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Advisor News Insight

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Merry Christmas and
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From all of Us at BEST!




Industry News


Charitable Planning


2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy


The 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, published in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, finds that wealthy Americans continue to be generous with their time and money, increasing the amount they gave on average to charitable causes and organizations in 2017, including giving in the wake of natural disasters. The biennial study shows that 90 percent of high net worth (HNW) households gave to charity last year, and 48 percent volunteered time to nonprofit organizations and causes.


Clients Are Still in the Dark on Charitable Giving


Charitable giving jumped to $400 billion last year and donor advised funds are becoming an increasingly important part of that scenario, according to Giving USA’s annual report on philanthropy. Anecdotal evidence suggests that 2018 has been even stronger, despite earlier worries of a decline.


This article was written by Amanda Schiavo, Associate Editor of Financial Planning.


Help HNW Clients with High-Impact Philanthropy


Many ultra-wealthy individuals and families — those who hold $500 million or more in assets — say they want to achieve more with their philanthropy. But current giving levels fall far short of these donors’ potential.


This article was written by Susan Wolf Ditkoff, a Partner and Co-head of The Bridgespan Group philanthropy practice.


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College Planning


Tuition Tracker


Tuition Tracker is an interactive tool designed to help parents and students find the right college or university among thousands by using search criteria, such as desired location, price and size, to filter results. Tuition Tracker is also a resource for education researchers and journalists looking to explore trends in tuition, financial aid and student outcomes among U.S. higher education institutions over the last decade. Tuition Tracker is the result of a collaboration among The Hechinger Report, The Dallas Morning News and the Education Writers Association.


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Estate Planning


Estate and Gift Taxes


The IRS has released Proposed Regulation addressing the effect of recent legislative changes to the basic exclusion amount used in computing Federal gift and estate taxes. The proposed regulations will affect donors of gifts made after 2017 and the estates of decedents dying after 2017.This will now reassure clients that they won’t have to worry about making large gifts. Questions had swirled after the new tax law increased the basic estate and gift tax exemption levels but had not made the changes permanent. Those changes had increased the exemption to $10 million per person from $5 million. With inflation adjustments, that exemption is now $11,180,000 for 2018 and increasing to $11,400,000 for 2019. For a married couple, the exemption can be doubled to $22 .8 million for 2019. This exemption can be used for lifetime gifting, but it was set to revert back to the pre-law levels after 2025. That had left estate planners with the open question: What if my client makes large gifts now and uses up the current $11 million exemption, but then dies after 2025 when the exemption goes back to the lower levels? Will IRS claw back these gifts and tax them?


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Health Care Planning in Retirement


Kitces: Are Retiree Health Care Costs Overblown?


The average 65-year-old couple will need a whopping $280,000 just to cover their health care costs in retirement, not including long-term care needs, according to a recent study by Fidelity.


Yet the reality is that health care costs aren’t borne as a lump sum on the day of retirement. And though individual health care costs may vary, they do so in rather predictable and plannable ways.


This article was written by Michael E. Kitces, MSFS, MTaX, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®, RHU®, REBC®, CASL® at


Planning for Health Care Costs in Retirement


Vanguard engaged Mercer Health and Benefits to develop a new model to forecast health care costs for U.S. retirees. Vanguard believes that retirement planning frameworks should be adapted.


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IRA Planning


Tracking Basis with IRS Form 8606


Basis is tracked on Form 8606. There’s a $50 IRS penalty for not filing the Form, and a $100 penalty for overstating the basis. However, that’s not the biggest issue since the penalty can be waived for reasonable cause. The larger issue is that if basis isn’t tracked, it ends up being taxed twice! While it’s easier for IRA owners to track their basis, it becomes much more difficult for beneficiaries of inherited IRAs. That’s because basis is carried over, but without adequate records, a beneficiary will have no clue whether a contribution was made before or after-tax.


This article was written by Jeremy T. Rodriguez, JD IRA Analyst of Ed Slott and Company, LLC.


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Retirement Planning


Envisioning Retirement has Large Impact on Savings


A new survey by Capital Group finds that when people envision their preferred retirement lifestyles, they are motivated to save more.


Healthcare, Annuities and Retirement


Introducing healthcare costs into financial planning conversations can increase savings and build retirement security.


From Congress to companies to consumers, practically everyone in America is seeking ways to reduce medical expenditures. As the data in this paper will demonstrate, one practical and relatively simple strategy is to integrate personal wellness, long-term and consistent savings, and the appropriate investment, which can help people live longer, lower annual medical expenditures, and generate more retirement income.


This article was written by HealthyCapital.


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Social Security Planning


How Much Should You Rely On Social Security Benefit Estimates?


People planning for retirement should ensure that the benefit estimates provided by the Social Security Administration are accurate, writes a Forbes contributor. “Some analysts have argued for years that the SSA’s estimates systematically underestimate future benefits for most people, because the estimates use some short cuts that aren’t used when you apply for benefits and the official computation is done,” writes the expert. “In other situations, the estimates could be higher than your eventual benefits.”


This article was written by Bob Carlson, Editor of Retirement Watch.


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Tax Planning


IRS Collections by State and Type 1998-2016


State federal IRS revenue collection tax source.


Corporate Tax Planning

IRS Provides List of Inflation-Adjusted Items for 2019


IRS Rev. Proc. 2018-572018-49 IRB (15 November 2018) sets forth inflation-adjusted items for 2019 various provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 as amended as of November 15, 2018.


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White Papers / Reports/ Websites


Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017


This survey and report were prepared by the Consumer and Community Development Research Section of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs (DCCA). DCCA directs consumer- and community-related functions performed by the Board, including conducting research on financial services policies and practices and their implications for consumer financial stability, community development, and neighborhood stabilization. The report was released May 2018.


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Practice Management


2018 Millionaire Outlook Study -- Fidelity Investments


In this survey, conducted between March 28 and May 8, 2018, over half of the millionaires surveyed said they are willing to pay more for an advisor who is able to help them navigate the recent tax reforms, while also minimizing their tax bill.


Majority of Americans Expect to Use Robo-Advice by 2025


Almost 60% of Americans expect to use a robo advisor by 2025 and 45% say robo advice will be the technology that ultimately has the biggest impact on financial services, according to a Charles Schwab survey.


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Assumed Federal Rates (AFRs)


§7520 Rate for December is: 3.6%


AFRs Breakdown:


View a complete history of AFR §7520 rates, as well as information on NumberCruncher Software for Estate, Financial and Charitable Planning at:


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Financial Facts of the Month




Before the current S&P 500 bull market, the next most recent bull ran 5 years from 10/29/02 to 10/09/07. From its 10/09/07 peak, the index did not drop 20% until 7/09/08 or 9 months later (Source: BTN Research).


Budget Deficit Jumps Nearly 17% in 2018


The U. S. Treasury Department reported that the federal deficit for fiscal 2018, which ended September 30, was $779 billion. That was an increase from $666 billion the previous year. Most of the increased deficit was due to reduced corporate tax revenues. The annual deficit is projected to reach nearly $1 trillion during the current budget year (Source: U.S. Department of Treasury).


Change of Scenery


Last Tuesday’s midterm elections (11/06/18) were the 4th consecutive midterms where at least one chamber of Congress (either the House or the Senate or both) flipped the controlling party. Voting in 2006 (House and the Senate changed), 2010 (House changed), 2014 (Senate changed) and now 2018 (House changed) has altered the balance of power in Washington (Source: BTN Research).


Defense Dollars


America’s spending on “National Defense” (stated as a percentage of total government outlays) has fallen from 43.2% in fiscal year 1966 to 16.2% in fiscal year 2018 (Source: U.S. Department of Treasury).




The average loan to value ratio in the US housing market as of 6/30/08 was 55%, i.e. the average home mortgage had 45% of equity behind it. The average loan to value ratio in the US housing market as of 6/30/18 was 40%, i.e. the average home mortgage had 60% of equity behind it (Source: Federal Reserve System).


Get Ready


A 65 year old American male in 2018 is expected to live another 19.2 years (to 84.2 years old) an increase of 5 years in the last 40 years. A 65 year old American female is expected to live another 21.6 years (to 86.6 years old), an increase of 3 years in the last 40 years (Source: Social Security Administration).


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Owners and Renters


The 111.7 million households that existed in the U.S. on 9/30/08 were split 68/32 between 75.9 million owners and 35.8 million renters. The 121.9 million households in the U.S. on 9/30/18 were split 64/36 between 78.1 million owners and 43.3 million renters (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).


Over the Next Year


The S&P 500 stock index has gained an average of +15.3% in the 1-year following the last 17 midterm elections, i.e. change of the index’s value not counting reinvested dividends for the 1-year period following the midterm elections from 1950 through 2014. Each one of the 17 “one-year periods,” i.e. 100% of them, resulted in a stock market gain for the S&P 500 (Source: BTN Research).


Tax Incentive


The Trump administration announced plans last week to create “opportunity zones” to encourage investment in distressed real estate areas in the USA. An investment into an “opportunity fund” that is held at least 10 years would avoid any taxation. Please consult a tax expert for details (Source: The White House).


The Most Popular Currency


63% of all foreign exchange reserves are held in US dollars. Foreign exchange reserves are funds held by central banks around the world to back a country’s national currency in the event of an unexpected devaluation (Source: International Monetary Fund).


Tough October


The S&P 500 lost 6.8% in October 2018 (total return), its worst month in more than 7 years ( since a September 2011 loss of 7.0%) and its worst October since the index fell 16.8% in October 2008 at the beginning of the global real estate crisis (source: BTN Research).


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Useful Financial Website


Elder Abuse


While designed for law enforcement personnel, this collection of resources may be useful to anyone who comes in contact with seniors.


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Recommended Reading


“G2: Building the Next Generation”

By Philip Palaveev, Author and Chief Executive Officer of The Ensemble Practice


G2: Building the Next Generation provides financial advisory firms with a clear roadmap to management succession. Based on the author's 17 years of

experience with over 1,000 firms, this book provides a systematic process to help you identify, develop, and install the new leadership that will guide your firm's future. Extensive statistical research backs proven strategies for structuring management and succession, overcoming obstacles, selling equity, and more, while expert guidance walks you through the process and warn you of potential pitfalls along the way.


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Advisor Survey Report


2017-2018 Value-Added CE Survey Report


Our value-added CE survey was distributed to over 120k financial and insurance advisors. Click on the button below to view our detailed report.


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Advisor Tools


2018 Tax Guide


2018 Reference Guide to Social Security & Medicare

Our Tax Guide contains tax information such as:   Our Reference Guide contains information such as:
  • Individual income tax rates

  • Estates and trusts tax rates

  • Roth IRA contribution limits and much more

  • Social Security income limits

  • Medicare Parts A-D deductibles and premiums

  • Medicare surtaxes and much more

Download the Tax Guide below:   Download the Reference Guide below:

Please note that we do not provide printed copies. Feel free to make as many of your own copies as you need.


Financial / Insurance
Calculators & Websites


An extensive list of online calculators and informational websites.


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Requirement Updates


Several states have updated their insurance CE requirements. (View updates, CE requirements and more by clicking on the link below.)


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BEST’s Advisor Insight
Audio Podcast


Hosted by: Edward J. Barrett

BEST’s Founder, President and CEO

Our Advisor Insight Audio Podcast episodes are available online:

  • Episode 1: Roth IRA Recharacterizations After the Tax Cuts and
    Jobs Act of 2017
  • Episode 2: Financial Exploitation of Seniors

Click on the Podcast button below to listen now!




Subscribe to our podcast email notification list by clicking on the Subscribe button below.


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Featured Self-Study CE Course


“Guide to Retirement Planning Strategies”

This course has been developed to give the advisor (licensed agent) a complete guide in the retirement planning process to include the following:

  • Focus on the five step retirement planning process
  • Examine the various risk factors needed to be considered when developing a retirement plan for your client
  • Examine the various sources of retirement income based on the three-legged stool such as:
    • Social Security
    • Employer Sponsored Retirement Plans
    • Savings
    • IRAs
    • Introduce a fourth leg to the stool consisting of insurance products and working in retirement
  • Address the complex topic of retirement plan distributions and the many rules and regulations that surround this issue
  • Address health care and long-term care planning in retirement
  • Discuss topics such as:
    • Health Savings Accounts
    • Medicare
    • LTC Planning:
      • LTCI
      • Hybrid LTCI policies
    • Use of reverse mortgages

Self-Study CE Course List


As a top-notch continuing education provider we:

  • Deliver CE to financial and insurance advisors
  • Offer up-to-date and industry pertinent CE courses that maximize credits
  • Provide ClearCert certified long-term care and annuity training CE courses
  • Supply CE courses that are approved in all 50 states and the
    District of Columbia


Order CE courses toll free: 1-800-345-5669 or local: 727-853-0575
OR send an email to


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Super CE Program

Super CE Programs

Top 5 reasons to schedule a Super CE program:

  1. Classroom course: 1-hour (instructor-led)
  2. Correspondence/self-study course: Provides up to 21 hours of state insurance CE and 5 or 10 hours of professional designation CE
  3. Increase meeting attendance and leverage your time
  4. Assist advisors in meeting their mandatory CE requirements
  5. Position your company’s strategy and product solutions

What Advisors Say...


“Thanks! This was the most enjoyable CE I’ve completed in my over 14+ years as an advisor. I’ll be back.”  ~ Raymond James Advisor

“I didn’t even need the CE, but took the class to expand my knowledge and understanding. Thank you BEST.”  ~ Merrill Lynch Advisor

“BEST has perfected the Super CE program!”  ~ Morgan Stanley Advisor

“Productive & effective use of time in meeting Continuing Education requirements.”  ~ Wells Fargo Advisor

“Excellent program, well worth the time!” ~ UBS Advisor


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BEST Information


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