Does Your Bumper Sticker Read ‘We’re Spending Our Children’s Inheritance’?

Once you get to retirement, it’s important to identify what your goals are for your nest egg. Do you intend to spend it down enjoying your golden years, pursuing passions and activities that bring you and your spouse joy, or do you want to leave an inheritance to loved ones? The question is posed in the article “Will You Spend Your Retirement Savings or Leave It Behind? The Answer May Surprise You,” from the Warwick Advertiser.

For many people, the goal of retirement is to do all the things that had to be put off while working. That might include a hobby that requires time and resources, travelling, purchasing a vacation home, or fulfilling a dream of going back to school. If that’s your retirement dream, bear in mind that these dreams all come with costs. Spending in the early stages of retirement often goes up, as retirees are still healthy enough to do everything on their bucket lists.

Given the reality of longer life expectancies, it’s important for retirees to understand that they may be living from their retirement investments for three or more decades. That means that you’ll need to have enough money to cover routine expenses plus health care and most likely, long-term health care services. Make sure your financial planning takes these factors into account.

Once you know how much money you’ll need for your costs of living and health care, plus inflation, then what’s left behind is your retirement fun money.

Knowing how to work within the constraints of a budget, is actually more important during retirement. You can’t just go back to work for a few decades, if you find yourself running short. You still may need to pick up a part-time gig on the side. However, that income is quite lower than a full-time position at the peak of your earning career.

What if leaving a legacy is more important to you than buying a second home? Just like the plan for retirement fun, you’ll need to do some financial planning to make this goal come to fruition. Remember that your legacy will include whatever is left at the time of your death, as well as what you may give while you are living.

Giving your children or grandchildren their inheritance while you are alive, is a way to enjoy the gift twice — once when you give and a second time when you see what they do with your gift. You might want to help the family reach their own financial milestone, like covering the cost of a college degree, helping with a deposit on a home or helping to pay off a mortgage.

Charitable giving may also be part of your legacy. If there is a charity, foundation, or alma mater that aligns with your values, you may choose to set aside a portion of your estate for a donation.

Regardless of whether you are planning on spending everything, giving away your assets to family members, or to a preferred charity, an estate plan is necessary to ensure that your wishes will be followed.

Your estate plan needs to include written instructions on how you want your assets to be distributed. That usually happens through a will, and trusts are often part of an estate plan. Make sure that you know what your beneficiary designations are—these are the people who are named in your insurance policies, investment accounts, IRAs, 401(k), or other retirement accounts. They will receive the assets as noted in the beneficiary designations, regardless of what your will says.

Reference: Warwick Advertiser (April 18, 2019) “Will You Spend Your Retirement Savings or Leave It Behind? The Answer May Surprise You”

 

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When to Move into Senior Housing

As your loved one gets up in years, you might wonder if it is safe and practical for her to continue living in her home. Many things in modern life have a connection to a specific age, like when you can legally drive or vote. However, there is no set age for when a person should move into a senior living community. It can be hard to know when a person should consider taking this step.

The issue of when to move into senior housing is highly individual. Some people do well staying in their own homes into their nineties or even past the age of 100. Other people are eager to relocate to a development designed with them in mind, with plenty of activities and opportunities to socialize with their peers. It can be refreshing to have someone else do the lawn care and housework. Most people fall somewhere in between these two groups.

Indications that It Might be Time to Consider Senior Housing

Everyone is different, and the decision about moving into senior care should be made by your loved one, possibly with input from close friends and relatives and the senior’s health care professional. Here are a few of the signs to look for that might mean that a development for aging adults could be beneficial. Your loved one is having difficulty:

  • Preparing food,
  • Shopping for groceries and other necessities,
  • Taking his medicine as directed,
  • Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet,
  • Walking without stumbling or falling,
  • Engaging socially and avoiding isolation, or
  • Dealing with moods and emotions, such as depression, loneliness, sadness and boredom.

If you see any of these signs, you should think about talking with your loved one about the situation. Let her know that you will offer as much help as you can, like helping her get her house ready to sell. Some people get so intimidated about the mountain of work that a move entails, they stay in place, even if they need assistance with daily living tasks.

Let your older relative know about the options available and offer to visit facilities with him. Have a few developments in mind before you have “the talk.” Set up tours at a couple of communities, then find out what he likes and dislikes about each place. Try to find a location where he will be happy and safe. A center with a wide range of care levels can provide more assistance, if he needs it over time.

Misconceptions About Senior Housing

When your aging loved one was younger, senior housing meant the nursing home or rest home. As a result, many older Americans adamantly refuse to even talk about moving into a senior living community. People would likely be more receptive to considering senior housing, if they realized that today’s facilities can include:

  • Apartments, condominiums, and attached housing units with multiple bedrooms, plenty of square footage and attractive architecture.
  • Your choice of a variety of care levels, from completely independent to not having to lift a finger, because someone else does all the cooking, cleaning and lawn maintenance.
  • Developments on golf courses, with swimming pools, tennis courts, hiking trails and many other amenities.

Be sure to talk with an elder law attorney near you about this article and any insights she or he may have.

References:

A Place for Mom. “When is the Right Time to Move?” (accessed April 14, 2019) https://www.aplaceformom.com/planning-and-advice/articles/when-is-the-right-time-to-move

 

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How to Decide Who Your Healthcare Proxy Should Be

It’s especially important to name a healthcare proxy, because the chances of having a crisis escalates dramatically as we age. That’s why so many people put off naming a healthcare agent, says Forbes in the article “How to Select A Healthcare Agent” often only addressing this, when they are completing other documents for their overall estate plan.

What usually happens is that people get so stressed out about naming a healthcare agent that they put it off or make a bad selection. Making it even worse, is neglecting to tell the person they have chosen for this important responsibility.

It’s not guaranteed that the person you chose as your healthcare proxy will ever be called on to serve. However, if they are, you’ll want to make sure they meet certain guidelines. For one thing, they’ll need to be at least 18 years old. They cannot be your direct health care provider or any of the direct health care provider’s employees, unless that person is also your spouse. They have to be willing to speak up and adhere to your own wishes, even if those wishes are not the same as their own. You’ll want to have a very candid conversation with the person you think you want to name as your healthcare agent.

You might want to go through this exercise to make sure they are really willing to carry out your wishes. Create a worksheet that describes in detail some of the situations they may face. There are a few sources for this kind of worksheet, including one from a group called Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit centered on helping people get what they want at the end of their lives.

If you are close with your family, it may seem obvious to select your spouse, first-born child, or a sibling for this task. However, be realistic: when push comes to shove, will they be able to stand up for your wishes? Will they be able to deal with the fallout from family members, who may not agree with what you want at the end of your life? They’ll need to be up to the challenge.

Age is a real factor here. You want your agent to be available in both the immediate and distant future. If you have a sibling who is only two years younger than you, she’ll be 84 when you are 86. That may not be the time for her to make hard decisions, or she may not be available—or alive. Select a few backups, and make sure the primary, secondary and even tertiary are listed on your advance directive.

Geography also matters. The person may be called upon in a crisis—if you are on the West Coast and they are in the Midwest, will they be able to get to your bedside in time? Many hospitals and skilled nursing facilities require a live human being to be physically present, if critical care decisions need to be made. Someone who lives within a 50-mile radius of you, might be a better choice.

Once you’ve made the decision, you’re almost done. Have a conversation with the person, whether they are the primary or a backup. You should also have a conversation with your estate planning attorney, to make sure that your healthcare directive and any related documents are all set for your future.

Reference: Forbes (April 10, 2019) “How to Select A Healthcare Proxy”

 

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