End-of-life care is not always the most comfortable topic to discuss, but it is a necessary aspect to consider when seniors are coordinating their finances. Estate planning for seniors should not be a challenging subject, but many people find it hard to keep track of all the elements that asset protection can involve. From trusts to tax reduction and everything else in between, asset protection for seniors can be a simple process for many seniors. It bodes well to consider this topic sooner rather than later, but it is never too late to kick into asset protection mode. Here are a few of the topics to discuss with an estate planning attorney when learning about asset protection for seniors:
Trusts. Consider setting up a trust fund for children or grandchildren. Trusts protect financial assets in the event that an individual passes away without a will. To prevent their assets from automatically benefiting the next of kin, a trust is a more customized way in which to ensure that benefactors receive exactly what the senior would like to give them. Trusts are also tax-deductible. The money put into building a trust fund is tax exempt, while qualified withdrawals are also tax exempt.
Tax Reduction. Many seniors qualify for tax breaks and other discounts without even knowing it! In order to save as much money as possible during the retirement years, verify if the senior qualifies for the following tax deductions:
- Out of pocket medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of the adjusted gross income can be deducted quickly and conveniently on a Schedule A form.
- For seniors who are downsizing to a smaller home, the first $250,000 profit of the home sale is tax exempt. That number can reach as high as $500,000 for seniors who file jointly with a spouse.
- In itemized deduction lists, seniors can also deduct contributions to Roth IRA or 401(k) accounts, as well as many other expenses related to personal contributions.
- Don’t forget about deductions that apply universally, too! The standard deduction and charitable donations deductions still apply, no matter a senior’s age.
Budgeting. At any age, budgeting can be a daunting task. It can be especially difficult, however, when operating on a fixed income or with a set amount that decreases, rather than increases, over time. As such, consider tips or tricks to save money, rather than spend it unnecessarily. The good news is that many seniors have already practiced saving money by contributing to a retirement fund. Now it’s time to spend it appropriately. To do that, look for senior discounts wherever they are offered. Sign up for an AARP membership, which pays for itself almost immediately. And the great news is if a senior signs up, their spouse will be automatically enrolled for free. Other suggestions include couponing and if possible, setting aside a portion of a social security check each month for a small splurge later on. For instance, seniors can look forward to a trip, a dream car, or another purchase that the senior would really enjoy but might be putting off because of costs.
Estate Planning. There is more to estate planning that simply setting up a trust or a will. In order to make the best decisions possible, consult with an estate planning lawyer to create the best estate plan for a senior’s assets and lifestyle. An estate planning lawyer will advocate for selecting a guardian and custodian. These individuals function as safety checks for seniors in the event the senior is unable to make a medical or financial decision on their own behalf. Choose someone who can be trusted to make those decisions in the senior’s stead. This is an opportunity to discover what the goals are for the senior’s finances, as well as develop a close, trusting relationship with the guardian and/or custodian.
It is also important to develop a trusting relationship with the estate planner, who will also be making decisions in conjunction with the senior regarding the assets in question. Follow their advice, and make sure to budget appropriately, look into those tax deductions, and start as soon as possible. Seniors who are reading this article are already on the right track for estate planning success.
To learn more about estate planning for seniors, contact an estate planning lawyer today to schedule a consultation.