May 16

5 Things To Do Financially As You Age

Saving as you age might not seem like the most important thing when you are young but asking anyone who is pasted retirement age and they will tell you to do certain things. Obviously saving large amount of money is an easy piece of advice but there are things to do with your money as you age.

Move Investments To Less Risk

As a fixed income household after retirement it can be wise to take money out of the high risk stocks. Although this will impact the large amounts that could be made on the market it also thwarts the losses as well. A solid growth stock that always seems to produce dividends can be a nice constant stream of income for the holder. Mutual funds are also another safe way to make money. To be warned though, the safe route can work but you still have to pick solid mutual funds or consistent stocks.

Take A Certain Amount Out Of Your 401K

There are tax penalties each year if you do not take a certain amount of money out of your 401K. There is an age start to this and this is the age of 70 and each year you have to take out a certain percentage. This can be used as the money to live on for the year as it is a sizeable percentage. It can be lived on exclusively especially if you have employer match on your 401K and you put away a solid percentage each month for a multitude of years.

Establish A Living Trust

Living trusts are necessary for those who have beneficiaries who are minors. Many experts say that an inheritance shouldn’t be given to a person until they are at least 25. This is because many people that age lack the maturity to handle receiving that amount of money at once. A trustee would help pay for your child’s life and then give them the remaining money once they have reached the age that the parents agreed to release the funds and property to the child. This can be beneficial if you have lost the capacity to make your own decisions. Many people think that a living trust is about dying too soon but sometimes it can be about living too long. Eliminating a will contest is another benefit of this. This can be something that can cause a rift in a family and a living trust can help eliminate the grounds for a will contest.

End Your Mortgage Early

This might be something that you had to start earlier in your life but saving for retirement is much easier without a mortgage to pay. If you have been fortunate enough to pay off one house, then if your children have moved then you should consider downsizing. Passive income or mortgage payments can be made on a smaller home with rent money accumulated from the larger old home. This passive income can benefit your retirement fund quite nicely and when you are tired of having renters then you can sell your home or move back into it.

Autopay All Credit Cards

As you age it might slip your mind to pay your credit card bill. Setting up autopay will make sure no interest is taken for the next month and paying the complete bill is wise. The only reason to have a credit card is to reap the rewards of cash back or other rewards programs. Otherwise it can just cost extra money as forgetting a payment can hurt your credit along with your bank account. Cancelling credit cards is easy and finding new cards with lower rates and better rewards is something to investigate as you age as you have hopefully been improving your credit score.

Having all of these things in order as you age can be the difference between a stressful and comfortable retirement. This can even impact the age you retire at as a few bad decisions can take years to repair completely. Plan for your later years now and you will be able to enjoy them immensely!

May 16

When Is It Time for the Grandparents to File for Guardianship?

One of the biggest misconceptions that grandparents have is that there is nothing that they can do to protect their grandchildren.  In reality nearly 10% of all children living in the United States reside with their grandparents.  In many of these cases, the grandparents are actually raising the child(ren) instead of the parents.  Grandparents who are raising their grandchildren should have legal guardianship for many reasons.

 Reasons to File for Guardianship

Many grandparents do not realize that they should have legal guardianship of their grandchildren if they are raising them.  If the grandparents do not have custody of the grandchildren, then the parents can come back into the children’s lives at any time and take them out of the stable home that they are living in.  What is even worse for both the grandparents and the children is that the parents can choose to never allow the grandparents to see them again.  While having guardianship does not mean that you can’t lose your grandchildren, it does mean that you have a stronger case in the eyes of the law.

 Many Roads to Guardianship

Sometimes it is not in the child’s best interest for their parents to immediately lose full custody of them.  In this case, the grandparents can actually apply for and become the foster parents of their grandchildren.  This allows for the grandparents to have access to formal arrangements with the parents, financial assistance for the children, and access to legal help if a problem should occur.

When Grandparents Become the “Parents”

 There are many different reasons for which grandparents are granted the custody of their grandchildren.  The main reason that children might be placed with grandparents is because their parents are dealing with a legal or substance abuse issue.  Some parents choose to leave their children in the care of grandparents when they are dealing with marriage issues, financial struggles, or even if they suffer from mental illness.  Since these issues are typically associated with poor decision making abilities, it is often considered best for children involved to be in the care of someone else (in this case, the grandparents).

 Issues with Parents Separating Grandparents from Grandchildren

 One of the biggest problems with parents getting their custodial rights back is that they often choose to separate their children from the grandparents who were raising them.  Parents who do this to their children have a number of reasons to do so.  One might be that the parents feel jealous of the relationship that the grandparents have with their child.  Another could be that they feel as though the grandparents are constantly judging or questioning their ability to parent successfully.  Finally, they might feel as though they are being reminded of their problems when they see the grandparents.  If a parent is struggling with psychological issues then it might seem as though their children would be better off without seeing the grandparents.

 Reasons Grandparents Might Struggle with Obtaining Custody

 One of the biggest reasons that a grandparent might not feel like trying to obtain custody of the grandchildren is that they might worry about whether or not the parents would retaliate later in life.  They fear that parents would decide to separate them from their grandchildren if they were capable of caring for them at some point.  Another thing that concerns grandparents is that they might ruin their relationship with their adult child.  Finally, they might not be able to easily access the legal system or have enough money to try and fight their way through court.

 What Can a Grandparent Do?

This brings us to the ultimate question of when grandparents should choose to seek out the custody of their grandchildren.  If your grandchild is in immediate danger when they are with their parents, then it is a good idea to step in for the protection of the child.  If the child does not have adequate medical care or needs insurance, it might also be time to talk to your child about custody (even if temporary and the parent’s idea).  Talking with your child about how to care for your grandchildren in different situations can help with the decisions that they make.

Finally, if you feel that you do not know what way to turn when your grandchildren are concerned there are people who can help you.  There are many agencies that can help you understand your rights as a grandparent and the long term issues that you might face over your grandchildren.

May 16

5 Reasons You Should Have a Will

There will come the time that everyone will die sooner or later. Having a will helps allocate your assets to loved ones, charities, or any other entity. The question then becomes that why is it that when polled only an estimated 40 percent of people actually have a will. There are a plethora of reasons that a person should have a will especially if they have children or children from multiple marriages and you share custody with your Ex. There were actually people who were polled who would rather give up sex for a period of time or get painful dental procedures done. Some do not have a will as they do not want to think about the possibility of dying. Others do not want to spend the money but there are plenty of reasons to get a will written up and they are as follows.

Easier Than Ever

Those who think that getting a will written up is difficult are very wrong. There are sites like LegalZoom that help you write your own wills at a small price. It is comparable to how TurboTax as it is a software and shouldn’t take too long to fill out. There will be interview like questions that help populate the will into its complete form. With services this easy and cheap there shouldn’t be an excuse for not having a will especially if you have children or a vast estate.

Take Care of Your Children

Taking care of your children should be the first priority of your will. This can be putting a trustee in charge of your estate until the children have reached a certain age. This age should be at least 25 as younger people do not have the maturity to inherit large sums of money especially after the death of a parent. Taking care of your family and keeping them from fighting among themselves is another positive aspect of having a will. Without a will then it is possible that a blood relative that you might not approve of will have the controlling stake in your estate.

Keep The State Out Of It

The state has ancient views on relationships and it is possible that a state may not recognize a marriage or union and grant the estate to someone you wouldn’t want it going to. For those who have less than traditional families it is essential to specify what assets to go which person. Not all people want their money and possessions to go to their family but would rather have it go to a charity. In these cases the charity would probably pay a lawyer to write your will for you especially since they will benefit.

Updating It Isn’t Difficult

Once you have a will written then it isn’t difficult to make modifications to it. Sometimes there are deaths of people you have written into the will or a break in a relationship can change the primary benefactor of a will. You will just have to have a few witnesses to sign it and your new will can be official.

Estate Taxes

To be civil about the matter, the government taxes an incredible amount of money from things left behind to others. If you don’t leave a will then they will take even more with court costs that can be incurred during probate when the court is deciding who gets certain things. Granted the estate taxes will take a toll whether you write a will or not, the taxes are decreased for those who have a will written out. If you have been working your entire life to have a bulk of your money and possessions taken by the government and the legal system then not having a will is for you. If you saved to take care of family and friends then having a will written is imperative.

By being able to overcome the fear of writing your own will you have the opportunity to better take care of those who are important to you. Having a will is an advantage to everyone involved and you want what you have worked for to go to who you designate. Go out and write your will as your family deserves it.

May 16

When Is It Time to File a Restraining Order?

If you have been or are the victim of abuse then it is important that you take care of yourself.  If you have a minor child who has been the victim of abuse then you need to get help for your child as well.  Knowing when the right time is to file the restraining order is important and varies based on the situation.  In most situations you are going to want to file the order before you end the relationship (whether it be a dating relationship or a friendship that has taken a violent turn), but you should be ready to end the relationship immediately after filing.  You generally do not file an order unless you are willing to leave the person and end the abusive relationship that you have.

Many people are confused about who they can get restraining orders from.  Here is a short general list of the people that you can obtain a restraining order for.

  • A Spouse (or Former Spouse)
  • The Other Parent of Your Minor Child
  • A Person You Are Dating (or Used to Date)
  • A Person Who Lives in Your Home (or Used to Live in Your Home)
  • A Person Related to You by Marriage, Adoption, or Blood

 Steps to Obtain an Order of Protection

 Of course there are some steps that you are going to need to take in order to obtain the order.  By following these steps you are more likely to get the order approved and not denied.  In some cases, when there is not enough evidence against the accused, the restraining order can be denied which could put you at greater risk of abuse or violence.

 Step 1 – Go to the Courthouse

The first thing that you need to do when you want to file a restraining order is go to the courthouse in the county where you live (or where the violence occurs if it is happening at work or another place that is not in your home county).  If you do not want to go to the courthouse alone there are often victim’s rights representatives that will go with you.  There are domestic violence shelters and crisis centers in nearly every city and town and they are generally easy to locate by calling the police.

 Step 2 – Fill Out All Paperwork

Depending on what state that you live in, the paperwork can vary.  Make sure that you specify why the order is needed.  Be sure to include fact and stay away from emotions.  If there have been witnesses, police reports, or incidents with child protective services make sure that you include all of this paperwork when you apply. 

 Step 3 – Go Before the Judge

Once you have all of the paperwork filled out, you are going to need to go before the judge.  When you do this it is a great idea to take a picture of the accused with you.  In addition you might want to have a witness with you.  The judge will either issue or deny a temporary or emergency order.  Either way there will be a future court date that you must attend and that is where the permanent order will be approved or denied. 

If you obtain a temporary order make sure that you keep very accurate notes of any interactions, phone calls, or letters/mail that is sent to you by the accused.  Also make sure that you take photographs if you see them outside of your home or where you work.

If you are obtaining a restraining for you and your child(ren), the judge may appoint a Guardian ad Litem for your child(ren). This way, their best interest is a priority as well.