Latest News / How Technology Is Making It Easier and More Cost Effective for Retirees to Age in Place
How Technology Is Making It Easier and More Cost Effective for Retirees to Age in Place
September 17, 2021
According to a recent national survey, 90% of adults, age 50 or older, say they want to remain in their current homes as they age. The survey also notes that the pandemic has led many to give some serious thought to the resources they may need to age in place safely, from assistance with daily living activities to how they will access medical care.1
Aging in place can be a cost-effective housing solution—if you plan ahead. However, due largely to a shortage of paid caregivers that began well before the pandemic, the average annual cost of homemaker services ($53,768) and home health aides ($54,912) has risen to a level on par with assisted living facilities ($51,600) in recent years. However, skilled nursing home care still far outpaced all other options at an average annual cost of $93,075 for a semi-private room and $105,850 for a private room in 2020.2
So what can you or someone you care about do to remain at home longer? Consider how technology is helping more retirees age in place safely. For example, wearable emergency alert systems can detect falls and summon help, while certain smartwatches, fitness bands, mobile apps and devices can monitor heart rate or detect blood glucose levels. Telehealth services, which are now covered by most insurers, including Medicare, enable virtual visits with healthcare providers. Other smart technology is designed to help safeguard your home and its occupants, such as:
- Cell phones with emergency response buttons
- Smart thermostats, as well as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Voice-controlled devices that work with smart speakers to remind you when to take your medication or head out to a medical appointment
- Cameras, microphones and motion sensors can monitor regular activity or signal a lack of it to your caregiver
- Home security systems that allow you to lock or unlock doors from a smart phone or speaker
Ecommerce is also helping more retirees to age in place, especially those who may no longer drive or have access to public transportation. In fact, people age 65-plus are the fastest-growing group among online shoppers and increasingly rely on the convenience of home delivery for everything from groceries and clothing to prescription medications, personal care items, pet supplies, and more.3 These and other technological advances continue to make life safer, easier and more convenient for those who prefer to remain in their homes in retirement.
If you have questions about planning for your lifestyle needs and preferences in retirement, contact the office to schedule a time to talk.
4 Tax-Smart Ways to Help Pay for a Grandchild’s Education
One of the best ways that grandparents can provide a lasting legacy is by helping to fund a grandchild’s education expenses. Below are four ways to help accomplish this goal during your lifetime, or afterward.
1. 529 education savings plans: When used to pay for qualified education expenses, 529 account earnings and withdrawals are free from federal and, in many cases, state taxes. They are one of the only assets that account owners can remove from their taxable estates while still maintaining control over the assets. Contributions can be made by anyone, for any beneficiary. Plan assets can be used to pay for most education expenses at colleges, technical, vocational, and graduate schools, or for qualifying adult continuing education programs. Assets can also be used to pay for up to $10,000 per year in K-12 tuition for primary or secondary public, private, and religious schools.1
2. Annual gifts: In 2021, the annual gift tax exemption amount is $15,000 per recipient. That means that individual taxpayers, regardless of filing status, can give $15,000 to as many different people as they wish. If you’re married, you can combine your gifts and give $30,000 to as many different people as you wish. There is no limit on the number of gifts you can make in a given year or to whom those gifts are directed. For 2021, the lifetime exemption amount is $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for married couples (minus, of course, any prior taxable gifts).2
3. Direct payments to educational institutions: Payments made directly to an educational institution are not considered gifts under the gift tax rules, so they won’t count toward your $15,000 annual exclusion. It’s important to note that if you write the check to a grandchild, even if they endorse it over to the school, you will have made a gift to the grandchild that is subject to gift tax rules.
4. Trust: A trust can help reduce estate and inheritance taxes as well as avoid probate, the court process for distributing assets upon the death of the owner. Trusts are one of the most flexible tools for carrying out your wishes during your lifetime and afterward, since they provide nearly unlimited freedom in designating how assets may be used. For example, a trust established to pay for a grandchild’s college costs may stipulate that the assets can only be used to pay for tuition, housing, and fees, or it could cover any number of related expenses. It’s entirely up to you. When you set up a trust, you will need to designate a trustee to pay out the funds as directed by the trust and to file annual tax returns on behalf of the trust, following the owner’s death. Meet with your legal professional to discuss the type of trust that meets your needs. If you have questions about planning your legacy, contact the office to discuss your specific situation and schedule time to talk.
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