• What You Need To Know About Financial Elder Abuse
    Let’s start with a definition. Financial elder abuse, also known as material exploitation, is the illegal or improper use of an elderly person’s funds, property, or assets. Examples of this type of abuse include, but are not limited to:   Cashing an elderly person’s checks without authorization or permission Forging an older person’s signature Misuse or theft of an older person’s money or possessions Deceiving or coercing an older person into signing any document, such as a contract, will, title, etc. Telemarketing scams. This can involve making exaggerated claims about investment returns, scare tactics and other fraudulent acts to get seniors to send the perpetrator money or credit card information The improper use of conservatorship or power of attorney   It is estimated that every year some five million seniors fall victim to financial elder abuse. The number of victims may well be considerably higher. Many seniors are unaware that...
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  • Aggressive Moves You Can Make In Your Forties To Reach Long-Term Financial Goals, Continued.
    Here are three additional ways people in their forties can maximize their retirement savings. Don’t skimp on your retirement savings to pay for your children’s college education. Why? Simple. You or your children can borrow money to pay for college, but you cannot borrow money to pay for retirement. In addition, when investing for retirement, time is indeed money. The more you can invest early on, the greater the likelihood that you’ll have more money when you retire. Also, working longer, say well into your sixties, may not be an option. Corporate downsizing and/or health problems could limit how long you can work. The fact is, saving more than you need for retirement will allow you to help pay off your children’s student loans when you do retire. Make the most of what your employer is offering. Your employer may well be offering more than a paycheck. For example, some...
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  • Should Seniors Enroll In A Medicare Advantage Plan Or Stick With Traditional Medicare?
    An article by Wendell Potter on medicareresources.org discusses the advantages and disadvantages of Medicare Advantage plans versus traditional Medicare in providing adequate care to seniors. For some people, particularly those without serious illnesses, Medicare Advantage may be the best choice. This is because some Medicare Advantage plans offer benefits not provided by original Medicare, such as dental coverage, vision coverage, hearing aids, gym memberships and more. However, elderly Americans with serious ailments might be better off sticking with Medicare. Similarly, people who are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and develop a serious ailment might want to drop the Medicare Advantage plan and return to traditional Medicare. Why? Medicare provides what the article refers to as “unfettered access” to treatments and physicians. That is, people on Medicare have greater access to doctors and facilities of their own choosing. Another potential problem with Medicare Advantage plans is they empower Utilization...
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  • Aggressive Moves You Can Make In Your Forties To Read Long-Term Financial Goals
    An article in Kiplinger discussed an aggressive approach to financial planning in your forties. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights. Make saving for retirement a priority and beef up your investments. You’ll want to start by making the largest possible contributions to your employer’s retirement plan. At the very least, you should put enough into your company’s retirement plan to take full advantage of its contribution matching program. A word of caution—if you put all your retirement savings into tax-deferred accounts, you might get hit hard by taxes when you retire. That’s because withdrawals from 401 (k) plans and traditional IRAs are taxed at the retiree’s ordinary income tax rate. This makes contributing to a Roth IRA a good idea. Your contributions are after-tax, but your withdrawals are tax-free as long as you are over 59½ and have owned the Roth IRA for five years or more....
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  • Reverse Mortgages Seem To Be Winning New Respect
    Ten years ago, many financial advisors dismissed reverse mortgages out of hand. Their reasoning was that reverse mortgages, which give homeowners an advance on their home equity and allow them to delay repayment until the home is sold, were risky and only for people in desperate financial straits. However, several safeguards have led some advisers and researchers to reevaluate reverse mortgages and explore when and how they might be used in financial planning. For example, the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013 prevents homeowners (in most cases) from taking all of their equity at once, which could reduce the default rate on reverse mortgages by half. Instead, homeowners with reverse mortgages must wait at least one year to take a lump sum. Other regulations require homeowners to show that they are able and willing to pay their property taxes and home insurance. In 2014, almost 12% of reverse-mortgage borrowers in...
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  • ATM Skimming – Yes, It Could Happen To You
    It’s all so convenient. You go to the gas station, insert your debit card into the reader at the pump, fill up your car, and you’re on your way. Or when you need some pocket money, you simply go to the nearest Automated Teller Machine (ATM), swipe your card, take your cash and go. Thanks to modern technology, there’s no longer any need to waste time waiting in long lines at gas stations or banks. Thieves also love the convenience of gas station card readers and ATMs. They’ve come up with some ingenious ways to use them to gain access to your bank account information, and therefore, your hard-earned money. It’s called ATM skimming, and the crime requires just two easily obtained components. The first is the skimmer itself. This is a counterfeit card reader, which is placed over the ATM’s actual card slot. When you swipe your card through...
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  • Worried About Running Out of Money In Your So-Called “Golden” Years? Continued
    In this post, we continue our discussion of protecting your nest egg in retirement. Tap retirement accounts in the proper order. Lacking a sound withdrawal strategy can be costly. According to Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, Chief Strategist for Consumer Education at Charles Schwab, the most tax-efficient approach is to first draw down the principal from maturing bonds and certificates of deposit, since they are no longer bearing interest. After that, if you are 70½ or older, you should take your required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional tax-deferred accounts, like IRAs and 401(k) plans, with a focus on assets that are no longer appropriate for your portfolio or overweighted. This is because you will be subject to severe penalties from the Internal Revenue Service if you fail to take your RMDs on time. Next, you’ll want to sell from taxable accounts, since you only have to pay taxes on their capital gains. (It...
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  • Taxes on Social Security Benefits and How to Avoid Them, Continued
    An article on kiplinger.com offers some strategies to avoid, or at least mitigate, taxes on Social Security benefits. Withdraw money from your tax-free Roth IRAs. Tax-free withdrawals from a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) are not included in your adjusted gross income. Rolling over money from your traditional IRA or 401(k) to a Roth IRA years before you start receiving Social Security benefits is an excellent way to avoid taxes later in retirement. Of course, you will have to pay income taxes when you make the conversion, but you can tap the account tax-free after that. Purchase a Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract. You can invest up to $130,000 from your IRA or 401(k) in a deferred-income annuity called a Qualified Longevity Annuity Contract (QLAC). The money in your QLAC is ignored when figuring your required minimum distribution, so you can reduce the size of your distribution, lower your income and...
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  • Worried About Running Out of Money In Your So-Called “Golden” Years? You Are Hardly Alone
    Americans are living longer than ever before. That’s great news, but it has a downside—the possibility of outliving our life savings. According to the Social Security Administration, a 65-year-old man can expect to live to age 84, on average, while a woman of the same age may make it closer to age 87. So if you retire at the age of 62, your nest egg may have to last for at least 20 years. Sure, Social Security will provide an income stream, but the amount is not enough for most retirees to live comfortably. Little wonder, then, that according to a survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, the most frequently cited retirement concern among Americans is outliving their savings and investments. In the survey, 44% or respondents across all ages expressed this fear, as compared to 41% of retirees. In addition, 47% of retirees believed they had not...
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  • Taxes on Social Security Benefits and How to Avoid Them
    Many people are surprised to learn that their Social Security benefits can be subject to federal taxation. Whether your benefits are taxed depends on what is known as your “provisional income.” This is your adjusted gross income (not counting Social Security benefits) plus nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefits. For people filing as individuals or heads of household with provisional incomes of less than $25,000, Social Security benefits are not taxed. For couples filing joint returns, the figure is $32,000. Unfortunately, individuals with provisional income of between $25,000 and $34,000, or couples filing jointly with provisional income of between $32,000 and $44,000, up to 50% of Social Security benefits may be taxable. In the case of individual filers with provisional incomes above $34,000 or joint filers whose provisional incomes exceed $44,000, up to 85% of Social Security benefits may be subject to taxation. The information above concerns...
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