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Family Care Agreements

I have been reading more about agreements made between family members for the care of their loved ones.

This “movement” is a natural progression of the aging of an entire generation of ‘baby boomers’ who a) want to stay in their homes b) rely on the services of a family member to help them c) recognize the significant role of a family member who becomes the primary caregiver for a parent/loved one.

The reality of a family care agreement may be more involved than it first appears and such agreements should be considered legal documents.

First, we can explore the TERMINOLOGY:

family care agreements can be known as

family care contracts

care contracts

caregiver agreements

family caregiver agreements

personal care agreements/contracts’

or a myriad of other titles.

For the purposes of this article I will use the title ‘family care agreements” (FCA).

An FCA in general is a written agreement between an ‘older adult(s)’ and a family member.

The agreement will outline the duties and responsibilities of the family member who provides assistance to their loved one(s) and the agreeement will give the specific terms of compensation to be made to the family member.

The adult child (or other family member) providing the care, we will call the ‘Caregiver’

The family member receiving the care, we will call the ‘Recipient’

Note: that is most cases there will be other family members involved in some decisions, e.g. other adult children who cannot or choose not to take on the role of ‘Caregiver’.

On the surface, FCA’s are quite straight-forward, but as with any agreement/contract; the devil is in the details.

It is a question of how to fairly compensate an adult child who has taken on the duties and becomes the Caregiver of an older adult family member (or in some cases a couple)

Consider that there are many variations of the caregiver role:

  1. a) the adult person who assumes the role of Caregiver may be married and their partner may be otherwise employed
  2. b) the Caregiver may live in their own home, but more than likely will move in with the older family member (Recipient)
  3. c) the Caregiver may have been fully employed elsewhere and given up their employment, or they may continue to be employed part-time or work from home
  4. d) there may be additional state supported in-home care available to supplement the role of the Caregiver
  5. e) the Caregiver may have older children still living with them

The variations/issues are as numerous as there are families who have an aging parent/loved one.

One common element is that in most cases the older adult (Recipient) will – over time – require more care rather than less care to remain in their own home.

Duties and Responsibilities:

These should be clearly stated/identified under the terms of the FCA.

Normal duties might include Nutrition; Housekeeping (or supervision of housekeeping); Personal care; Transportation; Maintenance of home e.g. gardening/supervision of landscapers/Repairs, etc.; Maintaining health records and Physician visits.

Will there be limitations/restrictions on the use of the home? E.g. can the Caregiver have Guests? Hold Parties? Start a home-based business? Write checks? Have unlimited use of credit cards?

Note: A good idea is for Caregiver to maintain a daily log/schedule of all activities and how their time has been spent.

Compensation of the Caregiver:

  1. a) Determine what is reasonable and customary in the area
  2. b) Does compensation include room and board- for how many people?
  3. c) Consider/Identify the number of hours to be worked, sick leave, vacation days, holidays
  4. d) What would constitute grounds for termination of the FCA? Of the Caregiver?
  5. e) Consider what modifications of the FCA might be required over time e.g. pay increases

Note: the Recipient in essence becomes the “employer” of their Caregiver.

Consider all issues of how Caregiver will be paid and their compensation package. For the Caregiver – Will there be health benefits; sick leave; overtime pay; medical insurance; liability insurance; tax withholding?  Pension?

Who will handle the finances, issues of social security and taxes, write paychecks?

Undue Influence:

What would constitute ‘undue influence’ e.g. the Recipient bequests large sums of money to the Caregiver? The Recipient gives away valuable items to the Caregiver? Gives loans to the Caregiver?  Places the house into the name of the Caregiver? Buys a life insurance policy with the Caregiver as Beneficiary?

Note: One idea might be to make a complete inventory with photographs of all items in the house, safe deposit, financial statements/documents, etc.  before the FCA becomes effective and update/review the listing annually.

Legal:

Consider the laws of your state as they apply to such contracts/agreements and the enforceability of such documents.

Coordination of the FCA with any existing Estate Planning documents

What impact could the FCA (and payments to Caregiver) have on any Medicaid planning?

Who will hold the power of attorney and make medical decisions?

What are the healthcare directives?

Who will handle annual tax filings for the older Recipient?

Who will handle bank account; check book; pension payments; credit cards, stock transactions, etc.; pay the mortgage? Pay the utilities?

Will the Caregiver be permitted to enter into contracts on behalf of the Recipient?

Consider the “WHAT IFS”:

If the Recipient moves into a health facility, will the Caregiver be permitted to stay in the residence? If so, for how long?

If the Recipient decides to marry?

The Caregiver marries/remarries?

The Caregiver resigns or has an accident in the home?

Family Meetings:

It may be advisable to have a family meeting to draft the terms of the FCA and coordinate with any estate planning that has taken place.

The presence of a knowledgeable, non-family member to ‘negotiate’ any issues between family members could be helpful.

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Older Workers and Job Changes

One of my previous articles made the point that younger workers will change jobs- often as many as ten job changes during their career. (see article titled: Employee Retention and Small Business – March 2017)

These job changes are not only expected, but data show that the changes that younger workers make are either lateral moves or jobs with higher pay; with better benefits or offer more ‘family’ time.

For older workers the pattern is different. Job changes that happen later in life, often are moves into a ‘lesser’ job.  According to a recent * Squared Away research article: Older Workers’ Job Changes a Step Down (March 30, 2017)  “…older workers who switch jobs often take a hit on their earnings and benefits.”

However, on the positive side, these later career job changes are often into less stressful and demanding positions.  And they are positions where an older worker can continue a meaningful career; continue to build social security benefits and delay taking their social security benefits for a longer period.

For more interesting data on late life career changes:   access the Abstract:

Occupational Transitions at Older Ages: What Moves are People Making?By Amanda Sonnega, Brooke Helppie McFall and Robert J. Willis #WP 2016-352

on the Michigan Retirement Research Canter , University of Michigan website (www.mrrc.isr.umich.edu)

 

* Squared Away is published by The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weelby.com for more articles and interesting infographics

Tips For Caregivers and Elder Leave

Our friends at Wiser Women (Womens’ Institute for a Secure Retirement) have offered up another basket of interesting articles.

By the way, Wiser Women is celebrating its 20th Anniversary!  As their website proclaimed: “Together we have helped women across the country access the information, tools and resources they need to achieve greater financial independence, security and dignity in retirement.”

One of the many articles from the website that may interest my readers:  The Real Life Golden Girls Scenario: Over 65 and Working (via Market Watch). According to some statistics – Over 15% of women 65 plus were working in 2015…” – a dramatic increase from prior generations’”

Another article: 7 Money Tips for Caregivers (via WiserPiggy) offers advice to help families who are caring for a loved one.

There is also an article about innovative “elder care leave” programs as part of the more traditional “family leave” programs. According to the article: Deloitte is one of the companies to incorporate elder leave (family leave for those taking care of an aging loved one) as part of its family leave programs.

Will this trend catch on and offer relief to the “sandwich generation”?

You can subscribe to the Wiser Women newsletter. It is free.

Keep in mind that the articles are not only for women! (www.wiserwomen.org)

 

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

 Please read my full disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and interesting infographics

 

 

Mixing Up The Generations

Recently, an interesting headline caught my eye about the “Senior” class of Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona campus. No, I am not writing about those students who are ready to graduate.

There is a movement to build apartments for SENIORS (yes, the older generation) on the campus of the university.

“Arizona State University is looking to put a new twist on senior living in Arizona by opening a retirement community on a college campus.”*

*New kind of senior living: ASU wants retirement community on Tempe campus By Mike Sackley | April 13, 2016 @ 5:15 am KTAR news

Yep, it would be a campus for and of retirees! The proposed ‘senior’ development would consist of 230 units for independent living retirees and 60 units for those retirees requiring assisted living.

The upside: proximity to vibrant young community; promised benefits: ability to audit classes; dining, health club and game room on premises; student i.d. for library use;  concierge services;  possibly even a doctor on call. It will remain to be seen whether all or most of these benefits are achieved by the developers.  Things are currently in the planning stages for the project.

The downside – proximity to community of ‘youth’ with possibly different ideology/values from your own; costs/fees (although these have not been established; the costs of all of the above could be outside the reach of many retirees…time will tell.)

The concept: Although intergenerational developments are not unique, the concept of having such a development as part of a college campus definitely is unique.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more articles and informative infographics

Planning Your Life Is Not Enough

I have often written about having a life plan. I even have a nice infographic about Stages of Life Planning (on my website www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com)

Estate Planning is about having a life plan and yes, it is also about having things in place in the event of your demise. It is about having a plan for the now, the future and the inevitable end- of- life wishes. (See my article “Our Death Denying Culture”)

Thus, when an article came across my computer about Cryonics (cryogenics)– I naturally wanted to know more about the topic of ‘life extension’. Keep in mind that this article is not about religious beliefs, or ethics or the belief of an afterlife. Rather it is taken from an estate planning perspective.

I set my researcher to learn about the various methods that individuals use for dealing with the disposition of our bodily remains and in the process we found various (and some rare) methods that humanity has devised. (These do not include the ancient ones of mummification or the Viking Burial).

Burial – in ground or in crypt – still perhaps the most common in our society of handling the body remains after death. There is a ‘comfort zone’ of knowledge about the process and the religious rituals surrounding burial/grieving/honoring of a loved one. Many relevant options of pre-planned funerals and burial plots are offered. But even this can become contentious if the ‘where’ of the burial is not specified in the will.

Cremation – becoming more common in our society. The retention/disposition of ashes should best be addressed in the will. Is there a family plot? Who in the family will retain the urn/ashes? Is there a wish to ‘scatter’ the ashes? Where?

Burial at sea (Ocean Burial) – previously reserved for Armed Forces, but an alternative for some. According to my research: By international law, the captain of any ship has the authority to conduct an official burial service at sea. However, There are specific regulations: for example- the body must be a set number of nautical miles from shore and in a specific depth, therefore burial at sea requires thoughtful planning/knowledge/experience to follow the deceased wishes.

Cryonics (cryopreservation)– previously reserved for the very wealthy, but now becoming more common. In its simplest explanation it involves the ‘freezing’ of the body immediately at death. There are hefty costs involved, not only in the process, but also of retaining the remains in the ‘suspended’ state. These financial obligations  should be addressed in the Will and estate plan.

Remains sent into space – again an alternative. It is costly and again financial factors need to be addressed in the will and estate plan.

Tibetan sky burial (jahtor) – this method involves exposure to the elements and is rare in our society. It is also not readily available, thus the will and estate plan must be precise as to the ‘how’ of achieving jahtor.

Donation of body to research/teaching/hospital facility – the remains are usually later interred or cremated by the institution. Also, family members be made aware of donation of organs (in case of sudden death)

Green burial (also known as natural burial or eco-friendly burial) – the deceased body is buried in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition and a bio-degradable casket is used. This funerary practice is on the rise in our society as a way to a more simple approach to death. A few cemeteries are setting aside green burial spaces. “As baby boomers head toward retirement and the great hereafter, they’re thinking more about what will become of their remains. And what they’re thinking is what they’ve thought during every phase of life:…” (The Washington Post by Ellen McCarthy. Oct. 6, 2014. “Green burials on the rise…”)

What do these funeral arrangements have to do with the Estate Planning process you might ask? When you prepare your will and estate plan you will most probably give directives about your end- of- life wishes. If you, like the majority of my clients, choose either burial or cremation for disposition of your mortal remains, then family members and loved ones will be within their ‘comfort zone’ of information.

If you choose one of the less familiar alternative methods, you may wish to not only be very clear and specific about your directives, but also consider documenting the personal reason for your choice. It will help loved ones understand and accept your decision.

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

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The Widening Gap in Social Security

According to our friends at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College- “in 2013, the typical working household approaching retirement with a 401(k) had only $111,000 in combined 401(k) and IRA balances… This amount translates into less than $400 per month, adjusted for inflation, which will not provide a sufficient supplement to Social Security benefits.”

If this information concerns you, a good read might be: Falling Short – The Coming Retirement Crisis and What To Do About It – by Charles D. Ellis, Alicia H. Munnell and Andrew D. Eschtruth.  2014. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

The CRR brief (based on the book) published by Alicia Munnell  is available on the Center for Retirement Research website.  I reference the information as the “Munnell” brief.

Why the shortfall in retirement funds you might ask?  The “Munnell” brief explained that increased life expectancy; declining Social Security replacement rates; and the shift of employer retirement plans away from defined benefit are some reasons; along with increasing healthcare costs and the fall of real interest rates.

I would add to that ‘shortfall’ list the fact that some families are helping adult children through economic crises and also paying hefty college fees for their children, thus having fewer funds to contribute to their own retirement savings.  In some cases, the family will actually tap into their 401(k) plans to pay for college tuition for their children.

According to the research, the risk and responsibility (for our golden years) has moved away from government and employers onto the individual.  Another factor for potential shortfall of funds in retirement is that more of your Social Security benefits are subject to taxation.  Statistics from the study show that “in 1985 only 10% of households paid tax on their Social Security benefits, today almost 40% of households pay taxes on their benefits… and in the future that could climb to 50% of households subject to tax on their Social Security benefits.”

How to stop the widening gap in Social Security?  According to the “Munnell” brief:  “The way forward is to convince households to work longer, help them save more, and encourage them to consider tapping their home equity.”  Another thought is that many retirees are electing to return to the workforce to supplement their incomes. (see my previous posts about innovative ‘second careers’ that some retirees have found.)

Keep in mind that retirement savings and planning is only one aspect of your entire Estate Planning Strategy.

Please read my full disclaimer and also “How I Can Help You”

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Fraud and Aging

We have all had them.  The telephone call in the middle of the dinner hour, offering anything from aluminum siding to “credit repair” or bank account “insurance”.  Despite the No Call Registry, caller ID and more robust mechanisms for defeating them, it appears that telephone solicitors manage to find their way into our homes.  One difference is that now their offers are more usually coached in terms of a “survey”.

There are frequent articles that suggest that the older population is more vulnerable to fraud, via telephone or online.  The reasons offered: that there is diminished “thinking”; or sheer loneliness (elderly are more likely to continue a conversation, just to hear a friendly voice).  Perhaps they are not as wary of the technology of the internet as they should be?  Then there is the idea that the elderly become a bit naïve or are not as aware of the possibilities of what a scammer can accomplish with just a bit of additional information (such as date of birth or the name of our bank).

According to the recent “Squared Away” blog (Jan. 15, 2015, The Psychology of Fraud) “With the baby boom population aging at the same time that the Internet has become a haven for hackers, scammers, and invasions of privacy, experts predict that the incidence of online and other fraud against the elderly will continue to increase in coming years.”  That is indeed, a dire prediction.

The reality is even worse, in my opinion.  ANYONE, regardless of age, can be tricked by a scam “artist”.   In some cases, a financial scam is unwittingly “passed along” by a friend or family member who actually believes the new venture or get- rich idea is the real thing.  Often highly educated, wealthy individuals do not want to report the incident (loss of substantial money) because of embarrassment or the “stigma” attached that they could actually be fooled. Thus, the perpetrator is allowed to continue their schemes.

In the Squared Away article, there is data offered by Anthony Pratkanis, a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Pratkanis explains four psychological strategies that con artists use to lure people into surrendering their money:

  • Phantom fixation: a fixation on a sudden windfall.
  • Social proof: if other people are doing it, it must be good.
  • Authority: the person selling the purported money-making venture is highly knowledgeable.
  • Scarcity: there is limited time to snare this one-time offer.”

Apparently these four strategies are powerful enough to work their way into the most wary psyche.

There is also an AARP Fraud Watch Network (www.aarp.org Money/Consumer Protection/Fraud Watch) where you can access numerous videos and articles about fraud prevention. The site offers free access and all the short videos are worth watching.

I repeat – ANYONE can become a victim of fraud or a scam.  Are there steps you can take to protect yourself?  Here are a few steps to consider –

If approached:

STOP – if it is a friend or a family member, you may have to listen to them, but you DO NOT have to make a decision or commitment to contribute money to “the big deal”.

CONSIDER – do you really want to go an “informational” meeting or make a telephone call to get “more information” about the new, great venture?  Will you possibly be coerced into writing a check at the “information” meeting? (Leave your checkbook and credit cards at home!)

DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING – Seek unbiased professional help to review any document you are asked to sign.

RESEARCH – If the ‘big deal’ is that great, there should be some published information about its legitimate success. I mean other than the lovely brochure or grand website – these are ‘biased’. Or have you been warned that the ‘big deal’ is just too good and must be kept a secret? Then, alarm bells should be going off in your head! Again, seek professional help to get real answers to pertinent questions BEFORE you commit.

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future in a Constantly Changing World.

This post has been brought to you through the Law Office of Barbara Ann Dalvano.  This information is provided for educational purposes only and to generate ideas, provoke thought and facilitate conversation.  It is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.  Each person’s situation is different and this information should not and cannot be relied upon as legal, tax, accounting or investment advice.  Please read the entire disclaimer for more important information.

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Is the U.S. Economy In The Midst of The Largest Wealth Transfer Ever Made?

“Various articles from wealth management advisors suggest that the U.S. is on the cusp of one of the largest wealth transfers ever to have occurred in the U.S.

The reasoning is that baby boomers are aging and will “transfer” their immense wealth to the next generations.  Whether this is correct or not, it remains that the methods of transfer of this wealth will have significant impact.  If, for example, there are major philanthropic endeavors by the baby boomer generation, that would have a different impact than, let us say, transferring wealth to grandchildren (i.e. thereby skipping one generation)

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) produces regular reports on the state of the U.S. economy as well as 10 year and long-term projections of the nation’s budget and economic outlook. (www.cbo.gov)

In its analyses, (Sept. 2009) “Will the Demand for Assets Fall When the Baby Boomers Retire?”  the CBO examines a range of developments that could have short- or longer-term consequences for the economy”…. According to the report, “In the decade to come, one such important development will be the retirement of a substantial proportion of the baby-boom generation—the segment of the nation’s population born between 1946 and 1964, whose oldest members turned 62 in 2008.”

“Although the shift in demographics caused by that group’s retirement from the work force might affect the U.S. economy in many ways, this background paper focuses on what could happen in just one area: the demand for assets, particularly financial assets, such as stocks and bonds.”…

“Some economists have warned of the possibility of a dramatic decline in demand as baby boomers sell off their assets to finance consumption in retirement…”

As part of the contents of the 2009 CBO report:

Why Are Baby Boomers Unlikely to Draw Down Assets Rapidly in Retirement?

The responses are that Baby Boomers will be:

Saving for Unexpected Events

Saving for Bequests (p. 6 of article)

Are feeling the Effects of the Financial Turmoil (p. 10 of report)

The report continues: “Several factors suggest that baby-boom retirees, like retirees in earlier groups, are not likely to draw down their assets quickly in retirement. Many will retain their assets as a buffer against high and unanticipated medical expenses and against the risk of outliving their assets. Some will preserve assets to leave as bequests.”

There is also a very interesting chart within the article indicating that the MEDIAN wealth of people 55-64 years old is $200,00 and the MEAN is a staggering $800,000 (in 2007 dollars) (see p.4 of the 33 page report)

It appears that wealth has become highly concentrated in the United States.

According towww.marketingcharts.com: data from the 2007 indicate that baby-boomer households own more than 50 percent of the value of all outstanding financial assets in the U.S. financial market. Further,  “Boomers represent 44% of the US population, and their buying power is considerable: in the next 5 years, they’re projected to hold 70% of US disposable income and buy 49% of total consumer-packaged goods (CPG). (Aug. 7, 2012 article)

In addition, apparently the baby boomer generation quickly became internet- savvy shoppers.

Boomers spend a good portion of their large disposable income over the internet, and those aged 50 and older spend nearly $7 billion per year online. They use the internet as their primary means of comparison shopping for major purchases (such as cars and home furnishings).

Other Findings of the article:

  • The Boomer generation represents more than 80 million US consumers.
  • The 50+ segment consists of close to 100 million consumers.
  • Between now and 2030, the 18-49 segment is expected to grow by 12%, while the 50+ segment will expand by 34%.
  • By 2050, there will be 161 million 50+ consumers, representing 63% growth over 2010.

Another astounding piece of data- of the wealth of the boomer generation comes from www.cnbc.com (July 22, 2014)  “Great wealth transfer will be $30 trillion…”  Yes, that is trillions of dollars!  And “the retirement account balance at the end of 2012 held at $9.5 trillion”

Thus, according to many reports, surveys, articles and statistics:  the boomer generation was a generation of savers, were able to accumulate immense wealth overall, and will be in a position to transfer the greatest amount of wealth of any prior generation.

The mechanisms of this transfer will also have an impact – will the boomer generation utilize mechanisms such as Trusts and Foundations to make those transfers, rather than outright bequests?

The trends seem to indicate, yes.