For most of us, the goal of retirement is to start doing some of the things we never had time to do while working full time. This could include a hobby, travelling, purchasing a vacation home, or fulfilling a lifelong dream. However, all these dreams require time and resources. Spending in the early stages of retirement typically go up as retirees are still healthy enough to do everything on their bucket lists.
Which is why 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 becomes more important during retirement. You can’t just ‘go back to work’ for a few decades if you find yourself running short, although some folks do end up having to pick up a part-time gig on the side.
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 possible. 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. Here at Tacoma Elder Care we can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and budget, so schedule your FREE consultation today. Or join us for one of our FREE workshops, you can register HERE.
For many, estate planning is something that is often moved down the priority list, but realistically, how early should you start estate planning? The answer is right away! Ideally, estate planning should be started at a young age with adjustments along the way. However, even if you are past your youth there is no better time than right now, to get started with estate planning.
Here at the Tacoma Elder Care, we provide specialized estate planning and can work with you to ensure you get a plan started and that your wishes are met. If you haven’t chosen an estate planning attorney yet, we hope you will contact us for a free consultation.
Or better yet! Join us for one of our FREE Workshops! You can find out more and register for a workshop HERE.
Estate Planning Is More Than Just A Will
While estate planning and creating a will have some things in common, they are not synonymous. If you already have a will and have been counting on that to be the only document you need, then it is time to learn more about estate planning.
A will is simply one component of an estate plan. It is an extremely important component, and if you do not have a legal will created yet, now is the time to do so. A legal will allows you to leave your property and assets to those you choose and designates legal guardianship in the case of minors in your care.
Estate planning, however, involves more than just a legal will. Estate planning should also include the following:
What Happens If All You Have is a Will? Avoid the Loss of Funds and Time in Probate…
While no one likes to contemplate their death, estate planning requires you to think about what will happen to your loved ones and all your assets after you are gone. When you pass away, everything you own will be distributed according to your will. However, if you only have a will, the process becomes lengthy and potentially expensive. This is where the process of probate comes into play.
Probate is the judicial process in which a will is proven. And keep in mind, no one will be able to access the resources you left behind until probate has completed. This takes place in the court of law and often includes a number of costs including attorney charges and litigation costs. If anyone contests the will, the process becomes even more lengthy and time-consuming.
Not only is probate lengthy and costly, it will also ruin any privacy you and your family hope to retain after your death. Every part of probate becomes public record, leaving many people to feel that their family’s privacy has been compromised.
The good news is that through proper estate planning, you can avoid this unfortunate scenario. We can help you draft living trusts, establish charitable donations, and other tactics that will help make the process much smoother. At Tacoma Elder Care, we are committed to helping our clients through the aging process. We understand how confusing the system can be and how difficult it can be to make the right choices for your future and the future of your loved ones. We are here to help you avoid issues, such as probate, through proper estate planning.
How to Ensure Your Wishes Are Honored
Lastly, there is no better time than now to start estate planning to ensure your wishes are honored both in life and in death. We can help you create the documents you need to make sure your medical care is handled exactly the way you wish it to be if you should be incapable of making decisions. We can also ensure that when you pass away, everything is handled precisely the way you want.
We understand how important it is to honor each person’s individual wants. We believe in empowering our clients to make the necessary decisions now to ensure the future is handled with care. We welcome you to talk to us about your estate planning questions. When you come to us for help, we will walk you through the following multi-step process:
If you realize that now is the time for you to get to work on estate planning, we are ready to help you. Please reach out to us today. We will work hard to ensure you put together the right plan for your specific needs and your own unique wishes. Or sign up for one of our FREE Workshops!
While we all wish our loved ones could spend every day of their lives independent and in the comfort of their own home, this is sometimes simply not possible. Making the decision to place your aging parent or another relative into a nursing home can feel like a betrayal. However, in many cases, it is completely necessary and truly understandable.
The good news is that even if you had to place your loved one into a nursing home, you can still be there for them. While you might not be their primary caregiver anymore, you are still an important part of their life. Here at the Tacoma Elder Care, we help families prepare for end of life care and other important long-term planning. When you need an elder lawyer in Pierce County, we hope you will turn to us. We value every client as if they were our own family member and can help you make the right legal decisions for your elderly loved one.
Accept the Change
Seeing a loved one enter a nursing home can be a very emotional experience. You may feel guilty for not being able to offer them the independence they once had. You may feel sad as you watch the changes they may go through. You might also feel relieved that you are no longer bearing the burden of being their primary caregiver.
These emotions and more are completely normal. Allow yourself time to grieve, be angry, or process any other feelings relating to the change. If you are carrying guilt over their move, allow yourself grace and realize that no one is responsible for the complete care of another human. If you are struggling with accepting the change, consider seeking help from a trained therapist. They can help you process the situation so that you are better equipped to help your loved one.
Help with the Transition Period
While your loved one’s move to a nursing home may be difficult for you to process, it is probably even more so for them. They may feel scared, sad, angry, frustrated, and potentially even defeated by this change. The transition period is the hardest for most seniors as it feels like a loss of independence. During this period, try to help as much as you can by offering support, patience, and a listening ear.
You can also help them as they transition into their new home by providing as much from their previous life as possible. Put together photo albums with all their favorite photos. Bring the items they treasure the most from their house to the nursing home. While they most likely won’t have space for everything from their old life, you can still help them decorate and make their new room feel more like home.
Try to be a Proactive Part of their Life
Once your loved one has settled into a nursing home or care facility, be sure you strive to continually be a part of their life. Take proactive steps to ensure they do not feel forgotten. If possible, visit at least once a week so they have a friendly face to look forward to. If you are far away, write letters and make phone calls to them frequently.
Encourage them to get involved in activities at the nursing home and to make new friends. Keep checking up on how they are feeling and how they are being treated to ensure they are receiving proper care.
Small gifts can go a long way in helping them feel special and to make sure they don’t feel forgotten as well. Don’t forget important dates, such as birthdays and holidays. By providing continued support for your loved one, you can help them feel like they have retained the best parts of their life.
Seek Legal Help When Needed
Nursing homes are often an excellent choice for those who have increased medical needs that cannot be met by family members. During this stage of your loved one’s life, it is important to make sure everything is in order for their end of life care. Don’t hesitate to seek legal help to ensure their assets are protected, their wishes honored, and their medical care amply covered.
Here at Tacoma Elder Care, we can help you with finding the right resources for your loved one. We can assist you with putting together the right legal documents for your loved one’s needs. Be sure to schedule your FREE consultation today.
Avoid These Gifting Mistakes!
After you are gone you want your loved ones, particularly your children, to be able to use and enjoy the assets you leave behind. However, gifting assets may not be as straightforward as you think, and you need to be strategic when leaving money, property, or anything else you want designated for a loved one. Here are some of the mistakes we often see:
No Beneficiaries Are Named
You have the option on life insurance policies and retirement accounts to name a beneficiary who the asset will pass on to after your death. If you don’t name a beneficiary, the asset is almost certain to go through probate after your death, a costly and time-consuming process, which means no one will be able to touch those funds until this process is complete. Additionally, the policy could end up being taxed more than you anticipated if you don’t name a beneficiary, so always name beneficiaries and make sure to name a contingent beneficiary as well. If your intended beneficiary dies before you, or right after you, it will be the same as if you didn’t name a beneficiary at all, so be sure to keep your beneficiaries up to date. Periodically reviewing your policies will ensure that you have the right person named—this is particularly true after a death in the family or a divorce. The process for naming a beneficiary is usually simple and straightforward, so double check to make sure your beneficiaries are named and current.
Due to Appreciation Stocks Should Be Passed on After Death
Maybe you would like to give your children or other loved ones your stocks before you die. If they have appreciated, the recipient will end up paying capital gains taxes on the profits, which could be significant. Instead of gifting highly appreciated assets while you are alive, if you save them to be passed on after your death, the basis will step up to the current value and many of the taxes can be eliminated. Stocks that have a high appreciation should be saved to be passed on after death and ensure that your loved ones get the maximum benefit.
You Give Too Much
If you are eager to pass on assets to your children, you may want to give them before your death. Occasionally this makes sense, however, you need to have enough money to live comfortably, especially after retirement. If you don’t have new income being generated, how will you be able to handle future medical costs, assisted living costs, and other unforeseen expenses? You might give too much in the form of cash or you could tie up too much money in trusts and investments, not leaving enough to have a comfortable financial future. Consider your gifting options carefully—to help your children while you are still alive, but still having enough that you will be comfortable and provided for as well.
Your Child is Named as a Co-Owner of an Account
It is a common occurrence to want to give a trusted child access to your bank account to help you and manage your finances as you get older. However, if you name your child as co-owner on the account, you may end up with some undesirable consequences. While this arrangement allows your child to access your accounts, they end up being the co-owner of that asset, and you are in effect gifting them that asset. That means that gift tax regulations come into play, and they could end up having to pay. Another problem with your child as co-owner is that half of the account becomes subject to any claims by creditors, bankruptcies, or lawsuits. The account could even become a part of any divorce proceedings your child might go through. Instead of naming your child as a co-owner, consider a durable power of attorney to give them access to manage your affairs without being a co-owner of them. If your child becomes a co-owner, they also will inherit the entire balance of the account upon your death, which might not be your intent.
You Leave Assets to a Minor Child
If your assets, such as life insurance policies or property, are directly transferred to your minor children, the money will transfer to them when they turn 18, often in full. This is a large responsibility for a young adult, and many studies show that an inheritance is spent within 18 months of receiving it. If you want any inheritance to go towards your child’s education or other important expenses, and not just be spent on fleeting things that they will regret, there are ways to structure your gifting so that you can protect your children from making rash decisions with the money you want to leave them. You may also want to think about potential bad spending habits of your children, future divorces, or future creditors or lawsuits.
You Leave Assets to a Special Needs Child
If you have a special needs child, you want to do everything you can to ensure that they are taken care of financially in the event of your death. However, gifting them money can sometimes disqualify them from benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or medical assistance due to a disability. These government benefits can be income and asset dependent, and if they inherit a large sum of money they may need to spend it down to then re-apply for the benefits. This can be a stressful process for your child and could potentially be a waste of your estate. Instead, you’ll want to create a special needs trust that can hold assets for a special needs individual without jeopardizing their benefits.
You Don’t Know About the Gift Tax
It seems like you should be able to give your children or loved ones the money you want them to have, however, if you give them too much during your lifetime it can be subject to the federal gift tax. If you give more than $14,000 annually to your children they could end up paying tax on it, and this includes gifting property. It is the value of the property or assets that you transfer that will count toward the value. There are ways to gift money and assets to your children to avoid paying gift taxes, and meeting with a trusted estate planner is crucial to making the right decisions.
You Don’t Know About the “Kiddie Tax”
The so-called “kiddie tax” was created to prevent parents from sheltering cash and assets under their minor children’s names to avoid taxation. If your child receives unearned income (gifts) up to $1,000 they will be taxed within the “kid’s bracket,” but once the value reaches $2,000 they will be taxed at the parent’s rate. You can’t just give money to your minor children completely tax-free, but you can take steps to avoid paying the kiddie tax.
You Don’t Have an Estate Plan
Probably the biggest mistake you can make when gifting money to your children or loved ones is to have no estate plan at all. Thinking about what will happen after you die is not a fun subject, but if you do no planning you will end up letting someone else (the government) decide how to allocate your assets. Your family members might need to go to through probate to have access to assets, and this can be a time consuming and expensive procedure. Your assets may not be distributed how you want and to who you want—especially if you have someone who is not a family member that you would like to gift money to. There are many options available when considering estate planning, including have a will, setting up a trust, or gifting to your loved ones while you are still alive. How do you know what options will be best for you and your unique financial situation? That is where a skilled estate planner comes in.
Tacoma Elder Care is here to help you navigate the complex waters of estate planning. We can help with estate planning at any stage of life, but we are especially passionate about estate planning for seniors. Whether you don’t have any estate planning done, or you would like us to help you refine your current plan, we can advise you on how to maximize your gifting to family members and loved ones--schedule an appointment today!