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Long Life and Estate Planning for Women

Women have unique financial and estate planning issues to consider, as they age. The cities and towns of the North Shore, including Lynnfield, Saugus, Danvers and Wakefield, follow the MA statewide ratio of more women than men.  Also, women tend to marry older spouses and live longer than men, making them three times as likely as men to be widowed at age 65. http://www.estateplanning.com/Estate-Planning-Tips-for-Women  Here are some tips in that regard:

  1. Designate someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you are incapacitated and assume your spouse is gone;
  2. Consider setting up a trust during your lifetime as it may be an important tool to protect your money, if you need long term care or to smoothly transfer assets after you are gone;
  3. You probably have more assets than you think – everyone has an estate; you should decide how much you need to live on year by year and then who gets what after you are gone – have an estate plan;
  4. Tax planning for widows requires planning ahead; consider family gifts or education funds.

commerce-acts-books-477966-mA widow should consider her needs today and for her remaining years. How much income do you have? When to start taking social security? How to invest safely and to make sure the money lasts? There are a number of certified financial planners in the North Shore to choose from.  According to the Financial Planning Association of Massachusetts a Certified Financial Planner can help you:

  1. Set realistic financial and personal goals;
  2. Assess your current financial health by examining your assets, liabilities, income, insurance, taxes, investments and estate plan;
  3. Develop a realistic, comprehensive plan to meet your financial goals by identifying financial opportunities and building on financial strengths;
  4. Put your plan into action and monitor its progress; and
  5. Stay on track to meet changing goals, personal circumstances, markets and tax laws.

In addition, a widow may be able to receive Survivor Benefits from the Social Security Administration.  As a general rule, survivors benefits based on age will be about the same total Social Security benefits over a lifetime, whether they start early or at full survivor’s retirement age. If monthly benefits start before full retirement age, the amount is smaller, to take into account the longer period a person receives them.

Widows’ benefits based on age can start any time between age 60 and full retirement. If the benefits start at an earlier age, they are reduced a fraction of a percent for each month before full retirement age. Also, a widow who collects under her deceased spouse’s benefits and who later qualifies for her own retirement benefit that is greater than her survivor’s benefit, can switch to her own retirement benefit as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. A North Shore financial planner or attorney knowledgeable on the matters can assist you with these issues.

Long term care possibilities should also be considered. To qualify for Medicaid (MassHealth) coverage in Massachusetts you must have no more than $2,000.00 in assets and if you are 65 or older your income must be at or below the Federal Poverty Rate  ($990.00 per month in 2016).  MassHealth will only pay for a nursing home if it is deemed to be “medically necessary”, meaning that you require the kind of care provided by a nursing home.   Long-Term Care Insurance may also help with the costs associated with long-term care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, at home care and more.  A long-term care policy can help pay for expenses and protect your assets in circumstances where Medicaid may not cover the expenses or prevent a lien on your family home.  By consulting with a lawyer experienced with elderly planning and working with a Certified Financial Planner, you can make good decisions to prepare for the future and your long life, even if on your own.