Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spotlight on Elder Law

Stories of interest from around the world for those planning at one point to retire. The following was written in September by Nancy J. Brady, RN, Esq

Women have made significant advances socially and economically. However, planning for major life events and retirement has not generally kept up with those advances.

Well established statistics show that most women outlive their spouses (80 percent). Additionally, women often play a caretaker role for elderly parents, as well as for grandchildren (“sandwich generation”). Divorce or widowhood may result in second and sometimes third marriages with children from prior marriages to be considered in estate planning.

Many women continue to rely on the men in their lives to support them, and make financial and planning decisions. It is important for women to become knowledgeable and aware of their specific retirement and estate planning needs.

Planning for the various stages and roles in a woman’s life will, naturally, be different for every woman depending upon her particular circumstances. As outlined below, there is basic planning that every woman needs to have in place at any age, as well as specific more advanced planning for different circumstances.

• Twenties and thirties: The basic estate planning documents need to be in place, which include Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and a Last Will and Testament. If total assets are in excess of $1 million, estate planning will involve planning to minimize estate taxes for your beneficiaries. If you are a parent, even if your estate is not quite that large, you should have provisions in your Last Will and Testament for your children — such as the ages at which you would like them to inherit, as well as your choice for guardian for the children. Aside from legal planning, financial planning for college for the children and retirement planning should be in place.

• Forties and fifties: Review estate planning documents whenever there is a change in your life circumstances (example: marriage/divorce/widowhood/inheritance). Make sure your elderly parents have their basic estate planning documents in place so that you may act on their behalf without delay if they become ill or otherwise need assistance. Consider purchasing your own long-term care insurance from a reputable broker who will structure a policy based on your individual (income and assets) needs. If your estate has grown significantly make sure your legal documents are structured to maximize estate tax savings for your family. Continually review your progress (with your financial advisor) towards securing your retirement needs, and your progress towards those goals. The meetings with your financial advisor should include deciding when to begin collecting Social Security benefits.

• Sixties and seventies: If you have not already done so, make sure to have basic estate planning documents in place (Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament). Update and make changes (with the assistance of your attorney) to any documents particularly if circumstances have changed since you completed the documents. Establish and implement a plan (with your attorney) to finance long-term care (home care, nursing home care, assisted living), whether you have a long-term care policy in place or not.

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