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Friday, February 25, 2011


In the spirit of Valentine's Day this month, I was inspired to write about senior love and pose the question - can one find love at any age?

I work at Beatitudes Campus, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, which has a resident-run Writer's Group. Each month they produce a publication called the Roadrunner Extra! This month, the theme of their publication was senior love and it featured several resident stories about how these older adults had found a new love relationship (and even got engaged!) in their later years.

One couple met at a square dance and they've been traveling together for years. Another shared how they literally "fell for each other" when they both had a fall after eating dinner one night, but the unfortunate event brought them closer together.

A very special romance "blossomed" when two members of the Community Garden Club had admired each other from afar and then learned how they felt about each other - they will be married in the garden this April! And two residents, who had been working together on the Roadrunner Extra!, found themselves in a serendipitous new love relationship.

Regardless of whether a senior is widowed, divorced or never married, I believe one can find love at any age! And these new relationships can provide not only companionship, but can also provide a better quality of life for both men and women during this stage of life.

Christie Munson, CSA, lives and works in Phoenix, AZ and is the Communications Manager for a retirement community and a Professional Organizer, specializing in senior services. She can be contacted via email at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Helping Clients Deal with Retirement Fears

Retirement is a time of change - the adoption of a new life style, being more self-reliant and taking on new and different responsibilities. With such change comes a chance for fear to grow.

Have you ever heard a client say:

"Will I lose my physical or mental health as I age?"
"Will I have sufficient monies to permit me to accomplish my retirement plans?"
"Will disputes or mood swings affect my relationship with my spouse and friends?"

Fears cause feelings of unease and if not addressed, can act as obstacles between a client and a happy retirement. As humans, we all have fears. Fears help protect us. Our fear of being involved in an automobile accident makes us drive within the speed limit, wear a seatbelt and watch for careless drivers. Our fear of falling makes us take extra precaution when walking down stairs.

However, when fears get out of control, they can snare our actions and escalate to the point of overtaking rational thinking. Our fears can paralyze us from trying something new.

To help clients overcome fears about retirement, here are some actions you can take when needed:

1. Stay positive. Remind a client how fortunate he/she is to have good health, a loving family and friends and live in a free country.

2. Acknowledge strengths and ability to adapt to change. Ask a client to think about the changes he/she already managed successfully including surviving adolescence, getting an education, buying a home, raising a family and holding a job.

3. Take responsibility for mistakes. Point out to your client that if she did not make mistakes in her life, she would never have learned to improve.

4. Importance of sharing fears. Encourage your client to talk to others about what bothers him or her. Hearing different perspectives and input may help better understand the fear.

5. Focus on the retirement plan. Underline the importance of building and implementing a retirement plan and moving forward to accomplish what is important.

6. Caring. Remind your client of your willingness to help him/her succeed in retirement; that you are present no only for financial matters but also to act as a coach and friend.

Retirement is one of life's most exciting times; a time for exploration, shift in focus and demand for new knowledge and skills. For most clients it is new territory and as a caring advisor it's a wonderful opportunity to 'ride shotgun'.

Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don't Just Retire - Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others. He is available for speaking engagements. www.don' Twitter: @don'tjustretire

Friday, February 18, 2011

71-Year-Old Granny Becomes a Superhero With Her Handbag

Here's a video of a real-time, 71-year-old, superhero granny fighting a group of jewelry thieves with her handbag. Ann Timson, is shown tearing up the street as she begins beating the thieves with her purse.

The video shows the four men pulling up on scooters and attempting to smash into the jewelry store with sledgehammers. As the store's emergency shutters start to deploy, Ann Timson is shown tearing up the street and begins laying into the nearest robber.

The robbers then scramble for their bikes, but not all of them make a clean getaway. One of them is taken down by the now-mobilized onlookers. The four men were apprehended.

Good job Ann Timson!!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Blog posting provided by Michael Snowdon, CFP

As you prepare your 2010 taxes, some of your Social Security (SSA) benefits may be taxable. According to the IRS, you should receive a Form SSA-1099 which will show the total amount of your benefits. Here are some guidelines from the IRS to determine whether any part of your benefits are taxable.

1. How much of your SSA benefits may be taxable depends on your income and marital status.

2. Generally, if your only income was from SSA benefits, they probably are not taxable.

3. If you had additional income, your SSA benefits won't be taxed unless your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) exceeds your base amount (see #6 below.)

4. Your taxable benefits and MAGI can be determined on a worksheet in Form 1040A or the 1040 instruction booklet.

5. You can do the following quick computation to determine whether some of your benefits may be taxable:

a. First, add one-half of the total SSA benefits you received to all your other income.

b. Then, compare the total to your base amount. If the total is more than your base amount, some of your benefits may be taxable.

6. Base amounts for 2010:

a. Married filing jointly: $32,000

b. Single and most others: $25,000

c. Married filing separately (if you lived together during the year): $0

For additional information on Social Security benefits, see IRS Publication 915.

To see the IRS notice referred in this post:,,id=17909,00.html

Michael Snowdon, CFP, President
T: 303-721-1140: 888-326-5557 Ext. 4 / F: 866-437-3843 / W: Wealthridge . 8400 E. Crescent Parkway, Suite 600 / Greenwood Village, CO 80111

Friday, February 11, 2011

Medicare To Gain 7,000 New Baby Boomers Per Day In 2011

blog posting courtesy of Medical News today

In 2011, there will be 7,000 new Medicare beneficiaries each day; a total of 2.5 million baby boomers who will swamp America's senior's health care insurance program. According to AARP (American Association for Retired Person's), 70 million individuals are estimated to be Medicare beneficiaries over the next 20 years, compared to 45.2 million in 2008. Click here to read the full article.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Two Ways the Needs Trust Can Enhance The Quality Of Life For Persons With Disabilities

Blog posting written by William Brown
WL Brown Law Office

Trusts and estates planning go hand in hand when it comes to ensuring quality of life for a person with a disability. Life has dealt people with disabilities enough challenges. If you have the means and the motivation to help care for a loved one with disabilities you should know how you can best provide financial assistance without diminishing public assistance. Trusts are frequently used in estate planning and caring for a disabled person is an excellent use, indeed.

What is a trust? A Trust is a legal entity that holds assets for the benefit of the Beneficiary. The Grantor sets up the trust and assigns the Trustee to manage the trust for the benefit of the beneficiary. The trustee also distributes funds from the trust on behalf of the beneficiary. Since neither you, the grantor and source of the money, nor the disabled person, the beneficiary, directly control these assets, the law grants special privileges to the trust, including special tax treatments.

Supplemental And Special Needs Trust
Two types of trusts can be established to benefit a person with a disability by supplementing their governmental benefits: Supplemental Needs Trust and Special Needs Trust. Both types of trusts are intended to provide funds to enhance government disability benefits and protect financial resources.

Supplemental Needs Trust Provides Resources
A Supplemental Needs Trust is created for a disabled beneficiary and supplements public benefits such as Medicaid and Medical Assistance rather than diminishing them. Government benefit programs consider the disabled person’s resources and income to determine eligibility for assistance and the amount of such assistance. Whereas, Social Security and Medical Assistance may provide a basic level of income to a person with a disability, quite often this is not enough. Any income the person earns reduces benefits. Benefit programs also consider the spouse and others obligated to pay any sum to or for the benefit of the trust beneficiary. Outright giving the person money accomplishes little more than reducing benefits.

Supplemental Needs Trust And Quality Of Life
A Supplemental Needs Trust can enhance their quality of life by providing money to supplemental their needs that is not provided by public programs. Before the trustee can make any distributions, the beneficiary must first use the government benefits. A family member may establish a trust for the disabled person without reducing the beneficiary’s Medicaid and other government benefits. Recent changes in federal and state laws provide opportunity to use the disabled person’s own funds in such trusts under certain conditions.

Define Disability For Needs Trusts
A Supplemental Needs Trust qualifies a person as disabled in one of two ways. If the person is defined as disabled under Title II or Title XVI of the Social Security Act, that person qualifies as disabled for this trust. Bottom line, receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability benefits qualifies the person as disabled. Also, if a person has a physical or mental illness that is expected to last for twelve months or more and it substantially impairs their ability to provide for their own care, they qualify as disabled. This disability can be established by the written opinion of a licensed professional. This diagnosis must also be confirmed by the written opinion of a second licensed professional.

Special Needs Trust Protects Resources
A Special Needs Trust also protects the assets of the grantor and is used to supplement government benefits. This trust is created to ensure that the disabled beneficiary can enjoy the use of property that is intended for their benefit. Whereas, these trusts are often setup for people lacking the mental capacity to handle their own financial affairs, there may be fiscal advantages to this trust. Special Needs Trusts may be setup to receive an inheritance on behalf of a person with a disability. They can be funded from the proceeds of criminal injury compensation, litigation or insurance settlements. Basically, this trust is funded by the beneficiary with their own assets.

State Receives Special Needs Trust Assets
Unlike other trusts, upon death of the grantor, who is also the beneficiary, the state receives all money remaining in the trust up to the amount already paid by the state for benefits like Medical Assistance. Any remaining trust assets go to the persons listed in the trust or a non-profit designated by the grantor. In Minnesota, the trustee of a Special Needs Trust must submit to the Commissioner of Human Services a copy of the trust, an inventory of the trust account assets and the value of those assets annually.

A Special Needs Trust qualifies a person as disabled also in Title XVI of the Social Security Act. In Minnesota, disability may also be established by a State Medical Review Team that uses similar criteria to the Social Security Administration.

Needs Trust Planning Enhances Life For The Disabled
When it comes to ensuring quality of life for a disabled person, trusts and estates planning are powerful tools for good. Having means and motivation to help care for a disabled loved one you now know two effective tools to provide financial assistance without diminishing other benefits. If you have close to you a person with disabilities and you want to enhance the quality of their life, exercise your compassion without wasting your valuable resources. WL Brown Law Office specializes in all things elder law and special needs. We will be honored to discuss your special needs and answer your questions at your convenience. Let’s build a trust relationship by exploring your special needs and supplemental needs together.

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Answer Your Needs Trust Question: 612-309-9184

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Legacy - An Important Gift to Loved Ones

blog posting provided by Rick Atkinson, President and Founder of RA Retirement Advisors

Every client needs a realistic vision of retirement. As part of a client's retirement thinking, it is recommended he or she imagine and identify their legacy - how do they want to be remembered?

Successful retirees tell me they give considerable thought to legacy. They imagine being 90, 95 or 100 years of age and ask themselves 'When you look back on life, what will stand out as your best accomplishments? When others think of you, what will be their memories?' Such thinking provides an additional direction to retirement planning. These two questions help keep perspective and set priorities for action.

When Sharon built her retirement vision, she included 'being remembered as a wonderful grandmother.' To this end, Sharon allotted time and resources to attending her granddaughter's sporing events, helping her out at school, taking her to movies, plays and the zoo and playing games. Recently Sharon's sixteen year old granddaughter said: "Grandma, when I grow up I want to be just like you!" What a beautiful legacy!

Another way to leverage the idea of legacy is to leave a gift of family history. Now is the time for clients to record knowledge about themselves, their mother, father, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members - who the client and family member are or were, including occupations, hobbies and interests. Family medical history should be listing as such facts may be life saving.

Ask your client "What is going to be your legacy? What is your gift to family?" Here are suggested topics for inclusion in a legacy / gift to family description:
  • A listing and description of values and beliefs
  • Things learned from grandparents, parents, children, spouse and others
  • What is the client grateful for?
  • Hopes for the future
  • Important events in life and the lives of relatives
  • Things regretted doing
  • The client's happiest times
  • Lessons learned the hard way
  • The importance of spiritual belief

It is amazing how much information each of us has about ourselves and our families and how deeply this information will be treasured.


Richard (Rick) Atkinson, Founder and President of RA Retirement Advisors, is an expert in pre-retirement planning. He is author of the best-selling book, Don't Just Retire - Live It, Love It! Rick facilitates workshops for clients of advisors and others.