What Games Keep My Mind Sharp as I Age?

The type of games that you probably loved as a child offer a great way to keep your brain sharp in old age, says Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “This Pastime Can Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age.”

People who regularly play non-digital games, like card or board games, score better on memory and thinking tests in their 70s than those who don’t.

That’s according to a recent study out of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

But wait! There’s even better news: seniors who suddenly increased game playing during their 70s also were more likely to maintain certain cognitive skills.

So, it’s never too late to dust off your copy of Monopoly or to learn bridge.

For the long-term study, which was published in The Journals of Gerontology, psychologists tested more than 1,000 people born in 1936 beginning at age 70 in the following skills:

  • Memory
  • Problem-solving
  • Thinking speed
  • General thinking ability

The researchers repeated the tests every three years, until the study participants turned 79. At two ages — 70 and 76 — participants also reported how often they played non-digital games, such as bingo, cards, chess or crosswords. Those who played more games later in life experienced less decline in thinking skills from age 70 to 79. This protective effect was particularly noticeable in memory function and thinking speed.

The researchers noted that their findings were just the latest in a line of studies that suggest a link between engaging in activities throughout life and better thinking ability in old age.

Protecting your brain probably wasn’t a thought you had when you were 25. However, it’s a safe bet that your interest in brain health has increased as the candles on your birthday cake have multiplied!

Reference: Money Talks News (April 23, 2022) “This Pastime Can Keep Your Brain Sharp as You Age”

 

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Has the Pandemic Made People More Aware of Estate Planning?

The COVID-19 pandemic has led many more Americans to pay attention to estate planning, but just a third of them have taken action, according to a recent report.

Financial Advisor IQ’s recent article entitled “More Americans Set Up Estate Plans Since Start of Pandemic” reports that more than 50% of Americans think estate planning is at least somewhat important, senior living referral service Caring.com found in a survey of more than 2,600 American adults. Caring.com didn’t disclose when the survey was conducted.

The number of those aged 18 to 34 with estate planning documents has increased 50% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the survey. Americans who’ve suffered through a serious COVID case are also 66% more likely to have a will than those who haven’t, Caring.com found.

Roughly 48% who have had a serious case have estate planning in place, as do 41% of those who have loved ones who had one. That’s compared to 29% who have no experience with a serious COVID -19 case, according to the survey.

Overall, two out of three American adults don’t have a will — the percentage has only inched up from 32.1% in 2020 to 32.9% in 2021 to 33.1% this year.

More than 60% of those without a will have done nothing toward getting a will or any estate planning document, according to the survey.

The most cited reason for not having a will is simply not getting around to it. That’s cited by 40% of all Americans without one.

That’s particularly prevalent among those earning $80,000 a year or more and without a will, 63% of whom say they haven’t had time to do so, as well as those with postgraduate education, two out of three of whom say they haven’t got around to it, according to the survey.

On the other hand, 48% of those earning $80,000 or more say they do have a will or another estate planning document.

That represents a 7% increase since 2020, Caring.com says.

However, a third (33%) of Americans overall say they don’t have an estate plan because they don’t have enough to leave behind, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, 12% say they don’t know how to get a will or living trust, and about 13% believe it’s too expensive to set up. Another 6% think it takes too long, and 9% say they don’t have anyone to leave their assets to, Caring.com found.

Reference: Financial Advisor IQ (April 25, 2022) “More Americans Set Up Estate Plans Since Start of Pandemic”

 

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Does a Supplemental Needs Trust have an Impact on Government Benefits?

Supplemental Needs Trusts allow disabled individuals to retain inheritances or gifts without eliminating or reducing government benefits, like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are cases where the individual is vulnerable to exploitation or unable to manage their own finances and using an SNT allows them to receive additional funds to pay for things not covered by their benefits.

Having an experienced estate planning attorney properly create the SNT is critical to preserving the individual’s benefits, according to a recent article titled “Protecting Government Benefits using Supplemental Needs Trusts” from Mondaq.

Disabled individuals who receive SSI must be careful, since the rules about assets from SSI are far more restrictive then if the person only received Medicaid or Social Security Disability and Medicaid.

The trustee of an SNT makes distributions to third parties like personal care items, transportation (including buying a car), entertainment, technology purchases, payment of rent and medical or therapeutic equipment. Payment of rent or even ownership of a home may be paid for by the trustee.

The SNT may not make cash distributions to the beneficiary. Payment for any items or services must be made directly to the service provider, retailers, or other entity, for benefit of the individual. Not following this rule could lead to the SNT becoming invalid.

SNTs may be funded using the disabled person’s own funds or by a third party for their benefit. If the SNT is funded using the person’s own funds, it is called a “Self-Settled SNT.” This is a useful tool if the disabled person inherits money, receives a court settlement or owned assets before becoming disabled.

If someone other than the disabled person funds the SNT, it’s known as a “Third-Party SNT.” These are most commonly created as part of an estate plan to protect a family member and ensure they have supplementary funds as needed and to preserve assets for other family members when the disabled individual dies.

The most important distinction between a Self-Settled SNT and a Third-Party SNT is a Self-Settled SNT must contain a provision to direct the trust to pay back the state’s Medicaid agency for any assistance provided. This is known as a “Payback Provision.”

The Third-Party SNT is not required to contain this provision and any assets remaining in the trust at the time of the disabled person’s death may be passed on to residual beneficiaries.

Many estate planning attorneys use a “standby” SNT as part of their planning, so their loved ones may be protected, in case an unexpected event occurs and a family member becomes disabled.

References: Mondaq (May 27, 2022) “Protecting Government Benefits using Supplemental Needs Trusts”

 

 

 

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