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220 dpi 27p x 53p Ron Sanders color illustration of people giving blood to help elderly woman. Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel 1998 CATEGORY: ILLUSTRATION SUBJECT: Donating blood illus ARTIST: Ron Sanders ORIGIN: Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel TYPE: EPS JPEG SIZE: As needed ENTERED: 1/9/98 STORY SLUG: Stand-alone illustration, feature, features, health, science, medicine, blood, donor, donation, platelet, risk, woman, women, hospital, elderly, old, aged, death, dying, FW, sanders, 1998

Long-term care planning: Don’t jeopardize your assets by failing to plan

When it comes to saving for retirement, it’s best to talk with those who may become your potential beneficiaries about what you have and how best to protect what you have for the future.

“Maximize the 401(k) as best you can,” said David Rudis, a certified public accountant with Snyder and Clemente, Kingston. “If you’re under 50, you can max out at $17,500 and if you’re over 50 you can add $5,500 to that amount.”

Rudis said the best way to save is by matching what your employer is giving. “You want to be at least participating in your plan to the extent that you’re employer matches your contribution,” he said.

But that 401(k) is not the only major financial decision Rudis said people should be making — planning for the future involves more than just socking away money every month into a bank account.

“People as they get older need to review their financial decisions and planning with their children because they need to look at their overall net worth and see if any planning can be done to minimize the cost of their long-term care,” he said. ‘That’s so there’s not a depletion of their assets.”

He said a good age to start talking about that is around 70. “Before they get too ill,” Rudis said.

He said when those discussions happen, they should include talking about a will. “That’s important,” Rudis said. “They need to consult with an attorney who’s an expert in elder law.

He said it’s not so much a dollar amount when talking about end-of-life financial decision making, rather a plan.

“Anybody can benefit,” he said. “There are strategies that can help people who are on the lower spectrum who may have less than a half-million dollars and then there are people who have significantly more assets.” He said that involves rental properties, real estate, stocks and personal investments.

“When you’re looking at a long term package, you need to look at everything, not just their 401(k),” Rudis said.

Rudis added that children, the designated executor of the will or the power-of-attorney should know everything when it comes to finances.

“Everybody has some amount of assets that they can possibly protect or plan for in order to maximize the amount of wealth to the next person,” he said. “If you don’t plan, a portion of your assets that you may have worked for your whole life, may go to an unattended beneficiary, namely the long-term care provider when that wouldn’t have been the case if you would have properly planned,” he said.

Rudis said there are all kinds of rules and regulations, but if people transfer assets out of their name into a trust to the benefit of their children, after a five year waiting period, those assets would be exempt.

“It’s always good to have a talk about this type of planning,” he said. “The only people that don’t have a plan, means there’s a plan to fail.”