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Keys to Wrapping Up Your 2017 Finances

Brighton, MI (December 7, 2017) — It may be the most wonderful time of year filled with laughter, music, family, and shopping, but it’s also the time of the year most critical for addressing many aspects of personal finances before the New Year’s bell tolls.

“While many people don’t want to even think of dealing with their finances, retirement planning, and the like this time of year, it’s imperative that they make it a priority,” stated Christopher J. Berry, Esq., CELA, Founder of The Elder Care Firm and The CJ Berry Group. “Once it’s 2018, there are a multitude of financial moves that you will no longer be able to take advantage of for your 2017 finances.”

Here are just several of the aspects Berry suggests should be reviewed before the end of December:

  1. Fully Funding Your Individual Retirement Accounts – Taking advantage of funding your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) before the end of the year helps you plan for retirement and may help you at tax time. Almost anyone under the age of 70 ½ at the end of 2017 can fund a traditional IRA. However, funding a Roth IRA is a bit more complex because of the statutory maximum income levels and the annual income test. Our Michigan retirement planning attorneys can help you plan your IRA contributions to maximize the benefits to you and your family. In addition to your personal IRAs, you also may want to consider funding a Roth IRA for a child. Also, do not forget that you can play “catch up” if you turned 50 during 2017. Under this provision, you can deposit additional funds into your IRA.
  2. Required Minimum Distributions – When you reach 70 ½ years of age, you are required to begin required minimum distributions (RMD) from your IRAs. Roth IRAs are not subject to the RMD. If you have not taken your RMD for 2017, you have until April 1, 2018, to take an RMD for 2017. However, postponing a distribution until next year could significantly impact your marginal tax rate for 2018.
  3.  Education Savings Accounts – Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) can offer tax benefits in addition to saving for your child’s or grandchild’s college education. For example, you have until April 1, 2018, to fund a Coverdell ESA. The maximum contribution to a Coverdell ESA for 2017 is $2,000, provided your household income is less than $110,000 or $220,000 for couples filing joint tax returns. We can help you choose ESAs that provide the best benefits for you and your loved ones.
  4. Gifting Strategies – Gifting to your loved ones can be a good strategy to reduce estate taxes. However, you must be careful not to exceed the maximum annual amount to any one person. If you are searching for another option to gift income or property, you might want to consider a gift through a trust. Our retirement planning attorneys can discuss several options that might work well for you and your family.
  5. Charitable Giving – Charitable giving is another useful tool if you need to reduce taxable income. You can give cash or property to various charities, appreciated stock, or a donation from an IRA. You might also consider setting up a Donor Advised Fund or a Private Foundation for charitable giving.
  6. Maximize Company Retirement Plan Contributions In some cases, it might benefit you now and in the future to contribute additional funds to your employer-sponsored retirement plan. For example, if you know you will receive a year-end bonus, you might want to direct all or a sizable portion of the bonus to be deposited into your 401(k) account. By doing so, you can increase your retirement savings and decrease your taxable income for 2017.
  7. Review Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts Be sure to check your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to ensure you have used the funds so that you do not lose these funds at the end of the year.  Also, it is a good idea to review your Health Savings Account (HSA) and your health insurance to determine if you need to make any changes for 2018.
  8. Estate Planning Estate planning is a vital element of retirement planning. If you do not have an estate plan, you need one.

Berry continued, ““Those who are interested in making an appointment to receive advice on their 2017 finances before the end of the new year can contact my team at or 844-885-4200.” 

About Christopher J. Berry, Esq., CELA and The CJ Berry Group

Attorney Berry is the only Certified Elder Law Attorney in Livingston County, one of a handful in Oakland County, and one of just 17 in all of Michigan. He was the second youngest lawyer in the nation to achieve the designation of Certified Elder Law Attorney, which is the gold standard for elder law attorneys.

In addition to founding The Elder Care Firm, he is an adjunct professor at WMU Cooley Law School, where he teaches 2nd and 3rd year law school students elder law as well as the author of “The Caregiver’s Legal Guide to Planning for a Loved One with Chronic Illness.” Plus, he is the originator of The Castle Trust, which is an asset protection trust where you can remain in control of your assets.

Due to his law firm’s national recognition, attorneys across the nation have hired Attorney Berry as a consultant and coach for their law practices. Learn More About Christopher J. Berry, Esq., CELA and The Elder Care Firm

About Christopher J. Berry, JD., CELA

Christopher J. Berry, JD., CELA is the founder of two interrelated companies that provide financial services and legal services to Michigan families. Chris is the founding President of a law firm that does estate and elder law planning (The Elder Care Firm). The second company is a firm that provides holistic wealth, estate and tax planning for clients using a client-centered best-interest process (The CJ Berry Group). The companies are located in Metro-Detroit. Christopher J. Berry is a nationally-recognized estate and financial planning expert, quoted in publications like Kiplinger's Retirement. Chris Berry is an invited presenter for some of the world’s top financial companies, money managers and industry associations such as Northwestern Mutual, Mass Mutual, John Hancock, Michigan Association of CPA's, Society of Financial Service Professionals, Financial Planning Association and the Institute of Continued Legal Education, to name a few.Nationwide, Merrill Lynch, Transamerica, Jackson National, Morgan Stanley, American Institute of CPAs, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and several Financial Planning Associations. Christopher Berry is the author of The Caregiver's Legal Guide to Planning for a Loved one with Chronic Illness. Additionally, Chris Berry has co-authored two other books Tax-Free Money for Long-term Care and Protect My IRA: Avoid the 5 Common Mistakes.
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