On a Mission

Brian Halverson, President

Most businesses have a mission statement that guides them in their day-to-day responsibilities and directs their decision-making process. Think of it as how a business speaks to the purpose and understanding of what they do.  

Heartland Trust Company’s mission is “To provide a lifelong commitment to the well-being of those we serve.” It’s intended to be clean, precise, and all-encompassing. We use it to guide our decisions from the types of accounts we administer and the benefits we offer our employees to how we serve our community. 

We want our clients to have a strong sense of financial well-being so they are prepared for the next phases in their life. We want our employees to have a work environment that is motivating and joyful. We want the communities we live in to be vibrant and successful. 

Our IRA and investment account clients at Heartland Trust Company know we are going through a conversion with one of our vendors. This change has been thought through, discussed, and researched for years. We have experienced growth in both those we serve and the size of our team. At the root of this vendor change is our commitment to the well-being of those we serve. 

We want to work smarter, not harder, so we can stay focused on our mission and prioritize the things that matter most to us: our clients, our team, and our communities. 

Brian Halverson - PresidentOn a Mission
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Year-End Tax Planning

Adapted from Broadridge Investor Communication Services

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to consider strategies that could help you reduce your tax bill. But most tax tips, suggestions, and strategies are of little practical help without a good understanding of your current tax situation. This is particularly true for year-end planning. You can’t know where to go next if you don’t know where you are now.

So take a break from the usual fall chores and pull out last year’s tax return, along with your current pay stubs and account statements. Doing a few quick projections will help you estimate your present tax situation and identify any glaring issues you’ll need to address while there’s still time.

When it comes to withholding, don’t shortchange yourself

If you project that you’ll owe a substantial amount when you file this year’s income tax return, ask your employer to increase your federal income tax withholding amounts. If you have both wage and consulting income and are making estimated tax payments, there’s an added benefit to doing this: Even though the additional withholding may need to come from your last few paychecks, it’s generally treated as having been withheld evenly throughout the year. This may help you avoid paying an estimated tax penalty due to underwithholding.

Of course, if you’ve significantly overpaid your taxes and estimate you’ll be receiving a large refund, you can reduce your withholding accordingly, putting money back in your pocket this year instead of waiting for your refund check to come next year.

Will you suffer the alternative?

Originally intended to prevent the very rich from using “loopholes” to avoid paying taxes, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) now reaches further into the ranks of middle-income taxpayers. The AMT is governed by a separate set of rules that exist in parallel to those for the regular income tax system. These rules disallow certain deductions that you are allowed to include in computing your regular income tax liability, and treat specific items, such as incentive stock options, differently. As a result, AMT liability may be triggered by such items as:

  • The standard deduction
  • Large deductions for state, local, personal property, and real estate taxes
  • Exercising incentive stock options

So when you sit down to project your taxes, calculate your regular income tax on Form 1040, and then consider your potential AMT liability using Form 6251. If it appears you’ll be subject to the AMT, you’ll need to take a very different planning approach during the last few months of the year. Even some of the most basic year-end tax planning strategies can have unintended consequences under AMT rules. For example, accelerating certain deductions into this year may prove counterproductive since AMT rules may require you to add them back into your income. If you think AMT is going to be a factor, consider talking to a tax professional about your specific tax situation.

Timing is everything

The last few months of the year may be the time to consider delaying or accelerating income and deductions, taking into consideration the impact on both this year’s taxes and next. If you expect to be in a different tax bracket next year, doing so may help you minimize your tax liability. For instance, if you expect to be in a lower tax bracket next year, you might want to postpone income from this year to next so that you will pay tax on it next year instead. At the same time, you may want to accelerate your deductions in order to pay less tax this year.

To delay income to the following year, you might be able to:

  • Defer year-end bonuses
  • Defer the sale of capital gain property (or take installment payments rather than a lump-sum payment)
  • Postpone receipt of distributions (other than required minimum distributions) from retirement accounts

To accelerate deductions into this year:

  • Consider paying medical expenses in December rather than January, if doing so will allow you to qualify for the medical expense deduction
  • Prepay deductible interest
  • Make alimony payments early
  • Make next year’s charitable contributions this year

The gifts that give back

If you itemize your deductions, consider donating money or property to charity before the end of the current tax year in order to increase the amount you can deduct on your taxes. As an aside, now is also a good time to consider making noncharitable gifts. You may give up to $16,000 (in 2022; twice that amount for a married couple) to as many individuals as you want without incurring any federal gift tax consequences. If you gift an appreciated asset, you won’t have to pay tax on the gain; any tax is deferred until the recipient of your gift disposes of the property.

Postpone the inevitable

To reduce your taxable income this year, consider maximizing pretax contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k). You won’t be taxed on the contributions you make now, and you may be in a lower tax bracket when you do eventually withdraw the funds and report the income. (Note that if you take withdrawals from the plan before age 59½, you’ll generally be subject to a 10% penalty tax in addition to any income tax due, unless an exception applies.)

If you qualify, you might also consider making either a tax-deductible contribution to a traditional IRA or an after-tax contribution to a Roth IRA. In the first instance, a current income tax deduction effectively defers income — and its taxation — to future years (as with a retirement plan, an additional 10% penalty tax will apply to withdrawals made prior to age 59½ in addition to any income tax due, unless an exception applies); in the second, while there’s no current tax deduction allowed, qualifying distributions you take later will be tax free. You’ll generally have until the due date of your federal income tax return to make these contributions.

Tax planning can be complicated. Consider seeking the assistance of a tax professional to determine what year-end tax planning moves, if any, are right for your individual circumstances.

Broadridge Investor Communication SolutionsYear-End Tax Planning
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Unequal Inheritance: Aspects to Consider

Jennifer M. Johnston, CTFA

All families have their own dynamics. Some families have children who fall into similar levels of economic stability, while some families have children who are all unique and have a wide range of financial and personal success that result in different abilities to care of themselves and their families in the way they may have been accustomed to growing up or the way you may want to see.  

How do parents approach this when it is time to prepare or review their estate planning documents? First you need to decide if this is an issue for you. If your children are equally capable of taking care of themselves and have the equal ability to do so then this may be a moot issue for you.  

However, if you have one child who is a successful attorney, another child who is a successful preschool teacher, and another who struggles with addiction and holding down a job you may have some things to consider when it comes to an equal or unequal inheritance amongst your children. 

An unequal inheritance may also be thought of as an equitable inheritance.  Where an equal inheritance beneficiaries receive the same share, an equitable (or unequal) inheritance beneficiaries receive what is deemed fair by the Grantor given their individual circumstances. Of course “fair” is discretionary and where the complexities start and emotions can run high if the inheritance isn’t dealt with properly.

Here are some common reasons why an unequal/equitable inheritance may be considered by parents:

  • Special needs
  • Addiction
  • Difference in earnings
  • Gifts given during lifetime 
  • Stepchildren
  • Sibling with more children
  • Legal issues
  • Grandchildren
  • A child providing care to the grantor during life
  • Differences in cost to live in a certain area
  • A younger child who hasn’t completed their education or established a career

If you decide that an unequal or equitable inheritance is right for your situation the most important things you can do, aside from updating your estate planning documents, are to communicate and document your decision with your beneficiaries.

Communicate: Communication with your children is essential and the sooner the better.  Or if you find yourself on the flipside and are a beneficiary set to receive an unequal share think about gently bringing up the subject in order to understand why this decision has been made before your loved one is gone. 

Communication, regardless who initiates it, should be priority number one if your estate is not going to be divided equally.  (It is also a good idea to discuss your estate plan with your beneficiaries if you do plan for an equal division as there could be concern the division should be unequal/equitable given each beneficiaries unique situation.) An open discussion will help everyone understand where both parties are coming from.  Emotions may attempt to take the driver’s seat during the conversation so going into it with compassion and understanding is a good mindset to remind everyone to strive for.

Document: Once everyone has been involved in the discussion, whether everything is agreed to or not it is extremely important that everything is clearly documented. Some of the details to document include:

  • Date of the discussion.
  • Names of who were present.
  • Details of what was discussed.
  • Reasons why the inheritance will be distributed in unequal shares must be well documented.  The same is true if you are going to make equal shares but there are concerns loved ones may think unequal/equitable shares should be distributed.
  • Note and make it clear the Grantor(s)/Trustor(s) are of sound mind at the time of this discussion. 
    • Your estate document should also make clear that at the time of this discussion and the execution of any legal documents that contain this decision the Grantor(s)/Trustor(s) are making a conscious decision and are under no duress.
  • If possible obtaining signatures from all of the attendees. This can be a valuable document to include with your trust or will and may even be referenced in your applicable document.  

If the aforementioned steps are not taken to document a discussion was had with the entire family (including everyone who is receiving and/or may be excluded from a class of individuals who is not receiving anything) there is a higher probability the document (will or trust) may be contested or challenged in court. This is an expensive and stressful process for all involved and most certainly not what any parent wants to leave as part of their legacy. 

Speak with your attorney about including a “no contest” clause in your will or trust. A no contest clause is basically a “you get nothing” clause if you challenge the inheritance you are to receive (in some states this only applies if there is no probable cause). This clause is meant to deter someone who is receiving an inheritance they do not agree with from seeking legal action. Sadly it may do nothing to keep someone who has been excluded from an inheritance from taking legal action as they have nothing to lose from suing the estate or trust.

While HTC cannot offer legal or tax advice we love being a part of your team to work with you and your attorney and CPA to help make your estate plan the best one for you. If you are in need of a referral for an attorney or CPA we would be happy to provide a few for you. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

Jennifer Johnston, CTFA – Trust OfficerUnequal Inheritance: Aspects to Consider
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HTC Team News and Honors

Our team wrapped up our 2022-23 United Way Campaign with a great event featuring taco in a bag, a dunk tank and lots of laughs. Thanks to our brave dunk tank victims: Brian Halverson, Dustin Sobolik, Jana Samek, Jon Benson, Mary Fridgen, and Naomi Schempp!

This fall, HTC team members enjoyed an old-fashioned picnic complete with food and games. Thanks to our amazing event organizers: Amy Remmick, Brian Halverson, Missy Zarak, Monica Millette and Kayla Kranda. What a fun afternoon of team building and fun!

Our Retirement Services team held their annual Retirement Insight event in October. Dustin Sobolik led a presentation on financial planning and Clay Leveritt from American Funds gave us an informative market update.

Heartland TrustHTC Team News and Honors
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Meet Jace Gilleshammer

Jace Gilleshammer – IT Coordinator

Jace Gilleshammer is our IT Coordinator. He recently returned to the Fargo area and we are excited that he is part of our Heartland Trust team. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born in Grafton, North Dakota, and spent my schooling years here in north Fargo. A few years after high school I moved to Minneapolis to further my career, which led me on a path to Arizona where I spent the last 13 years. It was there that I met my wife. We have two daughters and couldn’t be more pleased to have our oldest in kindergarten here in the Fargo school system. We are very excited to raise our family in Fargo and to be a part of this community. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I have two kids under 6 so I don’t understand that question anymore. I have really enjoyed getting back to the lakes, playing with my kids on grass instead of rock, and planting a garden again. There’s something soothing about getting some garden dirt under your fingernails.

Tell us about your favorite life experience. 

Nothing will ever compare to the joy and happiness I experienced while being present for the birth of my two daughters. Before that, my favorite experience was my first time flying an airplane. I grew up a super fan of aviation and my biggest childhood (and current) dream is to land on an aircraft carrier. I grew up directly off the east end of the Fargo Jet Center runway so I used to sit and watch planes take off and land all day long. To this day I always look up anytime I hear an aircraft engine.

What is your favorite movie/play/book? 

I don’t have a specific one to point out; however, the one I’ve spent the most time with was The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. More than 900 pages of just about any aircraft you can think of.

What was the first car you owned? 

 It was a 1986 Dodge 600 SE in faded brown with a red velvety interior. I got it in the summer after my freshman year at Ben Franklin so you can imagine how excited my friends and I were to get our first taste of freedom heading into high school.

If you could meet one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Nikola Tesla. Our technological world wouldn’t be half of what it is if it weren’t for his ideas that pushed boundaries. It would be fun to discuss how his ideas, typically deemed too far-fetched for his place in time, have molded where we are on a global scale today. Look up some of his inventions and see all he was responsible for.

How long have you been at Heartland Trust? 

I’ve been here four months, and I’m delighted to say that I already feel like I am part of a new family. From day one everyone here has been more than willing to help me feel welcome.

What is your favorite part about working at Heartland Trust? 

While my funny answer would be the popcorn, my favorite part about working at Heartland is the people. You’ll meet some of the kindest and most caring individuals here.

Do you have a favorite recipe you would like to share?

It’s my mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce and, unfortunately, I have no clue what was in it other than a sprinkle of love and a touch of sugar and spice. But if I had to eat only one thing for the rest of my life, that would be it.

Heartland TrustMeet Jace Gilleshammer
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Benefits of Financial Planning

Kevin Wangen, Wealth Management Associate

When it comes to your personal financial well-being, a financial plan is an invaluable tool to have. A good plan will give you a detailed view of your assets and debts, cash flow, and the protections on the life and property within the plan. While it might seem like an overwhelming process at first, the benefits are worth it.

If you already have a financial plan, great job! Make sure it is updated at least annually. Account values change, loans get paid off, new debts get added, personal property is bought and sold, and your financial goals can change. 

If you do not have a financial plan, the best time to get one is now. Look online to find a financial advisor or wealth management company with advisors on staff. It is possible to do financial planning on your own, but important factors could get missed. You should at least have a financial planning professional who is a fiduciary review it. 

Having a financial plan is a key factor in improving your financial wellness. Other benefits include:

  • Knowing where your money is going. This will likely be the most noticeable effect once you have a plan. Knowing at a glance how much was saved, how much was earned, and how much was spent in a given time period is invaluable.
  • Peace of mind. Understanding where your finances are overall, what areas need improvement, and where you are doing well can take a lot off your mind. It can also help you keep track of accounts you might have forgotten about.
  • Improved saving. When you know how much is needed for a goal, your chances of reaching it are much higher. Those with a financial plan are more than twice as likely to save enough for retirement.
  • Goal achievement. Having enough for retirement isn’t the only goal a financial plan can include. Education funding, paying off debt, funding vacations, doing charitable giving, and anything else you can attach a dollar amount to can be accounted for and tracked in a plan.
  • Knowing your alternatives. Maybe there is a goal that isn’t going to be reached. Knowing that beforehand allows you to seek suitable alternatives.
  • Estate planning insight. Want to leave a legacy with your wealth? If you know leaving money to people or organizations that are important to you is part of your estate plan, a financial plan will help.
  • Tax planning. A financial plan can help you foresee future tax obligations or opportunities and prepare for them. Many individuals have periods of lower income between retirement and the start of required minimum distributions. This is an excellent time to take advantage of Roth conversions at a lower tax rate. 
  • Investment allocation coordination. Most of us don’t have only one account set aside for saving. You may have a 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, or more just on your own. If you have a spouse, they might also have multiple accounts. With a financial plan you can get a combined look at these accounts to how they are invested and align them to your risk tolerance.

What should be included? A thorough plan should include just about everything you can think of related to your finances.

Assets

  • Retirement accounts (401(k), IRA, Pensions)
  • Investment accounts
  • Bank accounts (checking, savings, CDs)
  • Personal property (real estate, land, automobiles, anything else of substantial value)
  • Business interests

Liabilities

  • Mortgages
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Any other debts

Protection

  • Life Insurance policies
  • Long-term care policies
  • Property/Casualty insurance policies

Once your plan is complete, the next step is to put it in action. You don’t need to make immediate alterations to your lifestyle. Start incrementally increasing your 401(k) contributions. Create a dedicated account for certain goals and save directly to it.

Want to start a financial plan? Give us a call at Heartland Trust Company. The most important step is to start the process. There is no benefit in putting it off. 

Heartland TrustBenefits of Financial Planning
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Finding Balance

Brian Halverson – President

When you match a strong work ethic with a society that doesn’t promote balance, a person can get lost in the day-to-day grind of trying to keep up. Without balance, something always suffers, whether it’s work or family. Or maybe you are present, but nothing gets the full attention it should.

Finding balance isn’t easy. You must identify what is meaningful and learn when, why, and how to say yes or no. When you introduce “change” into the conversation, it makes finding balance even more difficult.

Brian Halverson - PresidentFinding Balance
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Endurance

Brian Halverson – President

One of the most legendary expeditions was led by Sir Ernest Shackleton from 1914-1916. On a ship rightfully named Endurance, he led a journey known as the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. This expedition had no guarantee of returning home safely and promised an abundance of adventure in the unknown.

With a clear goal, a strong team, and a mighty ship, the crew of 28 set off for the Antarctic Circle.

Brian Halverson - PresidentEndurance
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Grateful

As you read this quarter’s newsletter, you will notice many exciting changes going on at Heartland Trust. After 31 years leading the operations, compliance, and HR departments at Heartland, Sheryl Bernier has retired/significantly reduced her work hours and duties. 

Sheryl’s departure brings changes in the form of promotions and new hires. Our team is growing, and we are bringing on experienced and knowledgeable people who share the qualities and values that we hold up as important. And while not seeing Sheryl every day will be a hard change, we are grateful. Grateful for her three decades of leadership. Grateful that our other team members are growing with their careers. Grateful that we can bring in other experienced professionals who want to grow with Heartland. 

Brian Halverson - PresidentGrateful
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Confirmation

Spring is a wonderful time of year.

Snow melts, flowers bloom, docks, and boats are placed in the water. This is the time of year when we see the cold bareness of winter transition into the long warm days of summer. With the season come key moments that signal the end of winter: tax season, golf course openings, trees budding. 

For all of us, spring confirms that winter doesn’t last forever. As dreary March stretches into light-filled May, we find new hope, new growth. We receive this confirmation when we have to buy our kids new soccer shoes, or suffer aches and pains from hitting golf balls, or see farmers in the fields. 

After the year we’ve been through, it is comforting to recognize the growth process is alive and well. No matter how cold the winter is, spring comes. This time of year, that’s confirmation of new opportunities and growth for us all.

Brian Halverson - PresidentConfirmation
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