How Does The New DOL Fiduciary Rule Affect You?

What happens in the future concerning the DOL Fiduciary Rule could be life-changing for you and your family.

How the Fiduciary Rule Affects You by James Lange

This post is the sixth in a series about the Death of the Stretch IRA.  The five posts that precede this one spell out the details of the proposed legislation that will cost your family a lot of money, as well as some possible solutions to the problems that will be caused by the Death of the Stretch IRA legislation that you should consider now.  This post will discuss DOL fiduciary rule, and how it could affect your estate and retirement plans.

What are the current laws concerning the DOL Fiduciary Rule?

You might be surprised to learn that the current laws permit your insurance agent or financial advisor to recommend an investment that has higher fees for which they receive a sales commission than an alternative.  That’s right!  As long as the investment is deemed “appropriate” for your situation, it’s perfectly legal for your advisor to recommend that you buy something that might cost you thousands of dollars in fees, rather than a comparable but cheaper alternative.

President Obama wanted to level the playing field for investors.  He first proposed a common fiduciary rule in 2010, and the Department of Labor released new guidelines in April of 2016 that gave financial services companies a year to comply with them.  The new rule was scheduled to take effect next month, but President Trump has asked the Department of Labor to review it and potentially rescind it.

How would the DOL Fiduciary Rule affect you?

How would the DOL fiduciary rule affect you?  To give you an example, suppose that you inherited $1 million that you wanted to invest.  One advisor might tell you that an annuity is the way that you should go, another might recommend mutual funds, and yet another might recommend individual stocks.  If there is no fiduciary rule to guide you, who should you believe?   The advisor who seems the nicest?

If the DOL fiduciary rule was in place, the advisor who recommended the annuity would be required to tell you up front that he would make as much $100,000 from your $1 million purchase.  And while he might have valid reasons for saying that an annuity is the best option for you, he’ll have to be able to prove why the benefit to you is greater than the $100,000 payday he’ll realize from your purchase.  And if you knew exactly how your advisor is paid, do you think you might be inclined to ask more questions before you sign on the dotted line?

We have always been fiduciary advisors.  A fiduciary advisor does not get paid for recommending one product over another, but generally charges a fee for advice or for managing the account as a whole.  In my practice, I have to provide my clients with services such as Social Security analyses, Roth Conversion calculations, tax projections, etc. for roughly twenty years to make the same amount of money that a non-fiduciary advisor could make from selling a product.  That’s twenty years of money that stayed in my client’s pockets, and I’m happy that it did.

Regardless of whether the DOL fiduciary rule is overturned or not, you should ask whether the individual(s) who manage your money are fiduciary advisors.  While what’s happened in the past is water over the dam, what happens in the future could be life-changing for you and your family.  The proposed Death of the Stretch IRA legislation means that billions of dollars will be passed to the next generation within the next twenty years.  The government is looking to get their hands on as much as possible, and the taxes that will be due after the Death of the Stretch IRA will have a devastating effect on your family’s inheritance.  Don’t add to that problem by choosing the wrong advisor.   Put your trust in one who adheres to a fiduciary standard, whether the government makes it the law or not.

Please stop back soon!


For more information on this topic, please visit our Death of the Stretch IRA resource.

What You Should Be Doing Now to Protect your Heirs from the Death of the Stretch IRA?

What to do now to protect your heirs from the Death of the Stretch IRA

What Should You Do Now About the Death of the Stretch IRA James Lange

This post is the fifth in a series about the Death of the Stretch IRA.  The four posts that precede this one spell out the details of the proposed legislation that will cost your family a lot of money.  In this post, I’m going to talk about some possible solutions to the problems that will be caused by the Death of the Stretch IRA that you should consider now.  As I said in my earlier posts, using Lange’s Cascading Beneficiary Plan to take advantage of the existing minimum required distribution rules that allow inherited IRAs to be stretched will, for most of you, produce a much more favorable result than any other option available.  The Death of the Stretch IRA legislation is designed to accelerate income taxes on retirement plans, so the Charitable Remainder Unitrust should be your “Plan B” that you consider only after the law changes.

How can Social Security help with the Death of the Stretch IRA?

If you’re considering retiring, the very first thing you should do is evaluate your Social Security benefits.  Many people feel that the best age to take Social Security benefits is 62 – get back what you paid into the system before it collapses, etc!  I used to agree with that line of thinking until noted economist Larry Kotlikoff brilliantly pointed out the flaw in my logic.  Larry told me that the last thing I should worry about was not getting back what we had paid into the system if my wife and I die young.  If you die, he said, you will have no financial worries – because you’re dead!  Our fear, he told me, should be that we might live a very long time and possibly outlive our money.  Wow!  What an attitude adjustment!  But after thinking about it, I realized Larry was right.  Your Social Security benefits will give you a guaranteed income that will last for the rest of your life, so it makes sense to maximize them and get the most you can.  I wrote an entire book on that subject – you can get it for free by going to the first page of this website – so I’m not going to cover those techniques in this blog.  Or, check out an earlier blog post that talks about my latest Social Security book The Little Black Book of Social Security Secrets, Couples Ages 62-70: Act Now, Retire Secure Later.   But, getting the highest Social Security benefit is something that you should be evaluating now, because it will benefit you before and after the Death of the Stretch IRA.

How much can you afford to spend every year in retirement?

Second, know exactly how much you can afford to spend every year during retirement, without having to worry about running out of money.  Many financial advisors point to a rule of thumb known as the Safe Withdrawal Rate, which is the amount that you should be able to withdraw from your assets over the course of your lifetime without worrying about running out of money.  And while there is certainly validity in knowing how much you can spend during the retirement, the problem with rules of thumb is that they are just that!  I have proven that there is also a benefit to spending your savings strategically – I discuss it at length in my flagship book, Retire Secure! – but the idea, sadly, is usually not included in general discussions about Safe Withdrawal Rates.  The bottom line?  Don’t rely on estimates – talk to someone who is skilled in running the numbers, and then check your numbers regularly.  That way, you won’t have to worry about running out of money, no matter when the Death of the Stretch IRA passes.

Are you paying to much to invest your money?

Third, know how much you are paying to invest your money.  As more and more people become educated about investment fees, the trend (thankfully) has been to move away from high-cost products such as annuities and front-loaded mutual funds, and from stockbrokers who survive by constantly buying and selling in their client’s accounts.  Instead, more people are looking toward low-cost mutual funds that can provide diversification, income and even growth without having to pay huge fees.  The cost that you pay to earn a return on your money is so important that I’ve even been known to suggest that it should be included as part of your Safe Withdrawal Rate calculation.  In years past, there was an odd prestige associated with the idea of having your money managed by a broker who charged high fees.  That is not the case anymore!  Americans are moving in droves to low-fee investments because they now fully understand how much they save over the long term.  And doing the same will benefit you no matter when the Death of the Stretch IRA legislation passes.

Please stop back soon!


For more information on this topic, please visit our Death of the Stretch IRA resource.

Back Door IRA, The Conclusion


Converting to a Roth IRA also comes with another very unique advantage. The IRS allows you a one-time opportunity to recharacterize or “undo” this conversion by October 15th of the following tax year. IRS publication 590 states that, “a recharacterization allows you to ‘undo’ or ‘reverse’ a rollover or conversion to a Roth IRA. To recharacterize, you generally instruct the trustee of the financial institution holding your Roth IRA to transfer the amount back to a traditional IRA (in a trustee-to-trustee or within the same trustee). If you do this by the due date for your tax return (including extensions), you can treat the contribution as made to the traditional IRA for that year (effectively ignoring the Roth IRA contribution)”. In the case of a Backdoor Roth IRA, you probably won’t think about recharacterizing. However, if you want to explore this option, we are here to help assist you, because like many of the other rules involved this can be complicated.


While Backdoor Roth IRAs can be beneficial to many investors, they aren’t for everyone. They come with their limitations and complications. There are precautions that need to be taken to reap the full benefits of any financial decision. This is an area where a highly informed financial advisor can help you make an educated and calculated decision. You should always consult with your financial advisor and tax professional to help avoid tax ramifications.

As always, we are here to help and can look at your specific financial situation and chart the right path for you. If you are interested in learning more about whether or not a Backdoor Roth would be right for you and your specific situation, please call us and we would be happy to discuss this with you. As always, we enjoy the opportunity to assist you in addressing your financial matters.

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Thank you,
James Lange



This article is for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment planning advice as individual situations will vary. For specific advice about your situation, please consult with a lawyer or financial professional.

The Roth IRA offers tax deferral on any earnings in the account. Withdrawals from the account may be tax free, as long as they are considered qualified. Limitations and restrictions may apply. Withdrawals prior to age 59 ½ may result in a 10% IRS penalty tax. Future tax laws can change at any time and may impact the benefits of Roth IRAs. Their tax treatment may change.

Roth IRA account owners should consider the potential tax ramifications, age and contribution deductibility limits in regard to executing a re-characterization of a Roth IRA to a Traditional IRA.

The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of The Lange Financial Group, LLC, and should not be construed, directly or indirectly, as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Investors should be aware that there are risks inherent in all investments, such as fluctuations in investment principal. With any investment vehicle, past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Material discussed herewith is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only, please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information should be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice. This material contains forward looking statements and projections. There are no guarantees that these results will be achieved. © Academy of Preferred Financial Advisors, 2014