By Attorney Mitch Adel
On December 30, 2011, while most people were preparing for their new year’s eve celebrations and making sure that they had their resolutions outlined, I was interviewed by WDTN NBC 2 in Dayton “News on your side”, to discuss financial and estate planning new years resolutions. During the interview we reviewed the importance of planning specific to 2012, specifically the changes to the estate tax rules. We further discussed the importance of creating strong legal documents, such as a Health Care Power of Attorney or a Living Will and taking time to address those difficult end of life decisions. To see an excerpt of that news program, please review the video below.
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Pam Elliot: We’re “On Your Side” now with ways to set financial goals especially for seniors. Joining us now is attorney Mitch Adel from Cooper, Adel & Associates.
Mitch Adel: Thank you and, yes, Cooper, Adel & Associates works with clients statewide and has offices in Centerburg, Monroe, Sidney and Wilmington.
PE: Your expertise is in the area of senior planning. As we look to 2012, is it too late to do the things we should have done for 2011?
MA: I would stress to our viewers, just because people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions whether it’s about losing weight, saving money, exercising a little bit more, that they start looking at financial goals. They start looking at projecting and preserving assets. That can be done any time, but why not start this year? Make it your resolution to start planning now.
PE: When you talk about working with seniors, helping seniors, what age group are we talking about? Is it ever too late to talk about retire- ment or, on the other hand, too early?
MA: The usual client base that I see is about 55 and older, people who may be dealing with catastrophic health care costs for them- selves or their families. As children start to see their parents spend a large chunk of their savings or what they accumulated over their life- time in a few short months, they start planning a little bit earlier.
PE: What would you say is the number one goal that you would recommend for folks to look ahead into the new year?
MA: That’s a great question. A number one goal, regardless of wealth, would be getting your basic legal documents and legal affairs in or- der. I think people should be working with attorneys to obtain power of attorney documents, health care power of attorney documents and living wills. Power of attorney documents are very important because they allow you to appoint someone to make decisions for you when you can no longer make them for yourself. Unfortunately, no one knows when that will occur. In terms of a living will, I think everyone is familiar with the Terry Schiavo situation in Florida. The biggest problem is that, without a living will, the court system makes a determination as to life or death. Her family did not get to do so.
PE: Now with the internet, you can get these types of forms—they can be valid—you don’t need to go to a law office, correct?
MA: You don’t, but you should. There are a lot of other decisions including who should be your back up, what other powers or authorities you want in the documents—these are all important and you should seek professional advice before you sign anything. This is the best method to ensure you are protected.
PE: Everyone wants to save, but it’s tough these days. In terms of retirement planning, do you think people 55 and older should be putting money into stocks or something more reliable? What do you think?
MA: As far as savings, I believe what people should be looking at now is the bigger picture. One of the most critical issues to plan for in 2012, especially in this area, will be the drastic tax changes coming in 2013. The threshold for the federal estate tax, the amount that can pass to someone at death, is going to drop dramatically and families could experience 55 cents on the dollar in taxes on anything above that amount. So I think people should be taking steps to protect themselves from that standpoint this year.
PE: Thank you—we appreciate you being with us and sharing this helpful advice.