Life Planning Guide 2022

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Weekend Edition | Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2022 | Life Planning 2022

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Cost of living is a significant component of financial planning. The cost of living may dictate where people live and work, and a high cost of living can influence how individuals spend their free time. Data from Statistics Canada indicates that consumer prices rose 4.1 percent and 5.3 percent in August 2021 in Canada and the United States, respectively. As Canadians headed to the polls in late September, a survey from Abacus Data found that 38 percent felt reducing their cost of living was a key factor affecting their vote. Similarly, a 2020 survey from TD Ameritrade found that 47 percent of Americans feel that cost of living is the biggest threat to their financial security and long-term investments. It’s worth noting that the survey was conducted prior to the pandemic. Since the onset of the pandemic, cost of living has increased considerably. Though the fight against a rising cost of living can feel like an uphill battle, individuals can take steps to prepare for such increases.

Apply lessons learned during the pandemic

individuals to combat higher energy costs and other rising expenses.

Look for a new job or fresh income streams A rising cost of living is a concern for people from all walks of life, but it may be especially concerning for retirees or individuals with costs like childcare that can be hard to pare back. In such instances, individuals can look for new a job or fresh income streams. According to the Q3 2021 CNBC | Momentive Small Business Survey, 50 percent of small business owners say it’s gotten harder to find qualified peo-

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ple to hire compared to a year ago. And nearly one-third of survey respondents indicate they have open roles they have not been able to fill for at least three months. Individuals can explore local employment opportunities in an effort to find a new, more lucrative job that can help them combat a rising cost of living. Others who want to remain in their jobs can look for part-time work to supplement their existing income.

Consider relocating The pandemic forced many companies to transition from in office working to remote working over-

night. That trial by fire could have lasting results. A 2020 survey of 317 Chief Financial Officers and leaders in the finance industry found that 74 percent will move at least 5 percent of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions after the pandemic ends. The survey, conducted by Gartner, Inc., also found that nearly one-quarter of respondents will move at least 20 percent of their onsite workers to permanently remote positions. That could make it possible for millions of working professionals to relocate to regions with a lower cost of living than their current towns or cities.

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A recent Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. government and Eurostat data found that roughly 9.6 million workers in the United States lost their jobs in the first three quarters of 2020. That period coincides with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When forced to confront sudden and unexpected job losses, millions of individuals learned how to get by on less income. Cost-saving measures adopted during the pandemic can be continued or reimplemented, helping


Life Planning Guide 2022 | Weekend Edition | Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2022

How to account for a rising cost of living

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How to determine if it’s time to downsize Downsizing requires careful consideration of a host of variables. No two situations are the same, so seniors should exercise due diligence to determine if downsizing is right for them. Individuals work hard to save enough money to purchase their homes. And the hard work doesn’t end there. Once homeowners settle into a new home, they may set their sights on renovations that suit their individual needs. And even when buyers find a home that needs no such work, maintenance requires homeowners’ utmost attention. All that hard work is perhaps one reason why seniors may be a little reluctant to downsize as they advance through their golden years. In addition to the sweat equity homeowners put into their homes, all the memories they’ve made within their walls can make it harder to put a home on the market. Downsizing is a difficult decision that’s unique to each homeowner. Seniors who aren’t quite certain if downsizing is right for them can consider three key factors to make a decision that’s in their best interests.

Market The real estate market is another factor to consider when deciding if the time is right to downsize. A seller’s market can help seniors get the biggest return on their real estate investment, potentially helping them make up for meager retirement savings. For example, home prices skyrocketed across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, making that a great time for sellers to put their homes on the market. Seniors selling to downsize may capitalize on such spikes since they won’t be looking to turn around and buy larger, equally expensive homes once they sell their current place. If the market is down and seniors can withstand the work and cost a little longer, it may be best to wait until things bounce back in sellers’ favor.


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Perhaps no variable affects senior homeowners’ decisions to downsize their homes as much as cost. No one wants to outlive their money, and downsizing to a smaller home can help seniors reduce their monthly expenses by a significant margin. Even homeowners who have long since paid off their mortgages can save substantial amounts of money by downsizing to a smaller home or even an apartment or condominium. Lower property taxes, reduced insurance premiums and the need to pay for fewer repairs are just some of the ways downsizing can save seniors money.

Space Many people love the extra space that single-family homes provide. But seniors can take a walk through their homes and see how many rooms they still use on a consistent basis. If much of the home is unused, seniors can probably downsize without adversely affecting their daily lives.

John J. Martin Jr. Esquire, CPA

Estate Planning, Corporate Law, Probate, and Elder Law

Voted Best of the Berkshires “Best Law Firm”

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Estate Planning, Corporate Law and Real Estate

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The benefits of maintaining good credit include looking more reliable in the eyes of prospective employers and securing lower mortgage interest rates when buying a home. Those rewards can benefit anyone, but they’re especially enticing to young people. But what about seniors? Do individuals stand to benefit significantly from maintaining good credit into their golden years? According to the credit reporting agency Experian, senior citizens tend to have the best credit scores of any consumer demographic. That could be a byproduct of years of financial discipline, and there are many benefits to maintaining that discipline into retirement.

Home buying and borrowing


Buying a home is often considered a big financial step forward for young people, but that doesn’t mean aging men and women are completely out of the real estate market. In its 2020 “State of the Nation’s Housing” report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Har-

vard University reported that the share of homeowners age 65 and over with housing debt doubled to 42 percent between 1989 and 2019. In addition, 27 percent of homeowners age 80 and over were carrying mortgage debt in 2019. Maintaining strong credit after retirement can help homeowners who still have mortgage debt get better terms if they choose to refinance their mortgages. Even seniors who have paid off their mortgages can benefit from maintaining good credit if they decide to downsize to a smaller home but cannot afford to simply buy the new home outright.

Rewards Retirement is often associated with travel, recreation and leisure. Such pursuits can be more affordable when seniors utilize rewards-based credit cards that help them finance vacations, weekend getaways and other expenses associated with traveling. Seniors who maintain strong credit ratings into their golden years may have more

access to the best travel-based rewards cards than those whose credit scores dip in retirement.

Unforeseen expenses No one knows what’s around the corner, but savvy seniors recognize the importance of planning for the unknown. The COVID-19 pandemic seemingly came out of nowhere, and among its many ripple effects was the sudden job loss experienced by seniors. The JCHS report found that 21 percent of homeowners age 65 and over had reported loss of employment income related to the pandemic. Unforeseen medical expenses also can compromise seniors’ financial freedom. Maintaining a strong credit rating into older adulthood can help seniors navigate such financial uncertainty more smoothly. Such a strategy can help seniors secure low-interest loans or credit cards that can help them pay down sudden, unforeseen expenses without getting into significant debt.

The Law Office of Lynn Morelli

Life Planning Guide 2022 | Weekend Edition | Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2022

Why it pays for seniors to maintain good credit

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We are following all CDC recommendations for the safety of our clients. Attorney Morelli can meet with you by telephone, video conference or in person. Helping people with compassion, honesty and integrity is the essence of the firm’s mission and the guiding principle behind everything we do.

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Weekend Edition | Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2022 | Life Planning 2022

The basics of long-term care insurance Many older adults get some peace of mind by taking steps to finance long-term care should they become incapable of living independently. LT Care Consumer, a health care advisory company, says 70 percent of people over age 65 will require some type of care at some point in their lives. According to the 2017 Cost of Care study by Genworth Financial, the average annual cost for a private room at a nursing home is $97,455. Such costs illustrate why long-term care insurance can be a wise investment. Long-term care, or LTC, encompasses services and support that assist individuals with the activities of daily living. ADLs include bathing, eating, dressing, toileting, and more. In addition, LTC may support needs such as caring for pets, household chores, medicine management, and meal preparation. LTC may be provided by specialized assisted living facilities or by inhome care workers. The resource Long Term Care Primer advises that individuals

typically must fund their own long-term care. Many facilities are not subsidized by government assistance programs under Medicare in the United States. Medicaid may step in for certain individuals who are of limited means, but that assistance may be exclusive to those living in skilled nursing facilities. That means the bulk of paying for long-term care rests on the individual. Long-term care insurance can pay for care to treat chronic health conditions and meet personal needs over an extended period of time. This is known as custodial care. Individuals who have habits or health issues that could result in the need for LTC in the future should look into LTC insurance. LTC insurance also can be a sound investment for individuals who cannot afford extended nursing care out-of-pocket. The Ohio Department of Insurance notes that policies may vary, but they typically include a deductible or elimination period, which

is a time when the policy holder is liable for payment before the insurance begins. Policies typically include a daily benefit as well. This is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay toward each day in the nursing facility; the policy holder may be responsible for the difference. Policies also include a benefit period, or the length of time the policy will pay the daily benefit, which can be a few years or a lifetime. Individuals also have other options in regard to securing longterm care. says comprehensive LTC policies, combination policies and riders to current life insurance policies may help augment long-term care needs. Because LTC insurance — and paying for health care in general — can be quite confusing, people are urged to speak to professionals about their options and whether LTC insurance is necessary. A 2014 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimated that only 20 to 30 percent of

people would benefit from a policy. Researchers concluded that, while many people do need long-term care, they may not need it for an extended period of time and may be able to cover their care with their own savings. Furthermore, cost for policies may be $2,000 a year — which is a concern for some people. Individuals who purchase LTC insurance should know that medical underwriting for policies can be extensive. Coverage may be denied for current or past health conditions. Most people find that the best age at which to buy LTC insurance is in one’s mid-50s. Healthy individuals may be eligible for discounts on LTC premiums. Long-term care insurance is a consideration for older adults facing the potential for care assistance in the future. Because considerable cost is involved, potential policy holders should discuss their options with insurance and financial professionals.


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Why choose us? For years, we’ve focused our practice in estate, trust and tax planning, elder law and Life Care, a frontline care advocacy program for seniors, the chronically ill and their families. We can help you understand all the options unique to your situation while saving time and money!

Paula K. Almgren, Esq. O Kristina Z. Kisiel, Esq. One West Street ~ Lenox, MA 01240 tel: 413.637.5075 | fax: 413.637.5077 |

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Retirement is something millions of professionals aspire to. Retirement isn’t necessarily when a person stops working forever. In fact, many retirees continue working as part-time volunteers and consultants. Individuals have traditionally retired at the age of 65. However, the United States Social Security Administration indicates the normal retirement age (NRA) is the age at which retirement benefits are equal to the primary insurance amount. Primary insurance amount is based on a certain formula that includes year of birth. For most people born in 1960 and later, NRA is 67. Choosing to retire earlier may result in reduced benefits. But people who have financially planned for an early retirement may not view a decline in SSA benefits as a deterrent. If early retirement is a goal, these strategies could make it happen.

Use a retirement formula The retirement planning resource New Retirement says that the basic formula for retirement is to accumulate 25 times your annual expenses and then plan to draw down no more than 4 percent of that value every year. For example, if you spend $50,000 per year, then you need to have $1,250,000 in savings to be able to retire. Budget to realize that savings goal. For those who have trouble calculating retirement figures, utilize

this planner: planner-signup , which offers various retirement strategies.

Trim extra expenses Reduce your spending to put more cash toward your future. Comb through credit card statements and look at various bills to see where you can save.

Reduce your biggest expenses Food, transportation and housing comprise most people’s largest expenditures. Instead of routinely buying new cars, look for certified preowned models, which are equally reliable. Carpool to save money on commutes. Reduce food expenses by shopping sales and making eating out a luxury and not a regular thing. Downsize your home, or rent out a room (or apartment if it is a two-family) to offset mortgage costs.

Consider a government gig or another pension-backed job Pensions used to be part of many companies’ benefit packages, but now they’re harder to come by. Focus employment on companies or careers that offer retirement perks that go beyond what a 401(k) offers. A pension waiting for you may mean you don’t have to do as much personal scrimping and saving for an early retirement.


The estate planning team at Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin is experienced, compassionate, here to listen and ready to help you secure your loved ones’ future and meet your personal goals. Our lawyers strive to provide clients with a positive, inclusive and constructive experience. Please contact our team today to schedule your consultation. With recognized experts in the field, the team at Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin is an affiliate of the elder law associations ACTEC, NAEPC and NAELA.




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Life Planning Guide 2022 | Weekend Edition | Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2022

How to make early retirement a reality 7

Weekend Edition | Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2022 | Life Planning 2022

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How to include giving in your estate plan Charitable giving is the lifeblood of many nonprofit organizations. The generosity of donors helps charities meet their missions and provide vital services to people facing disease, financial hardship and other situations they cannot overcome on their own. Many donors make sacrifices to support their favorite causes and charities. Forgoing certain luxuries so money can be donated to charity illustrates the selfness nature of charitable giving, which can even continue after death. Estate planning is a complicated process that details exactly how a person wants their assets divvied up after death. But an estate plan also can go into effect while individuals are still alive. Each year, millions of people across the globe choose to include charitable giving in their estate plans, and that can benefit charities and donors. The following are a handful of the many ways charitable men and women can incorporate giving into their estate plans.

Bequest giving in a will or living trust Perhaps the most widely known way to include charitable giving in an estate plan is to bequeath money in a will or living will. The Community Foundation Alliance notes that bequests typically allow donors to define how their donations will be spent or utilized. That benefits charitable

organizations, but surviving family members also can benefit from such arrangements. According to, individuals may be able to lower the estate taxes on their estates at their time of death if they bequeath money to an eligible charitable organization in their wills.

Consider a charitable rollover The Internal Revenue Service notes that individuals with an IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA, or retirement plan account generally must begin withdrawing money from these accounts when they reach age 72. These withdrawals are called required minimum distributions and they are considered taxable income. However, individuals who want to give to charity can opt for a Qualified Charitable Distribution, or QCD. A QCD counts toward the minimum distribution from retirement accounts and individuals will not be taxed on the money they donate to charity. That’s a win-win for charities and individuals 72 and over who do not need to withdraw money from their IRAs to meet daily living expenses.

Donate via a charitable remainder trust A charitable remainder trust, or CRT, allows individuals to set up a trust that benefits both a designated beneficiary and a charity or charities of their choosing. When a CRT is set up, a

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beneficiary will receive annual payments from the trust until it terminates, at which time the remaining funds in the trust are donated to charity. The philanthropy experts at Fidelity Charitable note that individuals can name themselves as the beneficiaries of the trust, which ensures they will have an income during retirement and that their favorite charities will be supported when the trust expires. Products and services may not be available in all states. Terms, conditions and eligibility requirements will apply. Life insurance and annuity products may be underwritten by American National Insurance Company, Galveston, Texas. 14-065.87657.V4.01.2019

Life Planning Guide 2022 | Weekend Edition | Saturday & Sunday, March 12-13, 2022

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