03-21-2019 COLUMNS

What should you do with an inheritance? If you were to receive a sizable inheritance, what should you do with it? This money could help you achieve some of your important financial goals – so you’ll want to think carefully about your choices. Of course, everyone’s needs are different, so there’s no one “right” way to handle a large lump sum. But here are a few suggestions that may be useful: Pay off some debts – Depending on the size of your inheritance, you may want to consider paying off some, if not all, of your debts, such as car loans, personal loans and student loans. You might even consider paying off your mortgage, but you may not want to, as you might be able to get a better return on your money by investing it. Also, if all your money is tied up in a house, you’ll typically have less liquidity than you would get from your investments. Contribute more to your retirement accounts – You may now be able to afford to contribute more to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan, as well as to your IRA. These accounts offer tax benefits plus an array of investment choices, so they are excellent ways to build resources for retirement. Save for college – If you have children, or grandchildren, whom you would like to someday send to college, you might want to put some of your inheritance into a college savings vehicle, such as a 529 plan, which provides tax benefits and gives you great flexibility in distributing the money. Build an emergency fund – If you haven’t already built an emergency fund containing six to 12 months’ worth of living expenses, you may be able to do so now, using part of your inheritance. Keep the money in a liquid, low-risk account, so that it’s readily available to pay for unexpected costs. Without such a fund, you might be forced to tap into your long-term investments. Above all else, you may want to get some help. If you don’t already have one, a financial professional can recommend ways of using the money to help you meet your goals. For one thing, you could further diversify your investments, which is important, because diversification can help reduce the effects of market volatility on your portfolio. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification can’t prevent all losses or guarantee profits.) And a financial professional can help you determine how much your plans could change due to the inheritance. To name just one possibility, you might be able to move up your retirement date. If so, you’d need to adjust many aspects of your financial strategy, such as when to take Social Security, how much to withdraw each year from your retirement accounts, and so on. You’ll also need to consult with your tax advisor, because some inherited assets, such as an IRA, could have tax implications. Your loved ones worked hard, and probably invested for many years, to leave a legacy for you. So, to honor their memory, do whatever you can to handle your inheritance wisely. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

2019 #SWMISpirit tournament has tipped off I am proud to continue hosting the Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament, a tradition started by my predecessor, former Sen. John Proos. The #SWMISpirit tournament has grown to become a popular event among students, parents, alumni, and members of our Southwest Michigan communities. Last year, participants from all 31 area schools submitted thousands of photos during the competition in a showcase of outstanding school spirit. This year’s tournament began this week on Monday, March 18 and will continue for five weeks, ending at noon, Friday, April 19. The 31 area high schools in the tournament were divided into four brackets and, like in the NCAA tournament, the schools compete in a single-elimination bracket contest with those earning the most points advancing to the next round each week. The contest rules have changed slightly for 2019, and points are accumulated in numerous ways, including: Each school will be assigned its own unique photo album on facebook.com/SenKimLaSata/ for the opening round; only the photo albums of each winning school from each round will advance to the next round; participants will post their photos within their school’s photo album in the comment section. Use of the #SWMISpirit hashtag is encouraged; bonus points will be given when others “like” and comment on a school’s photo album; fans can also earn points for sharing my posts about the contest; points may also be earned by voting in polls on my Facebook page and at www.StateSenatorKimLaSata.com. Please visit my Facebook page for the bracket, tournament rules and, of course, to participate! The #SWMISpirit tournament has been a great success, and I encourage everyone to join in and continue to show that no one has more school spirit than Southwest Michigan. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on important issues facing SW Michigan. You can reach me at 517-373-6960 or SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov.

Agriculture Day at the Capitol Wednesday, March 13 was Agriculture Day in Michigan. Every year, the Michigan Farm Bureau hosts “Ag Day at the Capitol” to recognize the individuals that dedicate their lives to fueling our nation and the world. I was delighted to see so many people in all aspects of agriculture there to showcase their important work. Here in Michigan, and especially in the Southwest, agriculture is a central part of our history and economy today. In fact, the value of products sold from Van Buren County alone has surpassed $194 million annually. Van Buren County is also one of the largest producers of blueberries in the nation and still manages to produce a wide variety of other products, such as grapes, grains, soy beans, apples, milk, pigs, cattle, sod, and more! I am grateful our farmers and agri-business members have carried on this rich history and crucial industry. It is not an easy lifestyle and those who choose to make the efforts required to live it, embody the values that have led o