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Advising the 60+ Investor: Tax and Financial Planning Strategies / Edition 1

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Overview

Thanks to healthier lifestyles and medical advances, seniors are living longer than ever. And now, with the baby boomers approaching retirement age, the demand for financial advice for the 60+ investor is skyrocketing. To fully and effectively serve the needs of this rapidly growing group, financial advisors need a source of information that is comprehensive, reliable, and timely.

Advising the 60+ Investor offers tax and financial planners an authoritative resource for the financial concerns of those who have retired or are about to retire. Drawing on the combined expertise of tax, finance, and accounting professionals, this remarkable book makes it easier for financial advisors to present their clients with a full range of planning strategies and to provide practical advice custom tailored to their clients' individual circumstances. An abundance of detailed, real-world examples illustrate many of the most common financial situations faced by older investors, and handy computation aids and data tables make calculations clear, quick, and straightforward.

The broad, comprehensive scope of Advising the 60+ Investor includes:
* Basic Financial Planning—Investor objectives, asset allocation, insurance requirements, and related topics, such as reverse mortgages and post-retirement employment.
* Pension and Annuity Income—Distribution options from retirement plans and their taxability, including IRAs, annuities, and lump-sum distributions.
* Social Security Benefits—Calculating the amount of the benefits; worker, family and survivor benefits, taxation of benefits, Medicare and Medicaid.
* Transfer of a Closely Held Business—Owning a business and transferring ownership/control of a family business to the next generation: proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations; private annuities, family limited partnerships, and businesses transferred at death.
* Estate Planning—The estate and gift transfer tax system, the basic goals of estate planning, estate planning techniques, marital deduction planning, and grantor retained interest trusts.
* Marriage and Remarriage—The marriage penalty, Social Security benefits, estate planning, and maximizing the exclusion of gain on the sale of both homes.
* Miscellaneous Provisions—Important general tax issues affecting older taxpayers, including the additional standard deduction, the credit for the elderly and disabled, deductions for medical expenses, multiple support agreements, life insurance proceeds, endowments contracts, the tax consequences of volunteerism, and much more.
* Designed to meet the needs of busy investment advisors, financial planners, accountants, and attorneys, Advising the 60+ Investor is an invaluable resource and essential addition to the professional financial advisor's reference library.

NOW YOU CAN TARGET THE SPECIFIC FINANCIAL SERVICES YOUR 60+ CLIENTS NEED IN THEIR RETIREMENT YEARS.

Researched and written by three tax, financial, and accounting experts, Advising the 60+ Investor provides planners with a comprehensive resource for advising the older investor. Timely and authoritative, this essential reference covers the full range of topics that concern this rapidly growing population group. Such areas as financial planning, asset allocation, pensions and annuities, Social Security benefits, the transfer of a business, estate planning, marriage and remarriage, life insurance, medical benefits, and related topics receive detailed and practical coverage. Real-world examples, computation aids, and data tables support the text and help make this an indispensable addition to your professional library.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471333531
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/28/1999
  • Series: Wiley Financial Advisor Series , #1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.41 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

DARLENE SMITH is an associate professor of taxation and financial planning at West Texas A&M University. She is a CPA and has served as a tax manager at Peat Marwick.

DALE PULLIAM is a CPA and a former professor of accounting at West Texas A&M University.

HOLLAND TOLES is an assistant professor of finance at Southwest Texas State University

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Table of Contents

Financial Planning.

Pension and Annuity Income.

Social Security Issues.

Transfer of a Closely Held Business.

Estate Planning.

Marriage and Remarriage.

Miscellaneous Provisions.

Index.

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First Chapter

Advising the 60+ Investor: Tax and Financial Planning Darlene Smith, Dale Pulliam, Holland Toles 0-471-33353-0 Chapter 1: Financial Planning Note: Equations and charts from this sample chapter do not appear on the web. This chapter is designed to provide the tax professional or other financial advisor with an overview of important financial planning and investment issues for people nearing or in retirement. Since clients often turn to their tax professional for advice on these matters, it is important for tax advisors to be aware of the important issues and questions. Tax professionals have often been serving clients for several years and are therefore in a good position to understand a client's financial picture in an objective manner. It is important to become aware of potential problems before they become problems -- rather than doing so after the fact. The key issues are as follows: * Does the retiree have enough investment assets to provide the desired retirement income (after considering other sources of retirement income, such as Social Security and company pensions)? * Will the client, spending at current levels, outlive his or her income? * Is the client's investment portfolio structured in a way that is appropriate for his or her financial situation? This chapter is designed to help the advisor approach these questions. The first part of this chapter is a discussion of asset allocation and investment considerations relevant for those at or in retirement. If the reader desires detailed information on topics regarding investments and portfolio management, excellent sources are available (see Zvi Bodie, Alex Kane, and Alan J. Marcus, Investments, second edition, Homewood/ Boston: Irwin, 1993; and John L. Maginn, CFA, and Donald L. Tuttle, CFA, eds., Managing Investment Portfolios, second edition, Charlottesville: Association for Investment Management and Research, 1990). Considerations regarding insurance are reviewed. Finally, other sources of income, such as reverse mortgages, are considered. For detailed information on financial planning topics, excellent sources are also available (see David M. Cordell, ed., Fundamentals of Financial Planning, third edition, Bryn Mawr, PA: The American College, 1996). Asset Allocation The Importance of Asset Allocation Asset allocation refers to the mixture of broad asset classes in an investor's portfolio. In a simplistic sense, one can think of asset allocation as the overall ratio of bonds versus stocks in the investor's portfolio. An aggressive, growth-oriented portfolio (designed for a younger investor saving for retirement) might contain as much as 80% stocks. Short-run safety of principal would be sacrificed for longer-term growth opportunities. On the other hand, someone in retirement, who needs his or her portfolio to provide significant levels of income on a relatively risk-free basis, would hold a greater percentage of bonds and other income-producing investments in his or her portfolio, perhaps 80% or more in many cases. Stability of capital would be much more important for such an investor. Asset allocation has a tremendous impact on the risk and return characteristics of a portfolio. Studies have shown that about 90% of a portfolio's risk/ return profile is determined by asset allocation, and only about 10% by the actual securities that were selected within the broad asset classes. Therefore, it is important to focus on the client's overall portfolio mix, and not necessarily on his or her individual security holdings. Setting appropriate asset allocation guidelines requires a review of the client's investment objectives and constraints. A portfolio can then be designed to best meet these needs. These objectives and constraints are discussed in the next section. Investor Objectives and Constraints Return Requirements and Risk Tolerance What are the client's objectives with regard to rate of return and risk tolerance? Obviously, all investors want high returns without taking risk, but the laws of economics usually prevail against such outcomes. Sadly, to achieve higher returns, investors must be prepared and willing to bear higher levels of risk. Perhaps the best place to start when examining an appropriate asset allocation is the investor's risk tolerance. Is the client bothered by fluctuations in value of his or her portfolio? Has the client tended to focus on safe or insured investments in the past, or does he or she have experience with riskier investments? Some clients may have discovered equities fairly recently, and as a result may have unrealistic expectations regarding the risk of these investments. On the other hand, those who experienced the 1970s and the associated debacle in financial assets are aware of the downside risk of bonds and stocks. What are the investor's return requirements? Consideration must be given to the client's level of wealth, other sources of retirement income, and goals regarding retirement lifestyle. Retirees need to earn a return high enough to produce the necessary income over time, but their assets also need to grow to offset inflation. However, a client's desired rate of return, given realistic capital market expectations, may not be achievable in some cases without taking inappropriate levels of risk. In such cases, retirees may need to reduce spending requirements in conjunction with accepting a lower but safer return on investment. In addition, given the success investors have had with financial assets over the better of two decades, it is not uncommon for clients (and investment professionals) to have unrealistic expectations about the risk/ return nature of the financial markets going forward. More will be devoted to this issue later. Constraints The retiree's investment portfolio needs to satisfy risk/return requirements within the context of various constraints. How much income does the client's portfolio need to produce? Investors who need significant levels of income need to be positioned in more of a "distribution" mode, rather than an "accumulation" mode. Income-producing securities and higher-dividend- yielding stocks (and mutual funds that pursue those investments) would be more appropriate than growth-oriented investments. This is because, if the investor were heavily positioned in equities, income requirements would necessitate a certain amount of liquidation of stocks if the dividend yield does not generate enough income. Forced liquidation of equities in a bear market, however, will do great damage to the intended long-run rate of return. Although some exposure to equities is warranted for most investors, clients who require significant cash distributions should position their portfolios to exhibit less volatility. What is the investor's time horizon? Retirees may seem to have short time horizons, but in reality they need to plan as if they will live to ripe old ages. They do not want to outlive their income. Investors who have longer time horizons can generally afford to be more aggressive and should seek growth. Younger investors saving for retirement are often encouraged to maintain extremely growth-oriented portfolios. This is because they have time to ride out the ups and downs in the stock market, and also because they can correct for investment mistakes by saving more and working more. On the other hand, those already in retirement should adopt a more conservative approach to their portfolios. If they must rely heavily on their investments to provide retirement income, they cannot afford significant short-run losses in their portfolios caused by overexposure to equities. Reductions in the value of the portfolio will necessitate reductions in spending levels. Investors with very short time horizons require much more safety of principal. It should be noted that those in their 60s, although at retirement age, should not necessarily be viewed as having short time horizons. They may need their portfolio to provide income over a period of 40 years or more. Tax considerations play an important role in determining appropriate investments for retirees. Those whose investments are concentrated in tax-deferred retirement plans have the luxury of avoiding taxes on their investments until income is distributed. If investors have investments outside of tax-advantaged plans, taxes must be considered. One important area where the investor's tax situation must be considered is the decision whether to invest in municipal bonds or taxable bonds. To examine whether a client should invest in municipal securities instead of taxable counterparts, one can calculate the taxable equivalent yield on a municipal bond as follows: Equations from this sample chapter do not appear on the web. The taxable equivalent yield can be compared to the yield on an equivalent-risk corporate bond to see which one will produce the highest yield on an after-tax basis. Since municipal bonds have default risk, care should be taken when comparing their yields with U. S. Treasury bond yields. , the tax rate of indifference, is calculated as follows: Equations from this sample chapter do not appear on the web. The tax rate of indifference is the marginal tax rate that would make an investor indifferent between municipal bonds and equivalent-risk corporate bonds. If an investor's marginal tax rate is above the tax rate of indifference, the investor would generally be better off investing in municipal bonds when taxes are taken into consideration. The tax rate of indifference should be calculated for various maturity ranges. Generally, the indifference tax rate is higher in the shorter maturity ranges, due to the domination of corporate investors in that segment of the municipal market. However, in the long-term end of the market the tax rate has hovered at about 25% or below, making municipals advantageous for many investors. It should be noted, however, that municipal bond investors bear tax risk (the risk in this case is that tax rates would be reduced, or that the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds would be eliminated). While tax risk seems remote at the moment, the municipal market has been rocked in the past by such factors, particularly in the time prior to the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Investors should be aware of this source of risk. Other considerations should also be considered. Do clients desire to bequeath an estate to their heirs, or are they willing to spend down to low levels of wealth if they live long enough? Are there special goals with regard to charitable contributions, travel, helping with their grandchildren's education, and so forth? In such cases, cash distributions must be less than the rate of return earned on the portfolio in order to provide growth of income and preservation or even growth of current wealth. Realistic Capital Market Expectations Investors must take care not to incorporate unrealistic expectations about future capital market performance into their return and risk outlook. Many investors expect to continue to receive returns of 15% to 20% annually going forward. This is unrealistic, given valuations levels in the U. S. stock market in 1998. Investors often tend to extrapolate the immediate past into the future and, led by investment professionals who fall victim to the same human nature, may aggressively invest in equities (a policy that has enjoyed great success in the recent past). However, an examination of the current investment fundamentals brings a more sobering view to the case for equities. With dividend yields at an all-time low and price/ earnings (P/ E) ratios high (about 1.5% and 25x, respectively, on the Standard and Poor's 500 Index), extremely high returns will be very difficult to obtain. One can estimate the expected long-run annualized return on common stocks as follows: Equations from this sample chapter do not appear on the web. The dividend divided by the market price is the expected dividend yield, and the long-run expected dividend (and earnings) growth is the expected capital gains yield. Investors in common stocks receive their returns from two sources: the dividend yield, and the price appreciation, which depends on earnings growth. For the S& P 500, the dividend yield is about 1.5%, and if you estimate long-run earnings growth at 9% (which many would argue is unrealistic in a mature economy with slower growth and low inflation), the expected rate of return is: Equations from this sample chapter do not appear on the web. This is a far cry from the returns enjoyed in recent years, but it is still good compared to what is available in the bond market. (The 30-year Treasury bond currently yields about 5%.) In the current low inflation environment, 10.5% is a good rate of return after inflation, especially when one thinks in terms of real returns. The danger is, however, that fluctuations in valuation levels in the financial markets could produce poor returns over short-and even longer-term periods (10 years or more). The return estimated in the previous paragraph depends on achieving earnings and dividend growth of 9% (which again many would argue is unrealistic). Just as important, the 10.5% return requires valuation levels to remain as high as they are now (1.5% yield and 25x earnings) when the investor needs to liquidate. Even if earnings and dividends actually grew at 9% per year, but the P/ E fell to 15x, the realized capital gains return over a 10-year period would be only 3.57%. The 10.5% return in this context becomes a return that would only occur if everything goes perfectly. The problem with poor returns over the short run depends on the investor's time horizon, and the extent to which he or she relies on equities as an investment vehicle. Younger investors who are using equities to save for retirement can view a weak market as an opportunity to purchase stocks at inexpensive prices. However, a weak market could hurt someone in retirement who has to liquidate some equities each year to provide part of their income. In addition, returns over shorter periods (such as 10 years) become much more important to investors in retirement. Investors need to realize that the reason stock returns have been so high over the past few decades is that we have been in bull market with rising valuations. Interest rates started out above 15% and are now below 5%. P/ E ratios started the bull market at about 10x and are now 25x. The rise in the P/ E is due to the decline in inflation and interest rates. While we can hopefully count on the U. S. economy and American companies to continue to expand in the long run, we cannot count on ever-rising P/E ratios. Investors, especially less wealthy ones, should carefully consider their exposure to equities. While equities are desirable for their ability to outperform inflation in the long run, the danger for retirees is overexposure, which can cause tremendous problems down the road. Care must be taken to ensure an adequate long-run income level. Selecting Appropriate Asset Classes This section focuses on the important characteristics of the major asset classes. In order to determine the appropriate weights to attach to each asset class in the investor's overall portfolio, it is important to understand how each asset class works. Equities Equities are needed in a portfolio in order to produce long-term returns above inflation. Equities comprise the only financial asset class that has demonstrated significantly higher returns over inflation in the long run. Almost everyone who needs their portfolio to produce income would find some equities necessary to provide the growth needed to outpace inflation. However, due to their volatility, equities are more appropriate during the accumulation phase than during the distribution phase of the investor's life cycle. Hopefully, clients had adequate equity exposure during their accumulation years. But, while an 80% allocation to equities may be appropriate for a young investor, 60% equities might be on the high end for someone at retirement age, and depending on the investor's wealth level, this percentage may need to be reduced even further. In general, as the client gets older, less and less of the portfolio (if it's needed as a source of income) should be allocated to equities. Bonds Bonds would be placed in a portfolio to produce income and to lessen the overall volatility of the portfolio. When investing in bonds, the issue becomes whether to choose short-term or long-term investments. The key to making this determination is the balance between price risk and reinvestment rate risk. Price risk refers to the fact that bond values change when interest rates change, and are inversely related to interest rates. If interest rates rise, bond prices fall -- and vice versa. The risk that rates would rise, causing bond prices to fall, is referred to as price risk. Price risk is greater for longer-term, smaller coupon bonds. For example, a 6% coupon, 30-year bond will decline in value by a little more than 10% if interest rates rise by 1%. While investors who are using bonds to provide a long-term income stream may not worry about these fluctuations, investors with short time horizons are subject to great price risk if they invest their money in long-term bonds. On the other hand, investors who need income over longer periods of time are taking substantial reinvestment rate risk if they invest in bonds with relatively short maturities. The extreme example would be the investor who is using one-year Treasury bills or CDs to generate income over long periods of time. Since the investor must reinvest the funds each year, the risk is that rates would fall substantially when it is time to reinvest, thereby causing the investor's income level to drop. Investors who stayed with shorter-term bonds in the 1980s saw their interest return fall from the teens to low single digits by the early 1990s. More recently, investors who balked at locking in rates as low as 7% now find that the rates on even long-term bonds are now about 5%. The bottom line is that investors who need their portfolios to produce income over longer periods should be more inclined to invest in long-term bonds to avoid reinvestment rate risk. Some amount of short-term bonds and even money market securities (maturities less than one year) should be kept to provide liquidity. Otherwise, it is probably wise to accept the price risk of longer-term bonds in order to provide a more stable income stream. The big danger of bond investing, especially during the current lower interest rates, is that of an unexpected increase in inflation. The long-term Treasury bond, now yielding about 5%, is pricing expectations of very low inflation. If the bond market is wrong about inflation, then bond investors will get hurt, much as they did in the 1970s. In order to hedge this risk, investors should look for some assets for their portfolios that will provide protection against inflation. These might include real estate investment trusts, inflation-indexed bonds, and other potential inflation hedges. Think After-Tax, After-Inflation Many investors focus on nominal, pretax returns and not on real, after-tax returns. Investors must account for the tax penalty as well as the penalty for loss of purchasing power, or inflation. There are some common misconceptions when dealing with this issue. The real return (the return the investor earns after inflation) is often defined as follows: Real return - nominal return - inflation Assuming a 5% nominal return and 2% inflation, the real return would be 5% minus 2%, or 3%. However, many would quickly point out that this calculation ignores taxes. If the investor is in the 28% tax bracket, the real after-tax return would be as follows: Equations from this sample chapter do not appear on the web. Uncle Sam taxes the nominal return, and the investor is not allowed a deduction for inflation, so the after-tax real return is only 1.6%. This underscores the need to outperform inflation over the long run. Equities provide an advantage over inflation that cannot be ignored, given the favorable tax treatment afforded to capital gains returns (capital gains are not taxed until realized). The tax-deferred growth provides equities with additional advantage over inflation relative to fixed-income securities. Mutual Funds -- Factors to Consider In order to get adequate diversification, most investors turn to mutual funds. Mutual funds provide significant advantages in this regard by enabling investors to obtain diversified stock and bond portfolios with small amounts of investment dollars. However, in considering appropriate funds for the portfolio, several important issues should be considered. Sales Charges Often, mutual funds sold by commission brokers involve up-front sales charges or loads. Load funds may charge the investor 3% to 5% or more up front in order to compensate brokers for selling the fund to investors. In addition, many funds levy an annual marketing fee (a 12b-1 charge) of 0.25%, which is used to continue to compensate the fund salesperson. These fees cut into the investor's return, and can be avoided in many no-load fund families. Expense Ratio The expense ratio refers to the percentage cost charged to the investor, to compensate the fund manager and management company. Expense ratios can range as low as 0.25% for index funds (funds that simply attempt to replicate the return on a broad index of securities), and as high as 2% or more for actively managed funds. The expense ratio also reduces the investor's return. Funds are required to report returns earned by the investor after expenses, so these charges are reflected in fund performance numbers. In an efficient market, however, one would expect lower expense-ratio funds to produce higher rates of return for the investor over the long run. Trading Costs While mutual funds are large institutional investors and generally pay much lower commissions than individual investors, one must be aware of two hidden costs of trading -- the bid/ask spread and price concessions. Investors who trade over-the-counter stocks pay not only a commission to a broker, but also are subject to the dealer's bid/ask spread. For less actively traded securities, the dealer spread can be a significant percentage of the investment. In addition, large institutions are subject to price concessions as they attempt to acquire and liquidate large positions. Institutional investors who are trading large quantities of securities will tend to move the price as a result of their trading. When you look at the total cost of trading (the sum of commissions, bid/ ask spreads, and price concessions), it is clear that excessive portfolio turnover can cut into the investor's rate of return. Mutual funds with high turnover have the hurdle of higher trading costs to overcome. Tax Efficiency Another area where trading produces a drag on portfolio returns is in taxation of investment returns. Funds that have high turnover ratios generally realize more capital gains -- which are required to be reported by the fund holders and result in tax liability. Excessive realized capital gains reduce the tax-deferral advantage of equities. Since mutual fund returns are reported on a pretax basis, investors must be aware of the effect of excessive trading. Funds with high turnover ratios generally cause greater tax incidence for their investors. Investors must also be wary of purchasing funds whose portfolios contain large unrealized capital gains. Regardless of whether the investor participated in these gains, he or she is responsible for the tax liability when the gains are reported. This could be a real problem if mutual fund redemptions cause mutual funds to liquidate security positions. Even tax-efficient funds (such as index funds), which minimize trading, are subject to this potential problem. This issue therefore is of extreme importance to taxable investors. On the bright side, investors whose mutual fund investments are in tax-deferred retirement accounts are immune from the problem of excessive realized gains. Choosing an Investment Professional Depending on the sophistication of the client, an investment professional may be needed to assist the client in developing a successful investment program. The key choices are between commission-based brokers and fee-based investment advisors. With full-service commission brokers, one must watch for conflict of interest. Brokers, no matter what they may say, are paid to trade. Given their need to generate transactions in order to make a living, they may encourage the client to engage in excessive, tax-inefficient trading in the investment portfolio. Full-service brokers can be useful to clients who are sophisticated enough to make their own investment decisions and just need a little extra advice and help. Caution must be taken, however, before relying solely on a commission broker as a financial advisor. Generally, brokers have too many clients and are too focused on generating transactions to really take every client's specific needs into account. Also, brokers are not always adequately trained to have complete control of an investor's finances. On the other end of the spectrum, fee-based investment advisors generally are given power of attorney to make and execute investment decisions in the client's account. Compensated on a percentage of assets under management, rather than on commissions, fee-based advisors are generally held to have less conflict of interest. Since they are not compensated by commissions, they have no incentive to engage in excessive trading or to market specific products. Usually trading in the client's account through a broker at discounted institutional commission rates, the investment advisor "sits on the same side of the table" as the client. Fee-based advisors are appropriate for investors who need more help with their investments or who do not want to take the time to worry about their investments on an ongoing basis. Care must be taken to ensure that the advisor is honest, highly trained, and experienced in various market environments. The advisor's fees should be reasonable as well. In today's marketplace, fees in excess of 1% are probably too high, especially when one realistically considers the rates of return that will be available in coming years. Many advisors routinely charge 1.5% to 2%. Fees are always negotiable, so clients should shop around, comparing both quality and price. Conclusion Financial planning for those in retirement involves setting realistic spending goals in the context of a realistic capital market outlook, and an appropriate allocation of investment resources. Asset allocation determines 90% of a portfolio's risk and return characteristics and is much more important than the security selection decision. The investor's asset allocation should be designed within the parameters of return requirements and constraints such as wealth, time horizon, liquidity needs, and tax considerations. The retiree's investment portfolio needs to ensure an appropriate level of income and allow for growth of income to offset inflation. However, for investors with less wealth and shorter time horizons, the risk of the portfolio should be carefully considered. If the portfolio is to provide a stable source of income, the lower returns of safer investments must be accepted. Insurance Considerations What types of insurance should retirees consider purchasing? Insurance needs differ dramatically during a person's lifetime. Young people with no dependents have little need for life insurance. Young families living on one or two incomes obviously have considerable need for life insurance. Health insurance, while expensive, can avoid catastrophic loss in the event of major illness. The key is to weigh the costs and benefits of various insurance products to determine whether they are needed. Life Insurance Life insurance is not as necessary for those in retirement. Life insurance proceeds are designed to provide investment assets for income protection in the event of the untimely death of an income earner and to provide liquidity for estate tax planning purposes. After reviewing their life insurance needs, retirees may be able to cancel policies to reduce unnecessary expenses. In addition, all or part of the cash value of a whole or universal life policy can be accessed to provide additional income. Annuities Annuities can be purchased that will provide lifetime income for an individual or for the individual and spouse. Annuities may be useful for those with limited investment resources, in order to reduce the risk of their outliving their investment income. Health Insurance Health care costs rise significantly as a person gets older, and the probability of lengthy and expensive illness increases. Medicare reimbursements generally leave seniors with significant out-of-pocket expenses. This risk can be managed by purchasing insurance that is designed to supplement Medicare coverage and to provide coverage for medical costs not covered by Medicare. Long-Term Care Medicare provides limited coverage for long-term care needs, such as a nursing home. Several insurance products have been developed that will provide long-term care coverage. Also, home health care services are proliferating, providing alternatives to traditional long-term care needs. Other Issues in Financial Planning Hopefully, when expenses are realistically considered and all sources of retirement income are combined, retirees will be able to achieve their desired lifestyle with peace of mind. Income needs are significant, and the risk of inflation affecting living expenses must be considered. Seniors who face tight budgets should carefully consider how to reduce expenses and maximize retirement income. This section provides some additional ideas that may be useful in reaching this goal. Working Longer: Postretirement Employment Retiring at age 65 is a relatively new concept. Until recent years, the life expectancy of the average American was not much past 65 years. Now, due to various factors, Americans generally are living longer and healthier lives. The golden years now may provide several years during which a retiree can live an active and productive life. In many professions, there is no real reason why people cannot continue to work well into their 70s, 80s, or even longer, providing additional years of income during which savings can continue to be built up for eventual retirement. Retirees who have left their careers may be able to find part-time jobs, which may be rewarding and provide significant income while still allowing for plenty of free time to pursue leisure activities. Professionals who have left their jobs on a full-time basis may be able to find consulting work or special projects where their expertise is needed and will be well rewarded. Clients should be urged to pursue such opportunities. Such activities will not only provide additional income but will enhance the self-esteem and probably extend the life of the retiree. Accessing Real Estate Equity A person's equity investment in his or her dwelling may be one of the largest assets in their overall portfolio. This asset may need to be used to provide additional retirement income. This source of income may be particularly important for someone whose retirement budget is tight. One option is to trade down to a smaller, less expensive house in order to free up additional investment capital for retirement. A retired couple may be living in a large house that was designed for a large family. By trading down, they not only will be able to enjoy a larger retirement income but will also save money on utilities and taxes. In addition, if retirees are living in an area where the cost of living is high, they may be able to significantly improve their standard of living by relocating to a less expensive area of the country. Anecdotes of California retirees who sell their modest homes for very high prices and move to other areas of the country are common. For some, however, the thought of leaving a home filled with many years of memories and where friends are nearby is unbearable. A reverse-annuity mortgage may be an option in these cases. In a reverse-annuity mortgage, the homeowner sells an interest in the equity of his or her home in exchange for a stream of payments. In this way, the retiree is able to access the equity in the home to increase income without having to sell the property and relocate. The reverse mortgage can be structured to provide a lifetime annuity that remains in effect until the death of one or both spouses.
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