Beckett Law - December 2018


UseThis Upcoming Year to Properly Plan Growing older is a fact of life, but as the new year rolls around, people often find themselves pondering their own life journeys. Some follow the “new year, new me” adage by setting resolutions and working hard to achieve them, while others sit back and reflect on the years that have passed. No matter how you ring in the new year, our team here would like to encourage you to think about protecting your future as one of your New Year’s resolutions. You can plan ahead by preparing a few simple legal documents to ensure that your medical and financial wishes will be carried out by someone you know and trust if you find yourself unable to speak or act for yourself someday. One of the ways you can do this is by granting someone “power of attorney.” Health-Care Power of Attorney You may appoint a health care representative through a health care power of attorney . This representative will be allowed to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. You can give this person broad or limited powers, which can include the ability to consent to surgery, withhold medical treatment, and hire or fire doctors and other health care personnel. We recommend you give a copy of this document to your primary care physician so that it is already in your chart if needed. Financial Power of Attorney You may appoint someone to handle your financial affairs through a financial power of attorney . Again, you can give someone very broad powers, covering the right to open your mail, pay your everyday expenses, file and pay your taxes, maintain your property, collect benefits, and invest money. Or, you can limit the powers to a specific action, such as signing documents at a real estate closing that you cannot attend in person. A financial power of attorney is a very powerful document; we recommend you only sign one original and that you know where it is at all times to minimize the opportunity for misuse. We believe these documents should be drafted with the particular person and situation in mind and are strongly against using preprinted forms which may not be fully understood. These documents protect you and should be taken seriously. If you don’t have POAs in place, or if they’re more than a year old, please give our office a call at 860-236-1111. We can help you make this simple New Year’s resolution come true.

Planning for and navigating retirement is the most pressing financial concern for older adults. While understanding how to budget and spend as you approach and enter retirement is crucial, it’s far from the only issue that seniors face. Last year, a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) investigated the most commonly reported complaints the organization had received from adults age 62 and older. Aside from retirement savings, here are the five major issues reported by seniors. Debt The number of seniors and retirees with debt is at an all-time high. Many seniors carry excessive debt in order to ease the burden on their children and grandchildren. Some still have student debt from their college years or other outstanding loans. Others turn to credit cards to defray a surprise cost like a medical emergency. If you’re in danger of falling behind on payments, contact your lenders before opening a new credit account. Reverse Mortgages Many seniors have reverse mortgages, which allow them to buy into home equity provided they repay it when the property is sold. In this mortgage structure, however, people still need to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. These mortgages can end up being a trap for seniors, which is why Jean Setzfand, a senior vice president at AARP, refers to them as a last resort. Scams and Identity Theft Sadly, many identity thieves and cybercriminals target the elderly. While your credit report can be corrected after such an event, many seniors are unequipped to deal with the process. The best defense is to check your statements often to ensure that any foul behavior is caught as early as possible. Confusion Regarding Fees Many seniors reported charges they didn’t understand to the CFPB. Often, they were signed up for subscriptions they didn’t use or weren’t sure how interest was being calculated. As with identity theft, monitoring your statements for unusual charges is the best way to avoid this source of stress. Loss of a Spouse The loss of a spouse presents challenges much greater than the financial burden, but that is often a major part of navigating the death of your partner. Accessing bank accounts and other assets can prove difficult, especially if it was the deceased who primarily managed the finances. Working with a financial planner or elder law attorney can help make this process less daunting.


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