Estate planning can help protect us from the outcomes of living longer.

“Fun is like life insurance; the older you get, the more it costs.” – Frank McKinney aka “Kin” Hubbard (1868-1930), American cartoonist, humorist, and journalist.

Eons ago, during the industrial age, when workers punched a time card and carried a lunch bucket, a steady paycheck was the lynchpin for the American Dream: buying a home, saving for vacations and maybe enough to help send the kids to college. In addition, for the most part, those working years were dedicated to a single employer until retirement.

The tarnished Golden Years…

When retirement rolled around, the concept of not working was considered a celebration heralding the crossing of the Rubicon and on into those Golden Years, albeit a bit worn from years of toil.

Worse, reaching retirement was a milestone signifying that little time was left in their lives, a premise espoused by John E. Nelson, co-author of an updated version of What Color is your Parachute…For Retirement?

Of course, as the economy moved further away from the so-called smoke-stack industries to the dawn of the Information Age, requirements of new skill sets,  advanced degrees and, in general, more education burnished hopes of maintaining a progressively higher standard of living…and better health.

Today, ‘living longer’ means more time to enjoy the toys accumulated from those supercharged years of working in what is known as  the computer age.

Living longer has its downside.

But the thought of living two or more decades after the age of 65 may not be so comforting if the portfolio is still tattered from the effects of the 2008 financial debacle.

Even so, with a properly invested portfolio, workers at 65 may have a reasonable chance to successfully “ride out bear markets and make decent money” based on the historical returns of the market has given us.

“The worst 20-calendar-year stretch was the two decades through 1948—and it still resulted in a 3.1% annual gain, according to Chicago investment researcher, Morningstar.”  Jonathan Clements, Wall Street Journal April 25-26, 2015.

Dying isn’t the problem…living too long is.

But the overriding risk to our financial future is simply living too long and running out of money. Brett Arends of the Wall Street Journal addresses this dilemma with a simple guide every investor should heed.  They include:

Don’t pay attention to those ‘forecasts.’

Ignore the tea leaf readings emanating from the financial networks and the so-called ‘experts.’

Remember, most of the economic pundits were sucker-punched with that financial tsunami of 2008.

Protecting assets…providing for loved ones…

Young adults with children should be buying gobs of term life insurance, notes Clements, particularly if savings are inadequate.

Buying individual stocks = gambling

It’s easy to get caught up in stock picking, either through one’s own network of ‘experts,’ or going solo.

Arends recommends staying away from buying “fashionable investments.”

Invest outside the U.S.

That means getting advice on mutual funds that invest in foreign stock markets. “In the aggregate,” such portfolios provide needed “diversification.” Arends notes foreign funds “are no riskier than the U.S. markets.”

Clements: Delay claiming Social Security to earn a possible 76% increase.

It might be one of those best-kept-secrets, but for every year we wait to claim our monthly Social Security check, the payout is most likely to be 8% bigger.

Ideally, the by delaying claims until the age of 66 or 70, the monthly check can be “as much as 76% bigger.” What’s more, when applicable, Social Security’s survivor benefit may increase as well.

The key to understanding the Big Picture on one’s financial health begins with estate planning. This includes a will, maybe a living trust and powers of attorney designed to protect assets from nursing home and home health costs, for example. Start the discussion with an experienced elder care estate planner. Contact us today.

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