ElderCare Planning

When It Might Make Sense to Distribute an IRA Account

Sandy Adams Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP®

20180828.jpg

As you might imagine, most financial planners (and most clients) have a preference for stretching the distribution of their IRA (or other qualified retirement) accounts over long periods of time so as to lessen the income tax burden on those accounts over many years.  And, if possible, most clients would prefer the ability to leave dollars in those accounts to their children and grandchildren as a form of legacy/inheritance. However, as life circumstances change, it sometimes makes sense to keep an open mind about how we view the distribution of those accounts. 

In our experience, we have found that it sometimes makes sense to consider accelerating the distribution of IRAs/qualified retirement accounts when the following circumstances are present:

  • Owner of the IRA is an older adult (in this context, meaning beyond RMD status)
  • IRA/Qualified Retirement Accounts are smaller accounts within the clients overall investment portfolio (i.e. have a $30k IRA and have other investment accounts/bank accounts to draw from)
  • Are likely in a lower tax bracket than the heirs they might be leaving the assets to
  • May have medical/health care costs to write off to offset the income from the potential income from IRA/qualified account distributions

While these circumstances certainly will not apply to MOST clients, they might apply to a select few. When they do, this strategy can not only save significant tax dollars but can simplify the distribution of an estate long term by avoiding the division of a small IRA amongst multiple beneficiaries.

If you or your family have questions about whether this strategy might apply to you or someone you know, please reach out to our Center Team.  We are always happy to help!

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any information is not a complete summary of all available data necessary for making a financial decision and does not constitute a recommendation. Please note, changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person's situation. Raymond James does not provide tax advice. You should consult a tax professional for any tax matters related to your individual situation.

5 Estate Planning Action Steps to Stay in Control of Your Future

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

20180619.jpg

I recently attended a 2-day training in Elder Mediation.  Coming from a world in which we work with our clients on a regular basis to make sure estate planning documents are in place and up-to-date, I was alarmed to learn that less than 45% of the U.S. adult population has an active will or durable powers of attorney in place (2017 Caring.com Study). Unfortunately, when these documents are not in place, and the adult (at any age) becomes unable to make decisions for themselves, the court must appoint someone...and families aren’t always in agreement.

According to a 2013 AARP report, there was an estimated 1.5 million older adults with court-appointed guardians; record keeping in many constituencies is not accurate nor complete.  A guardian is appointed to make medical and care decisions for someone who is unable to make decisions for themselves; a conservator is appointed to make financial decisions and handle financial affairs for someone who is unable to handle those duties on their own behalf.  And if the family disagrees about who should be appointed to any/either of these roles, they can voluntarily seek mediation to resolve their differences or the court may order mediation.  In many cases, a family member is ultimately appointed to these roles, but in some cases a third party is appointed to serve in these roles as ordered by the court, leaving the fate of the older adult in the hands of someone who doesn’t know them or their wishes well.

Doing the work now to get documents and plans in place can save you and your family unnecessary stress and anxiety in the future, and can help to make sure that the wishes you have for yourself and your future are carried out even if you are no longer the director of those decisions. 

What action steps can you take now to make sure you maintain ultimate control over what happens to you if/when you can no longer make decisions for yourself?

To ensure that you have the ability to name who you wish to make decisions for you when it is time, I recommend taking the following steps:

1. Make sure you have up-to-date estate planning documents and review them often.  The most important documents to have in place during your lifetime are Durable Powers of Attorney — General/Financial AND Health Care (also known as a Patient Advocate Designation).  Additionally, you may want/need to have a Revocable Living Trust and a Will.

2. Consider drafting your Durable Power of Attorney documents as “Immediate” rather than “Springing”.  Immediate Powers of Attorney allow your advocate to act on your behalf immediately or at any time that you need them to, while a Springing Power of Attorney generally requires two doctors to declare you incompetent to make your own decisions before your advocate can act on your behalf.

3. Be clear and specific about your wishes for your future medical care, personal care and handling of your financial affairs.  Put things in writing and communicate your wishes to your family members and/or key people in your life.  Consider a family meeting to discuss your future wishes and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

4. Plan ahead.  It is never possible to plan for every contingency, but if you are able to plan for things that might happen (chronic health issues, incapacity, etc.), you and your finances can have a better chance of surviving.  Document your plans and communicate them to those that may be in charge of handling your affairs in the future if/when you cannot.

5. Put a team in place before it becomes necessary.  Make sure your financial planner, CPA, Attorney, any healthcare professionals and your family know your plan and your wishes and know one another so that they can carry out your plan when you might not be able to give clear directions.

If you or your family have questions or would like guidance on how to get these plans in place, please do not hesitate to reach out.  We are always here to help!

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Sandra Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

WEBINAR IN REVIEW: SAFE, or Success After Financial Exploitation

Contributed by: Emily Moore Emily Moore

SAFE is a program created by Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, Ph.D., which is being run by LaToya Hall, MSW, of Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology.  SAFE was developed to educate seniors on how to protect themselves from fraud and scams, AND how to pick up the pieces after financial exploitation.

During our recent webinar with LaToya, we learned the basics about financial exploitation targeted to seniors: 

  1. What to look for.
  2. How to protect yourself and your loved ones.
  3. What you can do if you have ever been a victim.

The main goals of SAFE:

  1. Free education offered to seniors through presentations.
  2. Helping seniors take control of their financial health through an educational four-part financial series.
  3. Provide one-on-one services to older adults who have been a victim of scams, helping them to get back on their feet.

Key points to take away from the webinar are some common scams and what criminals specifically look for in targeting older adults. 

Criminals look for seniors because they tend to be more vulnerable. They look for people who are typically lonely and socially isolated. They’re also looking for people who have a regular income (such as receiving Social Security), and older adults who are typically more trusting and polite.

Many of the common scams are successful because they represent organizations considered to be legitimate:  Social Security, Medicare and the IRS. A lot of these are done over the phone or by e-mail. It’s important to remember never to give any information over the phone to an incoming caller or respond to an e-mail requesting your personal information.

Another phone scam is called spoofing, where a person calls the senior but looks like they are calling from another number deemed safe (caller ID might identify them as person’s doctor, bank, etc.), so always make sure to double check on a statement. The safest most effective thing to do is to hang up and call the number you have in your records.

These are only a few of the many scams and tactics LaToya goes over in the “Success after Financial Exploitation (SAFE)” Webinar. To learn more and get information along with the free SAFE services listed above, contact LaToya Hall, SAFE Program Coordinator, at L.hall@wayne.edu or 313-664-2608.

Emily Moore is a Client Service Administrator at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.®


Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of SAFE, LaToya Hall, or Dr. Peter Lichtenberg.

Caregiver Work/Life Balance

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

20180515.jpg

According to the AARP, of the over 40 million Americans acting as a caregiver for a loved one over the age of 50, 6 in 10 of them are doing so while still trying to earn a living. As we have written about previously, caregiving can take a tremendous financial toll on family members and can cause real issues with caregivers’ own retirement planning. In talking to caregiver clients, it’s not just the financial implications of being a working caregiver that become the biggest issue...it’s the overall impact on one’s life.

How can a working caregiver have a balanced life with so many roles and responsibilities? 

  1. Take advantage of any paid caregiver time off or flexibility that you may have with your job.  Make sure you have open and honest conversations with your employer about what is going on in your life and your caregiving duties so that they can help you make your job and caregiver duties work for you.
  2. Seek out community resources and information that will help connect you with needed services - you don’t have to do it all alone!  Agencies, community and faith-based are available to help you meet your loved one’s needs and allow you to continue to have a career.
  3. Seek the help of professionals that you can delegate responsibilities for financial planning, investments, bill paying, taxes, care management, etc.
  4. Determine your eligibility for various programs that could give you more support and receive all the benefits to which your loved one is entitled at BenefitsCheckUp.org.
  5. Keep yourself organized. Coordinate and organize your time, activities and paperwork.  Find a system that works for you (paper, electronic, etc.).  i.e., schedule appointments all on the same day, at the end or beginning of days to make things work better with your work and family schedule.
  6. Find time for yourself.  As a caregiver, if you don’t have time to enjoy time for yourself and de-stress, things will only become more chaotic, stressful and out-of-balance.  Find our Working Caregiver Bill of Rights here.  After all, if you aren’t taken care of, you can’t take care of the one you love!

As impossible as it often seems, there is a way to have some balance in your life if you are a working caregiver.  It takes careful planning, organization, communication, and use of resources.  If you are a working caregiver and would like assistance in planning for your balanced life, give us a call.  We are always happy to help!

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


Opinions expressed are those of Sandra Adams and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

New Legislation is Hoping to Help Caregivers

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

20180417.jpg

Being a caregiver for a family member presents real-world challenges from an emotional and financial perspective.  The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that there are over 40 million Americans acting as family caregivers providing over 37 billion hours of unpaid assistance to loved ones.  As I wrote in a previous blog “Family Caregiving — The REAL Long Term Costs”, family caregiving can take a toll on caregivers’ health and future retirement goals if the right plans and tools are not utilized.

Recent legislation is attempting to help the millions of Americans serving as caregivers:

RAISE Family Caregivers Act

In early 2018 the president signed into law the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage Family Caregivers Act.  The act directs the Department of Health and Human Services to create an advisory council charged with making recommendations on the strategy to support family caregivers.  The strategy, which must be developed within 18 months, will address financial and workplace issues, respite care and other ways to support caregivers.

Employer Tax Credit for Paid Family Medical Leave

A little publicized addition in the recent Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 that took effect on January 1st, 2018, was the Employer Tax Cut Credit for Paid Family Medical Leave Time.  Under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers must provide certain employees with the option for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year (and must maintain group health benefits during the leave).  To incentivize employers to further support FMLA, the recent Tax Act provides employers with a business credit equal to 12.5% of wages paid to employees during leave (as long as the employee is paid at least 50% of their normal wages) and the credit phases in as much as 25% of wages if the employer provides 100% of continuing wages (up to the 12 week maximum).

Employers and the government are recognizing the deep impact of family caregiving on the financial futures of caregivers and are beginning to offer some support.  How significant the results of these recent legislative changes will be remains to be seen.  We will continue to keep you updated.  In the meantime, if you are a caregiver and need additional resources, information, or need assistance in designing strategies for yourself or for your loved one, please give us a call.  We are always happy to help!

The information provided does not purport to be a complete description of the developments referred to in this material, it has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable but its accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. Neither Raymond James Financial Services nor any Raymond James Financial Advisor renders advice on tax issues, these matters should be discussed with the appropriate professional.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

Webinar in Review: Carepartners Passage Through Dementia

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

More and more of our clients and families are being impacted by dementia.  What is it and how does it impact those diagnosed and those who are caring for them?

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. While it is believed there are over 50 different types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent type, with more than 5 million people currently living with this specific type.  1 in 9 seniors has Alzheimer’s disease, but half don’t know it.  There are currently medications available to slow the progression of dementia, but there is no cure.

Most individuals with dementia are being cared for by family caregivers.  Having knowledge about the signs and progression of different types of dementia can be extremely helpful to both the person with the disease and the caregiver.  Planning ahead to make sure that the appropriate legal and care plans are in place in advance can relieve a tremendous amount of stress from everyone involved.

Realizing that the person with dementia is still the same person, just with a disease, is essential.

Dr. Paula Duren shared with us the 5 Foundational Care Concepts for Caregivers of individuals with dementia:

  1. Everyone has basic human needs
  2. You are the one with the healthy brain
  3. Be a good detective
  4. They may not remember your words but they will remember your spirit/energy
  5. Know that every behavior is an effort to communicate

Dr. Duren of Universal Dementia Caregivers also teaches care strategies for caregivers about how to work effectively with those they are caring for.  She also works with caregivers to care for themselves.  After all, if caregivers are not healthy and strong, they cannot care for their loved ones with dementia fully. 

Listen to the replay of our webinar “Carepartners Passage Through Dementia” for additional tips and information AND watch for information about our May workshop for caregivers being facilitated by Dr. Duren.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

How Do You Want to Be Remembered?

Contributed by: Sandra Adams, CFP® Sandy Adams

20180313.jpg

On a recent flight, I took the opportunity to browse the movie selection and found a film I had never heard before, but that peaked my interest.  “The Last Word” with Shirley MacLaine, while not the greatest movie from the view of a film critic, was on point with some lessons about how we live our lives and how we want to be remembered once we are gone.  Having been touched with a handful of recent deaths in my personal and professional life, this touched a nerve with me.

The movie “The Last Word” tells the story of a woman facing the end of her life.  As someone who has always felt the need for control and brutal honesty, she finds herself wanting to craft her own obituary.  Realizing that the keys to any great obituary are: the person is deeply loved by their families (she is divorced with a non-existent relationship with her only daughter), the person is respected by co-workers (she realizes she alienated many of the people she worked with by the way she treated them in her working life), and the person has somehow touched an unexpected person in a profound way (something she has never done).  With her time running out, she sets out to find a way to “fix” what has gone wrong in the past and make her life worthy of a great obituary.  On her journey to improve her life in the memory of others, she reminds us to make a difference in people’s lives, to make every day count, and to take risks.  After all, she says, “When you fail, you learn.  When you fail, you live.”

Many of us are so busy doing the day-to-day things that we need to do that we never really consider what we are doing with our lives or what impact we want to have on others during the course of our lives.  Working with clients on their path to, through and after retirement, we have conversations about making sure that financial goals are tied to things that make their life most fulfilling and meaningful — it’s not just about the money.  As my partner Matt Chope, CFP© likes to say, “We try to help clients make the most out of the one life they have to live.” 

When you look back on your life, what do you want to be remembered for?  What impact do you want to have on the world?  On others?  Are you being intentional about living that life?  If not, start now.  And work with your financial planner to make sure those life goals are incorporated into your overall plan.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


Any opinions are those of Sandra Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James.

Be Prepared for Life’s Hurricanes

I was attending a conference in Orlando recently when Hurricane Matthew was heading up the coast of Florida. To say that I was completely unprepared would be an understatement. I was so busy leading up to the conference that I was only vaguely aware of the weather/hurricane status. I packed so lightly for the conference that I brought only what I needed for the days that I would be in Orlando – so that I could bring a carry-on bag only, of course!  I even, for the first time ever, pre-paid my airport parking since I knew exactly when I was arriving and when I would return, so that I could be easy in and easy out.  Why am I telling you all of this in the context of a blog about planning, you might ask?

Well, to me, it fits perfectly.  I see many clients that encounter “Hurricane” situations in their lives that they are completely unprepared for, especially when it comes to assisting older adult parents. Like the weather leading up to a hurricane, things can seem perfectly calm and sunny; moments later the storm hits and you are left completely unprepared for the chaos that comes next. For example, a simple unexpected fall and a broken hip for mom can bring months of “hurricane” aftermath if your family is unprepared.

What can you do to plan ahead so that any unexpected storms don’t find you unprepared?

  • Have a family meeting with your older adult parent (facilitated by your financial planner or other professional, if that is helpful). During this meeting, discuss current and future challenges that your parent(s) may face, what alternatives they would consider as solutions to these challenges, and what resources they have to solve these challenges.
  • As a result of the family meeting(s), have a written plan of action that includes all of the above, and, if needed, also includes what professional team members would need to be called upon (financial planner, elder law attorney, geriatric care manager, etc.).
  • Make sure all estate planning documents are up-to-date and reflect your parents’ current wishes and situation. 
  • Put a Family Care Plan in place so that everyone knows their role in advance (and family conflicts are avoided, as much as possible).
  • Help your parent(s) complete the Personal Record Keeping Document and Letter of Last Instruction (and keep it up-to-date) so that all important information is in one place and handy and a moment’s notice in a crisis.

Going back to my recent hurricane situation, I happened to luck out. I was at a very secure hotel property during the oncoming storm, and while I got delayed an extra day due to the airport being shut down, the worst thing I had to endure was wearing some dirty clothes and dealing with some restless children at the hotel because Disney was also closed for the day. If you don’t help your aging parents plan, I can assure you the results won’t be as kind. The key is to start the conversation – it is not an easy one, but it is one of the most important conversations you may have in your lifetime!  Please contact me if I can be of help.

Sandra Adams, CFP® , CeFT™ is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Sandy Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

Back to School – It’s Not Just for Kids

So it’s that time of year again…with the end of summer brings the excitement of the new school year and new learning for the kids! As an adult, haven’t you ever been just a little bit envious of that “back to school” rush kids experience? Jealous of the excitement of new learnings and of the prospect of engaging your mind? What if you had time to do this when you retired AND found out that it might make help you age more successfully?

According to the UCLA Longevity Center (Fall/Winter 2015 Newsletter), lifelong learning for older adults can be as effective as a college education in protecting brain health as you age. Since Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States according to the 2016 Alzheimer’s Report, brain health is something we should probably put pretty high on our priority list!

Locally, we have a wonderful resource to find lifelong learning opportunities – SOAR (Society of Active Retirees – www.soarexlore.com).  SOAR is a community-based, lifelong learning initiative affiliated with Wayne State University and the Road Scholar Institute Network. It is a member-run and member-driven organization that offers a broad range of non-credit courses and related activities that provide multiple opportunities for social and cultural enrichment as well as personal growth. SOAR draws from volunteer faculty, largely from WSU and other area colleges and universities. In addition to SOAR, we have a vast array of wonderful community education programs and community colleges that provide programs ripe with opportunities for older adults. 

In addition to protecting brain health, lifelong learning can add to successful aging by:

  • Keeping you mentally and socially active
  • Adding joy to your active retirement years
  • Adding additional knowledge and wisdom to your life
  • Being a financial“efficient” retirement activity

Successful aging takes many forms, and it isn’t always about being financially successful. It is about staying healthy…physically, mentally, psychologically…in all ways possible. Staying active is part of the game. For more information about how you can stay active for successful aging, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sandra Adams, CFP® , CeFT™ is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Raymond James is not affiliated with the Society of Active Retirees organization, Wayne State University, or the Road Scholar Institute Network.

Elder Care Planning for Single Older Adults

As I have written about for many years, having a plan in place for one’s aging years is important. Making sure that there is a plan for future housing, future care, having legacy plans in place, and having the proper estate planning documents procured so that someone is set to handle things in the case of incapacity is vital. For aging couples, it is important that these plans are discussed and ready; but in a worse-case scenario, when plans haven’t been solidified, at least the spouse is in place to help provide support and clean up the pieces, even if the situation isn’t ideal.  But what happens if planning hasn’t been done for a single older person, one who might never have been married and might have no children? One who might not have any close or living relatives, then what?

I have found that many single older adults think that planning for their aging years is very simple. They believe because it is “just them,” not much planning it is involved. Quite to the contrary, because it is “just them,” more planning is actually needed. There are not any default family caregivers or family living situations to rely on. The estate planning area can be a special area of challenge.

For single older adults with possibly no family to name as durable powers of attorney or successor trustees on Trusts, what are possibilities?

  • Consider naming a close family friend that you trust.
  • An estate planning attorney can serve as a general power of attorney or executor of an estate if there is no other suitable person to name.
  • An estate planning attorney or family friend along with a corporate Trustee can be named as a successor trustee of a Trust (i.e. broker dealer of the financial advisor you work with, if that is appropriate and the fees are reasonable).
  • A Geriatric Care Manager might be considered as a power of attorney for health care/patient advocate if there is no other suitable person to name (they have the appropriate background in nursing and social work to make the health care related decisions on your behalf).

Elder Care planning is important for everyone, but especially important for older single adults. If you haven’t started planning and this applies to you, start the conversation with your financial planner today.

Sandra Adams, CFP® , CeFT™ is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.


This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Sandra Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.