Moving to a Senior Living Community? It’s Time to Revisit Your Will.

it's time to update your will when moving to a senior living community

The appeal of living in a senior living community cannot be denied. There, you can enjoy the company of others who share your interests and hobbies. You can eat meals together and do not have to worry about things like home repairs.

While moving to a senior living community might seem like the perfect time to stop worrying about all the little things, there is at least one thing you want to consider. You need to review your will.

Often when people move to a senior living community, they downsize from their previous home, condo or apartment. This can mean specific items and property listed in the will is not owned anymore.

If your will gives the total value of all your possessions and property to your children in equal shares, this will not pose an issue. But let’s say you have designated a specific item for your daughter and different one for your son. If the item for your son was sold when you downsized, you should consider revising your will to give a different item to him.

While reviewing your will, you also will want to consider where you lived when the will was written versus where you live now. The law that governs the interpretation of the will is dictated by which state you live in when you die. Many people move several times in their life, especially in retirement. You may want to review your will with a local attorney to be sure your wishes can be followed in your current state of residence.

Though not part of your will, there also are several things you can do to make your executor’s job easier. The executor in your will is the person responsible for carrying out your wishes after you die. Meet with this person to discuss your will and your wishes. During the meeting, you may even want to tell the executor where you keep lists of important information. This can include contact information for the beneficiaries listed in the will, financial and non-financial asset lists, important documents like Social Security cards and password lists for any accounts. It also is wise to include a list of professionals you use, such as your lawyer, accountant and financial planner.

Safe Deposit Box?

Many times, you may consider storing important information like this in a safe deposit box. You may even put your will in a safe deposit box before you move into a senior living community. Safe deposit boxes can be great for keeping important items free from theft, fire damage or loss through misplacement. But it is important to know that when a person dies, his or her safe deposit box will remain locked until a probate court order allows an executor or another person access it. Therefore, you should consider storing your will with your attorney, executor or somewhere else safe that will be readily accessible after your death. You also can put your executor’s name on the safe deposit box as an owner and give him or her a key to solve this issue.

A will can contain all sorts of provisions and wishes. But you need to understand that wills are usually not accessed and read until after the funeral. So if you have provisions in your will regarding your funeral wishes, you should communicate these in another form.

Most people know, at least in a general sense, who will be in charge of planning their funeral. If you have specific requests, write them down and share the notes. You may even want to plan everything yourself with a local funeral director. Just be sure if you pre-pay for any services that you let your loved ones know so they do not pay for the same services elsewhere.

Similarly, if you wish to be an organ donor, you should tell any and all relevant parties when moving into a senior living community. This may need to be documented by signing a form, carrying a card or wearing a medical bracelet. Timing is usually very important to ensure a successful organ donation. If this wish is not discovered until the reading of your will, it is likely far too late.

Other documents to have in place.

Finally, when moving to a senior living community, the staff may ask if you have a living will or advance directive. This is not a traditional will. This is a document that answers questions regarding end-of-life decisions such as resuscitation, life support, etc. Through a living will or advance directive, you explain how you would like doctors to proceed if you are not well enough to tell them.

Keep in mind you also can choose to enact a durable healthcare power. This allows you to name a trusted individual to make the decisions regarding your care if you are unable to do so. Remember, though, that these documents expire at death and the will takes over as a guiding document at that point.

About the author: Patrick O’Brien is CEO and co-founder of executor.org, a free, online tool that helps executors manage their responsibilities and duties in this complex role. The tool includes a helpful step-by-step interactive guide for executors and invaluable tips on everything from planning a funeral and keeping beneficiaries happy to dealing with grief and managing estate assets.

Keeping Seniors at Home, Home Repair Resources and More

keeping seniors at home with planning and tipsA quality that Millennials are embracing at full capacity these days is respect for their elders. They work in industries where they will be responding to them on social media, processing their banking transactions, or walking them through new technology. Patience and understanding are good virtues when helping clients who are in or approaching their golden years.

This is why real estate companies, especially those with Millennial employees, should be vigilant to help seniors who are physically able to do so stay in their homes. Financial hardship, other than health problems, is usually the source of seniors leaving their long-time homes.

Financial Resources for Keeping Seniors at Home

original edith macefield house inspiration for the movie "UP" keeping seniors at home

The original Edith Macefield home in Seattle, the real life inspiration for the movie “UP”. Photo Credit: Amanda Rosenblatt

Not everyone can be like Edith Macefield, the real life inspiration for the Disney film “Up,” and financially be able to turn down a million dollar offer to move elsewhere. There are many resources for seniors and the elderly to maintain the current home they live in, when money is the main issue, and here is a quick list:

  • USDA grants and loans toward home repairs – Section 504 under the USDA home loans program for rural housing provides grants to those aged 62 or over who may have difficulty otherwise obtaining a loan for repairs. Specifically, if these citizens have health and safety hazards in their home (examples: leak in a roof, mold, or adapting a home for the differently abled), the grant valued at a maximum of $7,500 will pay for them to remove or repair such issues at no cost to them.

These grants must be used by the elderly in a modest home in an area the USDA designates as “rural.” You may be surprised to know some suburbs qualify for this grant, so plug the applicable address into this link to see if you or any elders you know qualify. There are also loans for repair, as well as home purchase through the USDA. These loans are desired for their aim toward low income individuals looking to obtain modest housing at very low interest rates.

  • Keeping up with mortgages in the face of unemployment – With concerns about social security and inflation, retirement has become a bit trickier of a goal to obtain these days. Seniors may find themselves working after the average retirement age of 62. What happens when the jobs of these seniors gets phased out by new technology or outsourcing? They may still be paying off mortgages and now are faced with the stress of defaulting. Organizations like Keep Your Home California help citizens with Unemployment Mortgage Assistance, Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance through a one-time payment of up to $54k, Transition Assistance to help people after short sales or foreclosures move into new properties, and the Principal Reduction Program. If you want to see if you or a senior you know qualifies, or to ask them for resources in other states, contact 888-954-KEEP (5337) Monday through Saturday.
  • Charities and Crowd-Sourcing – With the help of their kids, and grandkids, seniors are making their presence known in social media. The best tool at their disposal is using the world at their fingertips to try and maintain their housing. With sites like Go Fund Me, YouCaring, IndieGoGo, and CrowdRise, our seniors can post a campaign to raise money and then use outlets like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to make their story known. Then, they or the people around them can help their cause gain attention by contacting local news outlets and sharing the materials online. There are also charities to check out, such as Dream Fund, the Dream Foundation, Second Wind Dreams, or contacting national organizations like the Administration on Aging.

 

Amanda Rosenblatt is a writer for VA Home Loan Centers and a social media specialist. Visit their website at vahomeloancenters.org and follow on Twitter @VAHomeLoanCtrs.

Scam Alert: Real Estate Scams

Real Estate ScamsHome buyers and sellers beware!

We’re always on the lookout for current scams so we can keep you informed of the latest bad guys out there. Turns out there’s a new scam circulating around the country these days called The Real Estate Scam.  It attempts to dupe you into believing your dealing with a proper real estate broker (or realtor) by loading malware onto your realtor’s computer.  Once they’ve infiltrated, they use the information to come after you, your private information, and your money.

Real Estate Scams

It starts with an email to real estate agents (supposedly sent by an interested buyer) that includes an attached link. When the recipient opens the link, malware secretly infects the individual’s computer, giving hackers remote access to files detailing transactions and clients. Then scammers follow with phone calls or other emails, posing as a title company, a real estate attorney or a seller of property that’s already listed for sale. – Sid Kirchheimer – AARP

Once these scam artists gain your trust, they can do anything UNLESS you take precautions.  Here are several tips from reliable sources:

US News & World Report says:

  • Don’t Rush It – Real estate transactions are complicated and take patience.
  • Vet the person you’re working with –  Just because someone has a LinkedIn page doesn’t make him or her a swell human being.

Forbes offers these tips:

  • Cross-check different listing sites and verify a broker or company’s licenses. It’s amazing what a simple Google search can yield.
  • Always beware of cold calls
  • Be suspicious of “upfront fees”

Finally AARP suggests:

  • Contact your  real estate agents in person.  Don’t correspond with them via email all the time.
  • Before wiring funds, make sure that the bank accounts & routing numbers are for REAL title companies, attorneys, etc.
  • And for realtors – Don’t open emails from people you don’t know.  You’re protecting yourself AND your clients by being extra careful.

Have any other real estate tips or other scam alerts we should be aware of?  Let us know in the comments below!

Real Estate Scams

List of Current Scams to be Aware of

Sweepstakes scam that targets Seniors (letter, email, text and phone)

FTC consumer complaint notification (email)

Foreclosure rescue from Hope Services (phone, email)

Help for earthquake victims in Nepal (in-person, phone, email)

Don’t be a victim!  Help educate others so that they stay safe too!

Talking to Family About Post Death Wishes

talking to family about post death wishes can be difficultNot many of us are looking forward to talking to family about post death wishes. Discussing what type of funeral you want or to whom you plan to leave that flowery lamp that Grandma gave you is not an easy conversation.

Yet every adult should be having this discussion with someone. If that person is an estate attorney, funeral director, or your future executor, that’s a great start. But even if you already have a will, it is also incredibly wise to share your after-death wishes with your loved ones. Although they might not have a legal say in your estate after you die, an upset family member or loved one who feels like your wishes are not being followed can both disrupt the process of settling your affairs and destroy the very family relationships you want to remain strong. It also is recommended that you memorialize as many of your wishes in the will or attachments to it as possible. In some states, a simple handwritten note will suffice. In others, you’ll want to take a more formal approach. Talk to a local attorney to find out what the laws are in your state.

So what’s the best way to navigate this difficult conversation with your loved ones? Here are some tips.

Three Tips to Talking To Family About Post Death Wishes

1. Have the conversation now – Maybe you just got a clean bill of health from your doctors and aren’t planning to take up any dangerous hobbies. While this hopefully means you have a long, healthy road ahead of you, it doesn’t mean you should skip having an honest discussion about your wishes. In fact, when you are well, the discussion will probably be easier to have and will be more organized.

Waiting until you are ill – and potentially exhausted, confused and medicated – can make it harder to express your wishes in a clear and specific way. It also will make it harder for your loved ones to listen or trust what you are saying. They might urge you to rest and insist the conversation is something to have later. Or they might discount – perhaps rightly – that your comments are a result of being sick or overly medicated and not take them seriously.

2. Give participants some advance notice – Mentioning that you’d like to be cremated while you are slicing up the pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving dinner is probably not the best way to discuss your funeral wishes. Yes, it might be one of the few times during the year that your entire clan is together in one room, but bringing up these topics abruptly typically doesn’t work out well. It is wise to let your loved ones know in advance that you’d like to discuss these matters and then find a time that everyone can get together when you won’t be rushed or subject to interruptions.

Have the meeting in a quiet place where people can talk honestly and openly. Write down your wishes as clearly as you can – specifics matter here – and share copies with all who attend. If you have made pre-arrangements with a funeral home, share those details. If you are comfortable with doing so, share a copy of your will or let them review it. Ideally, it’s best to get everyone in the same room for this discussion. But if that is impossible or only occurs rarely, don’t wait. It’s better to have the discussion sooner by phone or Skype than later.

Related Article: Senior Care: Pre-Planning is Key

3. Be open to listening to other opinions – While you get the final decision, it can be helpful if you are able to let your loved ones raise any concerns they have or question your wishes. Understandably, this might require some patience on your part. Perhaps your son gets angry that you don’t want to be buried in the same cemetery with the rest of the family and instead be buried in the town where you grew up. It might be tempting to squash his opposition by saying it’s not his decision where you will be buried. While that is true, letting him vent might be better in the long run. Acknowledge that having this discussion is stressful for everyone and that stress can fuel any number of emotions – including anger. Letting him and your other loved ones express their feelings ultimately can make them more comfortable with your choices because they will know you considered, or were at least aware, of other options.

Once you’ve had this tough conversation it might be tempting to not revisit it. But it is important to allow for further discussion if questions arise. You also need to consider that over time your wishes might change. Anytime you make changes to your will or funeral wishes it is wise to share them with your loved ones – and your attorney. That way they’ll know the changes weren’t made in error and are truly what you want when your life ends.

Best Excuses NOT to Prepare Estate Plans

5 Reasons people don't have estate plans

It is important to have a plan for your healthcare decisions and who will receive your assets after you pass away – this is generally called estate planning. Your estate plans can include a will, trust, and other instruments that pass your property upon your death. In addition, your estate plans may include health care decision documents.  People come up with a lot of excuses to avoid making an estate plan. Below are the top five excuses you can use to avoid speaking to an estate-planning attorney:

Reasons to skip Estate Planning

    • Creating family conflict is your favorite pastime.
    • You think the state doesn’t get enough of your money now.
    • Your kids can totally handle receiving a lump of money in their twenties.
    • You plan on living forever.
    • You don’t have any assets.

Let’s break these down one at a time to see if any of these excuses will work for you.

FIRST, you like creating family conflict. Some families thrive on disputes. The infighting and breakdown in relationships that can occur in a family after a loved one passes away can be intensified if there is fighting around who gets what assets. It doesn’t matter if the items in question are worth $10 or $10,000.
In your estate plan, you can specify the gifts you want to give to each child, sibling, relative, and charity. A good approach to gifting your assets is to find out who wants specific items and include that into the plan. But if you are the type who likes conflict then stay away from a good estate plan to give your family one last reason to battle.

SECOND, you like paying taxes and don’t thing the state gets enough of your money now. For that reason, you would like to share more with the government after you pass away. You can accomplish this in two ways:

  • 1) Leave an estate larger than your estate tax minimum (the federal limit is over 5 million (in 2015) but many states have lower thresholds).
  • 2) If you have no living relatives to a certain degree (for example cousins, aunts, parents, grandparents, children, or spouse) and no estate plan, all your property will go to the State. Each state determines what level of relative can claim your property but ultimately, if no eligible relative steps up, the state gets all of it.
    There are ways to reduce your estate’s tax burden with proper planning. A good estate plan includes ways you can utilize your money now and save taxes for both you and your loved ones.

THIRD, your kids are more responsible than most and would save all the money you give them when you pass away. You can look to any pop culture magazine or website to see what most teenagers or twenty-somethings do with too much disposable income. Even the most responsible kids can have a difficult time managing large sums of money.
If you have young children or young adult children, you can make a plan that puts the lump sum into a trust. That trust can then divvy money out at specified times or circumstances. This type of plan gives you lasting control over what happens to the money but may hinder your child’s ability to throw one great party for their 25th birthday. If you have minor children who will live with a designated person, (of your choosing listed in the will), a trust can be set up for their care using the proceeds from your estate.

FOURTH, you plan on living forever. While all of us know we will not actually live forever, it is easy to assume there is always tomorrow to work on your estate planning documents. There also seems to be some fear around planning for your death; “if I plan for it, it will come”. Death is inevitable and mostly unpredictable; it is better to be prepared for the security of your loved ones than to put off planning out of fear.

FIFTH, you don’t have any assets. This may be a valid reason to not spend the money on a will or other estate planning document. However, speaking to an attorney about your situation may still be a good idea for a number of reasons:

  • 1) You should designate a power of attorney in case you are unable to make your own health or money decisions at some point down the road.
  • 2) See “Reason Not to Plan” #1 above. Families fight over assets whether they are worth $10 or $10,000. A small estate plan can be handled by a competent attorney for less money than you think.
  • 3) You will want to designate who will care for children if you pass away while they are still minors.
  • 4) To discuss all the things you won’t take the time to research on your own and give you advice on how to go about planning.

In general, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney about your assets, what will happen if you pass away with children, tax consequences, and health care decisions. You should also speak to an attorney after any major life events such as the birth of children, marriage, death or divorce.

DIY Cookies, Not Your Estate Plan

With websites like Pinterest and television shows on HGTV, we are in a world of DIY (In case you are not familiar with the term, DIY = Do It Yourself).  From making crafts with kids, to building your own shed, there is likely a website to help with step-by-step instructions and pictures to help you along the way.

There are even self-help estate planning websites and forms that offer low-cost will, power of attorney, and other legal documents.  However, a failed craft simply hurts your ego; a failed estate plan can have devastating consequences to you and your heirs.

Don't DIY Your Estate Planning

Photo:Credit GreaterGood.com

Do NOT DIY your Estate Plan.

Here are a few common issues I see that people run into when they try to DIY their estate planning documents:

  1. Bank refusing to accept your power of attorney;
  2. Giving too much away in your power of attorney;
  3. Failing to properly exclude family you don’t want to give money to;
  4. Unintended tax consequences for your heirs;
  5. Not using the correct documents for your state.

These common problems can be very difficult to work out, especially after cognitive decline or death.  Heirs may be burdened with financial obligations that you were unable to envision or even knew about when the documents were created.  If the documents are unrecognized in your state, your loved ones may have difficulty accessing and advocating for you in a medical facility.

Related Article: Senior Care: Pre-Planning is Key

Working with a skilled attorney can help you avoid many of these issues and more.  In addition, make sure to seek out an attorney familiar with estate planning who is willing to meet with you face-to-face.  Ask your friends, co-workers and advisors for attorney recommendations.

If money is a hurdle, know that there is a wide range of rates among attorneys.  You can work with a new attorney whose rates are lower or contact your State Bar to see if they offer programs for people with lower incomes.  In the end, it may be less expensive to have a lawyer draft a good estate plan than have to work out a bad plan later.

Senior Care: Pre-Planning is Key

Planning for Retirement and Senior CareAs I remain closely connected to my local senior care community, I am frequently reminded of how important pre-planning is when it comes to senior care.  I see families caught off guard and overwhelmed when a crises occurs with no pre-planning in place.  Having legal documents, financial preparations and senior care options explored  can mean a world of difference in the journey of senior care.

Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. – My father

Legal Pre-Planning

Legal pre-planning is one of the most important to any senior care plan.  No matter how this journey goes for you or a loved one, at some point, legal issues will arise.  Doctor and hospital visits can become complicated if the proper power of attorney documentation is not in place. Banks and financial institutions will not work with anyone who does not have the legal authority to represent the account holder.  The following are important documents to research and have in place.  Pre-planning is not just for older adults, but adults at any age.  I HIGHLY recommend working with an attorney, and if you can, an Elder Law Attorney in your area to ensure that these documents are correctly administered, signed and notarized if needed.  Consider the money spent an investment in you and your family’s future.

  • Power of Attorney– Health Care and Financial- This document(s) allows you to appoint another person to make decisions on your behalf and/or in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  Also called a Durable Power of Attorney in some states.  A person who is incapacitated or cognitively impaired cannot assign a power of attorney (this is where I have personally seen a lack of pre-planning have serious repercussions).
  • Living Will– This document helps spell out healthcare wishes to physicians and family.   This ensures that no one else decides for you how your medical care will be administered, or not.  Remember Terri Schiavo?
  • Will– A legal document that declares how you want your estate and possessions distributed after your death.  Even for those with very few assets, a Will can be an important document to spell out how to distribute personal possessions.

Financial Pre-Planning

Preparing for retirement is one thing, planning to pay for senior care is another subject itself.  As reported by Genworth, the annual cost of home care in 2015 is $44,616 (based on 44 hours/week), assisted living $43,200, and nursing home care is $80,300.  If those numbers are giving you heart palpitations, you aren’t alone.  Take the time to understand the following government programs that may be able to help pay for the cost of senior care.  Remember, qualifying for programs like Medicaid and VA benefits do not happen quickly in many cases.  Research these programs before a crises.

  • Medicare:  Medicare does not pay for any long-term care.  It does pay for short term rehabilitation if specific criteria are met.  Many clients I have worked with in the past were very misinformed or misunderstood the limits of Medicare benefits when it came to paying for senior care.  Medicare.gov does a great job of explaining what is covered under Medicare benefits.
  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a federal program, but benefits are administered by each state and vary widely in criteria to qualify.  Generally speaking, Medicaid will cover the cost of long term care in certain settings if specific health and financial conditions are met.
  • VA: The VA offers a variety of long term benefits to veterans and their spouses, again if certain criteria are met.  You can find specific information on the VA website about the programs, benefits, and pension options available.  My experience with a family member was that it took 9 months for her application to be approved, so plan ahead.

There are a variety of other ways to pay for long term care (reverse mortgages, long term care insurance, annuities, trusts, etc…).  We will leave those topics to the industry experts and post when they are available.

Senior Care Pre-Planning

I had the pleasure of working as a referral and placement advisor for 12 years and served thousands of clients. During that time, I can count on both hands the number of clients who worked with me in an effort to plan ahead for their senior care options.  Everyone else was in crises mode- they came from a hospital or rehab setting and had anywhere from a few hours to a few days to decide where to place their loved one.  It was stressful and overwhelming and I’m glad I was there to help.  I can’t stress this enough- If you or a loved one has a chronic health condition it doesn’t hurt a thing to start researching what care options are in your area.

  • Work with a referral or placement agency:  I recommend working with a local company and not an online resource.  You want someone who knows the communities and homes they are representing to you well and who aren’t selling your information online.  How long have they been in business?  What is their background?  Are they plugged into the local senior service industry?  What professional associations do they belong to?  How are they paid for their services (typically reimbursed by the senior care communities they refer)?
  • View a variety of different options (if they exist) in your area:  There are different names for senior care and they may be licensed depending on what they offer (retirement living, assisted living, adult care homes, residential care, board and care to name a few).
  • Understand pricing: Do they charge a flat fee, levels, or points?  Will there be cost of living increases?  Is there a Medicaid contract available in the event that the money runs out?
  • Have a plan:  Just because you have done the research, does not mean you need to take action right away.  You will be prepared with the knowledge and understanding of what can be provided at what cost and will be able to move quickly in the event of a crises.


That all being said, sometimes the best laid plans may not work out the way they were intended, but knowing that plans are in place should a crises arise is worth the time and energy of planning for the future.

 

The Senior List is here for you! We provide news you can use, and our opinion on the best products and services for Boomers/Seniors.  Some of the providers mentioned in this post may have an affiliate relationship with The Senior List, and we’re proud of those relationships. We only work with providers that pass our own stringent criteria, and these are the providers that we refer to friends and family.

5 Medicaid Dos and Don’ts for caregivers

medicaid planning for long term careWhen an elderly loved one requires long-term care, many tough decision need to made. Having Medicaid pay for long-term care can be tricky and there are many pitfalls one needs to be aware of. Having worked with seniors and their families for many years as a Medicaid consultant at Senior Planning Services, here are some common do’s and don’ts you need to be aware of.

1. Do. Set up an irrevocable trust fund for funeral and burial plots.

For Medicaid purposes, there’s what is referred to as ‘spend-down’. This means that in order to qualify for long-term care, the beneficiary needs to meet the state resource criteria. Some assets are ‘counted’ while others are ‘excluded’. Setting up an irrevocable fund for funeral or burial plot expenses can be a smart way to ‘spend down’ ones assets. Medicaid will cover for a basic funeral service and many applicants opt for a higher standard which will not be covered but will count toward the ‘spend-down’.

2. Do. Try to get in home care covered by Medicaid.

If your loved one requires long-term in-home care and is being cared for by a family member, there are some scenarios where said family member can get reimbursed by Medicaid. Check with your states Medicaid program regarding the various support programs for caregivers. For more info on the services your state offers for seniors and their families, visit: www.eldercare.gov

3. Don’t. Accept cash in exchange for providing care for a loved one.

This will be viewed as a gift. While gifting is beneficial for estate tax purposes, it does not help in terms of qualifying for Medicaid. Medicaid conducts a five-year ‘look-back’, and will impose a penalty on any gifts granted during this time. The corresponding amount will be deducted from Medicaid coverage. What you can do is have a legitimate detailed caregiver contract written up with the help of a qualified professional.

4. Do. Plan for long-term care.

Unless it is specifically requested, many estate attorneys do not take Long Term Care planning into consideration. The world has changed over the last 100 years, with the life expectancy in North America going from 47 to 82 years of age, and estate planning needs to reflect those changes. 70% of individuals 65+ will live for some time in a long-term care facility, according to an AARP study.

5. Do. Make sure you fill out that Medicaid application with utmost care, and supply all the requested documentation in a timely fashion.

Failure to submit documentation by the requested deadlines will result in a denial, bringing you back to square one. Because Medicaid will only pay retroactively from the date of the application, a denial as result of missing documentation will leave you with an astronomical bill to foot for the ‘pending period’. It is imperative that the application get done right the first time around.

Caring for a loved one can be physically tiring, emotionally taxing, and financially overwhelming. That said, there is help to be had. All it takes is a bit of planning and contacting the right resources so that the right decisions can be reached.

When Should I Take Social Security Benefit?

When should I take social security benefit?A lot of people ponder the following thought when they hit their 60’s… “When should I take social security benefit”?  I read an interesting article recently written by Tom Sightings of the blog “Sightings Over Sixty“.  The blog post was titled “The Best Time to Start Social Security”, and it discussed the variables involved when considering when to take your social security benefit.  The long and short of it is that it’s a gamble either way.  Wait a little longer and your benefit amount goes up… Take it early and you receive less.  There is no easy answer!

When Should I Start Taking My Social Security Benefit?

Tom’s article does offer some good advice when it come to making the decision however.

Tom says a person should TAKE SOCIAL SECURITY EARLY IF:

  • Your income is low and you need the money right away
  • You have a spouse who will be eligible for a larger benefit down the road
  • You don’t believe you’ll live into your 80’s

Tom says person should DELAY TAKING SOCIAL SECURITY IF:

  • You are still working and generating income
  • You are healthy and have a long history of extended years ahead
  • You have large nest egg built up (at least $500K)

Do Not Delay Taking Social Security Beyond The Age of 70

One thing you need to be aware of though is that IF you can wait until 70, it’s a good idea to do so.  Your benefit will be 32% higher than at the full retirement age (which is now 65-67 depending on when you were born).  But we cannot stress this enough.  DO NOT WAIT ANY LONGER THAN 70 TO COLLECT YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT.  There is no incentive to do so.  You will simply be giving up those benefits that you earned over your working years.

If you’re interested in some additional information on social security benefits, see this nice PBS Posting by Larry Kotlikoff.  This article features some interesting questions and answers regarding the subject.

Where To Turn If You Suspect Elder Abuse

Elder Abuse Resources

We’ve all heard the horror stories… Caregiver neglects 82 year old in her care.  Son spends elderly parent’s savings on liquor and motorcycles.  The list goes on and on.  Would you know where to direct someone if they suspected elder abuse?

Well we’re here to tell you!  The Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse has a great resource that provides a state-by-state resource guide that provides hotline numbers, statewide data, and statistics pertaining to elder abuse.  Click the interactive map to link up with this valuable resource.

As always, if you have some strong suspicions, please call your local authorities!  This is an issue that is incredibly under reported.