Elder Care

Bad Decisions in Old Age

What if you lose your mental capacity in later years and make irrational financial choices? How can you safeguard your assets from that threat?

After three decades as a financial planner, I see more and more clients reach, not just retirement, but their final years. An issue that becomes especially important at this stage of life is how to protect your financial resources from an unexpected threat – yourself.

Asset Caregivers’ Guides (Pt.2)

Our first article touched on two guides from the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for novice financial caregivers. Here we look at the second pair of guides in the series “Managing Someone Else’s Money” if a friend or family member asks you to help with major money matters.

Asset Caregiver Guides (Pt. 1)

We almost all seem to know someone who helps older family members with financial affairs. If legally appointed to help someone with their money, find out all you can about the potentially confusing role.

To help fledgling financial caregivers, the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) publishes four guides for “Managing Someone Else’s Money.” Each guide addresses a specific role:

Benefits for Surviving Spouses

The death of your spouse creates enough confusion without Social Security adding to the problem – which it does if you don’t play the benefits game right.

When you patch together the variations of survivor and personal benefits, remember that each has its own unique characteristics. The basics of qualifying for Social Security:

Plan for Long-Term Care

Long-term care (LTC) keeps you functioning in the face of devastating illnesses, disabilities and prolonged disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. LTC kicks in when you lose the ability to care for yourself and can no longer do things such as bathe, dress or eat without help. These are three of the six most commonly listed activities of daily living, or ADLs. The care obviously comes with lots of emotions – and rising costs you can start addressing now.

Are You Your Family’s Bank?

Your open heart and your destitute relatives can combine to threaten your retirement savings – savings you soon may need. Learn the true cost to your future before you write that well-intentioned check.

If you’re a baby boomer on the other side of 50, patterns are emerging about how you spend your money – including assets you set aside for retirement. Merrill Lynch recently co-released “Family & Retirement: The Elephant in the Room,” a study of boomers’ contributions to family finances.

Milking the 1% Won’t Work

Once more, we hear calls to soak the rich, a.k.a. the wealthiest 1% of the population. Unfortunately, doing that won’t solve the nation’s economic problems. Most likely, the government will end up slamming a lot of taxpayers whose incomes are far from high-end.

Your Spouse’s Social Security

If you find Social Security spousal and survivor benefits confusing, here are the differences and similarities you need to understand as you make decisions about applying for one or the other.

For one thing, you may be entitled to these benefits based on someone else’s Social Security record, such as your spouse or ex-spouse. No matter the size of your own Social Security benefit, you qualify for spousal benefits and survivor benefits if your spouse has a Social Security retirement benefit on record.

Unsung Social Security Extra

If you are married, you can use your spouse’s Social Security to collect extra benefits, even before you touch your own. This often-overlooked feature may add thousands of extra dollars to your retirement income.

Social Security has a Rodney Dangerfield problem because it just doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It is a great risk-free, cost-free inflating annuity for life. But what’s even better is that married couples have additional ways to increase benefits.

Skepticism on Long-Term Care

Long-term care insurance is over-priced and often sold to people who don't need it. The worst part is that when people have to use it, they’re more likely to feel frustrated, disappointed and dissatisfied than to enjoy the comfort and peace of mind they expect.


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