Social Security Reports No Increase In Benefits for 2010

Normally, seniors receiving social security benefits see a 2-3% increase in their benefits each year.  For the first time in decades, there may not be a cost-of-living adjustment.  For some, social security checks may be lower when factoring in Medicare Part B premiums.  Most, however, are protected by a provision that ensures Medicare premiums don’t increase more than any increase in Social Security benefits. FULL ARTICLE.

Parents Of College-Bound Children Need To Plan Wisely

Planning your estate, whether young or old, is very important.  Sound advice from your accountant, financial advisor, insurance agent and estate planning attorney can help you plan for whatever bumps in the road you encounter during your lifetime.  Younger couples must establish a financial plan to make sure they provide for their children and can enjoy a comfortable retirement.  Older couples may want to diversify or restructure their portfolios to ensure they have enough money to last throughout retirement and minimize exposure to taxes and long-term care.  Parents of school aged children must be careful not to decrease their families eligibility for need based financial aid while developing their estate plan. Some estate planning strategies that may affect your eligibility for financial aid include:

  • Saving In Your Child’s Name – Many families establish UTMA/UGMA  accounts to save for college.  While these accounts may potentially offer tax savings, because student assets are assessed higher than a parent asset during the financial aid process, the reduction in need based financial aid can be much greater than the potential tax savings.
  • Lifetime Gifting – One strategy to minimize estate tax is taking advantage of the annual $13,000 exclusion and gifting to others.  While this may be an appropriate strategy for estate and tax planning, it may have a devastating effect on financial aid eligibility.  Be sure to discuss your plan with an estate planning professional before utilizing this strategy or receiving a gift as part of a tax plan as there may be more appropriate options available.
  • Retirement Accounts – Where your money is invested may have an impact on the amount of financial aid you may qualify for.  A review of your financial plan can determine if your investments are appropriate for your particular situation.

While there are many options in planning for retirement, minimizing tax or long-term care exposure, or developing a comprehensive estate plan, make sure your families needs are addressed in your overall plan.  Failing to plan for your childs education could frustrate your overall financial goal.

What Is Elder Law?

Elder law is an area of law that encompasses any legal issue facing the elderly.  It is often associated with estate planning but can involve much broader social, economic and health related difficulties facing aging Americans. Some of the concerns that become more important to us as we grow older and may require more careful planning include:

  • estate planning
  • planning for a long term medical care requirement including Medicaid planning
  • planning for incapacitation with the use of durable powers of attorney and health care proxies
  • issues requiring guardianships and conservatorships
  • elder abuse and other issues involving nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities
  • SSI, SSDI and other government benefit programs
  • special needs trusts

As the elderly population grows each year, so will the issues facing these individuals requiring a comprehensive estate plan that addresses long term care needs.  Often times, planning  must take into account strategies involving financial planning, estate planning, and other asset protection techniques.  Other times ancillary issues involving home health care, skilled nursing facilities, long term care insurance and disability benefits must be addressed.  Elder law attorneys, geriatric or nurse case managers, financial planners and professional well versed in benefits planning are often involved to ensure all needs are met.  Advanced planning can help to minimize the problems and stress associated with these issues.

Elder Advisory Group Offers Free Resource Guide For Seniors

Senior Resource Center of Worcester County is now offering a free resource guide to Seniors in the Worcester County area.  Senior Resource Center of Worcester County (SRCWC) is a full-service elder advisory group assisting Seniors and their families in the areas of financial guidance, asset protection and care coordination.  SRCWC offers solutions in identifying and accessing options for care coordination and assists in comprehensive lifetime care planning.  For your free resource guide, see the SRC Worcester website or call 508.421.6766.

Why Life Insurance May Be An Important Part of Your Estate Plan

Most people think that when their kids are out of the house, or the mortgage is paid off, the need for life insurance disappears.  Life insurance, however, may be a very powerful tool if structured properly and included in a comprehensive estate plan.  Some of the benefits of life insurance include:

  • Life insurance can provide support when you’re gone and make sure your family is taken care of
  • If your estate consists of non-liquid assets, such as a family business or real estate, life insurance could be used to prevent your heirs from being forced to sell property to pay taxes or other probate costs
  • Proceeds from a life insurance policy can be used to buy out an owner’s interest in a business
  • Life insurance could provide other benefits specific to your situation

Life insurance, if used properly, can be a valuable tool to provide financial security for your family.  By completing your estate plan without considering insurance and financial planning could leave you short in reaching your goals. Therefore, you’re never too young to begin to develop your estate plan and never too old to review it.