This Is How Technology Will Soon Change Aging
August 26, 2015
New technology is changing everything about how we live, including how we age.
All types of gadgets are doing things for us to help us monitor our health and safety. And many more advances are coming.
An article on the huffingtonpost.com lists a number of advances that are expected to be seen in the next decade that will make aging easier. They include:
- Speaking street signs. These will help as our vision declines.
- Self-driving cars. This is self-explanatory. We can still “drive” even when we are not really able to do so safely on our own.
- Doctors visits on Skype. We won’t have to go to the doctor’s office as often.
- Remote patient monitoring. Devices will do things like check our blood pressure and send the info to our doctor’s office.
- Online medical records. These are already here in some cases. You can have all your information in front of you and you can send it along to another doctor for a second opinion if necessary.
- Robot caregivers. They will be able to lift patients out of bed and into a wheelchair, for example.
- Lighting anytime. You will soon be seeing lights on menus, for example.
- Smart homes. These will include walk-in tubs, stair lifts, easy-to-reach cabinets and appliances that speak to each other.
Estate Plan 14-Point Checklist
August 19, 2015
Plenty of Americans have estate plans that are incomplete or don’t address important issues.
An article on marketwatch.com lists a 14-point checklist to help create a sound estate plan.
The most important thing it recommends is to find a qualified estate planning attorney and a financial advisor.
The items your plan should include are:
- Your will.
- Durable power of attorney.
- A power of attorney or proxy for health care.
- Revocable living trust.
- A form where you list all your assets and where they are located.
- A do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order written by a doctor.
- A legacy letter where you pass on your values to the next generation.
- A talk with your attorney about whom you want to receive your assets.
- A decision on who you want making medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
- A list of how you want your assets distributed.
- A decision on whether you want to name a guardian for any minor children.
- A discussion on the tax consequences of your estate plan.
- Review the steps necessary to protect online information.
- Letters to your spouse and family concerning your wishes about life support.
Trump Card of Estate Planning
August 12, 2015
Naming of a beneficiary is estate planning’s trump card.
An article on unionleader.com details what happened to a recent widow, who learned her deceased husband’s life insurance money was going to his first wife.
The man had changed his will to make his second wife the beneficiary of his estate but he failed to change the designation on his life insurance. There was nothing the second wife could do. Beneficiaries trump wills.
Such beneficiary designations are involved in life insurance, certain bank accounts , annuities and retirement accounts.
If no beneficiary is named, the probate process could be involved for your heirs, the story notes.
So it is important to review beneficiary designations periodically. You should name a primary and secondary designee. And it is best not to name minors or the profoundly disabled. Better to have a trust be the designee in these cases.
Medicare or Obamacare?
August 5, 2015
If you are approaching age 65 and are currently getting your health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), should you stay on your plan or switch to Medicare?
In most cases, you should go on Medicare, according to an article on elderlawanswers.com.
While you may be able to keep your marketplace plan after turning 65, it could be expensive.
One incentive to switch to Medicare is that if you are receiving a subsidy under Obamacare, you will lose that subsidy once you are eligible for Medicare, in most cases.
Even more importantly, if you stay in your marketplace plan after Medicare eligibility, you could be subject to late fees when you do sign up for Medicare Part B, which overs outpatient care. Part B has a monthly premium that changes from year to year and if you don’t sign up as soon as you are eligible, you are subject to a 10 percent penalty for each year that enrollment is delayed. There may be exceptions, however, if you are on an employer’s plan.
There may be a few cases where the very wealthy might be better off staying on a marketplace plan, as the cost may be less than the premiums for Medicare Part B, which are income-based.
But the Medicare Rights Center advises against this. In most cases, the benefits will be greater on Medicare.
A Million Dollar Guide To Estate Planning
July 29, 2015
Estate planning is critical for everyone, but once your estate hits near $1 million, it gets more complicated.
Unless your estate is worth more than $5.43 million – $10.86 million for a married couple – you are exempt from federal estate taxes. But some states impose their own at a lower threshold.
A story in Forbes says there are a few things to pay attention to. These include:
- Understanding wills vs. trusts
Most folks start with a will. They are easy and inexpensive. But for those estates that are more complicated, such as those worth at least $1 million, a will may not be enough. Trusts should be considered. They keep your information private, for one thing. There are several kinds. Living or revocable trusts are popular. They can be changed while you are alive.
- Give it away while you are alive
You can start giving away money while you are alive. You can give $14,000 per year or $28,000 per year per couple to a child, grandchild or anyone else without it counting as a gift under the federal gift-tax exclusion. For every dollar you move out of your estate, your heirs save 40 cents in taxes.
- Irrevocable trusts are an option
If your assets exceed the $5.43 million threshold for federal estate taxes, you may want to consider an irrevocable trust. Assets are removed from your estate. What you put into the trust counts against the threshold, but not growth or appreciation. That growth occurs outside your estate.
Estate Planning For The Blended Family
July 22, 2015
In estate planning, it can be more tricky when a blended family is involved. In many cases, family dynamics can become permanently ruffled.
With the number of remarriages rising, many families now include children, stepchildren, former spouses and in-laws.
These families need advance wealth planning with specific goals, according to a story in Forbes.
The main is where your money goes when you die.
Most remarried couples want to make sure the surviving spouse is cared for if one passes away. They want the children from their prior marriages to be the ultimate beneficiaries. The challenge is to design a plan that keeps everyone happy.
One tip to keep in mind is to make sure your beneficiary assignments are up to date on retirement plans and insurance policies. You probably don’t want your former spouse getting the money.
Another good idea is to set up a trust to spell out the distribution of assets. Make sure to take care in naming the trustee. If you name your wife, she may not be as generous to your children from your prior marriage as you would have been.
A prenuptial agreement is also a good idea, the story says. And make sure the terms jibe with what is in your will.
Remarried spouses should also discuss living wills and powers of attorney. If the new spouse is designated the health care agent, the children should know.
Don’t Let Divorce Interfere With Estate Planning
July 15, 2015
When a long-married couple divorces, it can be particularly difficult when it comes to retirement and estate plans.
Assets, including retirement accounts, can be complicated to divide, and the presence of children can require the complete revision of existing estate plans, according to a story on estateplanning.com.
The major steps to ending up with a fair and accurate division of assets are:
- Knowing what is yours. Separate property is stuff owned by one party before the marriage and any inheritances or gifts received by either spouse, either before or after the marriage. But the definition of separate property can change, if, for example, an inheritance is deposited in a joint account. Marital property is any property acquired during the marriage. This can include pension plans, 401(k)s and life insurance.
Considering trusts. A trust can make sure that second spouses cannot disinherit children from a prior marriage
- Updating beneficiary forms. These can override wills.
- Keeping good records. Go over your documents every few years.
Do Singles Need An Estate Plan?
July 8, 2015
Many people think estate planning comes into play once a person dies. But it is when we start getting older that it actually becomes important.
An article in the Denver Post points out that estate planning is more than just a will. It also involves setting up a durable power of attorney for both medical and financial decisions in case you become unable to manage.
A person who is married has a spouse to act as such an agent. But a single person doesn’t necessarily have that asset.
So if you become incapacitated, a judge might give that power to one of your relatives. If there aren’t any, a judge could appoint a stranger.
In any case, the story says, whether you are married or single you should have a plan in place. Most Americans don’t even have a will, the story says.
Estate Planning Step By Step
June 24, 2015
Lots of people dread the process of estate planning.
However, it can be made easier if done step-by-step, according to an article on emporiagazette,com.
Step 1. Buy life insurance. If something were to happen to you, this might allow your family to stay in the house and your children to go to college.
Step 2. Prepare your will. This is the key estate planning document. Without one, your assets are distributed to your heirs as defined by state laws.
Step 3. Think about a living trust. Depending on your situation, you may need to go beyond a will. This will allow your assets to go directly to your heirs without the public and costly probate process getting in the way.
Step 4. Be sure your beneficiary designations on IRAs, life insurance policies and such are up to date.
Step 5. Make final arrangements by setting up a “payable on death” account at your bank to cover funeral arrangements.
But make sure you do all this in consultation with a qualified estate planning attorney.
When An Elderly Relative Gives Away Money
June 17, 2015
What can you do when you find out an aged parent or other relative has been giving away large sums of money to an unrelated caregiver or someone else?
In a post on elderlawanswers.com, a writer said his 82-year-old father-in-law had given $3,000 to a caregiver so she could by herself a car. He had also purchased her some clothes.
The writer asked if there are laws against caregivers accepting large gifts. The caregiver had been hired by an agency. He wanted to know if the agency should have a policy against employees accepting such gifts.
The columnist answered that if the father-in-law is competent, he can do whatever he wants with his money. If he is not competent, he said, there may be ways to get the money back. But it might cost more than $3,000 to do so.
The column also suggested that there may be a protective services organizations that could take on the fight pro bono.
But it was suggested that steps be taken so it does not happen again. For example, if the father-in-law is competent, he might be willing to share control of his assets through a durable power of attorney, trust or joint account. If not competent, the family might need to seek court-appointed conservatorship over his finances.
The column suggested seeking the help of an elder law attorney if such issues arise.