Did I Retire Too Early? When Is The Right Time to Retire?

Time to Retire

Hit your 60’s and you are bombarded with lots of advice on when the best time to retire and start taking that social security check. Some advisors suggest you should wait as long as possible so that you receive a larger monthly check during your retirement. Others say you should start taking it earlier. They believe that you may be leaving money on the table for the long haul. And still, other advisors may suggest that the wife takes her check early and the husband delays as long as she can. The thought behind this is that most women will outlive their husband. As such when he dies, she will receive his check instead of hers. If he can wait, his check will be larger ensuring a better retirement for his wife.

The Truth is Everyone’s Situation is Different.

My own father was forced into early retirement when he suffered a stroke at age 63. After a couple of years, he took a part-time job doing real estate appraisal work. It was great because he could set his own hours and Mom could go with him and help. It gave them some extra “spend money” for eating out and watching a movie once in a while.

They were able to work into their mid-70’s. And they enjoyed what they were doing. Dad lived to be 91 and Mom 93. Going back to work was a smart step.

A couple of friends have recently taken early retirement. I have changed their names for privacy reasons. But their stories are being played out across the nation.

Bill and Angie Decided to Take Early Retirement.

time to retire

Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

The also decided to sell their “too large” home and move into an RV. They planned to stay on the road for about 5 years and then settle close to their children in Colorado in a much smaller home. Angie was 62 and Bill 63. They started taking their social security check at that time.

“We didn’t need the large home anymore. And we were tired of the upkeep. Getting rid of most of our possessions was freeing. And both Bill and I have not really missed anything.” Angie

But the cost of living keeps rising. Groceries were a lot more than they budgeted for. And the cost of living in an RV is not as cheap as we thought it would be. The gas to pull the vehicle is a lot and the RV rental places are not that cheap. Sometimes they boondock (a term that basically means Dry Camping parking anywhere without or with limited amenities) But places to do this are not always available and they miss having amenities like a place to wash your clothes and to dump your sewage.

The Honeymoon Phase Wore Off

“The first six months were great. It was like being on an extended vacation. But the honeymoon phase has worn off. We are getting bored. And we have to really watch our budget. This is something we have never really done before. A few health conditions recently ate into some of our savings. I think it is time to get back to work”

Since Bill is a master carpenter, he has been able to pick up a few jobs here and there. But the nomadic life does not make it that easy to create some steady work. This couple is now looking for a small affordable home where they can settle down. Bill can get a small customer base.

But Angie worked as a massage therapist and does not see that in her future. “Arthritis in my hands has gotten really bad,” she told me. She is looking into pet care. Dog walking and pet sitting may giver her the flexibility in her schedule she desires and will keep a few extra bucks coming in also.

“I wish we would have stayed at our jobs a few more years. We could have saved more money and our SS checks would be larger. But we can’t look back. We just have to look for opportunities now.”

When Retirement Isn’t Your Choice

Paul and Lisa were in a different situation when they took early retirement. Paul had been laid off from a job he held for 38 years. It is a common story these days. Having worked that long for one company did not make Paul a desirable employment catch he soon found out. His age was already a strike against him and the longevity with his company was strike two. Employers were concerned that Paul may not be able to blend into a new company culture very easily.

After a few rejections, Paul decided to claim his social security check at 62 years old. Both he and Lisa took their checks. And they continued to live life just as they always had done when he was employed.  Big dinners out on the weekends and vacations continued. But they started having to take more and more money from their retirement accounts. Paul’s Mom became sick and when he realized how much it cost to bring in help, he got worried. What if something happened to Paul or Lisa?

From Retired To Working Again

At 65 Paul has returned to the workforce. He is hoping to be able to work until he is 70.  Lisa continues to collect hers. But they both decided that as long as he is working, they will live off his paycheck. Lisa’s SS check will be put into a Roth IRA. This way they will be in a better place when they are ready to retire again.

Planning ahead for all of life’s twists and turns is important to do. The Hilbun Law Firm can help you make sure you are prepared for unexpected health issues. Attend an Estate Planning Workshop today.

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Dementia Diagnosis? The First Step You Should Take

 

 

A dementia diagnosis can bring up a lot of feelings. After all, you will be grieving.  It is not uncommon for someone to become depressed after this diagnosis. And you will probably experience fear. What will the future bring? You may worry about your loved ones. How will they handle this disease? Will you become a burden?

And to make the situation more difficult some days you feel and act like your old self. You may begin to wonder if you really have dementia at all. This is because dementia does not follow a straight-line progression. Instead, it will weave and wind leaving you and your family more confused than ever. In fact, you may think you have a lot more time to make plans than you really do.

Time to Craft a Plan

But time is of the essence with a dementia diagnosis. The truth is you may be very self-sufficient for a number of years. And then a sudden downturn could occur. A visit with an Elder law attorney can help you make a solid financial and legal plan for you and your family.

Medicare Will Not Pay for Your Care

A lot of families believe that Medicare will take care of all of their needs. This is not the case. Medicare will pay for medically related issues. Hospital stays, rehabilitation and a few other medical services may be available to you. But it will not cover bringing in-home care workers to help. It will not cover an assisted living, memory care or nursing facility. These services are private pay.

You May Qualify for Medicaid

Hurricane Season 2017- Stay or Go

Medicaid will cover care in a nursing home and sometimes some home care. But you must qualify. An elder law attorney can help you to look at and analyze the different options that may be available to you. If you are able to qualify for Medicaid they can help you fill out the appropriate paperwork. Also using trusts and other tools, your attorney can help you and your family be in the best position possible when you need more care.

It Takes A Village

A good Elder Law Attorney is connected to other professionals in the community who can help you. They will know about the resources the community has to offer. Furthermore, they may also know about non-profit organizations who can help if you need. Your attorney will be a valuable partner on this journey.

The Hilbun Law Firm offers free workshops just about every week. They are designed to help you get the information you need to make the right plan. Do not delay. Time is of the essence. Options that will be available now may not be available if you wait. Take a look at our schedule now!

 

Yes! Your Parents Finances Are Your Business

 

I am not sure how or why money, especially your parent’s money, became such a taboo topic.

“It was well understood in my home that you did not ask any questions about money. If you did you would quickly be told that it was none of your business. And since I was taught to respect my elders I did not ask. Oh, how I wish I would have!” ~Carol

Carol’s Parents Were Very Proud.

They were also frugal. And privacy was important to them. Carol and her brother had no idea what their parent’s financial situation was. When Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease Carol and her brother tried to broach the topic again but Dad refused to have the conversation. They backed off, not wanting to upset either parent.

 

 

Dementia Creeps In

As with some Parkinson’s patients, dementia was part of the process. It soon became clear that Carol and Jim’s Mom could not take care of their Dad alone. Their Dad was a large man. He was 6’4 and weighed about 240 lbs. He began having a series of falls. And he would get angry and then confused when this happened.

Marie, Carol, and Jim’s Mom was a small woman. She was 5’3” tall and just a wee bit over 100 lbs. There was no way she could lift her husband James when he fell.

Several of the neighbors helped. But Marie hated to be an imposition and James was embarrassed. A few times she even had to call the fire department to help in the middle of the night.

Protecting Their Adult Children

And they kept this information from Carol and Jim. Marie didn’t want to worry the children. Carol lived 4 hours away. Jim lived closer but he was busy with his work and his own family. He stopped by every week or two. But this was not enough to get a clear picture of what was going on.

The Crisis

Then Marie had a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital and had to have surgery. Jim and Carol had their eyes preyed wide open.  Staying with Dad they wondered how their Mom was able to take care of dad this past couple of years.

Getting Answers

social worker

The social worker at the hospital wanted to help. But the problem was without knowing about their parent’s financial situation it would be hard. Mom would stay in the hospital for a week or so and then would be transferred to a rehabilitation facility to heal and get her strength back. 20 to 30 days would most likely be all that Medicare would pay for. After that, the family would be responsible to pay for their care.

The fact is Marie could not continue to try to care for her husband alone. And Jim and Carol both worked and had families to care for also. And it was also clear that Dad needed around the clock care.

There Were a Lot of Care Options.

From home care to assisted living to care homes and nursing homes. And for 24-hour care, the costs ranged from $3500 to over $12,000 per month. And without knowing what their parent’s financial situation was, Carol and Jim had their hand’s tied.

It was pretty clear that Dad could not make the financial decisions. With Marie out of the house, he became agitated and more confused than ever. Though Mom would heal with time and only need minimal assistance, Dad was a different story. James needed someone to assist him 24 hours a day.

Help From an Attorney

Two middle aged friends on a computer.

Luckily Marie was able to recover. She and her children sat down with an Elder Law Attorney to make sure all of the necessary paperwork was in place. Furthermore, their attorney was knowledgeable of the local eldercare community. As such, she was able to refer them to the right professionals who could help. And the good news was, they had a long-term care policy and James qualified for VA Aid and Attendance benefits. The attorney would be able to help them get these benefits.

This is Not an Uncommon Story.

And while this story turned out to have a silver lining, not all families are that lucky. Some may need help to apply for Medicaid benefits. The truth may be that mom and Dad do not have any savings or a long-term care policy to help. These families also need to help of an Elder Law Attorney. Applying for Medicaid is quite a process. Most families need assistance to make sure everything is done correctly. With a couple, it is important that there is still some income for the spouse to live on.

Free Elder Law Workshops- No Charge and No Obligation

Though the details may change somewhat from family to family, many find themselves in this predicament.  Attend one of the workshops that we offer at no charge. Discover what you need to know to plan for the future. Do it for yourself and for those you love. See Our Workshop Schedule

Medical Directives- Helping You Have Control Over How You Die

 

While we all hope that we will just drift away and die in our sleep one day, the reality is this is not what usually happens.

Portrait of beautiful smiling 45 years old woman

Judy and her two sisters wanted to do everything possible to keep dad alive. They were willing to do whatever measures were available to keep him alive. And to keep their hope alive. A feeding tube was inserted to help dad get the nutrition she needed. He was given antibiotics to keep infection at bay. One medical intervention after another was offered. The sisters accepted everything hoping and praying for a miracle.

Their brother John, on the other hand, was appalled. “This is not what Dad would have wanted! We need to let him go!”

His sisters accused him of not caring. The said he was being selfish. And so, the family divide began.

And in the end, Dad died. After all, he was 88 years old. No matter what they tried he was just not able to recover from the stroke he had.

And the damage had been done. His children were no longer speaking.

Do you want life-sustaining treatment when you are nearing the end?

Whether the answer is yes or no to this question doesn’t matter. This is a personal choice. What does matter is that your family knows your wishes? And it needs to be in writing. Everything should be clearly spelled out. There are two documents that you should have in place. One is a DNR and the other is a POLST.

What is a DNR?

DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate. This order alerts doctors, nurses, and emergency personnel that cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should not be used to keep a person alive in case of a medical emergency.  Someone who is ill may want to refuse any life-sustaining treatment. As such they may have a DNR on file with their doctors, hospital and other personnel.

What is a POLST?

This acronym stands for Physician Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment. This is a binding document with your doctor. It is kept as part of your medical files. A POLST declares a patient’s preference for receiving certain life-sustaining treatments. Other treatment options the patient does not want will also be included as a part of this document.

If you do not want to have a feeding tube, antibiotics or to be hydrated you need to make your wishes known. Had Judy and John’s dad had this document in place the family may still be intact. Instead, harsh accusations were made in a time of grief.

This document should be made when you are not in a medical crisis that could affect your decision making.

And there are other documents you also need to have in place. Planning ahead will help your family make the best decisions for your care according to your wishes.

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The Hilbun Law Firm offers free weekly Workshops.  Both evening and lunchtime workshops are available. RSVP for one today! View our calendar.

 

Family Conversations

 5 Family Conversations You Must Have With Your Aging Parents

 

Tis the season when families gather together to celebrate and to give thanks. From Thanksgiving to the 1st of the New Year there are celebrations no matter what your faith. And families are often together for those celebrations.

While some families see each other often others may only connect during the holiday season. Whether you are together often or only a few times a year there are important conversations that need to happen.

Unfortunately, in our society, some of these topics may be considered taboo. If you have aging parents and you have not had these conversations with them now may be the time. While I do not suggest doing this at the holiday dinner table or celebration it is important to schedule a time to talk.

Here Are 5 Conversations That Are a Must-Have.

The Money Talk

“In my family talking about money was taboo. Especially asking your parents how much they have. I sure wish I would have broken that rule. Not knowing put the family in a bind when dad had an unexpected stroke.” Claire

Questions you need to ask include:

  1. What’s their financial situation?
  2. Where are their accounts located?
  3. Do they have Life or Long-Term Care Insurance?
  4. Do they have enough to pay their bills right now?
  5. What if they live another ten or twenty years?
  6.  Do they have a will?
  7. Do you know where the will is, and the name of the estate planning attorney who created it?
  8.  Do they have powers of attorney for finances in place?

The Health Talk

Who is their primary Care doctor? Are there any specialists?

What type of Medicare Plan are they on? (Medicare advantage or Original Medicare with a supplement?) You should know where their paperwork is located.

Do they take medications? For what conditions? You may suggest that they post a list on their current medications on the refrigerator. This will allow for easy access by you or an emergency medical professional who is called in an emergency.

Have they properly documented a power of attorney for healthcare?

The Aging Talk

Grandmother with her daughter

What plans do they have if they are no longer able to care for themselves? Would they be open to going to an assisted living facility or a nursing home? Do they know the costs associated with care at home? Do they know how much they will pay for care elsewhere? And finally, will their funds support long-term care?

If they really want to stay in their home a home assessment is in order. Making the home a safe environment for someone who may have physical limitations can keep them in that home much longer. Falls are the #1 reason that seniors end up in the hospital. Though all falls cannot be avoided, making a few changes at home may eliminate some falls.

What if someone is no longer able to drive? What options are available? Nowadays, there are so many options available. Not being able to drive yourself is not as big of a problem as it once was. A lot of seniors do not want to be dependent on their adult children for transportation. With Uber and Lyfte this is not a problem.

But chances are your aging parent does not know how these programs work.  GoGo Grandparent makes it easy!  When seniors have options that keep them in control, they are more likely to hang up the car keys.

The End of Life Talk

An elderly lady sits pensivel

This is often the hardest talk to have. But there really is no time like the present. Do they have a medical directive or a living will? How do they feel about extreme measures being taken to sustain life if they are incapacitated?

Also, ask if they have pre-planned their funeral. You will need to know where these papers are kept. Are they planning cremation or traditional burial? Ask what is important to them about their funeral?

The Family Legacy Talk

This is a much lighter and brighter conversation to have. What do they want the family to remember about them? Are there family recipes, photo books, treasured heirlooms, videos or jewelry they want to pass along? Are there stories they want to share?

Estate planning attorneys, like the Hilbun Law Firm, work with families and aging issues on a regular basis.  Attending a workshop together is a great way to start getting the conversation going. Then schedule a consultation, your attorney can help you and your parents make decisions. They’ll know about issues you may not even be aware of.

Attend a Free Estate Planning workshop at the Hilbun Law Firm and get this conversation started!

Power of Attorney

Mom Refuses to Give Me Power of Attorney

 

“On top of that, she does not have a will!” Kimm cried

Kimm’s mom has COPD and Kimm is her only child. We recently had the discussion about the need to have different documents in order. Having a will is important and may help you to avoid costly probate.

And You Need Other Documents Also

But there are other documents that may be important to have in place also. A Power of Attorney (POA) is one of these such documents. Kimm’s mother is afraid she will be giving up her ability to make her own financial and medical decisions. This is a common concern among many seniors.

Nothing Could Be Further from The Truth

But Kimm’s Mom Caren has no need to worry. She is in good health and her mind is sharp. As such the document could not be used to override any decisions she might make. However, if she were to become ill or be in an accident the Power of Attorney could be a really useful tool. If Caren were incapacitated and medical decisions needed to be made her daughter would have her hands tied without a POA.

Accidents, a Stroke or Sudden Illness

Power of Attorney

Likewise, if she were incapacitated for a long period someone would need to be able to manage her finances. Bills still need to be paid. Someone who has a stroke could be incapable of managing their finances for months or even longer.

If Caren loves and trusts her daughter to make good decisions for her in a crisis she needs to appoint her as a power of attorney. If she feels her daughter would make poor decisions or not act in her best interest then she should choose someone else to fulfill that role. Without a power of attorney in place, Caren will be at the mercy of the medical team. Her financial situation could also be in jeopardy.

What about Guardianship?

True, Kimm could file to become her mother’s guardian if something happened. However, the process is long and quite costly. At a time when Kimm will want to spend time caring for and loving her mom, she will be frustrated. Having a parent in the hospital is stressful enough. And just going through the legal process can be exhausting. Put the two together and the situation can become overwhelming.

So How Do I Get Mom to Listen?

This can be a real challenge. A lot of how you approach an elderly loved one will depend on your relationship with them. If you describe the relationship as challenging (meaning you butt heads a lot) you may need to have a mediator. This could be a pastor you both like, a valued friend or relative, or an attorney or other paid mediator.

The Key is You Need to Communicate.

You need to communicate how you feel about life, death and everything in between.  You may have different beliefs about medical intervention. One may believe that everything possible should be done no matter what. The other may feel that heroic measures should not be taken when the prognosis is low.

How do you feel? And how does your parent feel? Can you respect their beliefs? Do they have a living will in place to ensure their desires are respected? Having a discussion like this is important. And make sure you are listening. This is not the time or the conversation to try to sway your parent to your way of thinking. Instead, this is a time to learn about their beliefs and desires.

Do You Have Your Documents in Place?

So you want Mom to get all of her ducks in a row. You want to make sure she has a POA, will, Living will and anything else that could be needed. But do you have your documents in place? If you are 18 or older you should. Let’s face it, accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of age.

Attend a Workshop Together

In fact, get other family members involved. Ask mom if she has a friend or neighbor who could be interested too. The more the merrier! This way it will not feel like you are trying to boss her around. And you will all get the facts! If you are getting documents in order for your family it will seem natural for her to do the same. Add other family members into the equation and the idea will be reinforced. Now it is a smart decision that she is making.

The Hilbun Law Firm has weekly workshops. They are no charge and we promise you will have fun learning with us. Remember, what you don’t know will hurt you. See the schedule here.

 

Big Changes for Aid & Attendance Benefits

 

Our veterans have graciously fought for us. We love them,  are proud of them and for many of us, they just so happen to also be members of our families. If that is the case for you or your family, listen up-this piece is for you! Effective October 30th, 2018 the VA pension plan regulations are bound to change.

Aid & Attendance (A&A) and Housebound Eligibility

Long Term Care Options

According to the VA Benefits webpage, VA pension eligible veterans who require the attendance/assistance of another person (ie. a nurse or a family member) may now qualify for additional monetary payment.

 

These veterans must be in eligible wartime service status, with 90 days active duty at least one day within the confines of WWII, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam Era Conflicts, or the Gulf War. This does not replace the pre-existing pension agreement that the veteran already has, but is a supplementary addition to the monthly allowance. The qualifiers are based on the following:

-The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform 2 or more everyday personal functions.

-The veteran is bedridden (ie. the veterans disability/ies require time in bed for a prescribed amount of time)

-The veteran is in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapability

-The veteran’s eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less. This can be in either or both eyes or a concentric contraction of the field of vision to 5 degrees or less.

 

In regards to eligibility for the Homebound, the veteran must be substantially confined to your immediate premises because of a permanent disability to qualify for additional pension payments.

Aid & Attendance and Housebound Ineligibility

 

Because these A&A allowances increase the monthly pension amount, those that are not eligible for basic pensions due to excessive income may not be eligible for these benefits. The veterans net worth is not to exceed federally established Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance, which currently stands at 123,600 USD. The VA will now look back at the finances of the past 3 years to decide whether or not candidates are eligible for these benefits. This is a new addition to VA benefit qualifications.

 

Additionally, Unreimbursed Medical Expenses (UME) are deductible from net worth calculation as they apply, licensed care professionals must provide the UMEs. These UME must not be spent on certain non-care related medical expenses like HI premiums. Family caregiver payments are no longer accepted as valid UMEs unless said family member is properly licensed by the state. In addition to this, a veteran or a surviving spouse of a veteran may not receive A&A and Housebound benefits at the same time.

 

How to Apply

One may apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits by acquiring the services of Hilbun Elder Law Firm to assist with the A & A application process. They will assist with the writing and sending of the documents to your local VA benefits center. To enlist their services, one must come with the necessary documents.

 

Upon arrival, one would be advised to include copies of any evidence of aid and attendance or housebound status. These documents are preferred to be a report from an attending physician that can validate the need for A&A or Housebound type care. A call to Hilbun would help to assess whether or not the documents one has are valid.

 

These documents should provide sufficient detail to determine whether there is a disease of injury-producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to conduct daily living activities without assistance. Examples of activities needing assistance are:

  • dressing,
  • feeding,
  • toileting and making themselves presentable.

 

Regardless if the claim is for A&A or for housebound status, the applicant must present information addressing the abilities of each applicant. This should include information like how well the applicant gets around, where they go, and what they are able to do in a day. It is also important to determine if the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises.

 

Contact Hilbun Elder Law for any other questions or inquiries about the new A & A and Housebound benefits.