Welcome to the April 2020 Newsletter for MasterPlan Retirement Consultants!

Mark’s Missive

The Latest Change to the Tax Shell Game

The government giveth and the government taketh away; blessed be the government!

By now, many of you have heard of the new The Secure Act.  Passed in December of 2019 and effective January 1, 2020, SECURE stands for “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” (catchy, heh?).

So what did the Secure Act give us?  It gave us a delay in when we have to take Required Minimum Distributions.  The Act pushes the RMD age from 70 ½ to age 72.1  That’s great, right?  Of course, it is only an additional 18 months of delay, but better than a poke in the eye.

What was taken? Well, this is where it gets interesting.  Before passage of the Secure Act, one could leave their IRA to children and grandchildren, who could then take a minimum amount out each year, thus minimizing taxes AND continuing to grow the IRA for generations to come. This was called a Stretch IRA.  The Secure Act has taken that away.  Now the beneficiaries of the IRA must drain the account within 10 years.  This can be done all at once, or in any amounts over the 10 years.

Imagine leaving a $1 million IRA to an adult child.  Perhaps they don’t really think about it, or just decide to leave it in there for the entire 10 years so that it will continue to grow tax-deferred.

What happens in the 10th year?  Maybe now it’s worth $1.5 million, or more. No matter the value, they now are required to withdraw the entire amount.  Depending on the percentage of the top income tax bracket (plus possible state taxes), they could lose half or more to taxes.  Congratulations Uncle Sam, you just won the lottery!

How can this be avoided?  Now is the time, while income tax rates are still very low, to develop a strategy to begin converting your IRAs to tax-free type accounts, such as a Roth IRA. But don’t procrastinate.  Our current low tax rates won’t last forever, and you’re better off doing the conversions over several years to avoid putting yourself in the top bracket now.

The other good news?  A change in estate taxes could be coming  possibly within the next few years, and that presents another whole set of problems.  More about this next time.

[1] For more information, see https://www.barrons.com/articles/secure-act-we-answered-the-most-commonly-asked-questions-about-the-retirement-bill-51576751402

News and Need to Knows

Due to the spread of the coronavirus, we are taking the necessary precautions to maintain a sanitary work environment. As such, all appointments and events are subject to rescheduling or cancellation. We are available for digital appointments if needed. Your health and safety is our priority.

“Knowledge is power.”    

– Francis Bacon   

We are trying to keep you informed and updated with our new marketing and classes. You will see that many of the classes are being held in our Marietta office. As you probably know, we moved locations in November. This allowed us to have enough space to hold Lunch N Learn sessions, as well as classes in our office. We hope that this will make it convenient and easy for you to come if you see a topic that interests you and also invite others that you feel could use the information. As you look through the list of classes that we have coming up, you will notice that some have locations to be determined. This is because as much as we want to keep classes in our office, we understand that sometimes it is better to venture to other locations. These locations are to be determined as we work our way through our schedule and decide what our needs are.

What would you do if…

A loved one suffered a death or catastrophic illness?

Are you prepared for the unexpected?

Want to know more about how to be prepared? Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming Lunch N Learn on “Be Prepared: A Survivor’s Checklist”.

What would you do if…

You and your spouse were traveling and encountered a medical crisis requiring immediate attention.

Would you know what to do?

Want to know more about this and other travel-related information? Be sure to RSVP for our June 18th Lunch N Learn on Travel.

Upcoming Classes

  • Rescheduling – Ribbon Cutting and Open House – Date to be determined
  • Lunch N Learn – Be Prepared: A Survivor’s Checklist at Marietta office – Date to be determined
  • April 28th – 7 pm – 8:30 pm – Taxes and Retirement – Webinar
  • April 30th – 6 pm – August Federal Benefits Training – Webinar
  • May 2nd – 9 am – Augusta Federal Benefits Training – Webinar
  • May 5th and 7th – Taxes and Retirement – Location to be determined
  • June 4th and 6th – Columbia, SC, Federal Benefits Training- Location to be determined
  • June 15th – Decatur Federal Benefits Training – Location to be determined
  • June 18th – 11:30 am to 1:00 pm – Lunch N Learn – Travel at Marietta Office

Keep an eye out for email invitations on our upcoming classes. Your friends are always welcome, just let us know when you RSVP! MasterPlan will continue offering classes in the best way possible, however; details subject to change as needed due to COVID-19 restrictions.


Client Spotlight – Life to the Fullest

Noël and Rick Jenks

Retirement for us has been a wonderful adventure! After teaching high school for 30 years, Noël retired in 2013 but continued working part-time until Rick retired at the end of 2014.  In early 2015, we gave our children any of our possessions that they wanted, had several yard sales and brought numerous loads to Goodwill, sold our house, bought an RV and hit the road as full-time RV’ers!

It was not easy to choose to change our lifestyle so drastically!  We owned a house that we loved, one of only three homes in which we had ever lived.  Our entire married life of 41 years had been lived in Cobb County and this is where we had had our careers and raised our children.  All our friends were here, along with our doctors and our support group.  Our children and grandchildren, on the other hand, were living in Seattle, WA, Tallahassee, FL and Burlington, NC.  Our thought was that life on the road would give us a comfortable way to see the country, visit our children and learn a new way of life!

What an adventure it has been!  From the faces of Mt. Rushmore and the beauty of the Badlands, the rugged magnificence of the Oregon coast, our volunteer time with the department of Fish and Wildlife on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, our work as Navigators for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, visiting the top of Pike’s Peak and the depths of Carlsbad Caverns, and all the other wonders we have been fortunate to see on a daily basis, we have truly enjoyed ourselves!  In addition, we’ve had a chance to share some very special places with our children and grandchildren.

There have, of course, been a few difficulties along the way.  Rick had knee surgery and had to do his rehab while living in an RV.  We drove a bit too close to a tree branch and had to have an awning and a roof repaired.  We’ve traveled a few roads that, in hindsight, would probably have been better left untraveled!  All in all, though, we feel very privileged to have spent the last five years on the road!


Life Enrichment – Your Best Life

Karen’s Corner

I asked Carol Freeman, our Administrative Coordinator, to share some springtime traditions.  I know you will enjoy her article, the memories that are evoked and the inspirations to start new traditions from reading it!

Easter memories and traditions to warm the heart…

As Spring and Resurrection Day swiftly approaches, my mind is flooded with memories from my childhood and my children’s childhood.  I would like to share a couple of memories of Easter traditions that we as a family have observed, and also some new traditions I plan to try this year.


“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it”

I wonder how many of you, like me, think of this Irvin Berlin song when you think about the Easter parade! I myself have childhood memories of children donning their Easter frocks, as proud parents smile and watch the parade up and down the church sanctuary isles. I’m not sure if our local churches celebrate this fun activity that sticks out in my memory from the ’70s anymore. However, I’ve learned The Easter Parade still happens each year down Fifth Avenue in New York.  The tradition began in the mid-1800s when parishioners would join in a “parade” walk after Easter Sunday services on Fifth Avenue.  Some Christians believe this is a way to celebrate rebirth and newness of life.


Possibly my favorite Easter memory was during my children’s childhood.  The four of us set out in the pre-dawn hours to Kennesaw Mountain National Park to celebrate the Risen King at sunrise. Carrying our folding chairs, blankets, hot chocolate and dressed in warm clothing, we found our spot and joined with faces unknown that all shared a common bond… seeking the empty tomb! A little research revealed that the first sunrise service was held by a group of young men in Germany, 1732. Oh, the warm memories I have as we worshiped in God’s beautiful sanctuary, with God’s beautiful people!!

  • New Tradition, HOT CROSS BUNS

As I was searching traditions, I stumbled upon this that my family had never observed, and never realized it was connected to Easter, but I found it interesting.  A 12th-century monk wanted to celebrate Good Friday and decided to mark his sweet rolls with a cross.  One doesn’t have to go far on internet recipe sites to find many Hot Cross Bun renditions.  I plan to have sweet rolls or muffins this year marked with a cross of a simple confection glaze, and when my grandchildren are old enough, I will share the beautiful reason of the cross.

I hope to inspire you this bright season to take some time and reminisce of your family traditions, and share stories with your children and grandchildren; if you don’t have family traditions I can’t think of a better time than now to begin.

Happy Easter to you and yours,

Carol Freeman


At our most recent Lunch N Learn Series class, lunch included a Creamy Chicken and Mushroom soup.  It is a versatile soup, comforting for those chilly winter days and light enough to be perfect for a spring meal as well!  It is great with a salad and buttered crusty bread!  Many clients asked for the recipe so here it is!  Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

Serves 6 but is easily doubled.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced or in large shreds
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup half and a half or whipping cream or more, as needed or to taste*
  • 1 sprig rosemary


  1. Heat olive oil and 4 tablespoons butter in a large stockpot or similar over medium heat. Season chicken thighs to taste with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden in color, about 4-5 minutes; remove chicken to a separate dish.
  2. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in the stockpot over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in thyme until well mixed and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, whisking about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock*, bay leaves, chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 7-8 minutes.
  4. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 2 minutes; season to taste with salt and pepper. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired creaminess and consistency is reached.  Add 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and stir.  Remove bay leaves.
  5. Serve immediately. Remaining chopped parsley and rosemary sprigs can be used as garnish if desired.
  6. I personally enjoy this soup made fresh and served immediately or made a day ahead and refrigerated, to allow the flavors to mingle. Reheat on medium heat but only allow, at most, a very low boil due to cream.

*Potato or cauliflower gnocchi can be added.  I typically lightly precook in a little chicken stock and then add to soup when the 4 cups of chicken stock are added.


It’s springtime in Atlanta, y’all!  We are so blessed in the Southeast area of our great nation to enjoy beautiful spring seasons!  Here are a few things to enjoy in and around Atlanta this season!


  • MAR: Gibbs Gardens
    • Feb-Nov
    • 1987 Gibbs D.
    •  Ball Ground, GA 30107
  • APR 24: Augusta Hot Air Balloon Festival
    • Fri, 4 PM
    • Augusta Exchange, 219 Robert C Daniel Jr Pkwy
    • Augusta, GA
  • May 2: Georgia Renaissance Festival
    • Sat, May 2 – June 7
    • 6732 Virlyn B Smith Rd
    • Fairburn, GA
  • MAY 9: Chastain Park Spring Arts & Crafts Festival 2020
    • Sat, May 9 – Sun, May 10
    • Chastain Memorial Park, 140 Chastain Park Ave NW
    • Atlanta, GA
  • MAY 10: Sweet Georgia Peach Spring Jazz Festival
    • Sun, 8 PM
    • Mable House Barnes Amphitheatre, 5239 Floyd Rd SW
    • Mableton, GA
  • MAY 16: 2020 Atlanta Air Show
    • Sat, May 16 – Sun, May 17
    • Peachtree City, GA



Upcoming Deadline:

  • July 15th
    • Extended deadline to file taxes or an extension


When you pay attention to detail, the big picture will take care of itself.

– George St-Pierre


Prayer Requests and Praises

Did you know that we start our staff meetings off with your prayer requests and praises?

When you share your requests with us, we still make a point to add it to our list and keep it there until we have an update.

We also celebrate your praises!

We know from our own experiences that life will bring us ups and downs.  We want to continue to share in that with you, so if you have a prayer request or praise that you want us to put on our list please feel free to contact us!


“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

– 1 Thessalonians 5:11


If you have any questions or comments over the news and need to knows, upcoming classes, reminders or prayer requests, please reach out to Julie Thompson at [email protected]


Advisory services offered through MasterPlan Retirement Consultants, Inc. Insurance services offered through Fricks and Associates, Inc. Tax services offered through MasterPlan Tax Services, Inc. The aforementioned are affiliated companies.