|The month of September brings a welcome relief from the hot summer days. Cool breezes and colorful foliage appearing on the trees entice one to walk and bask in healthy fresh air.
September has also been designated as “Healthy Aging Month” with encouragement to seniors to renew their attitudes towards better eating, exercise, and mental stability. With the nation’s senior population growing there is more focus on programs to help seniors remain healthy and active as they age physically, mentally and emotionally.
Opportunities for seniors to use their work experience and talents in volunteer work benefit not only them but their communities as well. Many seniors take educational courses to improve their minds and seek out opportunities to use this newfound knowledge in productive ways. In another direction, senior sport programs have been developed that encourage those who miss their days on the basketball court or playing other sports to take it up again. The National Senior Games Associations sponsors a competitive Senior Olympics.
There is no limit to what a healthy attitude can accomplish.
100-year-old Virginia, who suffers from glaucoma, received her first computer, an iPad. With the zoomable screen it is ideal for her to read books (she’s read 2 already) and write limericks (she’s composed 12).
A new population of seniors and those nearing senior status are looking for some type of financial support to maintain their quality of life and pay for eldercare during their final years of life. The need for some form of long term care will happen to 3 out of every 5 people. Paying for this care can be devastating for those who are not prepared.
Planning for the final years of life by dovetailing government programs, with your assets and other funding sources is a vital, yet complicated necessity. The National Care Planning Council’s “Life Resource Planning System” relieves some of this burden by providing recommendations pertaining to any or all of the items below that may be important to your living out the rest of your life in dignity.
Healthy aging – physically, mentally and financially – is a definite “can do” with all the resources available to seniors and a little planning for the future.
And of course, you can always reach out to The Powers Law Firm, P.C. for tailored advice specific to your unique situation.
Many of my clients, in fact, most, assume that adding an adult child as a joint account owner will cover a host of problems from access to funds to probate avoidance, and that action can have benefits. BUT, there are pitfalls associated with multi-generational joint accounts that need to be considered before taking action. See this excellent article from Forbes online for a great discussion.
I hear this so often, "It's just a simple form. We can just download it and do it ourselves." Not so fast!
Legal forms are not simple fill in the blank papers that you can blithely fill out while watching your favorite sitcom. And a power of attorney, the legal equivalent of a blank check and the keys to your house, car and everything you own, is no mere document. With it your entire estate plan can be accomplished should you lose capacity. Most people do not realize what an important document it is.
New York General Obligations Law (where the power of attorney statute is found) and the official form of the durable power of attorney, require that certain formalities be observed. There are locations for initials to be used to signify choices and there are places for signatures that require a notary public and witnesses. A recent case from the 4th Department (the New York appellate court for the western part of the state including Buffalo and Rochester) held a power of attorney invalid where the individual who signed the power of attorney (the "principal") had merely placed an "x" in the areas where initials were required, in spite of the fact that she signed where indicated. The facts show that the principal was in the hospital at the time the power of attorney was signed; it is unclear who prepared the power of attorney and who supervised the signing, if anyone. Very often a family member downloads something off the internet or a hospital worker provides a form. The danger, of course, is that these situations happen frequently. I see invalid powers of attorney all to often in my practice.
This case illustrates why you should not be engaging in "self-help" with these crucial decisions. An invalid power of attorney may not be serious if the fault is discovered and the principal still has capacity and can sign a new document. However, if the principal has lost capacity, her goals would be completely frustrated and there would be no opportunity to follow the principal's wishes unless the family had other indications of those wishes and a guardianship judge were assigned who was sympathetic. That burden is considerably higher than the task of setting up appointments with a good attorney who can explain the process and prepare a tailored power of attorney as part of your overall estate plan.
If you are concerned with financing long term care costs – for you or a loved one – don't miss this free presentation Tuesday, May 24th at 4:30 pm at Aaron Manor. I will be presenting on strategies to cover care costs with Susan Suben, the President of Long Term Care Associates, Inc. Here is all the information you need. Please do register as we have been told space is limited.
Traveling to those exotic destinations you’ve always dreamed of…
Spending precious time with grandchildren…
Those are all the things most of us think of when we think of retirement.
But being ready to retire means more than just reaching a certain age or renewing your subscription to Travel & Leisure.
You need a plan.
And with the current economic conditions, it better be a good one.
There are three things you need to seriously consider when planning for your golden years of retirement:
1. When you stop working, how much will your annual income be?
2. What will your monthly expenses be when you retire?
3. If you don’t have enough income to pay your monthly expenses, will you have enough money saved to make up the shortfall?
Here’s how to arrive at your answers to these questions:
First, get an estimate of your Social Security benefits. Next, look at your monthly pension benefit and any income you expect to receive from annuities or other investments such as annuities. Compare what your monthly benefits would be if you retire at age 62, 65, 67 or 70. Then decide if waiting for a later retirement date would be worth the extra money each month.
You need to decide what you really (really) need to retire. That means taking a cold hard look at what is a necessity and what is a luxury. The basics would be housing, healthcare, food, transportation, personal care and insurance. Decide what you can actually afford to pay in order to maintain the essentials. Be conservative but be realistic. Don’t tell yourself you can live on macaroni and cheese and hot dogs when you know you’re not really going to do that.
Remember that anything beyond the six categories named above is a discretionary expense. While you may have dreamed of traveling to exotic locales or playing golf at Augusta National (assuming you could afford the membership), those things aren’t necessities. Traveling to see the grandchildren once a year could be seen as something of a necessity; a photo safari in Africa is not.
Making Up The Shortfall
In a perfect world, your Social Security and income from pensions or investments will pay all your expenses and give you a little extra cushion to make life comfortable. Unfortunately, that’s more likely the exception than the rule unless you’ve been exceptionally good at saving and started planning for retirement early on in your working career. You will more than likely need some extra income to provide for anything beyond the necessities.
And that’s where many people get into trouble. They convince themselves that they can live more modestly than they really can and retire too soon. When reality sets in, they start making withdrawals from their investments and retirement plans and spend entirely too much. They run out of money before they run out of time. Never put yourself in a position to have to withdraw more than 4% or 5% per year from your investment portfolio.
The Hard Choices
Once you’ve crunched the numbers (or at least made some good estimates), you may find that your retirement goals need to be modified. You may need to work longer, move to a less expensive house, or consider taking a part-time job to make up the difference in what you have and what you need. Bear in mind that everything may not go according to plan. You may develop health issues and that may mean retiring sooner than you expected to.
The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to start planning now to handle what the future may bring. Call us at (585) 244-2170. We can help you find a solid financial professional to help you run those numbers and provide investment advice for making the most of what you have already saved as well as offering tips to increase your current savings.
And we will continue to work with them as a member of your team to make sure your legal planning is up to date as well.