Keystone Law Firm - July 2018

W hen people approaching retirement are asked about their biggest fears, debt consistently ranks near the top of the list. That’s with good reason. According to finance company Comet, roughly 80 percent of American adults have some amount of debt. Many Americans will retire with a mortgage, car payment, or some other form of financial obligation. Obviously, retiring debt-free is the best outcome, but it’s simply not realistic for many people. That said, a little planning can go a long way toward making debt manageable after you stop working. Ideally, paying down debt should begin while retirement is still far off on the horizon. High-cost consumer loans, like those on credit cards, should be the debts you tackle first. A good rule of thumb is to start with the debt that has the highest interest rate. The longer that debt sits, the more you pay in interest. Many of these debts are not tax-deductible, so there’s no point in waiting for the optimal time to pay them off. As you get nearer to retirement, you should take a look at your mortgage and be ready to do some math. Because mortgages are tax-deductible, you may be in for a significant rate decrease once you retire. While the best strategy Meet the Team! BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO Debt Can Ruin Your Retirement, This April, Keystone Law Firm added two new members to our stellar team. In case you have not had a chance to meet them in person, we thought we’d introduce them to you here! Leah Ellsworth, Associate Attorney What do you enjoy most about your job? meeting many wonderful clients. It is really rewarding to help others accomplish their estate planning goals, whatever those may be. Has Arizona always been home? Yes. I am an Arizona native! What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I wear many hats. Aside from being an attorney, my favorite roles are wife and mommy. All of my free time is spent with my amazing husband, our sweet toddler, and our two dogs. Our favorite activities include playing outside — when the weather permits — dancing, exploring new places, and getting together with friends. What’s an interesting fact about you? If I weren’t an attorney, I would want to be a writer. It’s a dream of mine to have a book published one day. Since I had my son, my The people! Every member of our team is outstanding both professionally and personally. I have also had the pleasure of

for you may be different than your neighbor’s, there are a few principles that apply to all cases. You need to be sure that your

payments during retirement will be manageable on your reduced income. You should also never cash in 401(k) or other retirement accounts early to pay off your mortgage, because you’ll incur serious fees for an early withdrawal. As you transition into retirement, you should reevaluate your budget. The more expenses you can reduce, the longer your resources will last and the less stressful any outstanding debt will be. You should also set aside at least three months of emergency funds if possible so that you won’t need to use credit if something unplanned happens. Retiring without any debt may not be an option for you, but that shouldn’t stop you from proactively planning to decrease debt before you stop working. Like the proverbial monster under the bed, debt is a lot less scary when you’re willing to stare it straight in the face. husband and I have talked about creating a children’s book. He’s a great artist, and I love to write, so we’d like to come up with a fun story for kiddos. Jeannie Barnes, Intake Specialist What do you enjoy most about your job? I really enjoy speaking to clients and assisting them in determining their needs. Has Arizona always been home? I’m originally from Inland Empire, California. I have been living in Arizona on and off for about 15 years. What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I enjoy reading and spending time doing arts and crafts with my children in my free time. My children’s favorite activity is to work with paint, and our most recent activity was painting ceramic pots in which to plant herbs. What’s an interesting fact about you? An interesting fact about me is that I am also a hypnotherapist. I look forward to getting to know our clients and growing with Keystone Law Firm. KEYSTONE’S 2 NEWEST MEMBERS

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