5 Tips in 5 Minutes: Health Savings Accounts

By: Michelle Herrly, PHR, VP/Human Resource Manager, Fargo, ND 

With the new Health Care Reform Act taking place, we’re starting to hear more about Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), but many are still unsure of what an HSA actually is and what the benefits are. We broke down the top 5 things you need to know about HSAs:

HSA 21. What is an HSA? 
An HSA is an account that is set up like a personal savings account, only the money set aside is used for qualifying medical expenses. The purpose of the HSA is to help defray the out-of-pocket cost until the deductible in your High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is met.

2. Is an HSA right for me?
First things first, eligibility: In order to be eligible for an HSA you must be under the age of 65 and enrolled in a HDHP, which generally offers its own benefits. These may include things such as lower premium costs, a one calendar-year deductible per family, and 100% payment of covered expenses after your deductible is met.

3. What are some of the benefits of HSAs?
HSAs offer many benefits to the account holder, including:

  • You (not your employer or insurance company) are the owner of the funds in your HSA and you decide how to best utilize those funds for qualifying medical expenditures.
  • Your employer may make a matching contribution to your HSA, you own the account and the money is yours even if you change jobs.
  • You control your account funds and therefore, you can shop around for the best quality and cost of your health care.
  • Contributions to HSAs are generally tax deductible from your gross income, the funds in the account may grow tax deferred, and the account holder is usually not taxed on dollars that are used for qualified medical expenses. Everyone’s tax situation is different and therefore you should consult a tax preparation professional about how an HSA may affect you and your tax liabilities if you have any questions.
  • Your HSA dollars remain in your account and roll over from year-to-year (no use it or lose it).
  • HSA dollars can be used for a wide variety of medical expenditures, sometimes even including fuel costs and hotel stays where applicable. You should visit http://www.irs.gov/file_source/pub/irs-pdf/p969.pdf for more information on what is considered a qualifying medical expenditure.
  • You may be able to use your HSA funds for Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket Medicare expenses.
  • After age 65, you may be able to use your HSA dollars for living expenses.
  •  …And more!

3. Are there any disadvantages of an HSA?
Like any health care option, HSAs have both advantages and disadvantages. As you weigh your options, be sure to keep in mind the following:

  • Illnesses can be unpredictable, making it hard to accurately budget for health care expenses.
  • Information about the cost and quality of medical care can be difficult to find.
  • Some people find it challenging to set aside money to put into their HSAs. The elderly and those more susceptible to illness may not be able to save as much as younger, healthier people.
  • Pressure to save money in your HSA might lead you to not seek medical care when you need it.
  • If you take money out of your HSA for non-medical expenses, you’ll have to pay taxes on it.

5. How do I get set up with an HSA?
If your employer does not already offer an HSA option for you, you can set one up at First International Bank & Trust. Remember that you must be under age 65 and enrolled in an HDHP. If you have a spouse who uses your insurance as a secondary coverage, he or she must also be enrolled in an HDHP. The HDHP must be your only health insurance – you can’t be covered by any other health insurance excluding dental, vision, disability or long-term care.

Stop in today to set-up an account or give us a call with any questions you have: 800-359-8092.


Michelle has more than 18 years of HR management experience working in both large and small companies across multiple industries. Michelle specializes in employee relations with experience in all areas of HR management including recruiting, benefit administration, employment law, international HR, mergers and acquisitions, compensation planning and project management.

Michelle is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Fargo-Moorhead Human Resource Association (FMHRA) and Fargo-Moorhead Association for Training and Development (FM-ASTD).

In her spare time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, scrapbooking, music, reading and traveling.

First International Bank & Trust, Member FDIC

Apply for our $3,000 Live First Community Grant!

Every day we work to help our customers Live First. We strive to provide convenient services that meet all of your banking needs so that you have more time to focus on the things that matter, like family and community.

We value the communities in which we live and work and know you do too! That’s why we’re inviting you to apply for our Live First Community Grant, which awards $3,000 to a project or cause that makes a difference in your community!

Click here to apply for the Live First Community Grant!

Many of our customers and community members are already actively involved with great causes that could qualify for the Live First Community Grant:

Community GivingHow Winners are Chosen
Our team at First International Bank & Trust will choose one project that we feel makes the biggest impact on their community. Even if your project isn’t awarded the $3,000 grant, you still have another chance to win. We’re awarding three runner-up grants for $500 each to the projects that get the most votes from our Facebook fans!

How to Apply
Here’s what you’ll need to apply: An idea for a project or event! How would you use a $3,000 grant to benefit your community? You’ll need to tell us:

  • A name for your project. This is the part people will see when they vote, so make sure it’s catchy and descriptive.
  • How the project will help your community. Be specific!
  • Who will benefit.
  • Organizations that would be part of your project (for example, a 4H chapter, a high school club or your local animal shelter).
  • Budget breakdown of how you would use the $3,000 (and how you would pay for any costs beyond $3,000).
  • The date(s) and location of where your project would take place.
  • A photo that represents your project. This can be anything that captures the spirit of your idea. People will see the photo when they go to vote.

Group Community Giving

Once you’re ready to apply, visit our Facebook page. You can also view the official rules and who’s eligible.

Then, share the entry on your Facebook page so you can ask your friends to vote for you! Just click the “Share” button on your entry.

Share Entry

Come back to the page and share your entry any time you want to remind your friends to vote. Just click View entries, find your own entry, and then “Share.”

Complete Form

Write a quick note telling your friends to vote, and click share!


Don’t forget to spread the word in other ways, too. You can put up posters, send emails and ask your friends to do the same!

Good Luck!
Best of luck to all applicants – we can’t wait to see your ideas! Applications and voting close at 12:00 p.m. CST on July 31, 2014 – so get started now!

First International Bank & Trust, Member FDIC, EHL

5 Minute Estate Planning: 5 Things to Think About Now

By: John Stibbe, Wealth Manager, Fargo, First International Bank & Trust

You may be surprised to hear that estate planning is not just for the wealthy.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I own a home?
  • What about a car?
  • Life insurance?
  • Furniture?
  • A checking and/or savings account?
  • Investments?

You most likely answered yes to more than one of the above and therefore, are the owner of an estate.

The reality is that no matter your net worth, it’s important to have a basic estate plan in place to ensure your estate and financial goals are met and carried out as you wish after you die.

Estate planning involves much more than the distribution of your personal possessions. Instructions for your care if you become disabled, providing for family members with special needs, the transfer of your business at retirement, disability or death and the minimization of taxes, court costs and legal fees are all elements and benefits of estate planning.

Estate planning is an on-going process. So whether you already have a plan in place or are just getting started, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. The difference between a living will and living trust.
A living will and a living trust are both important pieces of estate planning that serve a similar purpose, yet are quite different from each other.

A living will is a legal document that becomes effective if you become incapacitated and are unable to make responsible health-care decisions for yourself. With a living will, you are able to outline in the documents what type of medical services you want to receive or not receive if you are terminal and cannot speak for yourself.

A living trust is a revocable trust that can be used to manage assets during your lifetime as well as at and after your death. It is one of the most flexible tools available in estate planning and provides a tool for people to manage their assets during life, have the trustee continue to manage the assets in the event of incapacity, as well as effectively distribute or manage assets after death.

2. The importance of Power of Attorney.
When you create and sign a durable power of attorney, you are giving another person legal authority to act on your behalf. An important part of power of attorney is designating an agent to carry out your wishes. A family member or trusted friend usually acts as agent, but you can choose anyone.

3. If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you.
If you do not have an estate plan and become incapacitated, the court will have control of how your assets are allocated depending on the laws and regulations of your residing state:

North Dakota

4. Where to seek help.
Professional wealth management advisors are available to help you with your estate planning needs. Our team has expertise in the areas of personal trusts, revocable living trusts, conservatorships, estates and probates, accounts for minors and irrevocable trusts. For questions or help with your estate planning needs, please call 701.298.4100 to set-up an appointment or visit our website to learn more.

Wealth Management Team

5. Plan now and have peace of mind.
Being proactive and creating a plan now can help give you and your family peace of mind. As you adapt to life changing events throughout your life, so too can your will. Keep in mind that changes can be made to your estate plan at any time.

Trust and wealth management products offered by First International Bank & Trust are not FDIC insured.

John has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and specializes in personal trust and investment management. John holds degrees from both North Dakota State University and William Mitchell College of Law.

In his spare time, John enjoys spending time with his family, water sports, snow skiing and Bison football.