Boomers: Have You Planned for Retirement?

Boomers Have You Planned For RetirementCompared to retirees of just a generation ago, older Americans are staying in the workforce longer, and they’re returning to the workforce post-retirement in higher numbers, too. The shift began slowly in the late 1990’s when the labor force started to see an influx of post-retirees looking for work, but accelerated, in part, due to the recession of 2007. The ever increasing cost of living, combined with the negative impact the recession had on investments and home values, meant that SSI/SSD simply wasn’t enough to cover the bills. That left many retirees with no choice but to go back to work.

Though many retirees who were financially pressured to return to work were already receiving monthly social security insurance benefits, some may not have been aware that there were ways they could have increased the amount they received prior to retirement. Had they known, some may not have had to return to work, could have returned to work for a shorter period of time, or could have returned to work but worked fewer hours. If you are planning for retirement, here are a few tips you can use to ensure you receive the maximum SSI benefits available to you so you can avoid returning to work, if possible.

  • Make it Count: Start by confirming that your earnings are being properly reported so you’ll know the taxes that you’re paying into the system are being credited to you. A paystub will give you information, but only by downloading your earnings statement from the Social Security website can you verify that the information on the paystub was correctly reported. 
  • Claim Delay: This isn’t an attractive option, and for some it may be impossible. But, if you are able to delay claiming social security benefits until the age of 70, your SSI benefits will increase by 8 percent for each year you delay the claim after you reach full retirement age. 
  • 35 Years: Since SSI benefits are calculated using the beneficiaries highest 35 years of wages earned, you’ll want to make sure that you work for at least 35 years. Otherwise, zeroes will be averaged in, and that will lower your benefit amount. 
  • Claim Twice: Married couples who have reached retirement age can claim spousal benefits and then switch to payments using their individual work record (once they reach 70). That way, the benefits will increase because of the delay in claiming benefits until after the age of 70. 

Post-retirement Benefits

For anyone who is currently planning their retirement, but is unsure how their SSI benefits might be impacted if they do decide to continue working, the rules are pretty straightforward. As long as you work until full retirement age, you can still receive the full benefit amount to which you are entitled, no matter how much money you earn post-retirement. However, if you claim SSI benefits prior to reaching full retirement age, your benefits could be reduced, depending on your earned income.

The Social Security Administration also reviews the earnings of SSI recipients annually. So, if a beneficiary worked during the previous year and those earnings reflect one of his highest years, the SSI benefits will be recalculated to reflect an increase.

Just as with SSI recipients, if you receive SSD benefits, you can also work, but there are income and time limits. Whether you live in Reno, Rochester, or Raleigh, SSD terms are the same and, like SSI rules, they apply to everyone.

 

With so many older Americans working past retirement age, and returning to work once they have retired, it’s important to know where you stand with Social Security benefits. Educating yourself about the ways to maximize your monthly SSI payment may not completely eliminate your need to work, but you may be able to work less and for a shorter period of time, so you can finally enjoy your retirement once and for all.

 

 

Six common reasons to contest a will

The number of families contesting wills has risen dramatically since the recession. In 2008 some law firms estimated that the amount of wills being contested in court had doubled, or even tripled, in the UK. Studies indicate they have continued to soar since then.

A high proportion of these court cases are caused by incidents which are entirely preventable, meaning thousands of pounds worth of money is being wasted on legal costs every year. Let’s explore some of the main reasons why people decide to contest a will.

Wills are ‘unfair’

The main cause of a will being contested in the UK is that a family member believes that it is unfair on them. When writing their will, some people believe they have the right so spread their money however they like, but that’s not necessarily true. Family members do have a legal right to contest a will if they have not been allotted what they deserve. If the deceased leaves one son out of their will, whilst keeping all their brothers and sisters in, this could legally be deemed unfair.

Lack of mental capacity

Wills can be contested if it is believed that the testator lacked the mental capacity to write a sensible will. If it can be proved that the testator lacked the capacity to understand how much property they owned, the identity of their loved ones or the basic logic behind what a will is then a will could be contested. This type of contest would typically occur if the testator had a mental illness when writing their will.

Duress

If it can be proved that the testator was forced or blackmailed into executing their will a certain way, it can be contested.

Fraud

If the testator was deceived into writing their will a certain way, this could be judged as probate fraud. In this case, there are two main types of deception. The first of these is fraud in the execution, such as making the testator believe they are signing something other than a will. The second type is fraud in the inducement, which could involve deliberately mis-leading the testator in order to change their course of action.

Disputed ownership

If the deceased appears to be giving away something that doesn’t actually belong to them, then this represents strong grounds for appeal.

Incorrectly drafted will

A will can be contested if it is believed that an accidental error was made. This contest might come in the form of a lawsuit against the person who drafted the will. It can be hard to prove though. If the wronged person was left out of the will altogether is not a family member and was left out of their will altogether, they have no grounds for appeal.

The common theme linking all six of these scenarios is that the odds of them occurring are significantly reduced when the testator hires a professional will writing service. These services are staffed with experts on probate law and will can offer advice that can prevent wills being appealed against once you die.

The small fee paid to the professional will writer could save a family thousands of pounds in legal costs later on down the line.

The Importance Of A Power of Attorney For An Elder

Having a power of attorney does not give peace of mind to the elders, but also their caretakers. A power of attorney signifies that a trusted person is empowered to decide about important matters such as finances or health care on the elder’s behalf. If the person no longer has the ability to make sound decisions him- or herself, having such powers in place can be priceless. Today we explore two powers of attorney: to handle financial matters and oversee medical care.

Financial power of attorney

This document is called a “durable power of attorney for finances.” It provides a financial power of attorney. When this is in place, it provides the other party full authority to make financial decisions on the other person’s behalf. In this situation, the appointed person is traditionally called the “attorney-in-fact,” or “agent.” The person can handle routine tasks such as depositing Social Security checks or sorting through mail, but may also be responsible for complex tasks such as filing tax returns or watching over retirement accounts. The person does not have to be considered a financial expert, the most important aspect is that he or she has a good dose of common sense and is completely trustworthy. If needed, it is possible to complete difficult tasks by hiring professional third parties.

Medical power of attorney

This document is often called a “durable power of attorney for health care.” If the elder no longer wishes to make or is unable to make health care decisions, this trusted person is allowed to do so. Depending on the state of residence, the representative will be labeled as a health care surrogate, health care proxy, attorney-in-fact, agent, or something similar. This person works with health care providers to ensure that the elderly person receives the type of care they want. When the agent is arranging care, he or she is legally bound to follow the treatment preferences of the elder in so far as he or she knows what these preferences are.

If it is too late to plan

If you are struggling with a person who is already incapacitated, the process becomes a bit more difficult. You will have to ask the courts to name a conservator or guardian to watch over that person’s affairs. Oftentimes the court will appoint very close family members or a spouse to this position – of course carefully taking into consideration any and all evidence of what the incapacitated person might have wanted. It makes the process more difficult, but can still be arranged.

Approaching the situation

Especially if you see your parents struggle with certain decisions, it is only natural that you feel inclined to ‘take the reigns’ and help them as much as you can. However, it is important to remember that you are legally unable to, and morally should not want to, strong-arm someone into making a decision they are not comfortable with. If the worst-case scenario comes along and you have to ask the court to provide you with control over the elder’s affairs, just remember that this is always preferable to being charged with forgery or fraud later on.

Jonathan Rosenfeld is a nursing home abuse attorney and founder of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers. Much of Jonathan’s law practice involves prosecuting cases where elderly have been injured or neglected during their stay at a skilled nursing facility. Jonathan also has a blog on the topic, where he discussed new developments in this growing body of law www.nursinghomesabuseblog.com

When is the right time to make a will?

Guest post regarding the best time to make a will.

Although it might seem morbid to think about details surrounding your own death, it is an important part of life to plan for dependents and loved ones who you would leave behind.

It can give you great peace of mind to know that family members will be looked after if the worst happens and this is why many people take out life insurance plans and other financial arrangements.

However, the most important thing that needs to be in place is something that many people neglect or feel is unnecessary.

Making a will is actually straightforward and something that everybody should have in place. If you die without a will it can complicate matters or delay proceedings at a time when loved ones are going through a period of extreme stress.

When is the right time to make a will?

The answer to that is quite simple – if you don’t already have one, now is the time to make a will.

Providing clear instructions as to what happens to your estate is essential in order to provide a smooth handover to those you leave behind, and in some cases to ensure that people who you do not wish to benefit are not able to take advantage of the situation.

Probate law

The area of law concerning what happens to someone’s belongings and assets after their demise is called probate. If the deceased person does not leave a will or there are assets that are not covered by the will, this means they are legally intestate.

Executor or Administrator

When a will exists it appoints an executor who can then validly dispose of the property and the estate then goes to probate. If no will is left or any existing one is deemed invalid, administrators are appointed instead.

Both perform similar roles but if there are no instructions to follow in a valid will the administrators are obliged to distribute the estate according to the rules laid down by statute.

Absence of Heirs and Next of Kin

In rare cases of intestacy where there is no heir or next of kin in the UK, the Crown has the right to property and land.

Under the rules for distribution of estates without a will where a child under 18 would be the sole beneficiary, the Court or District Probate Registry normally appoints a minimum of two administrators.

The above is a very simple explanation of the basics surrounding wills when it comes to UK law. Anyone thinking of making a will should take advice from Co-Op Wills Services who will be able to explain how the law affects their own individual set of circumstances.