consent from the former spouse for our client to take over managing his/her portion of the funds.
The financial transition following divorce offers the opportunity for clients to remake their financial lives in a way that supports their ongoing comfort, security, and dreams. Most importantly, it offers the opportunity to take control of their finances as a single individual. The complications of such simple things as paperwork, as evidenced above, can have prolonged and lasting effects on our clients’ lives when the power struggle continues after the financial agreements are reached. Enlisting the services of an experienced CDFA™ professional during the process will help clients obtain the most financially advantageous settlement possible and support their financial independence far beyond divorce negotiations.

At BRR Divorce Advisors we are experts and leaders in the field of Divorce Financial Planning. Contact us today for an experienced and professional guide through your post-divorce transition and help consider your beneficiary designations. Also follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/BRR_AmyWeldele or @BRR_AmyWeldele.

Amy Weldele, CFP®, CDFA™ SeniorWealth Manager

Budros Ruhlin & Roe Winner of Annual Invest in Others Community Leadership Award

The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation announced the winner of its Corporate Philanthropy Award in the categories of Advisory Firms and Financial Institutions as part of the 2016 Community Leadership Awards.

Now in its tenth year, the Community Leadership Awards program recognizes the charitable work of financial advisors and financial services firms in communities across the country and around the world. Invest in Others launched the Corporate Philanthropy Award in 2015 to recognize the importance of encouraging philanthropy at a corporate level. The organization received dozens of nominations this year from a diverse range of companies in the financial services industry.

Finalists were selected based on their community impact, contribution, inspiration, and incentives to encourage employees to give back. Each winner will receive a $1,000 donation from Invest in Others for a charity of its choice.

“Our 2016 corporate finalists were a wonderful mix of small advisory firms and large financial services companies based in different communities across the country. Each finalist creatively incentivizes its employees to give back through programs such as volunteer time off, matching gifts, and volunteer events. What’s most striking is how successful these programs are – on average, 76% of employees and 82% of senior leadership participate – and the ten companies cumulatively volunteered 107,000 hours last year. The collective impact is incredible,” said Megan McAuley, Executive Director & President of Invest in Others.

By award category, the 2016 Corporate Philanthropy Award winners are:

Advisory Firms

  • Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, Inc.

Financial Institutions

  • Ameriprise Financial, Inc.

Awards were presented at the tenth annual Invest in Others Community Leadership Awards Gala, a premier event attended by over 500 financial advisors and financial services executives, on September 29, 2016 in New York City.

About the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation

The Invest in Others Charitable Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded by the financial services industry to make a difference in communities across the country and around the world by amplifying the charitable work of financial advisors and financial services firms. To realize our goals, we recognize and reward philanthropy, inspire volunteerism, and inform the investing public about the positive impact made by advisors and their firms in their communities. Today, Invest in Others is the premier, industry wide non-profit dedicated to recognizing, encouraging, and supporting the charitable work of financial advisors and the advisory industry. For more information, visit www.investinothers.org.