If youre part of a blended family (meaning you are married with children from a prior marriage in the mix), youre no stranger to the extra considerations and planning it takes to keep your familys life running smoothly from which parent your children will be with for the holidays to figuring out the schedule for a much-needed family vacation. Youve also probably given some thought to what you want to happen to your assets and your family if something happens to you. But what you might not have realized is this: If you dont create a plan for your assets before you die, the law has its own plan for you that might not reflect your wishes for your assets, especially your retirement assets. And if youre in a blended family, this can have a significant financial impact on the ones you love and even create expensive, long-term conflict.This week, we explain how the law affects retirement distributions for married couples, and why you need to be extra careful with your retirement planning if youre in a blended family to ensure your retirement account assets go to the right people in the right amounts after youre gone.Be Aware of How ERISA Affects 401K DistributionsIf youve remarried, you and your new spouse have probably talked about updating the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts to reflect your blended family arrangement. (If you havent talked about it, you need to talk about it ASAP). Sometimes, people who are remarried decide to leave their retirement funds to their children from a prior marriage and leave other assets like their house and savings accounts to their current spouse. You may do this to avoid future conflict between your spouse and your children over your assets.But even if you want to leave your retirement for just your children, if youre married and your retirement account is a work-sponsored account, your children wont inherit the entire account even if you name them as the sole beneficiaries. Thats because the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) governs most employer-sponsored pensions and retirement accounts. Under ERISA, if youre married at the time of your death, your spouse is automatically entitled to receive 50 percent of the value of your employer-sponsored plan even if your beneficiary designations say otherwise.The only time that your surviving spouse would not inherit half of your ERISA-governed retirement account is if your spouse signs an official Spousal Waiver saying they are affirmatively waiving their right to inherit 50 percent of the account, or if the account beneficiary is a Trust of which your spouse is a primary beneficiary. IRAs Have Different Rules Than 401KsIf you want your children to inherit more than 50 percent of your work-sponsored retirement benefits, and completing a Spousal Waiver isnt an option, consider rolling the account into a personal IRA instead.In contrast to 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored plans, IRAs are controlled by state law instead of ERISA. That means that your spouse is not automatically entitled to any part of your IRA. When you roll a 401(k) into an IRA, you gain the flexibility to name anyone you choose as the designated beneficiary, with or without your spouses consent. On the other hand, if you want to ensure your spouse receives half of your retirement savings, make sure to include them as a 50 percent beneficiary or better yet, have your individual retirement account payout to a Trust instead. With a Trust, you can:Document exactly how much of your retirement you want each of your loved ones to receiveControl when they receive the funds outrightEasily update and change the terms of your Trust without having to remember to update your financial accounts.Beneficiary Designations Always Trump Your WillWhether you have an employer-sponsored 401K or an IRA you manage yourself, there is one critical rule that everyone needs to know: beneficiary designations trump your Will.A Will is an important estate planning tool, but most people dont know that beneficiary designations override whatever your Will says about a particular asset. For example, if your Will states that you want your retirement account to be passed on to your brother, but the beneficiary designation on the account says you want it to go to your sister, your sister will inherit the account, even though your Will says otherwise.Similarly, lets imagine that you get divorced and as part of your divorce decree your ex-spouse agrees that they will not have any right to your retirement fund. However, after the divorce, you forget to take their name off of the beneficiary designation for the account. If you die before updating the beneficiary designation, your former spouse will inherit your retirement account. If you forget to update your ERISA-controlled account and have remarried, your current spouse would receive half of the account and your former spouse would receive the other half. Thats why its so important to work with an estate planning attorney who can make sure your accounts are set up with the proper beneficiary designations and ensure that your assets are passed on according to your wishes.Work With An Attorney Who Makes Sure All Your Assets Will Be Passed On How You Want Them ToUnderstanding how the law affects different types of assets is essential to creating an estate plan. But theres more to it than just having a lawyer you need an attorney who takes the time to really understand your family and your assets so they can design a custom plan that achieves your goals for your assets and your legacy. Thats why we help our clients create an inventory of all of their assets to ensure that every asset they hold is accounted for and passed on to their loved ones exactly as they want it to.Contact Entrusted Legacy Law at 412-347-1731.
Are you taking care of an aging family member at home? Is an older adult in your life beginning to show signs that it's time for home care to keep living at home safely? Family caregivers do a great deal for the people they care aboutbut they cant do it all, and sometimes, hiring a caregiver is the best option for everyone involved.Of course, its easier for friends and coworkers to suggest getting outside help than it is to make that decision. After all, you may not know what to expect from in-home senior care, or even where to begin. But its important to recognize when you need help, both for yourself and for your loved one. Lets talk about how to find a caregiver who will not only take care of basic care needs but also forge meaningful bonds with your family. 3 Steps to Take to Find Caregivers in Your AreaStep 1: Assess Your Loved Ones Care NeedsIts important to have a clear vision of what youre looking for before you begin your search. Start by making a list of all the daily needs and tasks your loved one requires help with. That might include managing chronic conditions, like diabetes or COPD, or personal care tasks like dressing and grooming. This list can also include more personal things like your loved ones strengths and limitations, their favorite hobbies, what they like and dont like, and other preferences. The more detailed the list you can compile, the easier it will be to make a perfect match!Types of Senior CaregiversThere are several categories of in-home caregivers, and knowing the difference early on will help you focus your search.Caregivers/Personal Care Aides (PCAs) serve as companions, helpers, and supporters for a wide range of needs. They can help older adults with light housekeeping, activities of daily living, meal preparation, and much more.Home Health Aides do all of the above, plus they have more specialized skills and certifications that prepare them to provide mobility support, medication reminders, health monitoring, dementia care, and more.Private Duty Nurses are skilled, licensed registered nurses (RNs) who can perform medical tasks like wound care, IV infusions, tracheostomy management, and more. They are better suited for people who need ongoing health care outside of a hospital setting.Types of In-Home Care ServicesIn-home care isnt a one-size-fits-all service. The best caregivers and home care agencies will have flexible, customized care plans that you can use for part-time or full-time assistance with many in-home care services, such as:Preparing mealsRunning errandsLight housekeepingGrooming, bathing, toileting, & moreFall prevention and safety adjustments in the homeMonitoring chronic conditions, medication reminders, etc.Transportation to doctors offices & social engagementsStep 2: Choose Your Search MethodThe ultimate goal of this journey is for you to find a professional, qualified, and personable caregiver that meets all of your loved ones needsand preferences. Your two main methods of finding a caregiver will be to work through an agency or to look for independent contractors.If you choose to seek an independent home care worker, be prepared for the search to take a long time. You may need to write your own caregiver job description, sift through registries or staffing services, check references one by one, and set out hourly rates. Then, when youve found someone, youll also be responsible for contractor protections like workers' compensation and withholding taxes.Benefits of Working with a Home Care AgencyHome care agencies can connect you with trained, qualified, and compassionate caregivers quicklyin some cases, you can even find next-day care. Working with an agency means you can find a caregiver who is:Prescreened and background-checkedTrained and experienced in diverse care needsAble to call in backup if they are sick or have an emergencyWell-equipped to handle and respond immediately to changing care needsInsured and paid by the agency, limiting your burden of responsibilityStep 3: Find the Most Reputable Home Care AgencyMany people find and choose caregivers through word of mouth and testimonials. This is a great way to begin your search for a home care agency, too. Look for a company with many great reviews that is open and willing to share client testimonials, certifications, and other details about their hiring, training, and assignment processes. Awards, certifications, and accreditations are also important. Look for accolades both in terms of care provided to clients and how they take care of their employees. If an agency is a Certified Great Place to Work, you know that the caregivers are well-supported, well-trained, and well-prepared to provide excellent care to your loved one!Questions to Ask an Agency Is your agency licensed and accredited?Are your caregivers insured and background checked?Can I talk to any of your current clients for a recommendation?Are care plans flexible and customizable? How are needs assessed?How are questions, issues, or concerns about my caregiver handled?Are your caregivers trained to handle my loved ones unique needs, health conditions, and/or behavior challenges?What to Look for in the Best Home Care AgencyWhile some guides to finding senior care cite several downsides of working with agencies, you can avoid these pitfalls when you work with a reputable and responsible agency like ComForCare. We go above and beyond to remove the usual pains and restrictions of caregiving agency work and deliver exceptional service every time.Expense: Were more than happy to identify realistic ways for our clients to afford a caregiver. We have a wealth of senior care cost resources, budgeting tips, and flexible scheduling options to help you get the care you need. In fact, youre likely to find in-home care the more affordable choice compared to assisted living or other options.Caregiver Choices: Many agencies assign caregivers based on availability alone, meaning you could end up with someone who isnt a good personality fit for your loved one. At ComForCare, we use our in-depth caregiver matching program to align people who share interests and values.Flexible Hours: While many agencies dont offer part-time scheduling, ComForCare can cover any need. Whether you need a caregiver for a one-time respite period, a few hours a week, or 24/7 care, were there to meet you where you are.Looking for a Caregiver? Find Your Match TodayWhether youre urgently searching for a caregiver or just beginning to do your homework, we welcome you to ask us questions 24/7. We understand that finding someone to care for your loved one can be a stressful and confusing process. Were here to take as much off your plate as we can with round-the-clock support and a commitment to outstanding client service. Call us today for more information, 720-575-5576.
Let's say that you came across a shoebox full of old loose photographs or a few inherited family photo albums when you were in the process of decluttering your home. Let's also assume that you have made the conscious decision to have these pictures scanned by a Professional Photo Organizer in order to share them with your friends and family. The question will inevitably arise: what do you do with the original photos after they've been digitized? In the spirit of downsizing and getting rid of things that take up space in your home, your first thought may be to throw them away. The photos already on a flash drive, your cloud drive, and your computer - why would you need to keep the originals? The original photos are the best backup, especially if you use a cloud sync service to view/share your digital photos (i.e., Apple Photos, Google Photos, etc.). There are few worse things than accidentally deleting a photo on a synced drive (meaning it gets deleted EVERYWHERE) and realizing that you have no way of getting it back!Storage hardware and cloud software failure are rare occurrences, but they can be devastating. If you experience a power surge that damages your computer or the cloud software you use shuts down, you are really going to regret throwing the originals away! It is also important to note that hard drives have the potential to fail within a year, and most external hard drives only last around 3 years before they start experiencing data loss.Destructive edits made to a photo (i.e., cropping, lighting/color adjustments, etc.) can be difficult or impossible to undo, especially if it is the only digital copy you have access to. The original copy is always going to be your best reference if edits go awry!The original, printed photos are format-less. That is to say, you don't have to worry about "paper technology" changing as we advance further into the digital world. These "analog" photos are going to be able to be viewed by anyone at any time without the restrictions of cross-compatibility or file format.Using some sturdy archival boxes and labeled divider tabs as you sort through your photos can optimize your storage space! This means you can still maintain your goal of downsizing and clearing space! However, in order for this to be most effective, proper storage practices need to be used. Photos should not be stored in the attic, basement, garage, or anywhere where temperature and moisture levels fluctuate. By the way, you don't have to keep ALL your printed photos - just the ones that you consider the best and most meaningful! If you have already sorted through your photo collection and removed the blurry and "finger-in-frame" photos before they were scanned, finding the space in your home to store the originals of your favorite photos should be a non-issue. Also keep in mind that having photos you took on your phone printed is a great idea, as long as you create space on walls, in albums, or in photo books for them.