Articles Tagged with Planning for the Future

Old man on bench 5.4.2016Houston families with an Alzheimer's patient must address the issue of financial planning as well as care and treatment. A number of planning tools should be discussed once a diagnosis has been made.

Any family faced with helping a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease has a number of challenges ahead. In The Wall Street Journal's "Voices: Consider Trusteed IRAs for Clients With Alzheimer's," the article suggests that frank discussions must begin to address a number of concerns for the present and the future. Issues include care and treatment, wishes for care when the person can no longer speak for themselves, determining who will manage finances, estate planning and how a spouse will be supported during the loved one's illness—however long it may last.

Many of those with an Alzheimer's diagnosis really are concerned with not becoming a financial or practical burden on their family. Loved ones can encourage them to see an elder law attorney to help them organize and designate their assets early, so that they will ensure appropriate distribution before they're not able to manage their money directly.

Organize 5.3.2016Anyone who has cleaned out someone else's filing system knows that we all keep way more paperwork than needed. Spare your loved ones and get started now on cleaning up and creating a directory.

Some people won't set foot into a supermarket without a shopping list. They are the people who are more likely to sift through documents, clean out files and follow the steps in Morningstar's article "How to Create a Master Directory." This directory would be a huge timesaver for you and your heirs, who will be more grateful than you would imagine to be spared hours of wading through unneeded paper files.

This type of document—be it a PDF, an Excel file, a Word document, or even a handwritten record—can be your inventory of financial accounts and contact info. If you keep it up-to-date, this can be an invaluable tool for your loved ones in the event you are unable to manage your assets for yourself. Here are the steps.

Money in mayo jarAn interactive online tool has been released by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that walks consumers through a series of questions to help them better understand the optimal time to file for Social Security benefits. The "Planning for Retirement" site is an attempt to address a serious problem facing older Americans who claim their benefits too early in life, which results in their receiving lower monthly benefits. The goal of "Planning for Retirement" is to show the user how to make a better decision.

In many instances, the claiming-age decision is based on limited information about the financial impact of that choice. The new CFPB tool lets people estimate how much money they can expect to receive at different ages and provides tips to help evaluate the trade-offs. The "Planning for Retirement" tool is at:

Folks can claim their benefits several years before their "full retirement age" and take less money each month. Or they can wait and get bigger monthly checks. This is typically a one-time choice, so if you claim the reduced or increased benefit, that's what you get for the rest of your life, with annual cost-of-living adjustments. In addition, this decision affects the benefits your spouse will receive after your death.

5104095BD6The one thing that all 401(k) millionaires have in common, according to a Forbes' article "Nine Ways To Be A Millionaire In Retirement," it is saving at a much higher amount than others. Whatever your career path may be and whatever your earnings level is, start saving early.

While millennials often have a competing priority with paying student loan debt, it's still important to make sure some of your money is going into retirement.

Live like a college student. Even if you are making very little, you should "mind the gap" – that is, the gap between what you spend and what you earn. Make sure there is a gap and keep your expenses low. Try to live like a college student when you're earning your first salary. Maybe have Ramen noodles and hot dogs on at least some evenings.

Baby feetIt's no surprise that many Americans have chosen not to have any life insurance at all, according to NASDAQ's recent article, "Why Have Life Insurance?" A recent study by a life insurance advocacy group, LIMRA, revealed that most Americans think that life insurance is expensive. They were asked to name the price of a 20 year, $250,000 level term life policy for a healthy 30 year old and were off by several hundred dollars. The anticipated annual cost was $400, while the real cost of such a policy is more like $150. The study found that 85% of Americans are not buying life insurance, and this price perception may be part of the problem. That's not including the people who purchase insurance that is not right for their needs, who overpay for insurance, or those who are insured for so little that their unexpected passing will assuredly put their family's financial future at risk.

That's why it's important for you to sit down annually with an insurance professional to review your policy and also to speak with your estate planning attorney about the role life insurance may play in your overall estate planning strategy. Reviewing your life insurance policies is one way to make sure you have the coverage that is right for you and your family as you age and your family situation changes.

Basic Types of Life Insurance

Road in forest free useDo you have a plan for long term care?  It can be costly and prohibitive for many families, especially for dementia care.  Several key points about long term care are clarified in a recent article from The Arizona Daily Star, “Costs pile up fast for dementia care.” 

Don’t count on Medicare. The median annual cost for a private room in a skilled nursing facility in Tucson last year was more than $90,896. Assisted living costs about $45,000. In a 2015 annual Cost of Care survey, results showed that Americans paid approximately $16,060 more per year in 2015 for a nursing home than they paid in 2010.

Remember that Medicare doesn’t pay for long-term care, including home care, aside from 100 days of skilled services or rehabilitative care. After that, it’s up to the family to figure out how to pay. The options include long-term care insurance, public assistance through Medicaid programs for people over 65, Veterans Aid, or private pay. On average, an American turning 65 today will incur $138,000 in future long-term services. This cost could be financed by setting aside $70,000 today.

Hands in agreementThe Huffington Post published an interesting article on the ethical and legal issues posed by two related legal practice areas, “Some Legal Issues at the Intersection of Elder Law and Estate Planning.” There are legal and ethical issues that arise when determining courses of action in both areas.

One is whether to dispose of assets through pre-need planning to qualify for means-tested government programs such as Medicaid that might pay, for example, the cost of long term nursing home care. This is very complicated, and you should work with a qualified elder law attorney.

If you want to maximize eligibility for means-tested governmental benefits, a common income reduction technique is to create a Qualified Income Trust (QIT), also called a “Miller Trust.” There are also other types of "special needs trusts" that can be created without reducing government benefits. Again, this is a highly complex area that requires help from an elder law attorney.

Business legsOwners who are personally and emotionally involved in their businesses, including farming operations, often consider what will happen to their businesses, farms and business assets when they are no longer involved. Planning for the disposition of a business is different than estate planning. While many think they are the same process, they are really very different.

Estate planning concerns the transfer of assets, including wealth, of an individual from one individual to another or to an entity, such as a trust, and this occurs only when the person passes away. Ownership of a business and business assets, whether they are tangible or intangible, can be transferred to a legal entity, whenever the owner chooses. The Columbus (NE) Telegram’s article, “Estate planning and business transition quite different,” discusses these two different kinds of transactions.

Business transition is simply the transfer of a business asset or the entire entity from an existing owner who has decided to retire or move on. This usually occurs during the life of the existing owner. However, when a business transfer takes place after the death of the owner, it’s usually part of an existing or implied estate plan or asset transfer process.

Family of threeTalking with aging parents about their finances, their wishes, and the future, is never an easy conversation. When it became clear that her mother was starting to suffer from memory loss, Gwen started to speak with her mother about finances, accounts and final wishes. While she felt uncomfortable pressing her own mother for information, in the long run obtaining this information made things easier when Gwen, the daughter, ultimately had to take over her mother’s finances. While not all parents are willing to have these discussions, they are important to prevent the difficulties that eventually arise. Gwen Morgan, the author of “What If…Workbook,” a guide that helps gather and convey this type of information, notes that “People hold tight to their bootstraps.” Communicating early and often can help.

Even if your parents are reluctant to discuss their finances, the sooner the conversation begins, the better for all concerned. In an article posted on Go Banking Rates, “How to Talk About Money With Your Aging Parents,” the author shares a deeply personal experience with her own mother. Some parents are simply not willing to have these conversations, and several different approaches may need to be tried before you find the one that they are comfortable with. Not knowing key information could lead to family members needing to go to court to obtain the ability to gain control of their parents' finances and make medical decisions on their behalf. These scenarios can cause serious emotional and financial hardship for families.

Here are several strategies from the article to get aging parents to discuss their finances. Make sure that the conversation is respectful. Also make certain that it’s understood that you’re not trying to take over your parents’ finances. Starting with an area that doesn’t feel like a loss of power, may be more successful, the article advises.

Trust definitionMany people set up trusts to help provide for loved ones and favorite causes after they pass away. A trust can help manage the wealth you wish to transfer and ensures the efficient distribution of assets—such as property or a sum of money—over a set period of time. Yet a trust is only as strong as the trustee overseeing it.

A trustee is the individual or company that administers a trust for the benefit of named beneficiaries. Duties can range widely and may include paying bills and taxes, and managing property and investments.

Forbes recently had a nice article about this titled “How To Choose The Right Trustee For Your Estate.” Most importantly, the article says a trustee “has a legal fiduciary duty to manage a trust on a beneficiary’s behalf,” by always acting in the beneficiary’s best interests, as outlined by the trust.

Contact Information