retirement planning

Why You Might Consider a Professional Trustee

Why You Might Consider a Professional Trustee

One of the most vital decisions to ensure preserved legacy and proper estate execution is electing the right professional or family trustee for investing and properly distributing your estate. Being well-organized, well-rounded, and functionally capable of administrating your trust as per the document, and having a clear history of integrity concerning investment and legal issues are desirable characteristics of a trustee. Whether or not the family member named as the trustee is willing and capable of undertaking the long-term responsibility necessary to manage your trust assets is a big consideration. The family member can always hire a tax professional, lawyer, estate professional, or financial planner to assist them. However, you should still be confident that the selected trustee has sufficient financial skills and temperament to make quality decisions that will best benefit the well-being of your family. Most estate experts favor designating trusteeship to an adult child or spouse, just so long as there’s a cordial family dynamic and the relative shows financial competency.

Aside from financial know-how, common reservations frequently involve the health of potential trustees and rivalries or conflicts among primary family members. These reservations may spur concern beyond whether the potential trustee has the knowledge of applicable financial matters, and create questions of whether potential trustees have the emotional stability and diplomacy skills to serve as sole trustee of your estate. In the event that you have even the slightest reservation about fully trusting a family member to solely execute your estate, you might consider obtaining the services from a professional trustee; a trust company for example.

The following elements and information might be helpful for those considering pursuing a professional trustee, such a corporate fiduciary or a bank:


Select A Professional Trustee For Complex and Larger Estates

Most people are usually more likely to name a family member as a trustee in cases where their estate is small and financially simple. On the other hand, people with a large or financially complicated estate that’s difficult or overwhelming to administer are more apt to benefit from utilizing a professional trustee with the necessary skill, knowledge, and time needed to properly manage the complex interpersonal, tax, and investment issues of the trust.


Consider A Professional Trustee When Family Members Lack Good Dynamics And Financial Skills

After evaluating the dynamics of your family and the financial skills of potential trustees in relation to tax management and securities, you might find that potential familial trustees lack the ability to carry out the provisions and terms of the trust in a manner that would best suit the needs of the beneficiary, such as in minimizing estate and income taxes and investing funds for a maximum return. If you lack confidence that your family can get along or oversee the trust in a manner that best benefits your named beneficiaries, you might consider naming a family member as a co-trustee to a professional trustee -or- naming a professional trustee as sole trustee.


Choose A Trustee Based Off The Intent And Purpose Of Your Trust

Evaluate the intent and purpose of your trust, assess professional fees, and choose a professional trustee accordingly. For example, a trust with an objective to oversee asset distribution to minor and young children, might be best accomplished under a professional trustee that is keen and flexible to the evolving needs of the trust. Another consideration might be having a professional co-trustee to serve as a check and balance system for decision making in larger estates and trusts that involve a blended family dynamic.

In closing, keep in mind that a professional trustees will most often be accompanied by an annual fee, most often based on the specific responsibility of the trustee and a percentage of the trusts’ value. That said, choosing the most appropriate professional trustee can give you the peace of mind that your estate or trust will be handled with care and knowledge.

5 Tips for Beating the Retirement Blues

5 Tips for Beating the Retirement Blues

Retirement can be an exciting new chapter in a person’s life. But for some seniors without partners, the idea of facing retirement alone can be frightening. Being single and retired can make people feel unsure about what to do next. After all, they expected to spend this part of their lives as part of a couple pursuing all of the things they had put off in their earlier years. However, the death of a spouse, or divorce has changed that expectation, and now these single retirees are left wondering how to go on.

If you are facing retirement alone, it’s important to remember that being single and retired doesn’t mean that your best days are behind you. You can still enjoy an active life and beat those feelings of loneliness.Here are five tips to help you:

  1. Learn all of those things you always promised yourself you would if you had the time – Browse the Internet for courses you can enroll in online. Find out what adult education courses your local high school/college offers. If you always dreamed of pursuing a college degree, this is the time to do it. Try a creative hobby like gardening, or painting. Keep yourself intellectually active and involved and you won’t have time to feel depressed.
  2. Find new friends – If you have a hobby, or activity you enjoy, see if you can find a local club dedicated to that activity/hobby. If not, try organizing your own group. Many venues like the local library offer meeting space to groups. You can also contact your local high school/college’s adult education program to see if you can teach a course about your hobby.
  3. Adopt a pet – Animal shelters are always searching for loving homes for abandoned animals. Pets provide unconditional love and companionship for those who care for them. Just be sure that whatever animal you adopt, you have enough money and time to properly care for it.
  4. Look for a significant other – You may find romance by joining a singles group at your church or at the local senior center. These groups are designed to allow people to meet in relaxed situations while engaging in organized activities such as card games, trips, and dances. Even if you don’t find romance, joining one of these singles group will provide you with a place to meet other people and a lively social calendar.
  5. Volunteer – Most non-profits depend upon volunteers to accomplish their missions, so they are always actively recruiting. Becoming a volunteer will not only give you a sense of accomplishment, it can also give you the opportunity to pursue a job you always wanted to try.

How to Choose a Retirement Community

America is home to millions of seniors over the age of 65—and their numbers are rapidly increasing. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, there were more than 39 million seniors in 2009. They expect the senior population to increase to more than 72 million by 2030.

While disease and age-related health concerns will require some seniors to move in with relatives or take up residence in nursing homes, many others want to live on their own for as long as possible. If you’re among them, buying or renting property in a retirement community is a viable way to eliminate the burden of home maintenance while preserving your independence.

Of course, selecting the right retirement community can be challenging. From 55+ and 62+ neighborhoods featuring single family homes to apartments within a senior housing complex, you’ll find numerous types of residences from which to choose. Fortunately, you can make the process easier if you consider the following factors before signing on the dotted line.

Your health – Do you suffer from decreased mobility? Do you need assistance with day-to-day activities or are you able to bathe, dress, shop and cook for yourself? If you’re in excellent health, an independent living retirement community may be right for you. On the other hand, if you need help with chores or find it difficult to get around, you may want to consider an assisted living retirement community.

Location – Whether you prefer to walk, drive or take public transportation, a retirement community that is close to shopping, dining and entertainment can make getting out and about easier. While some communities have onsite fitness centers, pools and cafeterias, maintaining a connection to the outside world is beneficial for many seniors.


Adaptability – If you plan to live in this home throughout your senior years, you’ll want to make sure the property you purchase is adaptable. Most seniors lose some mobility as they get older, which can make navigating stairs and standard bathrooms difficult. Unless the property allows you to add outdoor ramps and adaptive devices—such as bathroom grab bars—to the interior, you might want to pass.

Residents – Whether you’re looking for a retirement home or a neighborhood reserved for senior homeowners, get to know more about the people who reside there. What is the average age of the residents? If most are older than you are, you may find the community provides fewer of the services those in younger age groups desire. Ask about community-sponsored activities and events.

Rules – Like any neighborhood or apartment complex, retirement communities come with rules. Some of the most important to consider—especially if you have grandchildren—are those regulating visitors. While many communities welcome visitors under the resident age limit with open arms, others restrict the number of days your children and grandchildren may spend on your property. Additionally, not all retirement communities allow pets.

Your retirement years should be among the best of your life. If you’re concerned about the possibility of declining health as you age, long-term care insurance can relieve some of your worries. Talk to your insurance professional about your options today.

Older Drivers Can Save on Auto Insurance

Older Drivers Can Save on Auto Insurance

Savvy seniors know how to save money. They may curb extraneous spending, order the Early Bird Special at restaurants, or use their AARP membership card at movie theaters, hotels, airlines and retail establishments to secure substantial AARP discounts. But did you know there are ways for older drivers to obtain substantial savings on auto insurance as well?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), licensed drivers ages 65 and up numbered 33 million in 2009. While driving during your senior years can help you maintain your independence, the risk of injury or death due to an automobile accident increases as you age. In fact, in 2008, 5,500 seniors were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Another 183,000 were injured.

Learning to drive defensively can reduce your chance of becoming involved in an accident—and some insurance companies offer their senior customers a discount off their normal rates if they complete a driver safety course. The AARP Driver Safety course will teach you defensive driving techniques in addition to refreshing your understanding of the rules of the road. You can find a classroom course in your area at or sign up for online study.

Of course, you don’t have to stop there. From adjusting your coverage to buying a new car, there are other ways you can reduce your senior auto insurance costs. Consider the following:

  • Paying your insurance premiums annually can save you money – If you’re able to make your yearly auto insurance premium in one payment, you’re likely to receive a discounted price. Make payments bi-annually, quarterly or monthly and the cost will go up.
  • Combining policies usually results in savings – If you obtain any combination of homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, long-term care insurance and auto insurance from the same carrier, they’ll generally offer you a multi-policy discount.
  • Driving less can help you save as well – Some carriers offer discounts to low-mileage drivers. If you no longer have a daily commute and only use your vehicle for errands around town, check with your insurance professional.
  • Adjusting your coverage can also help – If you’ve paid off your car and it is worth less than ten times your annual insurance premium, experts suggest dropping collision and comprehensive coverage can yield substantial savings.
  • When you buy a car, choose one with the newest safety features – Air bags, automatic seatbelts, antilock brakes and daytime lights can all add up to premium savings at some insurance carriers.
  • You should also consider a low-profile vehicle – If you choose an automobile that is expensive to repair, notoriously easy to steal or has a poor record for safety, any insurance carrier is going to charge you a higher premium. Instead, check out vehicle risk ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at

If you currently have an auto insurance policy and are not receiving any discounts, talk to your agent. If your insurer does not offer a means to reduce your rates, you can always contact your insurance broker and shop around for new, money-saving coverage.

Take a Walk!

Take a Walk!

The results are in and we now know without a shred of doubt that lack of physical activity is a risk factor for many diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular disease, several common cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis. But you can combat these conditions with the simple act of walking. Walking not only helps keeps illnesses at bay it can also elevate your mood. The benefits of walking are numerous!

Need a good reason to get started walking?  Studies have found that walking:

  • strengthens your heart
  • prevents type 2 diabetes
  • improves cognitive function
  • strengthens your bones and helps to prevent osteoporosis
  • alleviates symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer
  • improves fitness and helps to maintain a healthy weight

Regardless of whether you’re just a beginner at walking for exercise, or if you’re already established in the habit, these tips can help you get the most from your workout:

Check with your doctor before starting a walking program, especially if you have a chronic medical condition.  A medically supervised walking routine will ensure you are on the best path to good health for your specific needs.

  • Invest in some good walking shoes, paying close attention to the fit and quality of the shoes.  Shoes should have a slightly elevated heel and good arch support.
  • Always warm up at the beginning or your workout.  Begin walking slowly, and pick up the tempo as you go.
  • Use good posture, keeping your head up, back straight, and abdomen flat.
  • Carry water with you, especially if you are walking for a long distance or in warm weather.
  • Evaluate your heart rate and breathing.  Walk at a brisk pace, being careful not to overdo your workout.  You should be able to carry a conversation while you are walking.

So what are you waiting for? Take a step in the right direction. Go for a walk. Join a health club. Get up off the couch and do something. It just may lengthen and improve the quality of your life.

Reverse Mortgage Alternatives

Reverse Mortgage Alternatives


For many retirees, the equity they have in their homes makes up a large portion of their net worth. In fact, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 80 percent of Americans over 65 own their properties outright. This makes a reverse mortgage—a special mortgage product that allows those 62 or older to liquidate their equity—particularly attractive to those with a shortage of other retirement income. They can receive funds in a lump sum or as monthly payments, and they don’t have to pay them back until they move out or pass away.

Unfortunately, this type of mortgage is not the right answer for every cash-poor retiree. Closing costs tend to be higher than you’ll find on a traditional mortgage. You must have enough income to pay your property taxes and maintain the property properly. And, if you borrow early, it’s quite possible your equity will run out before you do.

If you’re looking for ways to use your home to help fund your retirement, give us a call before you settle on a specific course of action. In addition to a reverse mortgage, you may want to learn more about these alternatives.

Alternative: Refinancing your existing mortgage.

If you’re still paying down a mortgage balance, a refinance might enable you to lower your monthly payments. Of course, you’ll also extend the total time before you own your home by 15 or 30 years depending on the type of product you choose. This means you’ll pay more interest overall. And to qualify, you’ll need enough income and assets to prove you have the ability to repay, and a good credit score.

Alternative: Take out a HELOC.

Short for home equity line of credit, a HELOC is another way to tap into the equity you have in your home. Much like a reverse mortgage, the amount you can receive will depend on how much your property is worth and how much you currently owe (if you’re still paying down a loan). You can also take the credit all at once or draw on it as needed—but you’ll have to make payments towards the balance and interest each month.

Alternative: Set up a REX agreement.

A REX agreement basically allows someone else—namely the organization REX & Company—to invest in your home. In exchange for 20 to 50 percent of any increase in value between the initiation of the agreement and when the property is sold, you can receive a cash payment of 12 to 17 percent of the home’s current market value as determined by an independent appraiser. The amount of money you’ll receive is based on the value of your home, the share you choose to sell, the condition of the property and your financial history.

Protect Yourself Against These Social Security Scams

Protect Yourself Against These Social Security Scams

Social security scams are common, as they prove lucrative for scam artists. Not only can such individuals trick seniors into sending money for alleged services, but they can acquire personal information that can lead to identity theft . Here are a few scams that have fooled many.

Direct Mail Scams

Some seniors have reported receiving letters on letterhead allegedly from the social security office informing them they have an extra check awaiting them. The letter then asks seniors to provide personal information and a “filing fee.” The thieves often ask for the recipient’s bank account information and social security number. Note that while the Social Security Administration often sends legitimate mail, they will not ask you for information that they already have, such as your social security number. They also do not require fees. Any suspicious letters should be followed up on with the local social security office before taking any action.

Phone Scams

If someone is asking for your social security number or personal details on the phone, chances are it’s not safe. A good rule is to never provide personal information over the phone. If for some reason it appears necessary, seniors can always call the Social Security Administration and ask for details about the request.

Internet Scams

A common form of social security scam is when thieves send an email stating that seniors social security information needs to be updated. The person is told to click on a link, which takes him to a webpage that has been carefully constructed to resemble the authentic government website. There, the senior is directed to enter personal information such as his social security number and bank account information.

A good rule of thumb is to always verify any requests for personal information that do not originate from a phone call initiated by the senior. Since such information is almost always the goal of these scams, seniors should always be suspicious when anyone asks for it.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, and social security officials are likely to be understanding when seniors ask for verification of requests for such information.

Travel Insurance Tips for Seniors

Travel Insurance Tips for Seniors

Traveling to another country and experiencing a health problem is no fun. Unfortunately, the likelihood of getting injured or coming down with a bug often increases when one travels, due to the fact you are engaging in new activities and being exposed to unfamiliar bacteria. Without the right travel insurance, it can turn into an absolute nightmare. While some countries provide quality inexpensive health care or have reciprocal agreements with the United States, this is not typical.

At the very least, your travel insurance should provide for emergency medical treatment. This should include room and board at the hospital and ambulance services in addition to fees for the emergency treatment self.

Ask your insurance agent about adding extra benefits to your travel insurance. Some insurers, for example, offer the coverage so that family members can afford to fly to be at your side in the event of an accident.

Emergency medical evacuations can cost over $100,000, depending on which country you’re being evacuated from. If you will be traveling to a country  that doesn’t have the standard of medical care you feel comfortable, adding this coverage to your travel insurance is an absolute must.

If you intend to travel to a political hot spot, make sure your insurance includes injuries resulting from an act of terrorism. Not all insurance covers medical problems or property damage resulting from such events, so it is worth it to double check.

When purchasing travel insurance, don’t forget about coverage other than medical. Consider purchasing insurance that provides for trip cancellation as well as loss of baggage and other personal effects.

Finally, make sure your travel insurance covers preexisting medical conditions, as the last thing you need to happen is to get to Casablanca and discover that your insurance doesn’t cover blood sugar issues that have arisen from the combination of your diabetes and the consumption of too much couscous.

Don’t be shy about asking your agent about all of these factors before making a decision.  They will be happy to help you find the policy that is right for you and your travel needs.

Common Job Hunt Mistakes Seniors Make

Common Job Hunt Mistakes Seniors Make

If you’re past traditional retirement age but unwilling to give up the 9-to-5, you’re not alone. According to a study from Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, 72 percent of pre-retirees over the age of 50 say their “ideal retirement” picture will include a job. Forty-seven percent of current retirees have worked or plan to seek employment during their golden years.

Interestingly, the study also found that 52 percent of working seniors took a break between their pre-retirement job and post-retirement work. These sabbaticals averaged 2.5 years, and usually required the retiree to conduct a new job search—a process often fraught with mistakes no matter one’s age. Consider the following errors common among those over the age of 50—and how to avoid making them.

Losing connections – You held a career for multiple decades and now you want to relax for a while. No one says you can’t, but if you intend to seek part or full time work after some time off, you’ll want to stay visible and connected in your industry while you do so. Keep in touch with former colleagues and use social media to build new relationships. You might even want to take on a little consulting work; it could lead to a new job when you’re ready.

Avoiding the Internet – These days you need an online presence if you want to land almost any job. While this doesn’t mean you have to spend all your free time writing Facebook posts or Tweets about your day, a LinkedIn profile is a valuable job search tool every senior should have. In fact, in one survey, 94 percent of the HR professionals questioned said LinkedIn was their number one source for recruiting candidates.

Writing a book instead of a resume – In most professions, a resume more than one page in length is going to overwhelm (or worse, turn off) the people doing the hiring. Experts have said that recruiters spend only 20 to 30 seconds scanning the resumes they receive, so limit yourself to the last ten years, make ample use of bullet points, and use data-based examples (such as “lowered department overhead 45 percent”) to illustrate your accomplishments.

Using an old email account – If you’re still sending out resumes from an AOL or Yahoo email address, potential employers are going to assume you’re behind the times. Create a new account using Gmail or Outlook. You can name it whatever you want as long as it’s not already taken—just keep it professional. To get you started, consider an email address that contains your name and profession, such as “robertwhitesales” for example.

Being a salary stickler – Sure, it might feel insulting to be offered less than you were making before you retired, but there are negotiating tactics you can use to beef up your compensation without demanding a specific dollar amount. For example, ask for the work schedule you want, flex time, more personal days and other benefits that will enable you to continue enjoying more of your retirement after going back to work.


Ways to Avoid Outliving Your Retirement Savings

Ways to Avoid Outliving Your Retirement Savings

Life expectancy in the U.S. recently hit a new high. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, it’s currently 78.8 years on average—or 81.2 years for females and 76.4 years for males. That’s great news—unless you’re struggling to put money way for retirement. The longer you live the more you’ll need, though there are ways to stretch your nest egg a little further. Consider the following suggestions to help you avoid outliving your retirement savings.

Overestimate your lifespan. Unfortunately, many retirees underestimate how long they’ll live by at least five years—saving less aggressively as a result. They also overestimate how much they can withdraw each year without dangerously depleting those savings. They wind up living on social security and the charity of family and friends.

When calculating your retirement savings needs, it’s best to err on the side of caution and plan to live longer than even your doctor expects you to. Then you’ll be able to make a more informed decision on how much you can spend each year. The advice of a financial planner can be a big help.

Choose a safe pace for withdrawals. Even just a few years ago, many experts considered withdrawing 4 percent each year to be safe. That meant if you had $1 million in your retirement account, you could take out $40,000—plenty for a senior to live on. Your nest egg would last at least 30 years as a result.

Unfortunately, low interest rates, combined with the potential for lower returns in today’s market environment, require an even more cautious approach. You’ll find experts advocating initial withdrawals of 3 percent per year or even less.

Consider an income annuity. Also known as immediate annuities, income annuities involve depositing a lump sum of cash with an insurer who then sends you a monthly payment—for as long as you live—that is not based on market performance. You can check out current annuity rates at A 65-year-old woman would receive close to $800 per month for a $150,000 investment at today’s rates.

Of course, when you purchase an immediate/income annuity, you essentially give up access to your money. You cannot tap it to pay for unexpected expenses, nor can you leave it to your heirs. Seek the opinion of a trusted financial advisor before buying.

Take a personalized approach. With the help of a financial planner, you should be able to customize your retirement savings and withdrawals to take advantage of the upsides of various strategies while avoiding their downsides. For example, you could try to cover essential retirement expenses with Social Security and then make up the difference with an immediate annuity—covering discretionary outlays with draws from the remainder of your savings.

This will give you the flexibility to react to changing retirement needs and market conditions—reducing both the chance that you will outlive your nest egg and the possibility that you’ll still be sitting on a big pile of cash when you finally pass on.

Whether you’re still preparing for retirement or have already embarked on that great journey, we’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us whenever you need retirement planning or other financial advice.

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