How to Avoid Bankruptcy in Retirement

bankruptcy in retirement

Bankruptcy filings for retirees are rapidly increasing across the US. As poorly funded pensions and retirement savings shrink, retirees look to bankruptcy to put a stay on some of their monthly payments. Rising healthcare costs, adult children living at home for longer, and the financial inability to properly save for a retirement that extends into longer lifespans have all contributed to the rising senior bankruptcy rate. How can you avoid this trend and spend your golden years in peace? Here we look at a few ways to make sure you aren’t filing for bankruptcy after retirement.

1. Settle Your Debts

Regardless of how much you have invested into your retirement, if you’re carrying a mountain of debt into retirement you could end up financially strapped pretty quickly. Paying off as much debt as possible before retirement should be your number one goal. High interest credit cards are the most important to pay off, followed by your mortgage and car payment. The less debt you carry into retirement, the more money you will have to cover your living expenses. If you are struggling to tackle your debt and you are approaching retirement, sit down with a debt negotiation attorney to figure out what your options are.

2. Be Clear with Children and Other Family Members

It is very tempting to be generous with family members and other loved ones. However, you need to be realistic about when you can actually afford to help and how much this will impact your retirement savings plans. Parents should not feel obligated to pay for college, a wedding, or other big life events if they do not have the means to do so. The best thing to do is communicate these financial boundaries early. Adding more debt to your plate in order to help a family member can be disastrous for seniors looking at retirement. After all, if you do not prioritize your financial health over that of your loved ones, you could end up becoming a financial burden to them later on.

3. Downsize

Retirement comes with a lot of big life changes. More leisure time, the freedom to travel, and the ability to explore new hobbies come hand-in-hand with some harder lifestyle changes. With the inevitable reduction of income in retirement, retirees often find they cannot afford to keep up with their day-to-day expenses. Buying a smaller home or renting and downsizing to one vehicle instead of two or three can help you establish a leaner budget before retirement. This should make it easier to embrace a reduced retirement income.

4. Be Smart About Social Security Benefits

The biggest concern most people have about retirement savings is running out of money. Getting a part-time job to boost your retirement portfolio can help buoy your finances in retirement. Most retirees need about 80% of their pre-retirement income to maintain their lifestyle. Your Social Security benefits will mirror the average of your pre-retirement wages. It is important to keep in mind that your social security benefits will likely not cover even half of your retirement expenses. The longer you can go without tapping into social security, the better your financial situation will be in retirement. Even if you have the option to start using your Social Security, only do so when it is absolutely necessary.

5. Invest!

The shakiness of the market over the last two decades has many Americans making uber conservative investment decisions about their retirement. Investing doesn’t have to be scary. In order to keep up with cost of living adjustments and to give yourself a generous nest egg to work with in retirement, it is important to invest savings into a diversified portfolio of common stocks. Especially if you are a few decades away from retirement, it is a good idea to use the time you have to put your assets into money market funds. Investing your money, as opposed to letting it sit in a bank, can make all the difference for your funds in retirement.

Many seniors and those approaching retirement age have anxieties about the financial realities of retirement. Veitengruber Law can provide the services you need to establish a robust retirement plan. From asset protection and debt management to bankruptcy litigation, we can help you get the peace of mind you need. We also work with a diverse network of professionals who can help you invest, downsize, and make a comprehensive retirement plan that will be effective. Don’t wait until you are enjoying your golden years to have second thoughts about your retirement plan. Take action today to secure your financial future.

Veitengruber Law: Working with Elder Lawyers

 

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Elder law is the legal practice that focuses on representing senior citizens in regards to age-specific issues like: estate planning, Medicaid, disability, long-term care, administration of wills, guardianship, commitment, elder abuse protection, end-of-life planning, nursing home care and contracts, and many other issues that may arise in the aging population.

Essentially, elder law attorneys have a loaded job description: representing older Americans in just about any legal area you can think of. As you can imagine, it can be a bit overwhelming if a client (or couple) has a lot of needs at the same time.

Attorneys who get the best results for their clients are those who have a narrow area of focus. This allows them to become experts in their practice area(s) in order to both expedite the processes required by their clients and to get reliable, high quality results. Elder law attorneys who concentrate solely on elder law are consistently great at what they do.

Even so, the elder law attorney may still find himself overloaded with work from time to time, when, as mentioned above, a particular client requires a lot of attention. Additionally, any attorney can get overwhelmed if they have a sudden rush of new clients.

Elder law attorneys assist a specific type of client (the aging) in a variety of areas. This makes them the perfect partner for an attorney who specializes in specific areas rather than type of client.

Example: Elderly clients Fay and John come to your elder law practice wanting to set up their estate plans. They have a lot of assets (but not a lot of money), numerous beneficiaries and stipulations, and present a rather challenging and time consuming case. In addition to estate planning, Fay is also having issues with Medicaid that need attention, and John’s sister has just entered a nursing home wherein they suspect she is being neglected and/or abused.

On top of all of that, Fay and John stopped paying their mortgage six months ago and are about to lose their home to foreclosure. Although they knew foreclosure was inevitable, they’ve now realized that renting or buying another home will cost more than they were already paying their mortgage company each month. They want to know how they can save their home, which is scheduled for Sheriff’s Sale in two weeks.

The best option for their elder law attorney in this situation would be to connect them with a local foreclosure defense attorney who has significant experience in “last minute” foreclosure saves. By working together, both attorneys can provide everything Fay and John need so that they can continue living comfortably in retirement.

Other reasons to consider taking a “tag team” approach to an elder law practice include: clients who need to file for bankruptcy, real estate contract review, landlord/tenant disputes, credit repair, debt resolution and elder fraud.

Veitengruber Law is a full-service real estate and debt relief solutions law firm in New Jersey helping clients with foreclosure defense, bankruptcy, credit repair and other debt relief problems. We welcome any elder law attorneys who’d like to collaborate in order to give our joint clients the best results possible through retirement and beyond. We have offices in Monmouth, Burlington and Camden Counties and also serve Ocean, Mercer and Gloucester county clients.

Connect with us on LinkedIn, shoot us an email or give us a call. Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer Counties – (732) 852-7295; Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties – (609) 297-5226 or (856) 318-2759.

Image credit: C.Performa