As people age and care needs change, many families find themselves unprepared for dealing with the costs and complexities of health care, senior living and asset management. Keeping financial and legal matters at the forefront of your retirement planning is key to making the most of your senior years. Before making any financial decisions, we strongly recommend that you consult a certified financial planner or tax professional.
Here are some financial planning strategies tailored for older adults.
1. Optimize your benefits
Whether you’re planning to use private insurance, long-term care (LTC) insurance, your veteran’s benefits or another third party to cover the cost of caregivers, assisted living or memory care, look for ways to optimize your policies and benefits to support your long-term care goals. Keep in mind that many senior living options are funded by private pay or LTC insurance and are not covered by Medicare.
There may be more resources available than you realize. For example, if you’re the surviving spouse of a veteran, you may be eligible for a federal monthly pension plan that provides up to $2,200 per month to help pay for personal care such as assisted living.
2. Make sure your estate planning is up to date
It’s important to keep your estate plan, will and asset titling updated—and it’s even more important when you’re an older adult. Take time to review your estate plan during major events, such as when laws change, when you move into senior living or when you acquire any major assets. Having your documents up to date can give you peace of mind while protecting and providing for your loved ones.
“It’s a good idea for family members to know what’s going on from a financial standpoint,” said Thomas Saunders, CFP®, financial advisor at CAPTRUST. “Consider hosting a family meeting to discuss your estate plan and any assigned roles, such as power of attorney, as well as financial considerations such as lifetime gifts or specific bequests.
3. Be proactive about planning
When it comes to financial security in your senior years, early planning is key. For example, you should ideally start looking into LTC insurance in your mid 50s to early 60s. In addition, if you want to sell your home and downsize, plan to do it well before you need to move into a senior living community. Being proactive about budgeting can help you maximize your assets, reduce the burden on your loved ones and avoid complications down the road.
4. Review your financial plan and investment portfolio
Financial planning is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Optimizing your investments requires a deep understanding of how your retirement income, pension plan, social security, investment accounts and other assets work together—now and in the future. To minimize financial risk and ensure you have enough money to cover the cost of care, get an estimate of your senior living costs for the next 5–10 years and develop a plan for how to fund. If you are withdrawing from an investment portfolio, consider earmarking funds in a separate account. The pricing of senior living will vary based on your living arrangements and the amount of care you need.
Just because you’re older doesn’t necessarily mean you should move everything into conservative assets. “A rule of thumb is to subtract your age from 120 to get the percentage you should have in stocks,” said Saunders. “However, interest rates and expected returns have fallen for safe assets like government bonds. As your spending needs increase, review your investment allocation to make sure your portfolio can provide for your needs.”
5. Protect yourself against fraud
As identity theft, data breaches and elder fraud become increasingly common, it’s crucial to protect yourself and your loved ones from scammers. According to the FBI, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of fraud or scheme each year. Fraudsters come in many forms and often target seniors because they tend to be more trusting. Many seniors also have financial savings, own a home and have good credit, which make them an attractive target for criminals. Always take steps to safeguard your credit card and sensitive personal information.