Buying a home can be a major expenditure. Fortunately, federal tax benefits are available to make homeownership more affordable and less expensive. There may also be tax benefits under state law.

Life Insurance Basics
Life insurance is an agreement between you (the policy owner) and an insurer. Under the terms of a life insurance policy, the insurer promises to pay a certain sum to a person you choose (your beneficiary) upon your death, in exchange for your premium payments. Proper life insurance coverage can provide you with peace of mind, since you know that those you care about will be financially supported after you die.

On December 14, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted unanimously to raise the federal funds rate by 0.25% — to a range of 0.50% to 0.75%. This was the second increase since December 2008, when the benchmark rate was lowered to a near-zero level (0% to 0.25%) during the Great Recession.

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. Between now and then, attention should largely focus on efforts to facilitate an orderly transfer of power, but there will be no shortage of conjecture over what may happen after the inauguration. While changes are likely, the specifics and scope will take time to unfold. For now, here are three key financial issues to watch.

If you are the adult child of aging parents, you may find yourself in the position of having to assist them with handling their finances. Whether that time is in the near future or sometime further down the road, there are some steps you can take now to make the process a bit easier.

When an IRA owner dies, the IRA proceeds are payable to the named beneficiary--or to the owner's estate if no beneficiary is named. If you've been designated as the beneficiary of a traditional or Roth IRA, it's important that you understand the special rules that apply to "inherited IRAs."

Over the previous several newsletters, we explored the security and privacy pitfalls of our increasingly digital world.  The convenience and ease created by the technology we use each and every day has made our personal and confidential information increasingly vulnerable to theft and misuse.  Despite the vast catalog of tools and software designed to help us protect our digital data, none of them can help when we, the end user, are ultimately the weakest link.  Our own bad habits and lack of awareness of the threats facing us every day are often a major factor in the theft of our personal data / identity.  Luckily, better habits and greater awareness around our privacy needs and the threats we face are both within our grasp.  To this end, below we explore several simple, yet effective, information handling best practices that we hope you consider when trying to protect your digital identity.

When it comes to protecting your digital identity, your first, and often only, line of defense is sadly something we’ve all grown to detest: the dreaded password.  A password or a PIN are required for nearly everything we access these days.  Whether you are simply checking an email or accessing your bank account from you mobile device, the list of passwords we’re forced to maintain seems to grow by the day.  This exhausting process of creation, memorization, update and repeat, is sometimes more than we can handle and often leads to password fatigue.

Technology & digital information are increasingly interwoven into our day-to-day lives.  From what we purchase, where we go, and even the entertainment we enjoy, digital information about our life is collected and stored by an ever growing list of third-parties.  This data generation is especially true for our financial lives, as rarely does a day go by in which we don’t make at least one purchase, and unless we use cash for everything, it’s all recorded.  This exponential increase in our digital lives has proven to be fertile ground for criminals looking to steal both our money and our identities.

Umbrella liability insurance (ULI) can provide liability protection above and beyond the basic coverage that homeowners/renters and auto insurance policies offer, ULI can protect you against the catastrophic losses that can occur if you are sued.  Although ULI can be purchased as a separate policy, your insurer will require that you have basic liability coverage (i.e., homeowner’s/renter’s insurance, auto insurance, or both) before you can purchase an umbrella liability policy. ULI is often referred to as excess coverage. If you are found to be legally responsible for injuring someone or damaging someone's property, the umbrella policy can pay for the part of the claim in excess of the limits of your basic liability policy, or pay for certain losses that are not covered.