Getting Started on Single-Retiree Estate Planning

Jan 25, 2013  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Retirement Planning

Whether you are recently divorced, never married, or widowed, a single retiree has a greater need to begin estate planning than married people do. As a single person facing retirement and the challenges that come with growing older, you’ll need to create a plan that allows you to maintain as high a quality of life as possible while still allowing for the possibility of receiving outside assistance.

A single retiree’s estate plan will include same basic documents that other estate plans include, such as a will, powers of attorney, and medical directives. However, you’ll also have to take into consideration your ability to obtain assistance and elder care services should you ever require them.

For example, single retirees can often benefit from developing a Medicaid plan that they can use if they ever need to enter a nursing home. Medicaid planning requires you to act years in advance in order to use Medicaid to pay for nursing home expenses. You don’t need to sell all your possessions in order to receive Medicaid, but Medicaid planning does require careful preparation.

Additionally, if you plan on living at home you will need to take precautions, especially if you live alone. If you don’t live with anyone and do not have close friends or relatives nearby who can assist you when you need them, you’ll have to prepare for the possibility of outside assistance. This might include, for example, hiring in-home caregivers, contractors to make your home more senior friendly, or temporary assistants who can visit you when needed.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Three Retirement Issues Facing LGBT Couples in the United States

Dec 04, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, GLBT, Retirement Planning

The quest for equality for LGBT couples has made significant strides over the last few decades, but there still exist some striking differences between traditional couples and non-traditional couples. One such difference is in the area of retirement and the allocation of employment benefits and social security, mostly because of the definition of “spouse” in the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). But there are ways LGBT couples can take steps to improve retirement.

To start with, you should take a look at your 401(k) beneficiary designations if you have been working for the same employer since before 2010. Why? The Pension Protection Act of 2006 made it so a gay employee’s partner could roll inherited retirement benefits straight into an individual retirement account or annuity, but in order to do so that partner must be a designated beneficiary.

Next, you should learn whether your company is one of the 73% of corporations that offers a survivor option for the domestic partners of its workers. Why is this important? It’s important because DOMA doesn’t allow spousal and survivor benefits to be extended to LGBT couples. If your employer is not part of that 73% then consider buying a life insurance policy and designating your partner as the beneficiary.

Finally, federal law allows heterosexual couples to bequeath unlimited funds to surviving spouses, but imposes a 55% estate tax on bequeathed sums over $5-million between gay couples. To learn how to work with this, or to find out more about other alternatives, contact your estate planning attorney today.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Marriage, Divorce, Estate Plans, and Prenuptial Agreements

Oct 17, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Financial Planning, parents with young children, Retirement Planning

The numbers behind divorce statistics, though improving over the last 10 years or so, paint a somewhat bleak picture. Between about 45 and 50 percent of first marriages end in divorce, while second and subsequent marriages survive less than 40 percent of the time. With all these marriages breaking up, anyone creating an estate plan should give serious thought to including a premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement or ante-nuptial agreement, in your efforts. Here’s why:

Reason 1: You Want to clearly divide your property in order to create an estate plan.

With a prenuptial agreement, both spouses can specify what property they will each receive in the event of a divorce. This will greatly aid your ability to create a retirement or estate plan that will not have to be significantly changed should you divorce. Through the prenup you can direct who will keep property the couple currently owns, property the couple acquires during the marriage, as well as property either of you owned before getting married.

Reason 2: You want to ensure your children receive a good inheritance even if you don’t divorce.

Let’s be optimistic and assume your marriage will last. Even if you never get divorced, a prenuptial agreement can ensure you have enough property to leave your children a healthy inheritance. If, for example, you or your spouse have children from previous marriages, both of you can choose to waive your right to receive a spousal inheritance. Spousal inheritance laws exist in all states and give spouses the right to inherit a share of a deceased spouse’s estate. Depending on the state in which you live, this can be as much as 50 percent. Through a prenup you can choose to waive this right so each of you can leave your property to your children or to those you select.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Extended Families Give Elderly More Options

Jun 23, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Elder Law, Retirement Planning

Largely because of the recent recession, many people began living with family members, and even more have decided to stay in a multigenerational household. Census data from 2000 and 2010 show that an increasing number of American families are living in extended family situations. Over the 10 years between 2000 and 2010, the number of families in multigenerational households grew by 21%. Such households now number about 5.1 million, or about 4.4% of the total population.

Population experts cite a number of factors as the cause for this rise in multigenerational households, such as increased lifespans and the recession. However, many families are also realizing that living with several generations in the same home can have significant benefits.

For parents of young children, having a grandparent or other close family member lived in the same household can be a great way to save on daycare and childcare costs.

For elderly family members, the benefits of living in multigenerational homes is even greater. Elderly people with close family contacts tend to be healthier than those who are isolated or have little personal interaction with others. Elderly people with medical issues can also save a significant amount of money by living with family members instead of relocating to nursing home or extended care facilities. Some families even choose to buy several homes in the same neighborhood so numerous family members can remain close and be available for assistance at any time.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

3 Ways Boomer Retirement is Changing Assisted Living

Jun 01, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Retirement Planning

Baby boomers are reaching the age of 65 at almost mind-boggling numbers. It’s estimated that 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day, and more and more of them are retiring and moving into retirement centers or assisted living communities. Yet the retirement centers of old are becoming increasingly unappealing to the members of the generation that grew up during the 1960s. Assisted living center architects and designers have been making changes in the way they approach retirement centers to make them more appealing to those of the baby boomer generation.

Amenity 1: Activities

Playing shuffleboard by the pool isn’t exactly what many baby boomers view as ideal retirement recreation facilities. Retirement centers are increasingly adding new recreational choices, such as hiking trails, workshops, access to water sports, and other active lifestyle options.

Amenity 2: Furnishings

A simple room with bare furniture is no longer the order of the day in retirement homes. New facilities are increasingly featuring contemporary furnishings, expanded kitchen environments, and living arrangements that feel more like an urban loft or apartment and they do a retirement home. Access to wireless Internet and cable TV are also considered essentials.

Amenity 3: Space

Baby boomers increasingly want to ensure that their choice in assisted living facility allows them the ability to make it feel more like home. This means they demand additional space to keep all their possessions. Architects are designing larger facilities with additional storage areas as well as living space to accommodate all the possessions baby boomers bring with them.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

3 Reasons To Give Up Retirement

Apr 14, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Retirement Planning

Reason 1: Your health is better and you get insurance.

If you’re worried that your retirement plan may not have enough to cover your health care needs, you may want to give retirement a second thought. Not only will staying employed allow you to keep your healthcare benefits, but working regularly will also aid in maintaining your health. Having a job to go to every day, facing problems you need to think about and giving yourself a feeling of purpose and accomplishment are all very positive, and can lead to you maintaining your health for as long as possible.

Reason 2: You have a lot to teach.

If you decide to leave your job, that doesn’t mean you have to decide to stop working. Many retired people feel as if they are more busy after having left their jobs than before. Many of them go into mentoring programs or other teaching positions where they can pass on their knowledge and experience to others who are either starting their careers or in need of assistance.

Reason 3: You love your social life.

For many people work is not just what you do, it’s also an important part of your social life. Whether it’s merely the regular daily interaction with coworkers or work-related events that keep you in touch with other people, don’t neglect the impact your working life has on your social desires. Even hermits want regular contact with other people, and giving up work can significantly impact how much time you spend around others.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Retirement Planning Should Begin ASAP

Sep 02, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Financial Planning, Retirement Planning

Many individuals put off their retirement planning needs.  It may seem as if you have all the time in the world to plan sometime in the future; that your current financial needs are more important than future concerns.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  You need to begin thinking about retirement planning needs now, so that your financial needs are always met in the event you would like to retire or cannot continue to work.


Putting your savings on hold can be disastrous.  Take a look at the following information, to learn more.  If you have any questions, or if you’d like to discuss your retirement planning needs, contact an estate planning attorney.


Retirement Planning is Part of Estate Planning


If you choose to put off your retirement planning, you may not have the assets that you need to pay bills in the future.  With the help of an estate planning attorney, you can not only create an estate plan that allows you to achieve your estate planning goals, but you can also successfully plan for future retirement costs.


An Estate Planning Attorney Will Guide You


An estate planning attorney can help guide you so that you’re able to make informed financial decisions.  Your attorney can also help you to determine how much room you have for retirement planning.  You can likely free up some of your assets so that you can better save for the future.

Don’t put off your retirement planning.  Now is the time to plan. As you continue to age, you will have less time to maximize your savings.  By planning as soon as possible, you will make it possible for you to have a financially secure future.


If you have any questions about how to effectively handle your retirement planning affairs, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Home Care Should be Part of Your Retirement Plan

May 06, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Retirement Planning

If you think you have a solid retirement plan, you may want to rethink this conclusion if you have not included home care as part of your plan. You can almost bet on the fact that there will come a time when you will need extra assistance to live at home. If you don’t know where this assistance is going to come from, you don’t have a complete retirement plan.

It is not uncommon in today’s world to find that you are separated from family and friends. Possibly your adult children have moved away, or maybe you plan to move away to a warmer climate once you retire. Friends and family may not be in a position to offer their assistance on a regular basis. No matter what the reason, there is always the chance that you may need help and there will be no one available to give you that help.

Home care is an important element of retirement planning, and it is not a bad thing like some people might think of it. The advantages of home care planning include the fact that you can remain in your home for much longer than what you might be able to without home care. It will also keep your children from having to make extreme sacrifices in their own life in order to care for you.

When making home care a part of your retirement planning you will need to know,

  • What home care is?
  • How much it will cost?
  • Is there is any financial assistance available to pay the cost of home care?
  • Will home care include care from medical professionals?
  • Will home care include any medical equipment you may need?


Each year more and more people require home healthcare; if you are one of these people will you be prepared for it?

Studies have shown that those seniors that remain at home tend to do better than those placed in nursing facilities. Don’t wait until it is too late to think about home care; make it part of your retirement planning.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Medicaid vs. Medicare: What’s the Difference?

Aug 06, 2010  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Incapacity Planning, medicaid, Medicare, Retirement Planning

The federal government provides medical coverage to Americans through two programs: Medicaid and Medicare. These programs, although both initiated by the federal government are different in many ways.


Medicaid covers medical expenses for low income individuals of any age. This includes those over 65 who may also be receiving Medicare. In this case, Medicaid can help pay for Medicare costs.

Medicaid, although a federal program, is run by individual states. To be eligible you must be below the income level set by your state. Because Medicaid is intended for poverty level people, coverage is very comprehensive. It can even cover some costs left over from Medicare such as prescriptions and eyeglasses. Medicaid recipients pay little or no co-pays for services received.


Medicare is medical insurance for Americans over the age of 65. This program was created by the federal government to help the elderly deal with the high cost of medical care at a time in their life when they use health services the most. You can apply for Medicare, which is federally administered, at your local social security office.

Medicare is withheld from your paycheck and for that reason you are eligible to receive it once you reach 65. Individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits, even if they are under age 65, may also receive Medicare.

There are four types of Medicare: Part A which is basic Medicare, part B which is a little more comprehensive, part C which can be a more costly supplement to part A and B and covers additional services, and part D for prescription drug coverage. Premiums and deductibles are necessary for Medicare depending upon which type you receive. Part A and Part B both require yearly deductibles as well as large copays for extensive treatment. You do not have to pay a monthly premium for Part A but you must for Parts B, C and D.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Choosing the Right Startup Business After Retirement

Jul 12, 2010  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Retirement Planning, Small Business Planning

If you’ve always dreamed of starting your own business, your retirement years may be the perfect time to make that dream a reality and you’ll find that you have a few advantages you wouldn’t have had before.

After you retire, you typically have more financial options to get your business started and you’ve got a retirement fund to live on while your business is getting off the ground. You’ll also find that it’s much easier to start a new business when you’re not having to work full-time somewhere else.

So, what kind of business should you choose?

This is one of those questions that only you can answer, but remember this: you have the unique opportunity to actually choose something you want to do versus choosing something because it pays well.

Most people spend their lives working at jobs that were not necessarily an ideal career choice, but paid the bills and was available when they needed work. But things are different this time around and while you’ll probably still want to make some money, you have the freedom to choose a business that’s rewarding as well.

The best way to choose the right business for you is to start with your own experience. You’ve spent the last several decades developing expertise in certain areas. Can you now use that expertise to create your own business?

Next, look at your hobbies and interests outside of the corporate world. If you have a knack for crafts for example, this might be something you can turn into a new business venture.

Keep in mind that some businesses are easier to start up than others and this will affect your ability to get things up and running quickly. If your business requires a large amount of materials to get started for example, you’ll have bigger startup costs than you would if you decided to pursue a service business on the Internet.

In addition, some businesses require special training, licensing or certification, so you’ll want to research your new business well before investing in supplies.

Just remember that your retirement years are called the “golden years” for a reason – this is a time that you should be enjoying yourself so choose a business that’s both rewarding and offers you the flexibility to enjoy the other areas of your life as well.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.