Planning for Life

The First Step on the Thinking Ahead Roadmap: Choose Your Financial Advocate

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 16, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis

Financial-assets-security-trusts-margolis-and-bloom-dagostinoA team of a gerontologist, a senior advocate attorney and an actuary have developed an extremely accessible tool to assist seniors in planning for their financial security. Unfortunately, as seniors age they often lose their financial acumen and can become the victims of financial fraud and abuse.

Gerontologist Marti DeLiema of the University of Minnesota School of Social Work, attorney Naomi Karp, formerly of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and actuary Steve Vernon recommend that every senior choose a financial advocate to manage their daily finances, deal with health insurance, manage investments, and pay bills related to the home when the time comes. The financial advocate may be a family member or a professional. Either way, on their website, the Thinking Ahead Roadmap, the three list the factors to consider in making your choice.

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Topics: baby boomers, financial planning, durable power of attorney

Lack of Family Support Exacerbates Future of LTC

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 2, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis

We've reported on both the importance of family caregivers and the underfunding of paid caregivers, both because they're underpaid and because it means we don't have enough of them. Now comes a study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College that concludes that we don't have enough family to go around either.

Part of a series about the need for long-term care, the Center finds that about a fifth of seniors will need no assistance during their lives, 38% a moderate level of care, and about a quarter a high level of care for three or more years.  Of this assistance, historically 64% has been provided by informal caregivers, mostly family members, at no cost, and the remaining 36% is paid for, mostly by Medic aid (22%).

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Topics: long-term care planning, baby boomers

The Caring Economy Finally Recognized

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on October 26, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis

georg-arthur-pflueger-eO_JhqabBY0-unsplashThe concept of the "care" or "caring" economy seems finally to be having its day. The care economy involves both paid providers of care -- home care workers, day care providers, nursing home employees -- and unpaid caregivers -- parents and grandparents of young children or older children with disabilities and children of aging parents.
The pandemic has shed a light on how important caregivers are to our society and our economy, and how unappreciated they have been. Caregivers continued to go to work to care for elderly individuals at home, in assisted living and in nursing homes despite the dangers of leaving the home during the height of the pandemic. Millions of women left their jobs and have not returned because their children were not going to school.
Paid caregivers are usually underpaid. Unpaid caregivers are usually stretched thin and undervalued, at least by society if not by their families. Both groups are mostly women of color and many fall into both categories -- underpaid caring for other people's children or parents and unpaid caring for their own.

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Topics: baby boomers, caregiving, family caregiving, Caregivers

The 2020 Census, Massachusetts, and the Baby Boomer Tsunami

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 24, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis

Unlike what happened after other recent censuses, Massachusetts held its own with the rest of the country over the past decade. As a result, we did not lose any congressional seats.

Massachusetts Keeps Up

While our growth rate of 7.4%, from just over 6.5 million residents in 2010 to 7 million in 2020 kept pace with the national growth rate of 7.1%, because of uneven rates of growth, we dropped from the 14th most populous state in 2010 to the 15th today, with Arizona leapfrogging from 16th to 14th. Indiana actually fell back to slots from 15th to 17th as Tennessee moved up from 17th to 16th.

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Topics: baby boomers, aging, demographics

Move Out of Your House Before It's Too Late!

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 25, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis


According to an AARP study, 76% of Americans age 50 and older want to remain in their own homes as they age. But they're not totally unrealistic about this. Just 46% expect to do so. Yet, the reality is that this will be difficult for most, if not for them, then for their caregivers.

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Topics: baby boomers, caregiving, healthcare, home care

Oldest Baby Boomers Turning 75: A Time to Plan

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 4, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis


With the Baby Boom commonly defined as beginning in 1946, the leading edge of the Baby Boomers are turning 75 this year. (Interestingly, three United States presidents, Bill Clinton, George H. Bush, and Donald Trump, were all born in that first Baby Boom year.)

But what does it mean that Baby Boomers are just beginning to cross this threshold? For them? For society? This blog post will discuss the former—planning for 75-year-olds—and a subsequent post will discuss the latter—the impact on our society of aging Baby Boomers.

A Time to Plan

Borrowing both from Ecclesiastes and from my friend and colleague Rajiv Nagaich of Life Point Law in Washington State, age 75 is a good time to plan for the second half of retirement.

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Topics: baby boomers, health-care decision making, Estate Planning

Will You Leave Your Children a Negative Inheritance?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on February 2, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis

negative-inheritance-estate-planning-attorney-Wellesley-MA-02481Will you leave your children a “negative inheritance?” The term (which was likely first used in the study of economics by Boston University Professor Laurence Kotlikoff) describes the situation in which the costs to children of caring for aging relatives outstrip any gifts or bequests they might receive in return.

Those costs may be financial, physical, and emotional, as children and other relatives give up jobs and homes to care for family members. The following posting to the is not unusual:

My parents are in their mid-eighties and continue to live at home. We sold our large home 2 years ago and moved in temporarily with my parents while awaiting the purchase of our new home. Alas I discovered how much they needed more care than just each other during our stay. My husband and I now stay at my parents home and we do not even visit our own home. I quit my job last summer to increase the level of care necessary for them. We pay all their bills except for food as well as our own bills. I am taking CNA classes so that I may continue to take care of them at home as opposed to the option of nursing home care. We are now dipping into our personal retirement savings to continue to care for them.

While a supermajority — 91% — of boomers report being “generally pleased to be helping their parents,” according to a survey by Putnam Investments, it doesn’t relive the negative effects it may have on a caregiver's own life. There are many steps parents can take to reduce, if not eliminate, the burden they may become on their children as they age. These include:

  • Doing proper estate planning so that children can step in to manage finances and make health care decisions when necessary.
  • Moving to housing that you can navigate if you're no longer able to go up and down stairs.
  • And that is close to your children so they can easily check in on you or pick you up for appointments.
  • Purchasing long-term care insurance to pay for care costs, if you can afford it.
  • Doing Medicaid planning if you cannot.
  • Having a family meeting to discuss your wishes should you become incapacitated and discussing the roles in your care to be carried out by different family members.

Taking these steps can help reduce the out-of-pocket costs of your care as well as the stress family members will experience when they have to step in. They can also help preserve and enhance family bonds, thus avoiding perhaps the worst potential "negative inheritance."


Related Articles:

Ultimate Juggling Act: Working, Raising Children, & Caring for Parents

AskHarry Podcast Episode 1: Planning Steps Seniors Can Take for their Protection

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Topics: long-term care planning, baby boomers, negative inheritance

Why Postponing Retirement Can Enhance Your Life

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on January 8, 2021

By Harry S. Margolis

There are many benefits to postponing retirement, including more retirement income and savings, and maintaining purpose and human contact in your life. It can also reduce the need to save, and thus the need to earn as much money. This can limit financial stress and open up opportunities for more meaningful work or to work less and spend more time doing whatever you choose, whether that's recreation, travel, or time with grandchildren.

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Topics: baby boomers, Retirement Planning

GAO Reports Home Care Workers Still Underpaid Despite New Protections

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on November 9, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Over my 30-plus years practicing elder law, the nature of elder care has changed dramatically, from one that was nursing home-based to one where care is largely provided at home or in assisted living facilities. (Of course, then and now, most care is provided by family members at no cost. Actually, "no cost" is wrong. No dollars may change hands, but the care is often provided at great cost to the caregiver.)

A great weakness of our "system" for providing elder care is that despite its great cost, most care providers are drastically underpaid. This has detrimental effects on them as well as on the people for whom they care due to the resulting stress and fatigue on caregivers and their turnover as they seek other ways to earn a living. One result has been the huge number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes across the United States, but especially in Massachusetts. (See Deaths in Nursing Homes: How We Let Down Our Older Citizens.)

In an effort to ameliorate this situation, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor, for the first time, extended minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. Unfortunately, a new Government Accounting Office (GAO) study reports that this has done little improve the income of most home care workers, in part no doubt to the low federal minimum wage of just $7.25 an hour in 2020. Home care workers in 2019 earned a median income of just $400 a week—just $10 a week more than the average income for jobs with similar education and training requirements. Median means that half such workers earned less than $400 a week!

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Topics: baby boomers, home care

AskHarry Podcast Episode 2: The Benefits and Risks of Revocable Trusts and Annuities for Seniors

Posted by Estey Masten on October 22, 2020


Retired University of Pittsburg Law School professor, Larry Frolik, joins Harry again in episode 2 of the AskHarry podcast discuss the pros and cons of revocable trusts and annuities for seniors.

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Topics: baby boomers, revocable trust, annuities

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