Services

Wealth Strategies & Services

Introduction

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GSS offers a wide range of financial planning and wealth preservation services. Our approach is holistic and starts with a discussion of your life and financial goals.

We can assist you in transferring your business to your children or key employees. You may decide to sell your business if there is no one in the organization to succeed you. With any business, you need to know its value to achieve your objectives.

Our objective is to help you provide for your family, friends and charitable organizations that you value after you pass away, while minimizing estate and income taxes.

Please review each of the sections listed for more detail about how we can assist you in each area.

Financial Planning

What is Financial Planning? Comprehensive financial planning is the process of accumulating, preserving and distributing your assets. We help you develop a plan to accumulate and invest your money and address questions such as "How do I save money to invest?," "How do I invest wisely?," and "How do I not overpay on my taxes?"

How Do I Save Money To Invest? Budgeting is the cornerstone of every financial plan. Your budget must be written, tracked and reviewed monthly. Do not be unrealistic, allow for unforeseen events and for fun. The goal is to save 10% of your earnings. As time goes on, try to increase the savings percentage.

How Do I Invest Wisely? Most importantly, you must have trusted advisors who recommend adjustments to your portfolio in response to changes in our world. We work closely with your financial advisors to ensure we all understand this is your nest egg and is invested accordingly. The success of past returns is not indicative of future returns. You must maintain a disciplined approach with diversified holdings. We do not offer investment advice, but help you understand whether the risks correlate to your expected returns. Following these concepts will give you greater opportunities for success.

How Do I Not Overpay On Taxes? There are sound strategies for minimizing income taxes that maximize deductions based on your lifestyle. You should utilize both deductible and nondeductible retirement plan contributions to save for the future and reduce income taxes. We address estate tax savings in our section on Estate Planning. Remember the goal is not to pay zero tax, but to minimize taxes with proper planning and coordination.

Succession Planning

How can I transfer my business to my children? GSS identifies the challenges and provides solutions to the issues surrounding the transfer of your business to your children. Transitioning your business to new leaders is an emotional journey. Questions such as "Are my children capable?" and "Who can help them?" are critical components to a successful transfer. It is vital that trusted advisors be involved early in the process so financially sound business decisions are made.

What is succession planning and when should I start? Business owners should have a plan in place so that their business can carry on should they retire, die or become incapacitated. Succession planning is the process through which future leaders of your company are identified, trained and molded into leadership roles. Succession plans can involve key employees, family members and/or outside third parties. An effective succession plan must address both expected and unexpected events. The best time for us to develop a plan with you is now.

How can you help me with my succession plan? GSS can help you understand the common pitfalls involved in transitioning a business and provide insight into the most effective solutions. We spend time understanding your goals for the business and with your attorney; we can formalize a plan to ensure the business survives and thrives during this potentially challenging time. We can evaluate and minimize the tax implications and control issues associated with your business.


Business Valuations

What are the benefits of knowing what my business is worth?

  • Compliance. The IRS requires all businesses to be valued for estate and gift tax returns. Certain transactions (sales or gifts) for income tax purposes also require a valuation of your business.
  • Planning. For your financial well-being, it is crucial to know the value of your business in structuring buy-sell agreements, financial planning, and mergers and acquisitions.
  • Litigation. Determining the value of your business will assist in resolving stockholder disputes, determining damages, settling insurance claims and solving other business disputes.

How is my business valued? There are five basic steps accredited business appraisers follow in valuing your business:

  • Define the appraisal engagement.
  • Gather the necessary data (financial and underlying official documents) to assist in performing the appraisal.
  • Analyze the data to develop an understanding of the business and the economic impacts of business operations going into the future.
  • Estimate the value of the business.
  • Provide written communication describing how the value was determined.

How do I improve the value of my business? Potential buyers of your business first look at prior years' profits as reported on your federal income tax returns. Value is based on profits. To increase your business value, you must increase your profits.

Documenting decisions will establish evidence of a well-functioning management team and enhance the value of your business. Potential buyers (or their agents) can then recognize the steps taken to improve the value of your business.

Who should value my business? The person valuing your business should have one of the following accreditations: Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) and Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA).

GSS team members have achieved the ABV designation as prescribed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The AICPA established the ABV Credential Program in 1998 for CPAs who specialize in valuation. This credential is granted exclusively to CPAs who demonstrate considerable expertise in valuation through their knowledge, skill and experience. To obtain and retain the ABV credentials, a CPA must pass the ABV examination, document business valuation experience and participate in continuing education specific to business valuations.

When should I have my business valued? Key events in which business valuations are appropriate include: at death, upon gifting (charitable and non-charitable), structuring buy/sell agreements, prior to selling your business and succession planning. The valuation methods applied can be different for each of these events. Our team has the experience and knowledge to properly utilize these methods.

Why should I have my business valued? Valuation is a business planning tool that helps a business owner understand how to make the business more profitable. This is accomplished by comparing your business to other similar businesses and identifying your strong and weak points. Balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow statements are not always enough. The business valuation provides information not available through other sources.


Retirement Planning

Can I retire? Am I ready to retire? Not only are finances a key consideration, but so are psychological aspects. The lifestyle you desire is an integral part of this process. GSS will review with you your current holdings, cash flow and projected growth of your portfolio to determine if your current plan is attainable or if adjustments are necessary.

We can assist you with a lifestyle analysis, identify shortcomings and provide solutions for attaining your future goals. We will work with your investment advisor to develop your plan for retirement. As economic and financial needs change, we will help you revise your plan as necessary.

Retire on your terms with our help.

What documents do I need? In addition to your estate planning documents (wills, trust documents, etc.), the following are critical to have when you retire:

  • A listing of all accounts (bank and investment), insurance policies, location of all safety deposit boxes, name of beneficiaries of retirement accounts (including pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs) and annuity contracts
  • Personal and family medical history (including living birth certificate, passport, death certificates of parents, marriage or divorce documents)
  • Proof of ownership of assets (including warranty deeds for real estate, proper titling - whether joint or individually owned, certificate of trust provisions)

Comparison of Tax Implications - How much will I pay in taxes? Should I convert to a Roth? Is my social security taxable? How do I reduce my taxes?

We focus on understanding your retirement goals and then help you reach those goals by avoiding unnecessary taxes.

When should I take Social Security? Social Security benefits can start at age 62, 67 or 70 depending upon your current economic situation. Do you need money for living expenses or for investing? What is your medical history and life expectancy? We can provide the information you need to prepare a break-even analysis to determine the optimum age at which you should receive Social Security benefits.


Estate Planning

Who and/or what receives my assets? Who will inherit my assets when I die? There is much uncertainty about estate tax law. GSS can help you understand how assets are distributed to beneficiaries after your death and the tax implications to your estate. As part of this process, we work with your attorney to make sure your documents are current and consistent with your wishes.

How can I minimize estate taxes? GSS evaluates the estate tax implications associated with both lifetime gifting and post-mortem asset transfers. We help you utilize the latest available concepts to save estate taxes while ensuring your beneficiaries receive assets in accordance with your wishes.

Are my family and assets protected? Estate taxes, if not properly addressed, can have a devastating effect on a family business and your other assets. We ensure your assets pass to your beneficiaries with as little tax as possible. All you've worked for is then preserved for your spouse, future generations, charity or any combination you desire.

How do estate law changes affect me? Although the estate tax exemption is $5 million per person and a deceased spouse's unused exemption can transfer to the surviving spouse's estate, the current rules only apply through 2012. There is uncertainty about future estate tax laws. We monitor legislative activity so we can timely advise you about your best course of action.

What documents do I need? You need a will, living trust, durable power of attorney, living will, healthcare surrogate and a declaration of pre-need guardian, to name a few. Working with your attorney, we can assist in the preparation and organization of these documents.


Contact Information for Wealth Strategies & Services

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GSS Financial Services

Financial Services

The GSS Financial Services Team provides comprehensive financial planning jointly and in connection with a broker-dealer whose capabilities are both domestic and world-wide.

Our goal is to help you understand the opportunities and potential rewards that are available with a proactive approach to investing that is suited to your risk tolerances, along with the proper use of life insurance and annuities.

We help educate clients about the basic concepts of financial management and give you fast, easy access to market performance data.



Suggested Reading

Business Valuation Articles

Estate & Trust Articles