05-11-2017 Columns

Give mom a gift to help her financial future

 With Mother’s Day around the corner, you might wonder if you should go beyond chocolates and flowers this year and give mom something that can help her far into the future. What sort of financial gift can improve her life? You could, for instance, encourage your mother to fund her IRA. As long as she has any earned income, she is eligible to invest in a traditional or Roth IRA (although a Roth IRA does have income limits which, if exceeded, will reduce and eventually eliminates contributions). In 2017, the IRA contribution limit is $5,500; or $6,500 for individuals 50 or older. Traditional IRA contributions may be deductible, depending on one’s income, and earnings can grow tax deferred. Taxes are due upon withdrawal and withdrawals prior to age 59-1/2 may be subject to a 10% IRS penalty. Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, but earnings are distributed tax-free, provided an investor has had the account at least five years and doesn’t start taking withdrawals until age 59-1/2. You can’t contribute directly to your mother’s IRA, but you can give her money to use for that purpose, if she chooses. And since she has until April 17, 2018, to fully fund her IRA for the 2017 tax year, your gift now may help make it that much easier for mom to “max out” on her account. Here’s another suggestion: Consider helping mom pay one or two months’ worth of insurance premiums. It’s possible that your mother is paying for multiple insurance policies, like life insurance and disability or long-term care insurance, so any financial help on your part would be valuable.

You might also want to give mom some tips on how she can help maintain her financial independence throughout her life. If she ever needed some type of long-term care, such as an extended stay in a nursing home or the services of a home health aide, the costs could be extremely high, and Medicare typically pays little of these expenses. So you might want to connect your mother with a financial professional, who can provide strategies for protecting her from long-term care costs.

Here’s one more suggestion: Give a gift to a charitable organization your mother supports. Even though you’re making the gift in mom’s name, you should be able to reap some benefits yourself, even apart from the good feelings you’ll get by helping a charitable group. As long as the charity has 501(c)(3) status (named after the section of the Internal Revenue Code that governs such groups), your gift can offer you tax advantages. On the most basic level, a gift of cash can earn you a tax deduction. So, for example, if you are in the 25% tax bracket, and you give $1,000 to a qualified charity, you will be able to deduct $250 from your taxes.

You may be able to get even more tax benefits if you donate appreciated assets, such as stocks, to a charity. If you give appreciated stocks you’ve held for more than one year, you can deduct the value of the securities, based on their worth when you make the gift – and neither you nor the charity will have to pay capital gains taxes on the donated investments.

Your mother has done a lot for you. This Mother’s Day, show her you appreciate her efforts.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Suicide and Overdose Awareness

 The Berrien County Health Department is leading an effort along with the Berrien County Suicide Prevention Coalition and other Recovery Oriented System of Care collaborators to raise awareness of the number of suicides and overdose deaths that occurred in Berrien County in 2016 in an effort to prevent further losses of life.

The Recovery Oriented System of Care (ROSC) represents a network of organizations, agencies, and community members that work to coordinate a wide spectrum of services to prevent, intervene in, and treat substance use problems and disorders in Berrien County. Together, these partners are bringing awareness to the unprecedented number of suicides and drug overdose deaths that are occurring in Berrien County in order to prevent further loss of life by suicide or overdose. In 2016 alone, there were a combined total of fifty-five deaths due to suicide (21 deaths) and drug overdoses (34 deaths). Sadly, this equates to more than one preventable death due to suicide and overdose each week.

In order to highlight the tragic loss that this number represents and to honor these fifty-five lives lost during 2016, the campaign will feature visual markers at high-traffic intersections around Berrien County through mid-May. To further respect the individuals who lost their lives to suicide and drug overdose, the group will host a “1 is 2 Many Life Fest” event for the community on Sunday, May 21, 2017 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Riverfront Park Pavilion in Niles. This event will provide an opportunity for survivors, family who have experienced a loss to suicide or overdose, and community members to share stories, show support, and provide hope as the work continues to address these important public health issues of suicide and drug abuse.

Community members are encouraged to visit the website www.1is2many.com to find more information regarding the “1 is 2 Many Life Fest” event, the ROSC efforts, and other organizations including the Berrien County Health Department, Riverwood Ce