Category Archives: Financial

Be Careful: Those Free Online Retirement Calculators Might be Wrong!

It seems that many people approaching retirement are in desperate of need good advice, but don’t like paying for it. So they turn to free tools and resources that promise to do the job of retirement planning. Unfortunately, those free retirement planning tools available online may not cost anything – but some of them just might steer you wrong.

We recently discovered this timely article about retirement planning on the website of CNBC, written by Texas Tech professor Barry Mulholland. Mulholland conducted a study to find out how many of the free online retirement planning calculators readily available on many financial websites actually give users accurate advice about retirement savings. “Finding a good tool to help you prepare for such an important phase in your life is a very smart move,” Mulholland writes. “But finding a good online tool to work with may not be as clear-cut as you think.”

Mulholland and his team of researchers first visited a professional financial advisor and used the advisor’s comprehensive software to come up with accurate, detailed retirement savings goals for a hypothetical middle-aged family. Then using the same parameters, the researchers plugged the same data into 36 different retirement planning tools available on the internet, most of them available for free. The results were disconcerting for those who rely on free services for financial planning.

When the researchers compared the recommendations of the free planners against the professional data, “only 30 percent of the online tools suggested the clients needed to save more,” says the report. The rest, 70 percent, gave recommendations Mulholland termed both inaccurate and inadequate. These planning tools either suggested the family was on track when they weren’t, or else gave inconclusive plans and recommendations. And even the 30 percent that suggested more savings gave wildly different recommendations, limiting their accuracy and usefulness.

Mulholland says, “Our work reiterates that consumers need to be diligent about the advice they seek — especially if it’s free. And the better prepared you are when seeking the advice, the better able you will be to use the advice.”

The CNBC article includes a list of parameters Mulholland and his team suggests any retirement financial plan ought to include. It’s a comprehensive list, including some elements that free planners don’t take into account, including risk tolerance, inflation assumptions, future rates of return on investments and life expectancy. Once again, for the full list and accompanying CNBC article, click here.

The CNBC article is helpful, in our view – but as we always advise our clients and radio listeners here at AgingOptions, there is much more to retirement planning than finances. You should also be ensuring that your legal affairs are in order, your housing plans are well thought-through, your family members are advised of your desires and your health care needs have been considered. We’ve helped thousands of clients put together just this sort of plan – a LifePlan, as we call it – to guide them into a secure and fruitful future. We would welcome the opportunity to do the same for you.

The best way to start the process is by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars, held at various locations in the region. To find out when and where the next series of LifePlanning Seminars will be, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. You can register for the seminar of your choice – and remember, space is limited. We’ll consider it a privilege to work with you to make sure the information you receive is accurate and comprehensive. After all, your retirement future depends on it!

(originally reported at www.cnbc.com)

Alzheimer’s Toll is Emotional – and Financial, Caregivers Say

A few months ago the Alzheimer’s Association released a report that will probably come as no surprise to those caring for loved ones suffering with the disease – but it may be an eye-opener to the rest of us. We found this article describing the report on the website of National Public Radio.

The first line of the article tells the somber tale. “First, Alzheimer’s takes a person’s memory,” says the NPR article. “Then it takes their family’s money.”

According to the NPR article, the Alzheimer’s Association decided to study the financial burden borne by friends and family caring for Alzheimer’s sufferers when they began hearing more and more anecdotal stories from around the country. These stories hinted at the depth of the problem. The just-released study adds data to demonstrate just how severe the burden can be, and how ill-equipped many caregivers are to cope with the out-of-pocket financial costs of Alzheimer’s care.

The article quotes Beth Kallmyer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “What we found,” she states, “was really startling. The cost of paying for care was putting people in a situation where they had to make really difficult choices around basic necessities — things like food, medical care, transportation.” The survey included more than 3,500 Americans caring for loved ones with dementia. A few specific data points:

• Friends and family report spending an average of $5,000 or more of their own money just on personal care items for the person they’re caring for.
• More than one-third of working caregivers had to reduce their outside working hours due to the demands of caring for a loved one with dementia.
• Nearly half had to dip into savings or retirement funds as part of the expense of caregiving.

The NPR article profiles a couple from Kentucky facing this terrible emotional and financial burden. The husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six years ago at age 55. Soon he was forced into early retirement, and his wife had to take early retirement a few years later. The couple has begun selling assets to pay for care at home and to cover their debts and living expenses. They’re getting by now – but when the husband needs institutional care, as he certainly will, they’re not really sure what they’re going to do.

The article ends with a quote from a geriatric psychiatrist and Alzheimer’s expert. “Ultimately,” he says, “society will need to think of other ways of funding care for our elders as they become vulnerable.” This may be true, but will those other ways be in place if and when your family is affected? Considering the state of our nation’s politics and the uncertainties of our medical system, the odds seem highly unlikely.

Here at AgingOptions our passion is to help you prepare for the future, whatever it may bring. We want our clients to be able to face their retirement years with confidence, knowing they have a comprehensive plan – a LifePlan, as we call it – securely in place. Your LifePlan will help you plan for any eventuality, even the devastation of dementia, because you will know ahead of time what options are available for your care and your finances. Our highest priorities are to help clients protect their assets while avoiding becoming a burden to their loved ones. If facing the future with confidence sounds appealing to you, we invite you to take the first step by attending a free LifePlanning Seminar. There’s no obligation, and we know you’ll enjoy an information-packed session. Then if you would like to meet with us personally, we can arrange it at your convenience.

To register for a LifePlanning Seminar at a time and location that’s best for you, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We’ll look forward to seeing you soon.

(originally reported at www.npr.org)

Some Tips to Help You Self-Insure for Long Term Care

Here’s a “good news, bad news” pair of statistics. If you’re 65 years old, the odds are excellent that you’ll live about two more decades. That’s the good news. The bad news: the odds are slightly better than 50/50 that at some point you’ll need some form of long term care and support.

So the solution is to buy long-term care insurance, right? Theoretically, LTC insurance is the best way to protect against the cost of care, which averages nearly $140,000 per patient, almost none of which is covered by Medicare. But for many low and middle income adults, long term care insurance premiums are prohibitively high. Consider the fact that, last year, the industry sold about 100,000 long term care insurance policies, even though more than 3 million Americans celebrated their 65th birthday. Clearly many boomers are choosing to (or being forced to) remain insured for what can be a catastrophic expense.

We found this recent article on the website NextAvenue.org. It asks the question, “Can you self-insure for long term care?” The answer is “maybe” – but only if you get started with a solid plan, something we strongly advocate. Here are some of the ideas the NextAvenue author suggests. See if any of these might work in your situation.

Self-funding for long term care is a daunting prospect but you can make headway if you have a laser-like focus on both spending and saving. When it comes to saving, even if you’re in your 50’s or 60’s, you still have two or three more decades to set aside some funds, since long term care expenses typically don’t begin until patients are in their 80’s. ​Find every possible way to save – which for many of means finding every possible way to cut our spending.

Start with where and how you live. When it comes to housing expense, generally the biggest category of spending for seniors, experts quoted in the NextAvenue article say it pays to get rid of your mortgage if you can, and to save your home equity until you really need it. (This is where a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage line of credit can come in handy — click here to read a very recent article from our blog about this helpful financial tool.) But you may also want to consider a different kind of living situation entirely. The NextAvenue article explains some relatively new concepts including co-housing, home-sharing, and other communal living arrangements that reduce your living costs. We expect more of these types of housing innovations to come on the scene as boomers age.

After you’ve maximized your savings and minimized your expenses in order to set aside some long term care funds, you can still live quite happily and enjoy your retirement years. According to a 2014 study by T. Rowe Price, 40% of recently retired boomers reported living a very satisfying life on 60% or less of their pre-retirement earnings.

Even if you’re trying to self-insure, there may still be a place in your financial plan for long term care insurance. The NextAvenue article suggests you might want “add a thin layer of coverage on top of your DIY plan.” Shortening the benefit period and reducing the monthly benefit can significantly reduce premiums and fill in some gaps in your coverage.

Here at AgingOptions we can help you make a plan that takes all these long term care considerations into account. There are ways, for example, to make certain you qualify for Medicaid without having to impoverish yourself. There are long term care strategies you may want to consider, and veterans’ benefits for which you may qualify. If your goal, like that of almost every client we deal with, is to avoid unplanned institutional care and escape the pain of being a burden to your loved ones, let us help you. Together we’ll put together a plan (called a LifePlan) that helps you prepare for retirement with confidence.

The perfect first step is to attend one of our free information-packed LifePlanning Seminars. These are held in locations throughout the area. Space is limited, though, so click on the Upcoming Events tab for dates and times, and register today. It will be our pleasure working with you on an individualized retirement plan that’s perfect for your situation.

(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)

Kiplinger: How Older Couples Can Defuse Their Money Battles

Among married couples who disagree about finances, which age group seems to bicker the most? According to this article on the Kiplinger financial website, the answer is baby boomers – and the reason seems to involve disagreements about retirement.

The recent article is called “Older Couples Face Money Battles.” It cites two studies, one by Fidelity Investments and one Harris Interactive, reporting that “baby boomers had the highest level of disagreement about how much they need to save in order to maintain their lifestyle in retirement.” The Harris poll showed that more than one-third of couples in the 55-64 age group said money matters triggered arguments between spouses compared with just 15% among married couples aged 18-34.

Kiplinger reports that there are four categories of retirement planning and money management that seem to provoke the most spousal conflict: how much to spend, how much to save, how to invest and how much to help adult children financially. “Such disagreements,” says Kiplinger, “can turn the estate plan into a battlefield.” A big part of the underlying cause for these quarrels is the loss (either sudden or planned) of a steady paycheck. But there are other factors that ratchet up the tension.

One problem is persistently low interest rates, which have kept the returns on retirement investments low. These “underwhelming” returns (to use Kiplinger’s term) can cause spouses to disagree over how aggressive or how conservative the couple’s retirement investment portfolio should be. A related dilemma that causes financial fights is combination of the slow pace of economic recovery and the increasing life expectancies that put more and more boomer couples in the tight spot of managing their own resources and helping their own kids while they also care for aging parents. Talk about pressure!

The Kiplinger article gives some helpful tips on how to overcome a few specific conflict triggers. For example, you might be fiscal opposites. “When it comes to financial personalities, opposites attract,” says Kiplinger. “People who consistently spend more than they should are attracted to people who spend less than they should — and vice versa.” To make matters worse, “this spender-versus-saver conflict often grows more intense in retirement.” In this case you and your spouse may want to consider a combination of separate and joint accounts, along with some mutually-adopted spending guidelines. In a similar way, deciding how much to help your adult kids may come down to understanding each spouse’s underlying motives for their point of view. You may also be able to think of some non-financial ways to come to the aid of family members who need support.

The Kiplinger article provides valuable insight into some of the financial friction couples approaching retirement can experience. But of course there’s much more to retirement than finances. Here at AgingOptions we will be happy to meet with you and your spouse to review finances plus all the other aspects of a comprehensive retirement plan: your health care needs, your housing options, your legal affairs and your family communications. We call this type of plan a LifePlan. Putting this type of plan in place will help any couple enter their retirement years with confidence, not conflict.

The best, easiest way to start the planning process is by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for a listing of seminar dates, times and locations. Space is limited for these highly popular information packed events, so we urge you to register online. Then whether you’re about to retire, already retired, or planning years ahead, you and your spouse will be able to concentrate on the years ahead – and find it easier to keep conflicts to a minimum.

(originally reported at www.kiplinger.com)

One of Reverse Mortgage’s Best Selling Points: a Growing Line of Credit

The subject of Reverse Mortgages has become one of the hottest of financial topics. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t run across an article describing how one financial expert or another has changed their position from Reverse Mortgage skeptic to enthusiastic advocate. On this blog we’ve recently offered links to several authoritative articles (including this article from a few months ago in the Wall Street Journal) describing a growing list of advantages to these once-criticized financial vehicles.

Here at AgingOptions as we help create retirement plans for our many clients, Reverse Mortgages can be a powerful tool, and we frequently recommend homeowners consider them. Because they are also complex financial instruments, however, we urge our clients to consult with trusted advisers like our friends at Kiel Mortgage to find out if a Reverse Mortgage is right for each person’s individual circumstances. Recently, Laura Kiel sent us a paper describing “one of the most powerful options available” to homeowners: the HECM Line of Credit.

First, a bit of definition: HECM stands for Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. The HECM was created by the federal government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development as a safe, FHA-insured reverse mortgage vehicle, which basically allows homeowners to “convert” a portion of their home equity into liquid assets. According to the Kiel Mortgage piece, written by associate C.E. Ted Butler, there is still confusion among many homeowners. “Many people don’t realize that there are Reverse Mortgages, and then there is the FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage created by HUD,” Butler writes. “And while all FHA HECM’s (Home Equity Conversion Mortgage) are Reverse Mortgages, not all Reverse Mortgages are the safe, government insured Reverse Mortgage from HUD.”

A big, big advantage of the HECM is its accompanying line of credit. In fact, for some retirees, the availability of this protected, expanding HECM Line of Credit is reason enough to take out a reverse mortgage whether the retiree expects to need access to his equity or not. Once the HECM is approved, your line of credit actually continues to expand, growing at a rate set by HUD. Even in the event of a future decline in home values, your line of credit is guaranteed. Once you decide to tap into your credit line, funds you withdraw are tax free. And remember, with an HECM you’ll never have to make payments until you or your spouse leaves your home permanently, at which time the loan is repaid through the proceeds of the sale of the home.

When you combine the added safeguards that Home Equity Conversion Mortgages now include with the availability of a growing, tax-free line of credit, it’s no wonder that many experts who were once highly skeptical of reverse mortgages now sing their praises!

Still, you need all the facts from a trusted expert before you charge ahead with a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. As Kiel Mortgage’s Ted Butler asks, “Is the FHA Reverse Mortgage the answer to all home owners’ needs? No, sadly there is no ‘silver bullet’.” Nevertheless, he continues, the HECM “can certainly help more senior home owners live with greater safety, security and financial independence.”

Whether it’s a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or any other financial instrument, we welcome the opportunity to advise you in the best ways to protect your assets in retirement. Financial protection is just one aspect of a comprehensive retirement plan which we call a LifePlan. Your LifePlan will also include a plan for your legal affairs, your medical needs, your family communication and your housing choices. With a LifePlan in place, the road ahead will be far more certain than it may seem today!

How can you get started? Attend a free, information-packed LifePlanning Seminar. The Upcoming Events tab on this website has all the information, and that’s also where you can register for the date and time of your choice. It will be a pleasure to meet you at a future LifePlanning Seminar.

And if you have questions about the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, contact us and we can put you in touch with one of our trusted experts who can guide you into making the decision that’s right for you.

Senior Living Costs on the Rise, Outpacing Inflation

According to a newly released nationwide survey, costs for rent at senior living facilities across the U.S. are on the rise, with the West and South seeing the biggest increases. That’s the news from an article we recently discovered on the website www.NextAvenue.org.

You can click here to read the article. We think this is important information for seniors to have as they make their plans for a financially sound retirement, since the cost of senior housing can often be an unpleasant surprise.

The new data from the firm A Place for Mom shows that, from 2014 to 2015, median costs for rent and care at communities for older adults rose at a rate that’s 1.5 times the rate of inflation, an average hike of just under $100 per month. At the same time the study showed a wide variation in charges, with average monthly costs differing by more than $1,000 between, for example, Chicago and Tallahassee, Florida.

As a helpful feature, the article includes a link to an interactive tool that families can use to compare costs in various geographic areas. Consumers can also track how costs are trending in various areas of the country.

Here in Seattle, we rank about in the middle of the Top 15 cities based on 55-plus population. The median monthly cost for assisted living in Seattle, according to the survey, is nearly $4,400. This is almost $1,000 less than highest-priced Washington, D.C., but at least $1,000 more expensive than lowest-priced Tampa, Florida. On average our region is costlier for seniors than Chicago, Los Angeles, or Phoenix, but less expensive than Boston, Philadelphia or Minneapolis, for example.

“What we’re trying to do is put this information in consumers’ hands so that they can better plan for the future,” said Charlie Severn, vice president of brand marketing for A Place for Mom. “This is such a highly emotional subject for families, and when they have the ability to do the research up front and plan, ultimately it’s a better outcome for families.”

We think this information is important as you look ahead to your retirement future, especially because many seniors underestimate the cost of senior housing. Here at AgingOptions we counsel our clients to plan carefully for all aspects of retirement, including housing choices, financial plans, legal affairs, family relationships and health care needs. By taking all these into account, your retirement plan can help you protect your assets and avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones.

But where do you begin? The best suggestion we can make is to invite you to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. These information-packed sessions take place at convenient times, in locations throughout the area. A LifePlanning Seminar will provide a valuable overview of all the key aspects of a solid retirement plan. However, space at these popular LifePlanning Seminars is limited, so we urge you to register today for the date and time of your choice.

Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for all the details. Then come with your questions about retirement. We assure you that you’ll come away armed with a fresh new approach to retirement planning, and a newfound confidence as you consider your future years. It will be a pleasure meeting you!

(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)

What Spouses Should Know About Social Security

Because we work in the retirement field, we deal with Social Security rules and regulations every day. But for most retirees, Social Security still contains a great deal of mystery. That’s why we’re always happy to suggest helpful resources like this article about Social Security from the financial website Motley Fool (www.fool.com).

The article is called “What Spouses Should Know about Social Security,” and it explains in clear language how spousal benefits for Social Security work. These benefits can make a big, big difference in a retiree’s income. As Motley Fool explains, “Depending on the age at which you claim spousal benefits, the amount could be worth a maximum of half of your spouse’s full retirement benefit, so it’s important to know the details of how it works.”

We won’t go into all of those details here. The article explains some of the stipulations, and of course we’re always ready to answer your specific questions, either at one of our LifePlanning Seminars (see below) or during a visit here at our office. But there are a few basics that are helpful to know.

For example, in order to qualify for spousal benefits, you need to be at least 62 years old and your spouse needs to be collecting his or her Social Security benefits. (The only exception to the 62-year-old age threshold involves certain dependent care situations.) If you qualify for spousal benefits, Social Security will first calculate how much of your own earned payment you’re entitled to receive, and then add the difference between your own earned benefit and the spousal benefit. You’ll always receive the higher amount.

How much is the full spousal benefit? It’s one-half of your spouse’s full retirement benefit. For couples where one spouse has earned significantly more than the other, this can make a significant difference in household income, so it’s highly important to your future financial planning.

There’s another important point in the article: taking spousal benefits after you turn 62 but before full retirement age permanently reduces your spousal benefit. In general, the longer you wait to draw Social Security benefits, the better: every year between age 66 and age 70, for instance, benefits rise 8%. But the decision about when to take benefits is a highly personal one, dependent in part on your financial needs and the state of your health, among other considerations. We can review those options with you.

It’s true that planning for retirement can seem confusing, even daunting. Retirees ask, “How can I protect my assets in retirement? What housing choices are best for me? Will I be able to afford health care? Does my family understand my wishes? How do I make sure my legal affairs are in order?” We can help you find answers to these and a host of other pertinent questions. Why not start by attending one of our free LifePlanning Seminars? These information-packed sessions take place at locations throughout the region. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website and register for the LifePlanning Seminar of your choice.

At any time if you would like to contact us to discuss Social Security – or any other aspects of retirement – please call for an appointment. It will be a pleasure working with you.

(originally reported at www.fool.com)

If You’re About to Re-Marry, Here are Four Money Moves to Make Now

Are you about to embark on a second marriage? Congratulations! It’s wonderful to rediscover wedded bliss after divorce or the loss of a spouse.

However, in the midst of planning for the celebration, there’s another plan you need to make – a financial plan. Protecting your assets, for yourself and your heirs, is vital, and a second marriage can create a host of unexpected pitfalls if you don’t prepare.

We highly recommend this helpful article published some months ago on the website MarketWatch.com. It’s called “Smart Money Moves to Make Before a Second Marriage.” As the writer puts it, having an open and honest financial conversation before you marry is especially important for second marriages. “The requisite prenuptial financial meeting can be even more important the second time around,” the article says, “when both spouses may be more advanced in their careers, with significant assets and, perhaps, children to plan for.”

The author lists four specific financial actions to take before you walk down the aisle. These tips are simple, but essential if you want to protect the assets you’re counting on in your senior years – and perhaps those you plan to pass along to your heirs.

The first suggestion: before you re-marry, put all your financial cards on the table. This includes “coming clean” about assets, liabilities, tax returns and investment statements. You may even need to arrange a pre-marital meeting between your respective financial advisers, depending on your situation. Openness now builds trust later.

The second idea is to explore what the article calls “your money personalities.” If you’re the frugal one, you don’t want to be surprised to learn that your new spouse is a spender. “Merging your financial philosophies can be especially difficult,” says MarketWatch. “The key to success is gaining some appreciation for each others perspective and strengths.” Then you can design your household financial management around each spouse’s fiscal strong suits.

Suggestion number three involves setting joint financial priorities, something that some couples assume but never adequately explore until conflict arises. Again, these issues can be especially acute in a second marriage where both spouses are older, usually with more assets on the line and adult children to consider. You’ve got to figure out how to work together as a financial team. Says MarketWatch, “Disagreements can range from the size of a mortgage to carry to the amount of risk to take with your investments to how much you’ll each contribute to your children’s college education.” Decide what the new rules and guidelines will be and then stick to them!

Finally, the article concludes with a suggestion we heartily endorse: update your wills and other legal documents. There are many ways to provide legal protection for yourself, your new spouse and your adult children, but if you fail to plan you open yourself and your heirs up to serious pain and potential disputes that can tear families apart. We discussed this on our AgingOptions blog in a recent article about updating your beneficiaries, something many retirees in second marriages fail to do.

Yes, it’s great to celebrate this new relationship! But don’t let bad planning turn your celebration into a nightmare. And don’t let failure to plan ruin your dreams of a fruitful retirement. To start creating your own retirement plan, we invite you to attend a free LifePlanning Seminar at a location near you. We’ll review all aspects of a solid LifePlan: legal, financial, housing, health and family. It’s a fast-paced, information-packed session we know you’ll enjoy. To reserve your place at a free seminar, click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. We hope to meet you soon.

(originally reported at www.marketwatch.com)

Retirement May Not Be What You Think –Some Surprises to Expect

What do you think “retirement” will be like? As we’ve discovered in our interaction with thousands of retirees, the answers vary widely. But a recent research report done by the financial firm Merrill Edge revealed that retirement can definitely hold some surprises – not all of them happy ones.

We discovered this interesting article on the financial website Market Watch (www.marketwatch.com). According to the author, the Merrill Edge study reveals that “what retirement is really like may surprise you – and not always in a good way.” The study essentially asked retirees the question, “What have you done in retirement that surprised you?” For nearly one retiree in three, the top answer was clear: they spent more money in retirement than they had planned or expected.

A few years ago a similar study by the financial firm Mass Mutual showed the same thing, although not quite so dramatically. This 2014 study revealed that one retiree in six was surprised by their financial problems in retirement. That’s still a significant number.

What other surprises did the Merrill Edge study point out? About one retiree in five had to make an unexpected move to a new location, possibly for financial reasons and possibly for health-related reasons. This number seems surprisingly high to us, since here at AgingOptions we spend quite a bit of time counseling our clients on how to plan for their housing needs as they age. From this study it would seem that, while many retirees do choose to move, nearly 20% of those who do relocate did not anticipate doing so.

Returning to the question of finances, we wondered why so many retirees find themselves surprised by their spending. According to the Market Watch piece, the chief answer is simple: the higher than expected cost of health care. “A couple, both 65, that retired in 2015 will end up shelling out roughly $245,000 — that’s up nearly 30% over the past decade – on health care throughout retirement,” says Market Watch, even though they have Medicare health coverage.

And in light of that “sticker shock,” here’s a related statistic that amazed us: Market Watch states that less than one person in four has factored health care costs into their retirement planning! In today’s environment of skyrocketing out-of-pocket medical costs, that number may indicate that traditional financial planners simply aren’t doing an adequate job of preparing their clients for the true cost of growing older. Bottom line: your retirement plan needs to be comprehensive in scope, covering all aspects of your future life.

What are these elements of a good plan – or a LifePlan, as we call it? Medical needs rank high on the list, as does a good financial plan. Your legal affairs must also be in order and carefully thought out. You need to consider your many housing options and plan for the one that best suits your needs and desires. And finally, one element many plans overlook is your family: you need to make certain they’re aware of your desires. No one wants to burden their family unnecessarily as they grow older! A LifePlan includes this entire range of considerations, allowing to you approach retirement with confidence.

Here’s how to begin the planning process: simply click on the Upcoming Events tab above and register for a free LifePlanning Seminar. These take place frequently at locations throughout the area. There’s no obligation whatsoever, and we assure you that you’ll come away with valuable knowledge and insight that will help you get started on the road toward a happy and fulfilling retirement. Following a carefully conceived LifePlan is one excellent way to ensure that all your “retirement surprises” will be happy ones.

We’ll look forward to meeting you at a LifePlanning Seminar soon.

(originally reported at www.marketwatch.com)

Surprise! Ten Services Medicare Part A and B Probably Won’t Cover

The popular financial website Motley Fool (www.fool.com) always covers a wide range of stories in a clever, sometimes irreverent style. We like how the site tries to put things in down-to-earth terms, which is why we were drawn to a just published article about Medicare. Not only does the article briefly (and helpfully) describe each of Medicare’s four parts, it also lists ten common medical services that – generally speaking – original Medicare does not cover.

Clearly this is important information for retirees who may be operating under the wrong assumptions about their future medical insurance needs. Click here to access the Motley Fool article.

It’s no secret that medical costs keep rising, and so does the value of Medicare benefits – benefits which affect virtually every senior adult in America. The Urban Institute recently released a study estimating that, by 2030, the value of Medicare’s lifetime benefits to the average 65 year old couple will exceed $650,000. But in spite of its critical importance in the lives of seniors, much about Medicare remains misunderstood. As the Motley Fool article puts it, “if consumers don’t understand a program, they won’t be able to take full advantage of it.”

For example, a study by United Healthcare in 2013 showed that at least one fifth of American seniors called Medicare “confusing.” People still don’t fully understand which of Medicare’s parts (A, B, C and D) covers what, and which ones carry a premium. With typical understatement, the Motley Fool says, “It would appear that the biggest obstacle the program faces is an educational shortfall.”

The article then briefly describes which part covers what. We won’t go into further detail here, but if this is something you’ve wondered about – as many of our clients have – this article is a good place to start.

Then the Motley Fool piece lists ten medical services seniors may have thought would be covered by “basic” Medicare (parts A and B) but which in most cases will not be. (There are some exceptions.) For example:

• If you’re traveling or living outside the U.S. your medical needs will almost certainly not be covered by Medicare A or B.
• For hearing aids and routine eye exams and glasses you’ll be on your own – these are not generally covered by original Medicare.
• Don’t count on Medicare A or B for routine dental care or foot care.
• If you prefer alternative treatments such as acupuncture or homeopathy, those services will not be covered by Medicare A or B.
• Cosmetic surgery is generally not covered if it’s elective. It may be covered as a result of disease or accident.
• Unless you’re recuperating in a skilled nursing facility, you shouldn’t expect Medicare A or B to cover custodial care – in other words, the kind of care an assisted living facility or home health care worker might provide. Odds are you’ll be responsible for these costs.
• Some diabetes supplies may not be covered, or may be covered only partially.

The point is clear: if you haven’t thought about medical costs as you age, you may be in for a shock. So our question is, have you considered how to meet your medical needs in retirement? A surprising number of seniors have not – which is why we strongly urge you to attend one of our LifePlanning Seminars where we review all five of the essential facets of a solid retirement plan. We’ll help you consider medical needs, financial plans, legal affairs, housing options and family relationships, so you can protect your assets and avoid becoming a burden to those you love.

Space at our LifePlanning Seminars is limited, so register today. Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website. LifePlanning Seminars are offered at no cost, but the information is priceless. We’ll look forward to meeting you at a future seminar.

(originally reported at www.fool.com)

Category Archives: Financial

Be Careful: Those Free Online Retirement Calculators Might be Wrong!

It seems that many people approaching retirement are in desperate of need good advice, but don’t like paying for it. So they turn to free tools and resources that promise to do the job of retirement planning. Unfortunately, those free retirement planning tools available online may not cost anything – but some of them just…

Alzheimer’s Toll is Emotional – and Financial, Caregivers Say

A few months ago the Alzheimer’s Association released a report that will probably come as no surprise to those caring for loved ones suffering with the disease – but it may be an eye-opener to the rest of us. We found this article describing the report on the website of National Public Radio. The first…

Some Tips to Help You Self-Insure for Long Term Care

Here’s a “good news, bad news” pair of statistics. If you’re 65 years old, the odds are excellent that you’ll live about two more decades. That’s the good news. The bad news: the odds are slightly better than 50/50 that at some point you’ll need some form of long term care and support. So the…

Kiplinger: How Older Couples Can Defuse Their Money Battles

Among married couples who disagree about finances, which age group seems to bicker the most? According to this article on the Kiplinger financial website, the answer is baby boomers – and the reason seems to involve disagreements about retirement. The recent article is called “Older Couples Face Money Battles.” It cites two studies, one by…

One of Reverse Mortgage’s Best Selling Points: a Growing Line of Credit

The subject of Reverse Mortgages has become one of the hottest of financial topics. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t run across an article describing how one financial expert or another has changed their position from Reverse Mortgage skeptic to enthusiastic advocate. On this blog we’ve recently offered links to several authoritative articles…

Senior Living Costs on the Rise, Outpacing Inflation

According to a newly released nationwide survey, costs for rent at senior living facilities across the U.S. are on the rise, with the West and South seeing the biggest increases. That’s the news from an article we recently discovered on the website www.NextAvenue.org. You can click here to read the article. We think this is…

What Spouses Should Know About Social Security

Because we work in the retirement field, we deal with Social Security rules and regulations every day. But for most retirees, Social Security still contains a great deal of mystery. That’s why we’re always happy to suggest helpful resources like this article about Social Security from the financial website Motley Fool (www.fool.com). The article is…

If You’re About to Re-Marry, Here are Four Money Moves to Make Now

Are you about to embark on a second marriage? Congratulations! It’s wonderful to rediscover wedded bliss after divorce or the loss of a spouse. However, in the midst of planning for the celebration, there’s another plan you need to make – a financial plan. Protecting your assets, for yourself and your heirs, is vital, and…

Retirement May Not Be What You Think –Some Surprises to Expect

What do you think “retirement” will be like? As we’ve discovered in our interaction with thousands of retirees, the answers vary widely. But a recent research report done by the financial firm Merrill Edge revealed that retirement can definitely hold some surprises – not all of them happy ones. We discovered this interesting article on…

Surprise! Ten Services Medicare Part A and B Probably Won’t Cover

The popular financial website Motley Fool (www.fool.com) always covers a wide range of stories in a clever, sometimes irreverent style. We like how the site tries to put things in down-to-earth terms, which is why we were drawn to a just published article about Medicare. Not only does the article briefly (and helpfully) describe each…