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I'm thinking about storing financial documents in the cloud. What should I know?

Cloud storage--using Internet-based service providers to store digital assets such as books, music, videos, photos, and even important documents including financial statements and contracts--has become increasingly popular in recent years. But is it right for you?

Opinions vary on whether to store your most sensitive information in the cloud. While some experts say you should physically store items you're not willing to lose or expose publicly, others contend that high-security cloud options are available.

If you're thinking about cloud storage for your financial documents, consider the following:

·         Evaluate the provider's reputation. Is the service well known, well tested, and well reviewed by information security experts?

Distracted Driving Awareness Month nears its end, but the issue is an every problem for all

Distracted Driving Awareness Month nears its end, but the issue is an every problem for all

By Marissa Shorenstein, New York President of AT&T and Anthony Spada, President-CEO, AAA Western and Central New York

When you’re driving and your phone makes that familiar “ding” sound, what do you do? Sadly, that’s a life or death question. Every day, nine Americans die from distracted driving such as texting and checking their phones. In New York State alone, there’s an 840 percent increase in tickets issued for texting while driving since 2011. How come? Because some drivers don’t believe It Can Wait.

It Can Wait is the name of AT&T’s campaign to educate motorists on the dangers of texting while driving. As New Yorkers mark another Distracted Driving Awareness Month, it’s a shame this dangerous behavior continues. Despite the number of crashes, life-altering injuries and preventable fatalities, drivers continue to put themselves and others at risk.

Are There Gaps in Your Insurance Coverage?

Buying insurance is about sharing or shifting risk. For example, health insurance will cover some of the cost of medical care. Homeowners insurance will assume some of the risk of loss in the event your home is damaged or destroyed. But oftentimes we think we're covered for specific losses when, in fact, we're not. Here are some common coverage gaps to consider when reviewing your own insurance coverage.

Life insurance

In general, you want to have enough life insurance coverage (when coupled with savings and income) to allow your family to continue living the lifestyle to which they're accustomed. But changing circumstances may leave a gap in your life insurance coverage.

Estate Planning Strategies in a Low-Interest-Rate Environment

The federal government requires the use of certain published interest rates to value various items used in estate planning, such as an income, annuity, or remainder interest in a trust. The government also specifies interest rates that a taxpayer may be deemed to use in connection with certain installment sales or intra-family loans. These rates are currently at or near historic lows, presenting several estate planning opportunities.

Low interest rates favor certain estate planning strategies over others. For example, low interest rates are generally beneficial for a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT), a charitable lead annuity trust (CLAT), an installment sale, and a low-interest loan. On the other hand, low interest rates generally have a detrimental effect on a qualified personal residence trust (QPRT) and a charitable gift annuity. But interest rates have little or no effect on a charitable remainder unitrust (CRUT).

Tips for Those Who Missed the Tax Deadline

Monday, April 18, was the tax deadline for most people in 2016. If you didn’t file a tax return or an extension to file but should have, take action now. If you missed the tax filing deadline:

Assessing Portfolio Performance: Choose Your Benchmarks Wisely

You can't help but hear about the frequent ups and downs of the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500 index. The performance of both major indexes is widely reported and analyzed in detail by financial news outlets around the nation.

Like the Dow, the S&P 500 tracks the stocks of large domestic companies. With 500 stocks compared to the Dow's 30, the S&P 500 comprises a much broader segment of the stock market and is considered to be representative of U.S. stocks in general. Both indexes are generally useful tools for tracking stock market trends, but some investors mistakenly think of them as benchmarks for how well their own portfolios should be doing.

Five Tax Tips on Estimated Tax Payments

 

You usually will have taxes withheld from your pay if you are an employee. However, if you don’t have taxes withheld, or you don’t have enough tax withheld, you may need to make estimated tax payments. If you are self-employed you normally have to pay your taxes this way. Here are five tips about making estimated tax payments:

1. When the tax applies. You should pay estimated taxes in 2015 if you expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax for 2016 after subtracting your withholding and refundable credits. Special rules apply to farmers and fishermen.

2. How to figure the tax. Estimate the amount of income you expect to receive for the year. Also make sure that you take into account any tax deductions and credits that you will be eligible to claim. Use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure and pay your estimated tax.