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SmartAsset Team

SmartAsset employs a team of writers and editors with years of experience in the editorial, news and personal finance industries. Some staff members also hold the Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®) designation from the Institute for Financial Literacy.

Posts by SmartAsset Team

A credit union is a member-owned financial institution that safeguards members' money and offers financial products, like savings accounts and loans.
Checking Account

How to Join a Credit Union in the U.S.

A credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative that provides banking services, such as savings accounts, loans, and other financial products, to its members. These members often share a common characteristic like employment, location, or membership in a specific organization. Whether you’re considering a switch from a conventional bank or simply exploring your financial options,… read more…

A senior researching which types of assets are exempt from Florida's probate process.
Estate Planning

4 Types of Assets That Are Exempt From Probate in Florida

The probate process involves the court-supervised distribution of assets, which can be time-consuming and costly, not to mention the emotional toll it can take on a family. However, Florida law provides certain exemptions that allow specific assets to bypass this process, offering a semblance of relief and financial stability to the bereaved. From homestead property… read more…

A couple setting up a transfer on death deed in Florida.
Estate Planning

How a Transfer on Death Deed Works in Florida

A transfer on death deed (TODD) offers a streamlined solution for property owners looking to bypass the often lengthy and costly probate process in Florida. This legal instrument allows individuals to designate a beneficiary to inherit their property directly upon their passing, ensuring a smooth transition of ownership. With the ability to retain control over… read more…

A senior couple researching how a life estate deed works in Florida.
Estate Planning

How a Life Estate Deed Works in Florida

When you’re thinking about what will happen to your assets after you die, it’s important to understand how you can avoid probate with some of your most valuable, such as real estate. A life estate deed is a legal document that allows you to pass on your property to a designated beneficiary while retaining the… read more…

A couple looking over a power of attorney in Pennsylvania.
Estate Planning

How to Get a Financial Power of Attorney in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that can empower a designated agent to act on your behalf should such situations arise. With various types of POAs available, tailored to address specific needs from healthcare to financial management, understanding the legal requirements of these documents is essential for effective personal planning.… read more…

A couple reviewing estate planning strategies to avoid probate in Oklahoma.
Estate Planning

How to Avoid Probate in Oklahoma

The probate process in Oklahoma involves a series of court-supervised steps to ensure the decedent’s assets are distributed fairly, whether in accordance with a will or state intestacy laws. From filing a petition to distributing remaining assets, each stage is plays an important part in honoring the final wishes of the deceased. Yet, the time,… read more…

NING trusts leverage Nevada’s advantageous tax codes and trust-friendly laws, enabling residents of high-income-tax states to shield certain assets from those taxes.
Estate Planning

What Is a NING Trust?

The Nevada incomplete gift non-grantor (NING) trust is a tool designed to provide affluent individuals with a legal avenue for asset protection and tax optimization. These specialized trusts leverage Nevada’s advantageous tax codes and trust-friendly laws, enabling residents of high-income-tax states to shield certain assets from those taxes. If you need help protecting your assets… read more…

A financial advisor works on developing an ideal client avatar for his practice.
Advisor Resources

How Financial Advisors Can Create an Ideal Client Avatar

An ideal client avatar (ICA) is more than just a marketing buzzword – it’s a strategic blueprint that guides financial advisors in customizing their services and marketing efforts to meet the specific needs of their most desirable clients. By crafting a detailed profile that encompasses the demographics, psychographics, financial goals and challenges of their ideal… read more…

A couple considering different factors before buying an annuity.
Retirement

6 Questions to Ask Before Buying an Annuity

Annuities can offer financial stability through a steady stream of income, but they can also impact your long-term financial health. Therefore, you should consider the fees that can erode your investment to the payout rates and the trustworthiness of the issuing company, which can all play a pivotal role in determining the suitability of an… read more…

Financial planners researching SEO strategies to improve the ranking of their website on search.
Advisor Resources

6 SEO Strategies for Financial Planners That Work

Effective SEO strategies are instrumental for financial planners who wish to capture the attention of high-quality leads actively seeking their expertise. The process starts with keyword optimization which involves meticulous research and integration of terms and phrases that potential clients are likely to use when searching for financial advice. This ensures that a financial planner’s… read more…

A couple researching the requirements for contributing to an HSA.
Insurance

Can I Contribute to an HSA Without an HDHP?

HSAs are not just a means to set aside funds for medical expenses. They’re a strategic financial tool that provides tax advantages and long-term savings potential. These accounts allow you to contribute pre-tax dollars, grow your savings tax-free and make tax-exempt withdrawals for qualified medical expenses. Understanding the rules that govern HSAs can help you… read more…

A couple researching different powers of attorney in Pennsylvania.
Estate Planning

4 Types of Power of Attorney Available in Pennsylvania

Power of attorney (POA) offer a versatile legal framework for ensuring that your decisions and assets are handled according to your wishes, even when you’re not able to oversee them directly. It’s vitally important to understand the different types of POAs available if you’re in need of this type of authority. In the state of… read more…

Opportunity cost is an important principle that can help investors evaluate different investment opportunities.
Investing

What Is the Opportunity Cost of an Investment?

Opportunity cost quantifies the potential benefits that are lost when one alternative is chosen over another. Whether you’re an individual deciding whether to invest in bonds over stocks or a business leader strategizing for growth, the principles of opportunity cost can help you make more informed investment choices. A financial advisor can also help you… read more…

A woman looks away from her husband, while they talk about getting a divorce.
Personal Finance

9 Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Finances

The dissolution of a marriage can result in a dramatic shift in one’s financial landscape. From the division of retirement accounts and other financial assets to changes in your tax filing status and insurance needs, each aspect demands careful consideration to mitigate the long-term impact on your financial well-being. A financial advisor can be a… read more…

A retirement visa can help you retire in a different country.
Retirement

What Is a Retirement Visa?

The allure of living abroad can promise a better climate, a lower cost of living and a higher quality of life, if you find the right country to move to in your golden years. But you can’t just pick up and move wherever you want, whenever you feel like it, without the required documentation. One… read more…

A senior couple in Florida creating an estate plan with their advisor.
Estate Planning

Florida Probate Laws You Need to Know

Probate in Florida refers to the legal process through which a deceased person’s assets are distributed and their debts are settled under the supervision of the court. Understanding this process is key whether you’re completing your own estate planning or trying to understand how you’ll receive assets as a beneficiary. Many may want to avoid… read more…

A couple reviews their retirement accumulation plan by looking over how much they're each contributing to their retirement savings accounts.
Retirement

What Is a Retirement Accumulation Plan?

The accumulation phase is the period in your working life when you’re saving money for retirement. It starts from your first paycheck and continues until you retire. During this phase, your primary objective is to grow your retirement savings through your contributions to retirement savings accounts, the selection of investments and the use of other… read more…

A Treasury bond is a U.S. government security that matures in 20 to 30 years.
Investing

Pros and Cons of Investing in Treasury Bonds

Treasury bonds are often considered the bedrock of conservative investment portfolios. These are U.S. government bonds that offer a unique combination of safety and steady income. But while they are lauded for their security and reliability, potential drawbacks such as interest rate risk, low returns and inflation risk must be carefully considered. If you’re interested… read more…

Refinancing may not always be the best or most feasible option to remove a name from a loan.
Mortgage

How to Remove a Name From a Mortgage Without Refinancing

Typically, removing a name from a mortgage could require you to pay off the loan in full or refinance it with a new loan. But, there are alternatives where you can take over the loan without paying off it off or refinancing. These could include mortgage assumption, loan modification and bankruptcy. Here’s what you need… read more…

A judge bangs his gavel during a divorce proceeding.
Personal Finance

How Alimony Is Calculated

In the wake of a divorce, many face the daunting prospect of financial uncertainty, particularly when one spouse has sacrificed career advancement for family commitments. But alimony, a legal provision, can help balance the scales of economic fairness post-divorce. Calculating how much alimony one spouse receives from the other often involves weighing numerous factors, including… read more…

Education savings accounts (ESAs) are one way to sock away money for education expenses, including college tuition.
Student Loans

Guide to Education Savings Accounts & College Savings Plans

Education savings accounts (ESAs) offer a straightforward and efficient way to set aside funds for future educational expenses. These accounts, also known as Coverdell ESAs, are tax-advantaged savings vehicles that allow you to sock away $2,000 per beneficiary per year. That money can later be withdrawn tax-free to cover a range qualified educational expenses, from… read more…

A couple reviewing tax strategies to lower their tax liability in retirement.
Retirement

5 Tax Strategies for Your Retirement Income

Retirement planning can be complicated. But ignoring the tax consequences of your retirement income can take a bite out of your nest egg. Luckily, you can take a few strategic steps to minimize your tax liability. Here are five common strategies to consider. And, if you prefer a more hands-on approach, a financial advisor can… read more…

A couple researching ways to increase future Social Security benefits.
Retirement

5 Ways to Increase Your Social Security Benefits

For many Americans, Social Security benefits make up significant part of their retirement income. Therefore, it’s important to understand which steps you can take to maximize your benefits. Whether you’re considering when to start claiming, how to build up your work history, or how working after retirement can affect your taxes, the choices you make… read more…

The de minimis exemption can allow smaller financial advisors to avoid regulation or taxation for certain small-scale transactions or activities in states where they have a limited number of clients.
Advisor Resources

What Is the De Minimis Exemption for Financial Advisors?

The de minimis exemption refers to the threshold below which certain small-scale transactions or activities are exempt from regulation or taxation. Advisors should take note of this rule to ensure compliance with regulations, assess which transactions or activities they will have to report and avoid penalties. Here’s what you need to know. SmartAsset’s Advisor Marketing… read more…

A retiree looks over the results from recent testing with her doctor.
Retirement

What Is a Retiree Reimbursement Arrangement?

Retiree reimbursement arrangements (RRAs) are a type of savings plan funded solely by employers to help their now retired former employees pay for medical expenses, including Medicare premiums and copays. While RRAs cater to the needs of retirees, active employees may find similar benefits in health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs). A financial advisor can help you… read more…