Downs Law Firm, P.C.


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Thinking of Your Retirement? Consider Some Top Regrets

Retirement expectations don’t always line up with reality. Are you picturing your retirement? Without careful planning, those years might not live up to your plans, according to The Washington Post in “The top regrets of retirees.” Global Atlantic conducted a study looking at retirees and found that many admitted that they had made mistakes in their retirement planning. The report was based on data from more than 4,200 retirees and pre-retirees in America. The company wanted to learn how expectations for retirement costs lined up with reality. The expectations often did not. The risk of running out of money is real, said the report, noting that 39% of retirees said they had planning regrets. Here are the top reasons for regret: They found themselves relying too much on Social Security for income. They did not pay down debt before retiring.  Many people today are retiring with a mortgage. People used to pay off their mortgage before retiring, but it’s less and less common now. They didn’t save enough. Most people didn’t start saving for retirement until they turned 31. Missing almost a decade in saving can make a huge difference over time. Let’s say an employee puts away $50 every time she gets a paycheck—twice a month—and puts the money into an account with a 6% annualized return. If she started saving at age 23, by retirement age she’d have $227,150 in that account. If she waited to start saving until age 31, the account would be worth $128,578—$88,572 less. If she was able to save $100 per paycheck, by retirement, she’d have $434,299 versus $257,156. The power of time and compounding makes a huge difference. Compounding is the process through which an asset’s earnings are reinvested to earn additional earnings over time. The more time your assets have to grow, the most compounded growth can occur. Age 31 seems relatively young to start thinking about retirement, but by waiting that long, workers are missing out on almost a decade of savings, asset accumulation and the associated potential of compound returns. The survey also revealed that women are more likely than men to have retirement planning regrets, with 62% of women having retirement regrets, versus 47% of men. Reference: The Washington Post (Dec. 10, 2018) “The top regrets of retirees.”

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Planning for Change

Don’t Loss Your Purpose in Your Retirement

Think ahead about what you are going to enjoy during the retirement years. Don’t lose you purpose in your retirement.We work with many clients who are about to make the dramatic life altering change or retiring. Many people are very good at planning for the parts of retirement. However, they sometimes forget to include the change of lifestyle that comes without a work schedule, according to Next Avenue in “How to Keep Retirement From Being A Drag.” Most people plan for the financial and legal aspects of retirement: how much they need to save, how much of a bite inflation will take, the cost of healthcare, long-term healthcare, etc. But, what about fun? Work is where many people get their sense of purpose and their identity. Talk to any working parent who steps out of their career trajectory for a few years. It’s a similar shift, except there is no smiling cooing baby to keep you busy. If you don’t have projects, meetings, or deadlines, or the community of the workplace, what defines you? This sense of being adrift occurs to people regardless of their income level and may be even more intense for successful people who are used to running a business, commandeering a company or managing a busy desk. Here are some suggestions for making sure your life during retirement is enjoyable and has purpose and meaning. Set your alarm and have a reason to get up every day. After you’ve taken the big trip, spent time with your grandchildren and organized your closets, what’s next? It’s time for you now, time to do things that you’ve always wanted to but for reasons of time, could not. That might mean taking up a sport, expanding a hobby, becoming an active volunteer or returning to school to explore a subject you love? Consider yourself to be on a fixed salary. The transition from paycheck to drawing down savings can be unnerving. You’re sitting on a huge pile of money—but it must last two or even three decades. Create a post-retirement budget before you retire and don’t forget to include healthcare, taxes and potential emergencies. Also consider which assets to draw from and in what order. Do you use your 401(k) funds first, or start with cash? Avoid this retirement rookie mistake: taking out too much cash in the initial stage of retirement. Talk with your partner and family. Will you both retire at the same time? If one is still working and the other is not, how will you divide up chores? If your work schedules meant you didn’t see each other for more than a few minutes during the week, spending 24/7 together is a big change. Do you expect to spend all your time together, or will there be some “me” time? Will your children expect you to babysit on a regular basis? An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances, including your retirement years. Reference: Next Avenue (Nov.

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Save for Retirement over Many Decades

A 40-year saving plan can go a long way toward a healthy financial retirement. A key to financial security in retirement is to begin saving early. An example of success is Orville Rogers, who was flying around the country to attend master’s level track meets during his retirement, according to Money in “This 100-Year-Old Has Been Retired for 40 Years, Has a Healthy Savings Account and Is a Track Champion. Here’s His Impressive Path to a Rich Retirement” Starting early and savings often combine as a powerful force. He started saving in 1952, 25 years before the creation of the retirement savings plan, we know today as a 401(k). Back in the day, companies provided their employees with pension plans and those without a pension plan lived on Social Security when they retired. Life expectancies were shorter, so you didn’t need quite so much money. Rogers was born in 1917, and his peer group’s life expectancy was about 48.4 years old. By saving for retirement and using his downtime between flights to educate himself about money, he started investing and says that his account is now worth around $5 million. He says he wasn’t particularly frugal either and supported his church and other Christian causes throughout his life. However, he had time on his side, making periodic investments over an extended period of time. Another practice that extends life: exercise. Rogers took up running at age 50 and hasn’t stopped yet. Studies have shown that anyone, at any age or stage, is helped by a regular schedule of physical activity, tailored to your personal needs. Even people who are wheelchair bound and living in a nursing home can benefit from a chair exercise program. Among older seniors, the ability to walk a quarter mile (one lap around a track), is linked to better health outcomes. Until recently, Rogers ran five to six miles a week. He’s in rehab now and working his way back to his prior running and training schedule. When you live as long as Rogers has, you outlive a lot of family members and friends. Rogers moved into a retirement community two years after his wife died, making new friends because, as he says, “… if I don’t, I’d have none left.” Faith has also been a strong force in his life over these many years. At 98, he wrote a book, The Running Man: Flying High for the Glory of God. When he was starting out in his retirement years, he flew church missions in Africa. An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances. Reference: Money (Nov. 2018) “This 100-Year-Old Has Been Retired for 40 Years, Has a Healthy Savings Account and Is a Track Champion. Here’s His Impressive Path to a Rich Retirement”

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Famous comic book leader

Stan Lee Faced Challenges in Last Years of His Life

A solid estate plan can help avoid many of the challenges presented in the news lately. There have been a number of celebrities such as Stan Lee, Aretha Franklin and Prince in the news in recent years, who have passed away with controversies surrounding either estate plans or lack of estate plans. However, that does not have to be the case as long as a few steps are followed, according to MarketWatch’s article “Stan Lee’s tangled web of estate planning and how to avoid this mess.” Lee, publisher, and chairman of Marvel Comics, died at age 95 after a year-long illness. He is survived by his 68-year-old daughter, J.C., and has faced a number of unpleasant and public challenges in the last few years. His wife of nearly 70 years died in 2017, and earlier this year he was accused of sexually harassing nurses and home aides. Lee also reported that about $1.4 million were missing from his bank accounts and that $850,000 was stolen to purchase a condo. Lee had also retained and fired a number of business managers and attorneys in recent times. He said he had handled most of his money management by himself in his early years but then realized he needed help. Unfortunately, some of the people he trusted were people who later proved to be untrustworthy. This is the sad realization that many families face as the leader ages and capacities falter. It is yet unclear whether Lee had a will or any trusts in place. Many celebrities do not have these documents, putting heirs and potential beneficiaries in a position where they have to battle it out in a courtroom setting. Aretha Franklin and Prince are just two examples of high-profile, mega-million estate disasters. For the rest of us, estate planning is fairly straight-forward, as long as we get it done. There are a few steps everyone needs to take, including planning for incapacity or disability, getting important documents prepared, such as a will and power of attorney, and reviewing beneficiaries. What often happens is that as people age, they suffer cognitive decline in varying degrees and there’s a professional or a family member who believes this is occurring. In Stan Lee’s case, he signed a document stating that his daughter spent too much money, yelled and screamed at him and had befriended three men with intentions to take advantage of him (from the Hollywood Reporter). A few days after the document was notarized, Lee took it back. As people become less confident in what they’re doing, they are susceptible to being manipulated by other people. Having an estate plan set up years in advance of any cognitive decline, is one way to protect against these kinds of situations. For Lee’s estate, the sheer volume of documents will be a challenge. There may be many lawyers and business managers and accountants showing up, all claiming to have been brought onto the team with specific directions upon his death. Regular people can avoid a

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Young Family Estate Plan

Young Family- Consider an Estate Plan

For a young family, when is the right time to put together an estate plan? Right before you die is the correct, but not realistic, answer. Estate planning is especially important for families with young children and to be updated to pass on assets in later years, according to the Lodi News Sentinel in “Planning for what comes last.” Consider an estate plan as a gift for the next generation, as is making funeral plans in advance. I used to avoid doctor visits until a friend pointed out the visit was not just for me but for the whole family. Doing what you should is for them. You can’t assume that your adult children will know what you want for your funeral, and you don’t want them to have to make decisions during a time of great sadness. These are gifts that parents who love their children can give: taking care of the business side of their lives and their deaths so that a difficult time is manageable. Once you have worked with an estate planning attorney to prepare all the necessary documents and made funeral plans, the next step is to share that information with your heirs. It’s not an easy conversation to have. Most of us tend to keep that side of our lives private from our kids, no matter how old we become. However, sharing this information can keep families from fighting in the future. It is not easy to know how much different family members can handle and who can be trusted with what information while you are living. There are times when people who appear completely selfless suddenly become greedy when an inheritance is being probated. It’s hard to anticipate this. However, there are several things that you can do now to make it easier for those you love. Have a will and if appropriate, a trust, created with an estate planning attorney. Don’t neglect a power of attorney for health and for finances. Make funeral plans and tell your family about those plans. Make an end-of-life plan. Don’t leave it to others to make these difficult decisions if you know what you want to have done. Plan for your pets in case they outlive you. Protect your digital assets by obtaining the correct information for all your social platforms so your loved ones are empowered to access and close accounts after your death. An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances. Reference: Lodi News-Sentinel (July 1, 2018) “Planning for what comes last”

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