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:
The act of preparing early for retirement.
- Planning ahead to avoid probate, Long Term Care and the (next) Great Recession, and making sure your money lasts as long as you do.
- P – Plan, R- Retirement, E- Early.
- PRE-plan before you are tired.
- 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.
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.
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.