What You Should Know About Accepting an Early Retirement Offer

After you’ve been working your entire adult life, when a company presents you with an early retirement offer, it seems wise to take it. It can even be tempting if you’ve been planning to get out of the job for some time. But you should never accept an offer without first carefully reviewing your options.

Many people dream of early retirement, but the decision to take it can be a complicated one. There are both emotional and financial considerations to evaluate. There is a psychological impact of early retirement. If you are not fully prepared to transition from your full-time job to a more leisurely schedule, the adjustment can be challenging. You can even face more health issues as a result.

Experiencing mental health problems like anxiety is extremely common for someone who has not planned for the transition from working to early retirement. This is why it’s beneficial to determine whether or not you are psychologically ready to make the jump from your job to being retired sooner than you anticipated. Breakdown the offer that you were given by your company to determine whether or not it is worthwhile to retire early. The offer should include a breakdown of this important information and you are in particular interested in any post-retirement medical insurance and a severance package.

Compare the severance package provided by the company to the earnings you would make if you stayed employed. Since Medicare coverage does not begin until you turn 65, you will need to have health care insurance that will protect you from your early retirement until your 65th birthday.

Ready to talk options? Then it’s time to call a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer to discuss more about your retirement and your estate.



I didn’t win the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot.

You can’t win ‘em all, right? At least the winner came from Massachusetts, so that’s something we can all share in. But somehow, I’d rather share in the winnings.

Anyway, shortly after it was announced that someone in Massachusetts hit the jackpot, I came across an article entitled “5 things the Powerball winner needs to do.” Here are the five to do’s:

  • Keep the ticket close. (Makes sense to me)
  • (The author says a lottery winner shouldn’t present his or her ticket to the powers that be before contacting an attorney, financial planner and accountant. Good advice.)
  • Remain anonymous if possible. (Makes a lot of sense to me.)
  • Choose a lump sum or annual payments. (Here the author is referring to the importance of basing this decision on the advice of professionals, such as tax advisors, attorneys, accountants, etc. Again, sound advice.)
  • Take a deep breath. (The author advises not to fill your driveway with Teslas immediately but instead think about your legacy and perhaps make charitable contributions for the betterment of society. I think that’s a great idea, too.)

Unfortunately, last week’s winner didn’t get the memo. We all know who she is, where she worked, and where she lives (or maybe “lived.”) Presumably, she’s heard from quite a few dear friends and family she didn’t know existed until her name and picture appeared in the media. Did she get an email, text, tweet, voice mail or good old-fashioned letter from someone claiming to be her best friend in kindergarten—you know, the one who always happily shared her last cookie with the Powerball winner? I can’t be certain, but I suspect there were a few messages along those lines sent to the winner.

Now, I’m not saying that by failing to follow the five to do’s for Powerball winners our fellow Massachusetts resident is destined for a starring role on the show “The Lottery Ruined My Life.” She’d have to squander an awful lot of money to merit an appearance on that show.

But as an estate planning and elder law attorney, I do hope she works with qualified, ethical professionals to effectively manage and protect her windfall. In fact, a few of the tips offered in the Powerball article are equally applicable to planning for future generations and addressing the important question of whether or not they are equipped to handle sudden wealth.

To read the Powerball article I’ve been referring to in its entirety, visit https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/24/5-things-the-powerball-winner-needs-to-do.html.



Senior Driving Safety, Part II.

There is no single, comprehensive test to determine whether a senior (or anyone else for that matter) is a safe driver. However, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles has put together the following safe driver checklist:

  • Do you have difficulty seeing clearly in the dusk and dark? Do headlights from other vehicles obstruct your sight?
  • Are you easily intimidated by passing vehicles, including trucks and motorcycles?
  • Do you have difficulty reading road signs?
  • Do you have difficulty following construction detours or seeing a police officer on detail near construction zones?
  • Do you have difficulty seeing train crossing signals or hearing train whistles?
  • Do you have difficulty keeping up with the posted speed limit?
  • Do you get drowsy behind the wheel or have difficulty concentrating?
  • Do you have difficulty hearing other vehicles?
  • Do you often get lost on once familiar roads?
  • Do you forget the basics, such as putting on your head­ lights and wearing a seat belt?
  • Are you unsure of your parking skills? Can you parallel park and park in a straight line?
  • Are you unsure of your reflexes and reaction time? Is it difficult to react quickly in certain situations, such as brak­ing to avoid a collision?
  • Have your family, friends, or even police officers told you that you aren’t a safe driver?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, you may want to consider driving less or not driving at all. If you’re still not sure, many hospitals, occupational therapists and rehabilitation centers offer driving evaluations. Here is a link to a comprehensive list of driving evaluation programs and driver training classes in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire: http://www.massrmv.com/Portals/30/docs/Med_Affairs_Brochure.pdf. In addition, the RMV offers free, one-hour safe driving workshops. Visit http://www.massrmv.com/MatureDrivers/SafeDrivingPresentationsSchedule.aspx for a list of upcoming workshops.

If it is clear that you or a loved one shouldn’t be driving anymore, what are your options?

Let’s start with the obvious. Having your family or friends drive you around is fine and many loved ones are happy to do it. But what about that sense of freedom we talked about in my last post? One way to regain some of that freedom is to use ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. However, many seniors are uncomfortable with the technology involved. Ride sharing companies have begun to address this. So, too, have other entrepreneurs.

Here are links to two stories about seniors taking advantage of ride sharing options. This one discusses seniors using Uber: https://senior.com/uber-for-elders/. This article describes a newer company that tailors its services specifically to seniors: https://www.fastcompany.com/3035804/this-ride-sharing-service-is-like-uber-for-the-elderly. And here’s one I really like: https://gogograndparent.com. It’s about a company called GoGoGrandparent, which allows seniors to request rides by making a simple phone call. The company even allows users to purchase gift cards for their loved ones.

I would also like to direct you to a site where you can order free booklets about safe driving for seniors: https://www.thehartford.com/resources/mature-market-excellence/publications-on-aging. These booklets contain a number of excellent articles about the emotional issues involved in losing one’s ability to drive and how to broach this difficult topic with loved ones.

I hope you find these links and articles helpful. Drive safely.


Senior Driving Safety

Remember how exciting it was to get your first driver’s license? It wasn’t the prospect of getting from point A to point B faster than walking or riding a bike that excited you. No, you were thrilled about the freedom and independence afforded by your new license and the opportunity to drive wherever you wanted to go. Now imagine losing your license, or being forced to question your ability to drive safely. Many seniors and their loved ones struggle with this prospect every day. And, the loss of freedom and independence that comes with it.

I recently participated in an interesting seminar about senior driving safety at the Gables at Winchester. The featured speaker was Michele Ellicks from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you what I learned at the seminar, together with some research I have done on my own since then.

Statistically, people actually drive better as they get older… up to a certain point. Overall crash rates for mature drivers are relatively low, in part because many seniors take precautions such as driving only during the day, staying home in bad weather and avoiding rush hour. And let’s be honest—weren’t you a little more reckless behind the wheel when you were 18, 20, 23? You are certainly more experienced now, and considerably wiser.

However, drivers age 70 and above have higher crash rates per mile driven than middle age drivers. The rate of fatalities increases slightly after age 70 and significantly after age 85. Medical conditions, medication usage and reduced physical function can increase the risk of accidents and injury among older adults. Although older persons with health issues can certainly be satisfactory drivers, they have a higher risk of injury or death in an accident, regardless of fault.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has taken some steps to address the problem of senior driving safety. For example, as of September 30, 2010, drivers 75 years of age or older can only renew a driver’s license at an RMV Service Center or AAA office. Medical providers are not subject to prosecution for HIPAA violations when reporting medical information to the RMV in cases where the provider thinks the patient may be an unsafe driver. In addition, anyone can write a letter to the RMV to say a person should not have a license to drive.

Are you worried about your ability to drive safely, or that of a senior you love? In my next post I’ll discuss the signs of unsafe senior driving and the options available to seniors who have lost their license or decided it is best to avoid driving altogether.


Retirement Planning All That Much More Important for Women

Although the saying goes that two can live as cheaply as one, the opposite can also be found to be true for an older woman.

No woman wants to think about how her life might change in her older decades, however, living alone can lead to higher expenses and with longevity numbers higher for women to begin with and the fact that many women shoulder the burden of child care and do not have as much retirement savings as a result, it’s more important than ever to consider how your retirement planning can act with your estate planning.

There are a couple of different things you can do to empower yourself in the retirement planning process as a female. First of all, you need to get organized by maintaining a list of all account logins, numbers and balances. This gives you an idea of where you’ll stand in the event that you were to suffer a sudden life changing event such as a diagnosis of a disability.

Furthermore, you need to prepared to take control for your finances even if you have neglected financial planning in the past. Furthermore, it can be devastating to realize that the pain of losing a spouse can lead to another blow when there was no estate plan in place.

Make sure that you have financial and medical powers of attorney as well as all the crucial documents necessary to protect you, if something were to happen to you or to your loved one. Speak to a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer if you need help talking through the connection between your retirement and estate planning.


Outliving Your Life Expectancy and What This Means for Retirement

Most people entering retirement today know that they may live a long time. Others still can expect a long life expectancy but potentially one that is impacted by one or more long-term care events. That’s why careful planning with a Massachusetts estate planning lawyer can help you look ahead to retirement with confidence and peace of mind should something happen to you.

According to recent research, more than 56% of all women currently aged 50 are expected to live longer than their life expectancy of 83 years. Furthermore, 55% of men are expected to outlive their expectancy as well. Although this might seem a bit strange, this skewed distribution has more people living longer than passing away early.

According to the Social Security Administration’s recent statistics, 30% of all 50-year-old women today will live to see their 90th birthday and up to 90% of men will as well. The most likely age for a 50-year-old man to pass away is 85 and for a 50-year-old woman, this number is 88. A woman is more likely to die at age 92 than her actual life expectancy of 83. These numbers have important implications if you are currently engaged in the estate planning process.

Thinking ahead about how you will fund your retirement and pass on assets to the future should be something you contemplate as you think about the legacy you have established over the course of your life. Ensuring that you have enough assets to support you through your retirement is crucial, but you may also be concerned about the rising costs of long term care.



What You Need to Know About How a Job Loss Today Can Impact Your Future Retirement

Many people across different age categories in the United States struggle financially and a sudden illness or a job loss can have a major impact on their retirement savings accounts. These savings accounts are often tapped into during emergency situations because they provide ready cash. However, withdrawing from your retirement account now can have significant long term costs and many people do not realize the extent to which they can affect you.

According to a study by the New School for Social Research, up to 96% of Americans will experience 4 or more income shocks throughout their life. This is defined as a 10% or higher decrease in pay as a result of something like a sudden illness or a job loss. On their own, an income shock won’t have a devastating impact on your retirement savings overall. However, compounded, this could significantly reduce a nest egg. In fact, having poor health ultimately reduces your retirement savings by more than $34,000 and very poor health reduces it by more than $86,000.

Those repeated income shocks can have an impact of a loss of more than $10,000 and reduce savings across your working career. Planning ahead for retirement and thinking about when you will take action to save for retirement as well as buffering yourself against long term care events are all steps that you need to take now before a problem happens.

Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in MA is just one thing you can do to sit down and discuss how you will protect the assets you’ve already built and opportunities to pass on those assets to future generations.



Long Term Care Increasingly Means Being Managed at Home

The process for long term care and Medicaid is rapidly changing and may shift dramatically in the next several years. Approximately half of all states around the country are currently providing Medicaid long term care benefits through managed care and 13 additional states require older adults to receive care in that same manner. In addition, many elderly individuals who are struggling with healthcare issues prefer to receive care at home anyways.

Since Medicaid was first set up in 1965, the way that care has been delivered has changed significantly. Back at the time of Medicaid’s inception, nursing home was the primary way that individuals who were struggling with a long-term care problem received their benefits. However, many changes have taken place that now allow people to receive more care at home.

Aging in place is one primary goal for individuals who are looking forward to the future but need additional assistance in getting through the day. Struggling with activities of daily living and coping with the impacts of a long-term care event or a recent cognitive diagnosis may require a difficult conversation between family members about how a loved one will be cared for.

Consulting with an estate planning attorney to develop necessary healthcare and other power of attorney documents in addition to discussing long term goals and advanced Medicaid planning can be extremely beneficial. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced estate planning lawyer today to learn more.


The Connection Between Poor Health and Saving for Retirement

If you cannot afford to retire yet, you may need to keep yourself healthy enough to continue working. According to a project released by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, of the 39% of individuals around the world who retired sooner than planned, 29% did so because of less than ideal health. In the United States, 61% of retirees overall retired sooner than they intended to, which was the highest rate for every country surveyed.

Those who struggle with their health have a greater chance of intending to work past age 70, but only a portion of those who plan to will be able to stay employed as health risks jeopardize their options.

Up to 17% of those who reported themselves as being in excellent health intended to retire at 70 years or older or not at all. The survey also found that approximately half of employees in the United States were not adopting beneficial behaviors that would allow them to stay healthy and continue working. This is a critical gap when a person chooses to focus on investing time and energy into their employment but not into keeping themselves healthy.

Although genetics certainly does play a role in these issues, part of your health outcomes can be linked with your individual behaviors. There is a double benefit for those individuals who keep good health in the decades leading up to retirement when they do stop working. If they take care of themselves and then save the money that they would have spent on healthcare expenses, they’ll have more money in retirement and their overall healthcare cost and retirement will be less as well.

Ready to talk about planning for your future with the help of a lawyer? Consult with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney today.



New Study Identifies Giving Practices by Retired Individuals

Looking ahead to your retirement has probably been something that you’ve planned for for decades. You’ve invested in the right accounts, charted out what you might need to support you through older years and consulted with a financial planner and estate planner on a regular basis. A new study conducted by Merrill Lynch identified that nearly half of Americans aged 50 and beyond will overextend themselves financially in order to enable their children to obtain a more comfortable life.

While this may give you greater peace of mind that your children have access to resources that will assist them as they begin their working career, this can also jeopardize your ability to have enough funds in savings to support you through a long and healthy retirement.

Given that many people may also face a long-term care issue at some point after age 65, it is imperative to realize that there may be better ways of passing on assets and enabling your children to receive support. The study identified that parents who are in the retirement phase of their life are giving their adult children up to $6800 per year in order to enable the adult children to live more comfortably.

Nearly 80% of the survey respondents said that they felt that this was the right thing to do. Adult children were the ones who received the most help from a retired family member when compared with parents, siblings, and grandchildren. If you have questions about the best way to plan ahead for your retirement and how to incorporate estate planning into the retirement planning scope, consult with a Massachusetts estate planning attorney today.