Why you’ll want to get ready for Retirement with PREtirement

Planning for your financial and medical future can be scary, daunting and time-consuming. It’s a task that many people delay, often until it’s too late. So planning early can be the difference between panic, stress and worry and a comfortable, carefree retirement. The good news: it’s never too early to start!

No matter what your age, no matter what your career stage, you’ll want to get ready NOW. Make the word “PREtirement” part of your goals and daily experiences; to be sure your money is where you need it, when you need it. Don’t put your nest-egg at risk! Remember that Retirement Planning is NOT just for seniors anymore.

Let’s First Define PREtirement:

It is:

The act of preparing early for retirement.

  1. Planning ahead to avoid probate, Long Term Care and the (next) Great Recession, and making sure your money lasts as long as you do.
  2. P – Plan, R- Retirement, E- Early.
  3. PRE-plan before you are tired.
  4. My recommended PREtirement plan provides the following benefits:
  • • Protects your assets from catastrophic illness and nursing home costs
  • • Earns more interest on your money with depression-proof safety
  • • Lowers or eliminates taxes on social security and interest income
  • • Moves your 401(k) or IRA without cost so you can afford to retire

Facts, Myths, Do’s and Don’ts of Retirement Planning

How can decisions made and actions taken today ensure you enjoy a prosperous, healthy, worry-free retirement later?

Let’s look at these realities:

  • People in their 40s, 30s, and even their 20s should be kick-starting their retirement planning journeys TODAY.
  • Without preparation, your retirement fund could be subject to taxes and probate later.
  • Prepare, and you can avoid market loss long before the next recession happens.
  • Are you putting off writing your will? If you think you’re too young to consider it — think again! If you’re employed or have any savings, property, possessions or keepsakes — you’ll want to make sure those assets go to the loved one/s you intend.
  • Who would be guardian to your minor children — if something happened to you? (Most parents are stumped by that question, but should not be.)
  • Low-risk investments are more readily available that you realize.
  • Once your affairs are in order, you won’t have to worry about being blindsided by a medical or financial emergency.
  • Unexpected medical problems can force families to make drastic decisions under anxious circumstances. How much better it is to plan for such emergencies before they occur! Preparation takes the stress and uncertainty out of such decision-making.

Warnings

During my 20 years as a Retirement and Estate planner, I’ve seen too many people lose their money or homes as a result of unanticipated health crises that led to accompanying astronomical catastrophic bills. What I have learned is something I rarely see reported elsewhere. In fact, I believe that, the laws on Medicaid plans are intentionally confusing so that most people can’t understand them. In many cases, people are forced to hire a professional to get the benefits they are qualified to receive.

This unacceptable situation gave me a mission. This mission was to make my workshops and books understandable to the “everyday person.” I want people to ask questions and take away details that will help them get their affairs in order. Herein I will cover topics YOU should be considering about preparing for your future.

Plan for Emergencies                         

Planning for medical emergencies is a must for everyone and should include the signing of two important legal documents: A Living Will and an Advance Medical Directive. Make sure that your Directive includes language that satisfies the federal HIPPA (Health Information Privacy and Portability Act) law or your medical records cannot be released to the people you want to make health care decisions for you when you cannot. If you are out of the country, then you will also need a Durable Power of Attorney to allow your spouse or another person of your choice to manage your finances and sign legal documents on your behalf.

Long Term Care Insurance — Who Needs It?

Today, 2 out of 10 people under age 65, and 7-in-10 seniors over age 65 in the U.S. will end up using convalescent care, home health care, custodial care, intermediate care or respite care. Given the statistics, nursing home residency could well be in your own future. Don’t expect Medicare or Medicaid to cover these costs, which may average $5,000 to $11,000 (not including medical expenses and drugs). As more people live well into their 80s and 90s with their families dispersed across the country, everyone will be involved in some way in elder care — if not today, then tomorrow. If you are among the Sandwich Generation, meaning you are parenting your own children and taking care of your parents at the same time, this issue is especially relevant as you plan for your own retirement. Some estimates show that nearly two-thirds of the baby boomer generation will be taking care of an elderly parent in the next ten years. As the Sandwich Generation grows, the need to understand aging dynamics and family relationships increases dramatically.

Only 10 percent of people over age 65 in the U.S. today have long-term care insurance, however. So it’s not uncommon for adult children to go into bankruptcy as they help care for their elderly parents. You may find that you’re drawing on your savings, retirement plans, home equity line of credit or credit cards to handle these costs that could be covered instead by long term care insurance. Consider how such coverage could rescue the future and finances for you, your parents and also your own kids.

Pre-nups

If you are young and in love and don’t think that you need to plan for future life (and retirement) before Marriage — think again. Many circumstances warrant the consideration of a prenuptial agreement, including being involved in a family-owned business, owning your own business, having a substantial 401(k) or other retirement plan, inheriting assets from your family, owning a residence that will be used as the marital home, or marrying someone who has already accumulated a large amount of debt.

A prenuptial agreement can protect what assets you currently have or significant assets that you expect to inherit, and can also protect your assets from the debts your partner acquired before marriage.

When Kids are in the Picture…

If you have minor children, retirement/estate planning is a necessity, not just for financial reasons. You will need to name a Guardian to take care of your children. Without a plan in place, if both you and the other parent of your children die while the children are still minors, then the children will become wards of the court until a judge can decide with whom the children should live until they become adults. Without a plan in place, control of the minor’s inheritance will be taken over by a court-supervised guardian or conservator whose fees will be paid for out of the inheritance. Through proper PREparation, however, you can make advance decisions that you feel are best in your particular circumstances and write documents that will allow you to express those decisions and preferences.

Factors you should consider in deciding on your guardian(s): Child-rearing skills … Similar or compatible religious beliefs … Whether there are other children in their household of similar age to yours … Integrity and stability … Is the prospective guardian physically able to care for your children? … Does the guardian’s job situation allow sufficient time for your children? … What is his/her financial lifestyle and philosophy? … Geographical location: must your children move and leave their friends?

As you plan your PREtirement, you will also want to consider these topics:

Take inventory of your assets.

These may include your bank and other investment accounts (money market or mutual funds), retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate or business interests.

Discuss your estate plans with your heirs may prevent disputes or confusion.

By being clear about your intentions, you help dispel potential inheritance conflicts after you’re gone.

Shifting your income in tax-exempt securities

You can put money into municipal bonds, for example.

Giving can reduce taxes.

Gifts in any amount between spouses are tax free and never taxed to the donor. Current gift tax laws also permit gifts of $13,000 per year, per individual, to any number of recipients with no tax consequences.

Consider the tax consequences of working or not-working.

You need to consider carefully whether working will end up costing you more money than not working because you’d end up paying taxes and potentially becoming ineligible for certain benefits.

Designate a health care power of attorney.

No one plans to be incapacitated, but if you are, who will make health care decisions for you? You must make sure to complete a healthcare power of attorney so can you be protected. And also designate alternates.

Update your estate plan.

Keep current: Be sure to review your estate planning documents every three years or so to ensure they are still current. Changes in personal circumstances, economic fortunes, and tax laws may warrant revisions.

Check your beneficiary designation forms.

Wills are not the only documents which govern the disposition of your assets. Insurance policy proceeds and retirement accounts both pass in accordance with the terms of your beneficiary designation form when you pass on. Make sure the information on these forms is current and accurate.

Protect your homestead.

If you own a home as your primary residence, for a modest fee you can place protection on your home from creditors for up to $500,000 of the equity in your home. Simply contact your attorney to complete and file the necessary documents.

Keep your papers in a safe place.

Obvious — but many people do not do this!

For more information on everything from taxes to trusts, investments to insurance, attorneys to annuities, stocks to social security, living wills to long-term care, check out my website, workshops, writings, books and blogs. Make my motto yours: “Expect the unexpected; be PREtirement ready.

Legacy Planning/Asset Protection money expert Kris Miller shares her vast knowledge of issues affecting retirees in her latest acclaimed book: Ready For PREtirement: Everything You Need To Know NOW So Your Money Is There When You Need It. Contact: 951-926-4538; www.readyforpretirement.com.

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How Do You Start Preparing for Your Financial Independence?

Everyone dreams about financial independence

—having enough personal wealth to be able to live comfortably and have all basic necessities covered without having to work actively for it. Financial independence lets you have more personal time while still being able to earn substantial income. It pays (no pun intended) to start preparing to be free from the worries of debt and financial trouble—a very important move for retirees or people who are just beginning to earn their keep. So many things could be said on how to prepare yourself for financial independence, but Continue reading

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It’s an Odd Time to Be a Tax Professional

We like concrete rules. We look at the absolutes and tell you what the tax implications are for purchases, investments and major financial decisions. In 2014, however, we are entering uncharted territory with Obamacare and all the tax implications it leaves in its wake. It’s a weird feeling when I find myself talking to someone over 65, telling them that if they need to get their knee replaced that they really should do it now. Your doctor is supposed to tell you when to get your knee replaced, but I know that if you do it now you will achieve significant tax savings.

In practice, the Affordable Care Act has proved to be anything but affordable. You can prepare for the continuing roll out of Obamacare in three steps:

Step one: Go talk with your tax professional. Several parts of Obamacare have a direct impact on investors over 65, most importantly the 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on net investment income, if your adjusted gross income is over a certain threshold. Older Americans typically have bigger investment accounts, because they’ve spent their whole lives working and saving. Starting in 2013, Obamacare takes 3.8 percent off the top of the investments and dividends working Americans planned to live on in retirement.

For example, your IRA will be taxed on net investment income, which means some of the money you were counting on will go to the IRS instead of providing for you in retirement. You can minimize that amount by taking more out of Social Security, which isn’t taxed, and less from your IRA. Even if your tax situation seems simple to you, you need to take advantage of all the available deductions to retain as much of your hard-earned money as possible.

Step two: Find out your health insurance costs. Americans need to go to the Affordable Care Act health exchange and figure out what their health care will cost them. To date, health insurance premiums have gone up, not down. Young, healthy Americans have not flocked to Obamacare as predicted, and health-care providers have responded with high premiums.

In the past, taxpayers have been able to itemize their medical expenses and deduct any medical care that exceeded 7.5 percent of gross adjusted income. This is especially important to seniors in assisted living and retirement facilities who could deduct medical-related expenses from their care and reduce their tax liability. Obamacare raises that threshold to 10 percent, now for people under age 65 and in a few years for those over age 65, meaning it will take more medical bills to be able to benefit from deductions on your 2017 taxes.

Additionally, medical devices are going to face a new 2.3 percent tax in 2014, levied on the manufacturer or importer of the device. As with most manufactured goods, increases in costs eventually get passed on to the consumer. Dental implants, dentures, hip and knee replacements are expected to be part of the as-yet-unreleased medical-device list.

Finally, by 2018, so-called “Cadillac” plans for medical insurance will be hit by a 40 percent excise tax, targeting individuals with premium health care plans—with an annual cost of $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for an employee and spouse/family coverage. The Obamacare logic holds that plans with low deductibles encourage unnecessary testing and excess health spending, and the tax will offset those inefficiencies.

Step three: Calculate a new projection for how much money you will need to add to your current savings to retire. As we learn the rules and implications of Obamacare, we are able to calculate the increase in taxes and medical costs shouldered by Americans. Americans will need more money to retire than ever before—maybe you’ll need to work longer or start socking away money in retirement accounts and savings earlier.

As tax professionals, we are here to offer you the tax guidance you need to have a secure retirement. You may want to look into that knee replacement sooner, rather than later.

Paul Oman

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Do As the President Says, Not As He Does

In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled a plan to allow more workers to save money. This MyRA savings plan will be a U.S. Treasury Bond-style product, allowing for individuals to contribute up to $15,000 per year, gain modest returns and enjoy a guarantee that they won’t lose principal.

The MyRA plan opts for a small, safe investment return —bonds currently offer under 3 percent annual returns. With inflation running around 1.7 percent, that’s barely any gain at all. There are better options than MyRA available to ensure a safe future through responsible saving.

First, if you have an employer-run 401(k) program, take advantage of it, especially if your employer offers matching. Corporate matching is basically free money. If I told you I could offer you a 100 percent return on your investment, you’d think I was an investment genius. With corporate matching you take, as an example, a $3,000 contribution and your employer instantly provides you with a 100 percent return by giving you an account balance of $6,000. Take every pop you can get through employer plans. Only a small percentage of American workers max out their 401(k) contributions.

Next, stock away money in a Roth IRA. This retirement plan uses after-tax dollars, but all the growth you make in the future will be tax-free. It is crucial to understand the importance of taxes on your money. Think about your first job—when you got that first paycheck, it wasn’t what you thought it would be, because of the taxes. A Roth IRA allows you to make withdrawals in retirement without paying taxes on the increases in your investments. You get the full benefit of your savings and diligence.

Finally, seek qualified financial advice on investment products. There are a full array of products that provide safe, reliable gains that well outpace the MyRA’s conservative projected returns. Investment instruments can be intimidating, but with a trusted investment professional, you can find something that fits your goal, style and retirement needs.

Over 50 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 in retirement savings, which is a scary thought. Social Security will only be able to provide a fraction of the money most people need in retirement. As our life expectancy extends, many Americans will spend a staggering 20 to 25 years in retirement, accompanied by the higher costs of medical care brought on by aging.

By showing discipline and forethought in the short-term, you can enjoy the retirement you want later in life.

-Aaron Freeman

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Five Secrets By Marilyn Tam

 

Five Secrets to a Happy, Healthy & Successful Life

 

By Marilyn Tam

You make well-meaning resolutions to improve your life. But your resolutions fade under the stress of multiple demands on your time and attention. Oftentimes the resolutions are history before the month is done. How can we ensure that we actually benefit from the good intentions that we made with such conviction?

Many years ago I made an earnest resolution to work less and to spend more time on my personal life, family and health. Being a type A personality, it was easier to say that than to follow through. By late in the same month, as I am running through another airport, I realized that I am already back to my old pattern of working seven days a week. On the next plane ride I took the time to ask myself a few hard questions. From that experience I developed Continue reading

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Are Americans Retiring Early Then Running Out Of Money?

Confused might be the best word to describe the understanding of retirement for many Americans. According to a recent survey undertaken by Genworth (GNW) on retirement readiness for American adults nearing an end to their working years, it was found that many American have unrealistic expectations.
The actual problem as cited by the report lies in the fact that Americans are retiring earlier but they are ill prepared for retirement. Under estimating retirement expenses and a number of other unrealistic expectations means that retirement becomes very tough.
Lack of adequate preparation in readiness for retirement means retirees are at risk of outliving their retirement savings.
A recent trend indicates that Americans struggle with their retirement. It is confirmed by the Genworth study which indicates that 73% of Americans are confident that they will retire as planned yet only 48% of actual retirees retire
Another highlighted problem was the fact that middle class Americans place paying debt as the greater priority when compared to saving for retirement. It is best explained by a study by Wells Fargo (WFC). Well, it is a splendid choice but little is left for a retirement savings account once the bill is paid.
The Genworth report exposes that expenses actually rise in retirement as is the case with 65% of retirees. This is contrary to popular belief manifest by 52% of pre-retirees who expect their living expenses to decrease in retirement. The main culprits causing the increase are health care expenses, real estate and money on dependents.
Among those interviewed by Genworth, only 12% had adequate money to meet the increasing living expenses.
When all these finding are put into perspective, millions of Americans are going to retire without the knowledge that they lack enough funds to survive in retirement. Additionally, they may lack the means to find finances to close the difference when they are already in their 60s, 70s and beyond.
It should be a wakeup call for all Americans nearing retirement.
Kris Miller, Estate Planning Expert and Safe Money Strategist, will guide you on how you can successfully prepare your retirement plan. For more information on how Kris can help you, call (951) 926-4158 or email Kris@ReadyForPREtirement.com and see her #1 Best Selling book at www.ReadyForPREtirement.com

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Begin Planning Now: The 4 Strategies towards a Brighter Financial Future

Planning for the future is something many people are not really keen about. For many people, procrastination is their habit always saying that they will start saving and planning tomorrow. The most unfortunate part is that the tomorrow comes and passes. Years and even decades pass without realization. The result is that retirement and even emergencies come and people are not prepared for these eventualities.

Situations such a young age and tough economic times blur the need to prepare for the future. In such times, people are bound to live in the present and in the struggle to make ends meet. The last thing in their minds is the tomorrow which will seemingly never come.

Emergencies and other needs that call for some planning are usually around the corner. Irrespective of being healthy or unwell; old or young, decent salary or no salary, you should start planning for the future right now.

Here are suggestions to use when planning for the future:

Acknowledge uncertainties

Unexpected things are bound to happen. People prefer not to dwell on such thoughts which are considered unhappy and not peaceful. Even though it is not healthy to dwell on the negatives, the acknowledgment that health issues, injuries and other setbacks may happen goes a long way in planning for the future.

Injuries happen every day and it is only advisable that you should have a plan that covers long term disability. Remember that one in seven people in long term healthcare facilities are below 65 years. Furthermore, findings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that indicate a 22 percent rise in the number of under-65 nursing home residents over the past eight years.

Invest your money wisely                                  

Very few people have invested their money wisely. This is as a result of the lack of training or classes on long term investments. People simply leave college to their careers and then find a financial planner to take care of their financial lives.

The majority of people will end up putting their money at risk. These people may end up losing the principal owing to the fact that the investments may be wholly in the stock market and in variable annuities. Find other investment options which have a lesser risk and better returns.

Keep Your Documents in Order

The Power of Attorney for financial and Power of Attorney for healthcare are two legal; documents that you should have irrespective of age and financial status. These are important and ensure that you have a competent and trustworthy person to make your decisions if you are incapacitated.

Other documents include a guardianship for young children, and long term care insurance to act as a hedge to your assets which are not spent up paying for the expenses. Long term care insurance also helps to maintain your quality of life and you can live at home with in-home care and not have to go to a nursing home.

Develop a Saving culture

The ideal time to start saving is as early as in the 20s and 30s. However, this is not the case in the absence of a saving culture and as economic times become tough. It is emphasized that saving anything as little as a dollar puts an individual on the right path.

The earlier the saving habit is developed, the better the outcome. With the habit of saving a percentage of your income no matter the circumstances, savings definitely grow as income continues to increase. It is certainly about time to start building financial reserves.

Don’t Start Tomorrow – Begin Planning Today

Make sure that you are not caught off guard. Map out and plan for your financial future beginning today to ensure you and the family are well taken care of.

Kris Miller, Estate Planning Expert and Safe Money Strategist, will guide you on how you can successfully prepare your retirement plan.  For more information on how Kris can help you, call (951) 926-4158 or email Kris@ReadyForPREtirement.com and see her #1 Best Selling book at www.ReadyForPREtirement.com

 

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What Business Owners Can Do to Plan Their Financial Outlook for 2014?

Many small business owners lament that the past few years have been difficult financially. Yes, the recession hit hard and the recovery is going slowly. However, with the proper planning, any business can thrive no matter what the economic landscape.

Unfortunately, many small business owners are so busy putting out daily fires and just trying to stay afloat that they never take the time to plan. That’s a mistake! So if you’re ready to make 2014 your best year yet, here are the key financial planning items to focus on for both the short- and long-term.

  • Reduce your debt.

If you’re like many small business owners, you may have financed your business on a credit card or through other personal loans. Now that debt is hanging over you like a dark cloud. Even worse, you’re likely putting any profits you make back into your business rather than putting more money toward paying off your debt.

If your debt load is large and dragging you down paying it off can seem like a daunting task. The key is to stop trying to pay every creditor off at once. Rather, pick one creditor, preferably the one you owe the least to, and focus on paying that one off first. Pay the minimum on all your other debt, but put as much as you can each month toward this one bill. Then, when you pay that debt off, take the money you were allocating to the creditor and apply it, along with the minimum you were already paying, to your next lowest debt. Focus on paying just that one off. Then repeat the process with your next lowest creditor. Keep going until all your debts are paid.

As you cross each paid creditor off your list this next year, you’ll feel your financial dark cloud start to break.

  • Create a budget for your business. 

You likely have a budget for your personal life. You know how much you have to pay yourself to cover your mortgage or rent, your groceries, and other essentials. But chances are that you don’t have a detailed budget for your business. Now is the time to make one.

Just as you do in your personal budget, start by making a list of all the business expenses you pay out every month. Be sure to include your salary in the equation. If you’re in the habit of paying yourself sporadically or a varied amount each month based on what’s left over, pick a steady, realistic income figure for yourself and calculate that in. Then add in the expenses that are possible but not customary, such as repair costs for equipment, additional staff, new software or services, etc. When you have a firm grasp on where all your business money is going each month, you can create strong financial goals for your company (see next point).

  • Set financial goals.

Of course you want your business to do better this year than it did last year. But do you have clear monthly and yearly goals mapped out? Most small business owners don’t.

Now that you know how much you need to earn each month to cover your business expenses, take a look at what your business brought in over the past few years. Look for any trends, such as a 10% increase each year, stagnate sales year to year, or even a progressive decline. After you have a clear assessment of what your business did historically, create financial goals for the coming year.

But don’t just state any goal because it sounds good or would be nice to achieve. Make sure you’re setting S.M.A.R.T. goals—that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Here’s what each word really means:

  • Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. Goals must be clear and unambiguous. When goals are specific, they state exactly what is expected. For example, stating “We will do $1 million in sales” is specific. Saying “We will do better than last year” is not.
  • Measurable: Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. If your goals are not measurable, you never know whether you’re making progress toward their successful completion. Having monthly financial goals helps you measure whether you’re on track for your yearly goal.
  • Attainable: Goals must be realistic and attainable. The best goals require you to stretch a bit to achieve them, but they aren’t extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance. Goals that are set too high or too low become meaningless and will be ignored.
  • Relevant: To be relevant, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and relevant; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. Realize that a high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force.
  • Time-Bound: A goal must have a target date. “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by December 31, 2014,” then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal. A deadline too far in the future is too easily put off. A goal that’s set too close is not only unrealistic, it’s discouraging. That’s why you need both monthly (immediate) and yearly (future-oriented) financial goals to strive for.

Your Best Year Yet

No matter how many ups and downs your business has had over the years, you can make a giant financial leap this next year … if you follow the suggestions outlined. The more priority and urgency you place on your business’s financial outlook, the more success you’ll have this coming year and for decades to come.

Kris Miller, Estate Planning Expert and Safe Money Strategist, will guide you on how you can successfully prepare your retirement plan.  For more information on how Kris can help you, call (951) 926-4158 or email Kris@ReadyForPREtirement.com and see her #1 Best Selling book at www.ReadyForPREtirement.com

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4 Essential safe money retirement

4 Essential safe money retirement options for a tension free life

 

Retirement is an inevitable phase and you can’t escape it. Many people feel that life after retirement literally comes to a standstill. Lack of regular income source makes people feel in this way. In addition to that, there are credit card debts, mortgages and other bills to take care of. All these financial obligations can make it extremely difficult to live a debt free happy life after retirement. However, it’s possible to relish financial freedom even after retiring from your job. Wondering how? Go through the following section to know how. Continue reading

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Tips on Retiring Early by PREtirement expert, Kris Miller

What Are Other Options to Protect Your Money?

Another option is a deferred annuity. Again, these annuities are like savings accounts with an insurance company
that gives you a guaranteed rate that’s tax deferred and gives you luquidity so you can take ten percent out every year without a penalty.

Now remember! Not all annuities are created equal and they all have specific purposes.

Annuities out there are created and designed to protect your assets for Medicaid spenddown incase of a catastrophic illness or nursing home stay. What we want to do is design one that fits you.

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