By J. Russell Williamson –
Older Americans control a large amount of the wealth in this country and they want to protect that wealth from loss. Seniors are making an effort to stretch their assets out as long as possible. Why? Well, obviously they want to avoid running out of money; but they are also intent on leaving a legacy for their children. As Americans age, many look for ways to preserve, maintain, or transfer their assets to the next generation. Whether the assets are few or many, there are steps that can be taken to maintain a distinct lifestyle while still protecting a future financial gift for children and/or charities.
• According to an article published by the National Care Planning Council, when a spouse dies, income is usually reduced through loss of Social Security income or reduction of payments received by a pension. This can be especially difficult for the surviving spouse. They have to learn to live on less money and have the daunting task of preparing for the years to come.
• Unexpected property loss may result in a drain on your available cash. You might have damage to a vehicle or even to your home. Lack of regular maintenance or sudden damage may result in expensive repairs. (There are strategies for estate preservation that anticipate these losses and help prepare for them.)
• Paying for Medicare supplemental policies, medical co-pays and the cost of prescription drugs can also impact monthly cash flow. Costs associated with aging can also impact the estate. (Strategies can be designed to identify these costs, as well as deal with them while assets are still in place to provide protection.)
• The need for long-term care often occurs at the end of life. Unfortunately, this is the time when assets are already being stretched thin. The cost of home care or assisted living care can be very expensive. Assets that have taken a lifetime to accumulate can be gone in a matter of months. (Strategies can be designed to take advantage of cutting down on the burn rate of these assets when the need for care occurs.)
It is very common for children or grandchildren to put their own lives on hold, sacrificing their own time and income, to care for loved ones in their final years of life. It is only fitting that any assets remaining should go towards helping these family members get back on their feet after their sacrifice of months, or even years, providing care.
Many seniors have worked hard their whole lives to accumulate cash savings, investments and a fully owned personal residence. It does not normally sit well with these people to have to put out money at the end of their lives for such things as health care, long-term care, or maintenance.
They prefer for their children to have the money. Many aging seniors actually forego medical care or maintenance on their home in order to leave more money to their children.
A key deficiency in the process of preserving, or transferring, assets occurs when seniors fail to provide for orderly distribution of assets at their time of death. It may also occur when the senior fails to let their family know what to do when they can no longer handle his or her own affairs. Estate planning, with help from a qualified Investment Adviser, can establish the design and creation of documents providing orderly transfer of assets and property to the next generation. Wills, living trusts, and business arrangements can help avoid estate taxes, income tax, and real estate capital gains. Estate planning also concerns issues of business succession or the potential disability of an owner. Many estate plans are adding final directive or end-of-life documents, as well.
Estate plans need to become more focused on the planning process for long-term care. This should include meetings with potential family caregivers and instructions or checklists for these people. This important aspect of planning is often overlooked. Families should insist on long-term care issues when establishing a quality estate plan.
I welcome the opportunity to introduce myself, and my firm, to anyone who may have financial planning questions, as well as any concerns for estate planning or college savings.
J. Russell Williamson of Platinum Planning, Inc. has been advising clients for two decades. He has experienced the ups and downs of the Stock Market and offers reassuring and stable advice. If you have any questions regarding your assets and security, you can contact Russ at (941) 444-5260. He is located in Sarasota at 2477 Stickney Point Road, Ste 219B; or you can learn more about him by clicking on www.platinumplanninginc.com.