Sarah Stewart Legal Group, PLLC

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Month: July 2018

6 Costly Myths About Retirement Planning

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group PLLC

U.S. Citizens are well-known for their lack of retirement planning. According to a 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey, 26% of those surveyed said they had saved less than $1,000 for retirement.  More than 50% saved less than $25,000 for retirement.  Moreover, a Fidelity Investments study in 2017 found that more than 1/5 of workers aren’t contributing enough to their 401(k)s to receive the full benefit of employer-matching.

Whether you’re a Baby Boomer, a Gen X-er, or a Millennial, if you want to retire someday, you need to be aware of some common retirement myths that can stop you from saving the most you can for your best retirement.

(1) You Should Only Invest in 401(k)s and IRAs

Traditional retirement accounts have penalties for withdrawing money before you are 59 1/2 years old. When you consider your retirement plan, if you have any idea you may want to retire early, you will want to invest at least a portion of your money in non-retirement, taxable accounts so that you can fund any years of retirement before age 59 1/2.

(2) You Don’t Have to Invest After Retirement

People are living longer and longer every year.  It is estimated that there are currently more than 72,000 people over the age of 100 in the U.S.  Assuming you want to retire at the average retirement age of 62, you can have up to 38 years of retirement.  Mind blowing- right?

Because we are all living longer, we have to stretch our retirement dollars further. Make a plan that can cover you if you live until 100.  It’s better to plan too much, than not enough.  You don’t want to end up standing on your child’s/grandchild’s doorstep at 80 because your retirement ran out.

(3) You Can Always Invest the Same Amount

As you get older, your income, and lifestyle expenses, increase.  Be sure you invest more in your retirement account to accommodate these lifestyle changes.  You don’t want to eat caviar when your 40 and be forced to eat Ramen noodles every night when you’re 70.

(4) You Don’t Need to Plan Distributions

Our goal is to make sure we don’t run out of money in retirement.  We want to plan distributions so we can be sure we are using our assets for stable income throughout our retirement.

(5) You Only Need to Save 10-15% of Your Income

If you started saving for your retirement in your 20s, saving 10 – 15% of your income each year works because interest compounds.  If you started saving later, you need to increase your savings to catch up.

With that being said, put aside whatever you can whenever you can.  Set up a monthly bank draft of a set amount so that you can be sure you are saving.  Everything will add up, and because of compounding interest, the sooner you start, the better.

(6) Financial Advisors Always Work in Your Best Interests

Not all financial planners are created equal.  Though many people believe financial advisors have to work in your best interests, it simply isn’t true.  Only financial planners who are fiduciaries are required by law to act in your best interests. Ask your financial advisor if he/she is a fiduciary and look for someone who says “yes.”

If you have not started a retirement or estate plan, reach out to professionals today!

 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Your Estate Plan

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

Estate planning is a topic a lot of people try to avoid, despite all the sage advice otherwise.  Though statistics vary, the consensus is only about 50% of people have actually planned for their family’s inheritance after their deaths.

Adults with children younger than 18 years of age, arguably the people who need to plan the most, have the lowest rate of planning- 36%.

Estate plans help families decide what assets go to whom, when, where, and can possibly save thousands of dollars in attorney and court costs. Planning is important for everyone, and it must be done correctly to meet your goals.

Here are 5 common mistakes you should avoid when estate planning.

(1) Not Planning

The difficulty of talking about death and working through a plan make people put off estate planning.  While you’re waiting for the right time, life, and death, can happen. If you die without an estate plan, the state decides who gets what, while your family is out thousands of dollars in court fees and attorney costs to get the state to divide your assets.

If you’re married, and you don’t have an estate plan, your spouse will not receive everything you left behind.  If you have children from a previous relationship that are not 18, and your previous partner survives you, your previous partner will receive your assets to manage for your children.  Are you comfortable with that?  If not, you need to make a plan.  Now.

(2) Forgetting Health Care Directives

Advance Directives for Health care are the only documents in the state of Oklahoma that gives someone the authority to withhold life-sustaining treatment on your behalf.  If you have certain situations where you would not want to be on life support, you need an Advance Directive in place.

Another important health care document is the Durable Power of Attorney for Health care.  If you are in a situation where you cannot make decisions for yourself, the Durable Power of Attorney will name someone you trust to make those decisions for you.

(3) Not Choosing a Guardian for Your Kids

If you don’t have an estate plan, and you have young children, you have not named a guardian for your children if something happens to you.  Your family will have to go to court, and possibly argue with other family members, to get guardianship of your child. And, the guardian may wind up being someone you wouldn’t want.

Remember when picking your guardian, that though your parents may be your first choice, if your children are older and your parents have health issues in the future, they may not realistically be able to care for them.  Consider naming a back-up guardian or co-guardian who is younger.

(4) Forgetting to Update Documents

When big life changes occur- divorce, birth, death, marriage, kids growing up- you should re-evaluate your plan.  Is everything the way you want it?  Has anything changed?  Documents are easy to amend if your plans change, but you have to stay on top of things.

(5) Incorrectly Titling Assets

Some people take the time and money to set up a trust, but forget to put their assets into the trust.  A trust is only as good as what you put in it.  Be sure to talk to your banks, financial planners, employers, and other asset holders to get your assets put into your trust.

If you don’t have an estate plan in place, or need to update yours, reach out to a professional today!

 

4 Benefits to Talking to Your Teen About Prenups

By: Sarah Stewart Legal Group

It is common knowledge that the divorce rate in the U.S. hovers around 50%.  Parents, especially those who have been through divorce themselves, are aware of the complications divorce can cause, particularly for young couples.

Though having a contract in place before marriage may not sound sexy, prenups are a great idea for young people looking to start their families.  Parents can make their children’s lives easier by bringing up the topic of prenups when their children first start dating, usually in their teens.

There are 4 benefits to talking to your teens about prenups before they find the person they want to be with forever.

(1) Prenups Are Good For You

We all hear the horrible stories about divorce battles fought in court.  Some of us may have even lived them.  Prenups make those battles much easier because you have a template to follow when you’re going though the process.  You planned out what would happen before you even got married, so the court, given no unforeseen circumstances, will generally honor the contract.

A divorce that could have taken years to complete, can be done in a matter of weeks.  That can save you, or your kids, a lot of stress and time!

(2) Teach Your Kids About Prenups So They Know What They Are

For many of us, the concept of a prenup never came up before we were engaged and thinking about marriage.  Then, for some of us, thinking about the end of the marriage to the person we love before the marriage has even started, seemed in poor taste.

Educate your kids now so that they know what these documents are and what they mean.  Then, they and their future fiance will know what is available to them and the benefits of having a prenup in place.

(3) Protect Family Wealth and Inheritance

The reality is, if you are wealthy and your children stand to inherit a significant amount of wealth, a prenup will be even more beneficial to them than the regular Joe.  Prenups protect those inherited assets from the future spouse.

Moreover, for couples who marry later in life, they often bring in their own significant assets- real estate, retirement accounts, businesses, etc.  For couples marrying later, a prenup allowing them to keep their assets separate is extremely beneficial if you end up in a divorce later in life.

(4) You’re Not Attacking Anyone

People can become defensive when they are confronted with advice about prenups after a proposal.  They can think breaching the topic means you don’t like their current partner.  If you can bring the subject up years before your child has found a significant relationship, you can take a lot of the emotion out of the subject and focus on the benefits your child can receive.

You may find bringing up the topic of prenups with your teen difficult.  Celebrity divorce and death are all over the news.  One way to start the conversation may be commenting on the current situation of a celebrity. You may also consider bringing your kids in for your estate planning discussions with your advisors and asking that advisor to discuss prenups.

However you choose to do it, talking about prenups with your kids is a great way to prepare them and protect them in the future!

Buzz Aldrin and Stan Lee’s Legal Battles Highlight the Need for Elder Care Planning

photo by Christina Korp

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

By Sarah Stewart Legal Group

In the last month, 2 iconic American heroes have faced legal trouble due to aging that highlight the need for proper elder care planning, Stan Lee and Buzz Aldrin.

Stan Lee is the 95 year old godfather of the Marvel comic universe and usually appears in cameos in Marvel movies. Buzz Aldrin is one of the first men to walk on the moon during the U.S. moon landing on July 21, 1969.  He is now 88 years old.

Stan Lee

In June, Stan Lee’s caregiver, Keya Morgan, came under investigation by Los Angeles police for elder abuse.  Morgan is accused of exploiting Lee’s impaired vision, hearing, and judgement by isolating Lee from his family and friends and moving him out of his longtime home.

Morgan is a memorabilia dealer who befriended Lee’s only child, J.C. Lee, and began taking control over Lee’s assets and home.  A restraining order filed by an attorney for Lee claims Morgan used Lee’s advanced age and impairments to unduly influence him and isolate him.

Morgan reportedly fired Lee’s workers, including the longtime attorney who filed the restraining order, and isolated Lee from friends and family, including his only daughter.

Investigations are ongoing.

Buzz Aldrin

In late June, Buzz Aldrin filed a lawsuit against 2 of his children and a former business manager. He accuses them of improperly using his credit cards, transferring his money without his permission, and slandering him by wrongfully claiming he is suffering from dementia.

A week before Aldrin filed his lawsuit, the 2 children named in the lawsuit filed a case in Florida asking to be named as his legal Guardians.  They claimed Aldrin was the subject of elder abuse by new friends who isolated him from family, gained control over his assets, and were spending his assets quickly.

The Petition claimed Aldrin suffers from confusion, memory loss, and delusions. In April, Aldrin took an evaluation with a geriatric psychologist and was found to be in superior mental health. A Court-appointed mental health evaluation was set to take place the week Aldrin filed his lawsuit.

Aldrin’s case asked the Judge to remove his son as Trustee from his accounts and claimed he revoked a power of attorney he issued to his son earlier, but his son continued to make financial decisions and business decisions on his behalf.

Aldrin accuses his daughter, and also his former business manager Christina Korp, of conspiracy, fraud, elder abuse and exploitation, and unjust enrichment.  Aldrin’s lawsuit  includes several businesses and foundations he owns.

The lawsuit is currently pending.

Take Away

As people age, their hearing, eyesight, mobility, and reasoning can become affected.  In order to properly protect their accounts, homes, and businesses, those close to retirement age should put plans in place to protect their assets and name people they can trust to work on their behalf when they cannot.

These documents usually decrease the need for a court intervention and guardianship.  But, if a guardianship becomes necessary, they often name someone the person trusted prior to their impairments to act for them.

Everyone should have a proper estate plan. If you or someone you love is reaching retirement age and hasn’t made an estate plan, reach out to a professional you trust today!

 

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