AgingOptions Life Plan: Finance

“Will I have enough assets in order to not run out of money before I run out of life?” is top of mind for all of us in the final third of our lives. In answering this, preservation, positioning and passing of accumulated wealth goes beyond traditional estate planning. It calls for all affected family members to be participants in a model that integrates health, housing and elder law considerations.


Will Your Social Security Income be Taxable? Odds Are They Will

It’s a question we hear from our clients frequently. As they approach retirement, some seniors have always assumed that their Social Security benefits will be tax-free – but will they be? The answer depends on several factors, but odds are – if you’re approaching the time when you begin drawing benefits – you will end up paying taxes on at least some of that income.

We recently found this report from Kiplinger. It was originally written a few years ago but just updated, and it explains in detail who will pay income tax on Social Security benefits, along with ways to minimize your tax exposure. Kiplinger states that “about 25 million Americans pay income taxes on their Social Security benefits — a surprise for many seniors who were planning on a source of tax-free income.” Depending on your income, the article reports, recipients could pay tax on up to 50% of your benefits, or for some up to 85%.

We won’t go into unnecessary detail here, but if we have the chance to meet with you individually we can help you evaluate your own personal situation. But one basic question retirees frequently ask is what the earning threshold is that makes benefits taxable. Kiplinger says, “The first step is to compute your ‘provisional income,’ which is basically your adjusted gross income (not counting any Social Security benefits) plus any tax-exempt interest and 50% of your benefits.” Once you’ve calculated that figure, according to Kiplinger, “Your benefits are totally tax free if your provisional income is less than $25,000.” That’s for single or head-of-household tax returns. If you file a joint return, that threshold rises to $32,000.

One final point: if you do have to pay taxes, Social Security will withhold payments from your check if you desire. That saves you the need to make quarterly payments.

Protecting your assets in retirement is vitally important, and that requires a realistic assessment of all your sources of income. One of the surest ways to maintain your independence and avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones is to make all your retirement plans carefully.

 

  • Are your financial resources being carefully and realistically allocated?
  • Have you considered all your various housing options to plan where and how you’ll live?
  • Are your legal affairs and all necessary documents up to date and complete?
  • Are you thinking ahead to handle your health care needs as you age?
  • Are your family members fully informed about your wishes in retirement?

We work with our clients to weave all five of these elements into a comprehensive plan – called a LifePlan. With your LifePlan in place you can face retirement knowing you’ll be able to protect your assets as you age, avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones, and also avoid being forced into institutional care against your wishes.

Where do you begin? We invite you to start by attending a free LifePlanning Seminar where we’ll provide you with helpful information about all these aspects to your retirement plan. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website, and you’ll see all the upcoming dates, times and locations. It will be a pleasure meeting with and working with you.

(Originally reported at www.kiplinger.com)
 

 

 

 

 

Part of Your Financial Plan: Remember to Update Your Beneficiaries!

Here’s a question: if you’ve made it clear in your will which one of your heirs should inherit money from your estate, how it is possible those funds will end up going to someone else?

The answer is simple: if you’ve forgotten to update the beneficiary information on a life insurance policy, retirement plan, or other financial instrument. It sounds absolutely basic, but, as a recent article in USA Today puts it, “Your ex could get rich if you don’t update your beneficiaries.” We suggest you click here to read this helpful piece.

As the article states, when it comes to keeping their estate plan current, most people think first about what goes into their Last Will and Testament. But they often neglect something even more obvious by failing to make sure their beneficiary designations are up to date. And here’s something you may not have known: beneficiary designations on a 401(k) or IRA are legally binding. As a result, states the USA Today article, they “often take precedence over wishes you’ve put in your will. And that can result in some unpleasant situations if your beneficiary information isn’t updated.”

The article goes on to quote a Dallas financial analyst, Charles Sizemore, who points out a scenario that’s fairly common: an employee establishes a retirement plan beneficiary on the first day of a new job, and never updates the form for ten, fifteen, twenty years or more. Sizemore says, “Your life [today] could look a lot different. You might have divorced and remarried, or you might have kids or grandkids that weren’t around back then.” The big downside is clear: you could end up “accidentally leaving your estate to an ex-spouse or disinheriting stepchildren.”  If you fail to update your beneficiaries, your financial plans might go out the window.

Here’s a list from the USA Today article of significant life events that should cause you to double check your beneficiary designation:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth of a child or grandchild
  • Death of a previous beneficiary
  • When a minor beneficiary comes of legal age to inherit

Which financial products are most likely to require updates on beneficiary designation? According to USA Today, here’s a basic list:

  • Retirement accounts like a 401(k) or IRA
  • 529 college saving plans
  • Life insurance
  • Annuities with a death benefit
  • Corporate profit-sharing plans
  • Pension plans
  • CDs, checking accounts or other bank accounts
  • Some stocks, bonds or mutual funds

Protecting your assets in retirement is a key part of a sound retirement strategy – and part of that protection involves making certain your wishes are carried out at every stage of your life as well as after you’re gone.   We work with our clients to help them establish a comprehensive retirement plan, called a LifePlan, dealing with all five pillars of planning for a sound future: finances, legal affairs, health care, housing choices and family relationships. With a LifePlan in place, you and your loved ones will face the future with greater confidence and peace of mind.

We invite you to begin the planning process by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, held in locations all over the Puget Sound area. You’ll gain a valuable amount of very helpful information in one highly enjoyable, fast-paced evening. Simply click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates and times.

Of course, should you wish to make an appointment for an in-person consultation, contact us. It will be a pleasure to work with you to establish a solid plan for your retirement years!

(Originally reported at www.usatoday.com)

 

 

How Long Will You Live? Lifespan Calculator Gives Possible Answer

Whenever we sit down with clients to plan for their retirement, it’s always interesting finding out their answer to a simple question: “How long do you expect to live?”

Clearly none of us knows the future, but the predicted answer to this simple question carries a lot of weight. That’s because a critical aspect of retirement planning is making certain you don’t outlive your resources – something that happens to far too many seniors who fail to plan for a longer-than-expected life span. After all, if you expect to live to age 80 – and spend your money with that in mind – what will you do if you end up living to be 90? It happens more than you think, forcing seniors into decisions they never wanted to make.

For a fun (and eye-opening) exercise, spend a few minutes online with the Lifespan Calculator.  This simple tool asks several key questions about your family history, your diet and exercise habits, and your present health. It’s completely confidential – you don’t enter your name or any other identifying information. In less than five minutes you’ll discover your likely longevity.

Of course, while the calculator is predictive, it’s not 100% scientific. As we said, no one knows the future. But careful planning requires that we think ahead ten, twenty or thirty years, and do our best to lay plans in place today for a more secure tomorrow. Planning ahead has been the hallmark of the wise throughout the ages. The Old Testament book of Psalms, for example, contains these words: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

We encourage you to use the Lifespan Calculator as both a fun and a sobering exercise. If nothing else it will remind you to take seriously the need to plan carefully for your future as you age. Here at Aging Options, our approach to planning encompasses five key areas of concern: your finances, your health, your legal affairs, your housing decisions and the relationships with those closest to you. It is possible to put a plan in place that takes all of these into consideration so that, no matter how long you live, you can enjoy the kind of fruitful life you have desired for yourself in your retirement years.

The place to begin is by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. We conduct these information sessions frequently at locations throughout the region. You’ll gain valuable insight into the entire retirement planning process. Click on the Upcoming Events tab for dates and times. We’ll look forward to meeting you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon!

Why We Did It: Seniors Explain Why They Opted for Reverse Mortgages

Reverse mortgages are on the rise once again. One industry news source reported that the number of reverse mortgages, also known as HECM for Home Equity Conversion Mortgages, jumped more than 6.6% in 2015, after declining somewhat in 2014. These financial instruments allow qualifying borrowers aged 62 or older to tap into the equity in their homes tax free, giving seniors the chance to supplement their retirement incomes without having to sell their homes. For many seniors, reverse mortgages have proven to be a Godsend.

At our LifePlanning Seminars and on our radio programs we receive many questions about reverse mortgages. Our advice is always the same: a reverse mortgage may very well be right for your situation, but there are times and circumstances when it is not. You need to sit down with a reverse mortgage professional to review all the pros and cons in order to make an informed decision.

When considering something as complex as a reverse mortgage, it’s helpful to get multiple viewpoints. That’s why we thought this article on the website of Fox Business News was of particular interest.  Even though it was originally published some months ago, it provides a helpful real-life perspective on reverse mortgages from borrowers who have them.

The article describes one borrower who successfully used a reverse mortgage to help purchase a new, smaller home where he and his wife could age in place. Another borrower used the funds for remodels and upgrades that added significantly to her home equity. Both are convinced they made the right financial choice and would do it again.

As you plan for a safe and secure retirement, the financial decisions you make today will have an enormous impact on the choices you will be able to make tomorrow. That’s why we strongly urge you to get as much information as you can and put together a comprehensive plan – we call it a LifePlan – for your senior years. A LifePlan not only deals with finances but also takes other essentials into consideration: maintaining your health, choosing appropriate housing, establishing the proper legal framework, and engaging your family members in your retirement decisions.

How can you accomplish all that? It starts with a simple decision to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. These are held at locations throughout the region – simply click on the Upcoming Events tab for dates and times. This engaging seminar will provide you with valuable information to get you started down the path of solid retirement planning.

Then should you desire a personal consultation, we would welcome the opportunity. And if a reverse mortgage is (or could be) part of your plan, we can refer you to a trusted professional here in our area who will help “fill in the blanks” so that you can make the choice that’s right for you.

(Originally reported at www.foxbusiness.com)

 

 

Popular Financial Expert Shifts Her View on Reverse Mortgages

When it comes to popular experts on financial planning, few names carry more familiarity – and more weight – than Jane Bryant Quinn. She has been a nationally syndicated columnist on financial matters for decades, writing in Newsweek and the Washington Post. She produces a regular column on finance for the AARP and has her own blog. She has written multiple books (she just published her sixth) and has appeared on countless television news programs.

So when someone of Quinn’s stature and influence changes her views about something as high profile as reverse mortgages, it makes the news. That’s what we discovered in this article just published on the trade website Reverse Mortgage Daily. It recounts a very recent interview with Quinn concerning her new book, How to Make Your Money Last, during which she discusses how her views on reverse mortgages have shifted significantly.

Frequently we encounter people who are skeptical about reverse mortgages, based on anecdotal or outdated information. But the landscape appears to be shifting as the reverse mortgage industry matures, and more and more pundits and commentators are taking a more favorable view of reverse mortgages as valuable financial tools for many seniors.

The Reverse Mortgage Daily article puts it this way: “Over the course of her illustrious career, Quinn has established herself as one of the nation’s most reliable voices for people trying to manage their money well. But it wasn’t until recently that she shifted her perception of reverse mortgages and the role they can play in retirement planning today.”

According to Quinn, one of the reasons for her new, favorable opinion of reverse mortgages is the fact that new regulations make it much safer to borrow. As she puts it in the interview, “Older people are now being protected from themselves” with tighter income requirements and other provisions that make it harder for seniors to borrow themselves into insolvency.

Now, Quinn says, she thinks a reverse mortgage can be “a wonderful hedge against inflation to give yourself future borrowing power.”

In short, Quinn states, “I am very positive about reverse mortgages, but I wasn’t always. I have taken a new view on them.”

Should you take out a reverse mortgage? The way to answer that question is with expert advice. We can refer you to a highly qualified local professional who will help you decide clearly and objectively on the course of action that’s right for you.

For a comprehensive view of all aspects of retirement planning, we invite you to begin 2016 by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, held at locations throughout the Puget Sound region. You’ll come away from this fast-paced, comprehensive seminar with an array of tools you can use to start creating a retirement plan that takes all the facets of retirement into consideration: your health, your finances, your housing choices, your legal preparation and your relationships with those closest to you.

We hope to see you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon. Or if you prefer a personal consultation, please contact us for an appointment. We’ll be privileged to work with you.

(Originally reported at www.reversemortgagedaily.com_)