Lines of Credit on Appreciated Real Estate Will be Key to
Boomer Lifetime Income Planning.
Highly-appreciated real estate will be the crucial distinction between retirement financial comfort and lack of financial comfort for the bulk of the Boomer cadre who are living longer lives, facing increased health care costs, and soaring inflation. Boomers will need to pay careful attention to lifetime income planning. Unfortunately, many financial advisors focus on portfolio management and do not pay attention to clients' real estate assets. Strategies for Boomers to access the equity in highly-appreciated first and second home properties is seldom discussed.
There are many ways to access the equity in a first or second home whether you sell and downsize, sell and go to assisted living or nursing home, or stay in the house and access the equity through home equity loans. Accessing real estate equity for lifetime income planning is a trend bursting on the horizon. Here are some options:
Accessing equity and not selling
Home owners can refinance and take cash out to create an investment portfolio with an income stream. If you are paying 6% on the new mortgage and earn 7% on your portfolio, you are net ahead on income and have created liquidity from a non-liquid asset.
Banks are becoming more creative in offering equity lines of credit to their customers with highly appreciated real estate. Assume an equity line of $1 million that can be used as needed for expenses, maintenance and also to pay the interest on the line of credit. This strategy allows the homeowners to access the income they need, and keep the house.
Families choosing to downsize properties can use the 1031 exchange option to get into a different property, deferring the capital gains tax and using the spousal exclusion of up to $500,000 in gain on the house.
Strategies for Smart Selling
The homeowner can access the value of real estate through a straight sale, paying the capital gains tax and downsizing to a smaller home. There are, however, many options to avoid the loss of capital gains tax including charitable remainder trusts and private annuities.
Reverse Mortgages Work for Some
Reverse mortgages fit certain scenarios for individuals with no personal assets and a home worth approximately $300,000. For such seniors who choose to stay at home, accessing income through the reverse mortgage is usually one of few options and makes sense for them.
One or multiple options that fit a family's scenario, all related to the real estate, can help solve numerous lifetime income planning issues, empowering real estate owners as they age. There are numerous creative uses of line of credit bank loans all of which seem to be less costly than reverse mortgages if the home owner qualifies. The competitive marketplace is beginning to reflect the unique needs that Boomers present to their financial advisors and bankers. Stay tuned. Banking institutions want to meet the fast growing need for equity line of credit products.
Start Planning Your Retirement Real Estate Transactions:
The best strategies take time and can save or defer significant capital gains taxes.
This month, the Bush administration is floating a proposal for reducing the deductibility of mortgage interest as a way of reducing the current national deficit. The current talk is about reducing the deductible mortgage interest from a mortgage of $1 million to $300,000. In cases before, when Congress has made a change of this magnitude, there were grandfather provisions. In this case there is a chance that the existing deductibility might be kept, but all new mortgage holders would face dealing with a lower amount of interest deductibility on their taxes.
This possible legislative change regarding mortgage interest deductibility brings up the importance of planning all of your retirement real estate transactions as much in advance as possible. Advance preparation allows you to take advantage of existing strategies as well as preparing for unforeseen changes in the law.
The key to real estate transactions in retirement is to reduce or defer capital gains taxes that are incurred at the time of sale of real estate. With the growing value of appreciated property, paying the capital gains tax and “getting it over with,” is not only bad advice, but can make a significant dent in your retirement assets.
Pre-retirees have an endless set of scenarios that may be relevant to their planning, such as:
o Downsizing to create an income stream
o Using undeveloped property to create an income stream
o Selling investment real estate and creating a charitable foundation
o Selling highly appreciated real estate and solving very different needs of sellers
o Selling investment property and buying a retirement home that must be rented for at least two years to quality for a 1031 exchange.
o Selling a business property and purchasing resort rental property that will become a vacation home.
Each of these retirement real estate scenarios have time frames and legal nuances that require the attention of an advisor who understands how to manage highly appreciated real estate in retirement. If you plan to leave your current primary residence or sell business or investment real estate, start planning now so that multiple options will be available to you. In each case, the goal is to reduce or defer capital gains taxes so your retirement nest egg increases rather than decreases at the time of your real estate transaction.
There are Multiple Financial Challenges When Affluent Seniors Decide to Remarry:
Protecting Yours, Mine and Ours Takes Careful Planning.
There is a reason many senior couples choose to cohabit. It is financially simpler. However, when tying the knot is preferred, both parties to a high net worth senior marriage must face reality about protecting their individual assets. Here are a few scenarios that show the complexities inherent to a late-in-life marriage.As you might guess, marriage trumps everything. If you are legally married all joint assets are looked at by Medicaid law when one spouse needs nursing home care. How nursing home and long term care issues will be handled are definitely not romantic, but seniors can be pragmatic about these issues and tackle them ahead of time. For instance, if a wealthy senior marries and unexpectedly, his wife, who had far fewer assets, has a stroke requiring nursing care, her husband will be responsible for all of her costs until his estate meets the Medicaid drawdown rules.
If, however, this couple had invested in long term care insurance for both, before marriage as part of their pre-nuptial agreement, portions of the costs of nursing home care would have been covered to the extent of their LTC policies, delaying or eliminating the cash drawdown of the other's retirement assets. Another option, and one that is discussed when nursing home care threatens to decimate the healthy partners lifestyle, is divorce. It is a harsh, but practical, alternative to having retirement income drained for nursing home costs. The LTC policy should be designed to pay nursing home fees for at least the 38 months required by Medicaid, during which time the underlying assets could be re-titled out of the estate.
Often, it is property that needs protecting. A wealthy couple marries. It is understood between the husband and wife that her property will go to her children by her former marriage, and his property will go to his children by his former marriage. However, if the couple has not done trust planning and moved their properties out of their estates ahead of the death of either partner, they may not be able to protect their children from paying inheritance taxes.
For many women, the property they retained after the death or divorce of a spouse has special meaning. They may want to retain the property as a symbol of independence. In later life, maintaining that property may not be possible financially, and finding money to maintain the property becomes a problem. One solution for accessing some of the equity in a valuable piece of property is a home equity line based on the value of the property. The required payments on the equity line could be made from the loan itself, still leaving a substantial amount of money to provide for maintenance. Another option is to take a formal promissory note from her wealthier husband to fund the costs of maintaining her property. It could be payable by her children from the sale of the property at the time of her death, or from their own resources to her husband or his children if he predeceases her. She maintains her independence and can upgrade her property as required.
Every family's situation is different. Adult children often become concerned when newly engaged parents start to talk about changing their financial arrangements. They should be more concerned if the discussions do not come up. Planning ahead can avoid unpleasant outcomes and provide peace of mind that yours, mine and ours are provided for as intended.
Suspension of Bill to Eliminate Estate Taxes Permanently, in View of Katrina,
Means Families Absolutely Must Focus on Estate Planning Issues.
The estimated cost for Katrina will increase the Federal deficit by over $140 billion. As a result, Congress has decided to suspend any plans to eliminate estate taxes permanently. As a result of this, people should once again pay attention to the exemptions and credits under the existing tax law. Without planning, huge tax and asset protection advantages are lost. In the U.S., we have two tax systems. One for "Those Who Plan" and one for "Those Who Don't Plan". With planning, you and your spouse can pass on a little more than one million dollars per spouse to your family, without taxes, using the generation-skipping tax exemption. The catch is that you need to prepare to use this exemption by understanding everything there is to know about Dynasty Trusts, also known as Generation Skipping Trusts.
You can protect your assets and their appreciation from both lawsuits and transfer taxation. You can help your family retain access to and control over your money for ninety-nine years after your death -- or longer. Significantly, if you do not use this exemption, you lose it when your assets pass to the next generation. Also, your family stands to lose 50 % of the value of your assets every time ownership transfers to the next generation. So, it's not only when your children inherit your estate that you lose 50%, but when their children inherit, and so on, until your "legacy" has been whittled away within a few generations.The U.S. government levies estate taxes at death when assets change ownership through inheritance. Congress has traditionally used estate taxes to pay for wars. While estate taxes have been abolished numerous times, they keep coming back, as do the wars.
You can protect your wealth from this greedy estate tax by understanding and creating a Dynasty Trust. Create security for your family's assets during your lifetime, extend that protection into perpetuity. Provide your family with privacy -- trusts are not probated and do not become public record. Trusts help sustain family values because explaining your trust to your children requires an open discussion of your plans for your money. Proper trust development and administration helps family members who are not trained in the investment, legal, or accounting fields. Trusts are all too often ignored by families who believe their assets are too insignificant to warrant such a legal hassle. Keep in mind, that even if you do not have $1 million in assets, your appreciated home, a life insurance policy, pension account, and savings could add up to a significant sum. Don't ignore the possibilities of a Generation-Skipping Trust and related tax exemption. Be one of "Those Who Plan." For most investors, it is the right thing to do.
Decisions Now on Pension Income Can Greatly Impact the Spouse Left Behind.
If you are living on, or plan to live on, your spouse's pension income, you may be shocked to discover that such income can disappear after your spouse dies. Every year, women and men are left impoverished by a decision at retirement by the working spouse to take a larger payout during his or her lifetime, rather than a smaller payout that will continue to support their spouse after death. The standard option is to pay out the full pension to the retiree until his death. Choosing the joint survivor option reduces the monthly payout but assures the survivor of continuing income. It's heady stuff. The difference in monthly income by taking a full payout for the working spouse's life can be substantial. The bad news is that most women outlive their husbands by five to eight years. Alone and grieving is not the time to come to terms with a drastically reduced lifestyle because of the unexpected loss of pension income..Instead, the recommendation is that couples find out the terms of the working spouse's retirement program. Take that document to your financial planner and actually look at all of your projected retirement income numbers. You may not be facing destitution with the loss of your spouse's pension assets if you have investment real estate that you can still manage after your spouse's death, and/or a nest egg of well-invested savings. Clearly, the time to do this planning is before retirement. Most advisors, however, emphatically recommend against taking the larger payout rather than protecting the spouse who lives longest.Investment real estate may be too difficult for a spouse to handle alone. There are options for transferring that asset into a number of other income producing instruments that can defer taxes and provide regular income. Your investment portfolio should be looked at with the goal of reducing risk and expenses while striving for income. What we don't know about our spouse's pension plan can be very painful. Ask for a meeting today and take that pension plan document with you.
A Case Study for Paying Attention to Fees and Investment Management Costs.
Saving dollars on the cost of your investment management services can have a
dramatic impact on your portfolio performance and bottom line results.
Take Joe and Joan Cooper. They recently came to an independent financial advisor to discuss their stock and bond portfolio, currently managed by a private wealth division of a major bank. Their current fees are 1% on $4.5 million in assets and is equal to more than 40% of the current income generated by the portfolio. This does not even include the turnover expenses on the $1 million in mutual funds which are approximately $10,000 a year, or income tax on the portfolio of about $20,000 a year.
A different, more honest and less expensive strategy will transition the stock portfolio into two in-kind index funds. The suggested indexes are the Total Stock Market Index Fund and the International Index Fund that have total expenses of less than .2%. Taxes on these funds is significantly reduced because there is no trading. The bond portfolio will also be transferred in-kind and a ladder will be maintained. The new accounts proposed will have a fee of .25%.
The Coopers can expect a total savings of fees, expenses and taxes that will exceed $50,000 a year.
Additionally, history and the fervently held opinion of John Bogle, Founder of Vanguard, is that an index portfolio is likely to outperform the Cooper's old portfolio by a significant margin every year because of the reduction in expenses and fees.
If You Plan to Sell Real Estate as Part of your Retirement Planning,
Talk to Financial Advisors Who Understand Tax Deferral Strategies.
Boomers, who reach 60 this January, are beginning their search for a second or retirement home will fuel the demand for resort property for some time to come.
Many professional advisors, attorneys, CPAs, real estate brokers, and financial advisors operate in their own silos, isolated from the expertise of other professionals who give advice to retiring Boomers. A frustrating truth is that many attorneys and CPAs don't fully understand the significant benefits to a Boomer couple of tax deferral strategies around buying and selling real estate. Too many Boomers will get the very bad advice to pay the capital gains tax due at the sale of real estate, and "get it over with.”
Many real estate brokers do understand the tax deferral strategies that can be undertaken when Boomers sell a primary residence and buy a dream or vacation home on Cape Cod or other resorts, but when real estate buyers go to their CPA and attorney, who may or may not be familiar with important tax deferral strategies, the subject may never come up because there has been no preparation by any of the parties. “Much of the planning should be done as soon as people start thinking about buying or selling their property," says Nat Santoro. Kinlin Grover, Orleans.
Nothing is likely to stop the demand by Baby Boomers for property on Cape Cod or other resorts in the U.S. in the near future. In these areas the demand is very strong and it is just beginning. In January of 2006, the first wave of Boomers will turn 60. They are not waiting until retirement to own their dream home. They are buying now, trying to keep from being shut out of a rapidly appreciating second and retirement home market in these resort areas.
They are high net worth and self-qualified by the current price of real estate. In most cases, they will be selling a highly appreciated piece of property they currently own and downsizing when they buy a resort property. The National Association of Realtors says that in 2004, 37% of all homes sold were either second homes or for real estate investment. For instance, a decade ago, for the year 2004, 2736 Cape Cod single family properties sold at an average price of $152,000 and in 2004, 4403 properties sold at an average price of $506,000, according to the Cape and Islands Association of Realtors, Multiple Listing Service
The Boomers will experience a wide variety of financial and tax issues with the sale of existing property and the purchase of any retirement or investment property. Here are several strategies that can save Boomers significantly by deferring taxes and ultimately, eliminating them.
• A 1031 Exchange allows Boomers to exchange an existing business or home for resort area retirement home and defer capital gains taxes indefinitely.
• A 1031 Exchange allows Boomers to exchange an existing business for a different kind of income producing investment that could be real estate or stocks and bonds and even CD's, deferring capital gains taxes indefinitely
• Options for accessing real estate equity to use in any way the homeowner chooses, whether for long term care, home maintenance, or property taxes.
• Private Annuity Trusts do an excellent job of deferring taxes and protecting assets from creditors and divorcing spouses. Private annuity trusts allow families to pass property to children tax free.
• Charitable Remainder Trusts.
If a transfer of any property is part of your retirement planning, see a financial planner before you visit your broker. The savings to your retirement finances can be substantial. Find a realtor who partners with a financial advisors familiar with and specializing in strategies for highly appreciated real estate, either a primary residence. a vacation home, or a business and the Boomer’s best interests will be served.
Senior Living Decisions Will Impact Your Estate Planning:
Selling your existing residence or second home may not be the best strategy.
Financial options for senior living communities must be carefully evaluated.
Well-off seniors are now facing a growing and competitive market when they begin to make decisions about easing their responsibilities of home ownership and housekeeping. A move to a senior living community no longer means signing up where there is an opening. Importantly, senior living communities are NOT assisted living that has come to be associated with personal care availability, on site, 24-hours a day.
Today, senior living encompasses many choices, including high-end condos with concierge services and restaurants in what are being marketed as "Over 55" communities, targeting the affluent. Decisions about a senior living community need to be made more carefully than any previous housing decision. The financial arrangements and regulations vary between communities, and the affluent senior's commitments to the community must be evaluated in view of their estate planning. Many communities return up to 85% of the original sale price of the condo when the residents die or move to a nursing home, but the resident's family will receive no appreciation. There are often required extra fees for the country club/restaurant services, which provide a specific number of meals for a specific length of time. Couples thinking about selling a highly appreciated home or second home should always consult with their advisor before they put the home on the market. There are numerous strategies involving the sale of property, that when implemented, can save the family a great deal of capital gains tax on the sale as well as preserving dollars for investment that can benefit a family's beneficiaries for generations.
Share your ideas and your information with your financial advisor and estate planning attorney before you sign a purchase and sale contract for a senior living community. The effectiveness of your estate plan depends on it.
Convert Your Company IRA to a Roth Now: Pay Conversion Taxes from Non-IRA Assets to Protect Tax-Deferred Investments for Future Generations.
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has occurred that makes converting your big IRA plan to a Roth IRA, a strategy that must be considered now. Experts believe that the value of conversions of IRA’s to Roth’s are in the category of “best kept secrets” for high net worth investors.
Do it now, they say, before the Government changes its mind and cuts off this “gift”. The benefits are multiple:
1.Converting to a Roth means paying tax now in what could be the lowest rate of your lifetime.
2.The Roth conversion allows investors to extend, or stretch a Roth IRA’s tax-free benefits for many years by naming their children and grandchildren as beneficiaries.
3.The Roth conversion reduces future estate or “death” taxes.
4.The largest possible amount of assets could be left tax-free for your heirs when you use assets outside the IRA to pay the taxes due at conversion.
It is unlikely that the Roth conversion opportunity will remain intact. The current budget deficit, war in Iraq, and extensive costs of homeland security will soon require this “loophole” be closed, because the government loses taxes with every conversion.
In this example George Gardner, 79, has a Roth IRA valued at $4 million with a growth rate of 7% Roth distributions are not required until death. George wants to leave the Roth to twin sons, Harry and Henry, both 40, so he splits his IRA into separate IRA’s for his sons over their lifetime based on the Uniform Lifetime Table. The Roth continues to grow to a value of $22 million over the son’s lifetimes, each son’s required distribution grows monthly, but the assets are never taxable to the sons. The total distributions during the lives of George, Henry and Harry equal $26,299,541. The growth of $18 million has been tax-free. George could also leave part of his $4 million to his just born great grandchild. If the IRA earned 8% over that great grandchild’s 80-year life expectancy, it would pay an astounding $122,514,435 income tax free. George could leave quite a legacy.
Investors Have a Hard Time Finding an Educated, Coordinated Team
to Manage the Real Estate Exchange Process for Them.
It takes educated and smart investors who can filter information for themselves to find a coordinated team qualified to advise them on exchanging existing real estate and saving capital gains taxes using alternative strategies that allow reinvestment in options other than real estate.
Isolated professionals working in their particular practice silos neither trust or know other professionals integral to the process of setting up a 1031 exchange, which is just one option available to the investor.
It is this product-specific reluctance that eliminates a 1031 from inclusion in multiple discussions with an attorney, CPA, financial advisor, or real estate professional. Add to that the inherent mistrust of one financial professional for another, and the fear that the professional invited to assist with the 1031 will ultimately try to steal the client.
The 1031 exchange design and implementation does take an integrated team and a "Qualified Intermediary" designated by the Federal government. However, many investors will find their "silo" professionals quite disinterested and negative about this option, a stand that is greatly to their financial detriment. The 1031 Exchange can save investors significant capital gains taxes when a property must be sold.
Investors will also find that their advisors do not understand that they may use the exchange dollars from a real estate sale to invest in residential, single family property in resort or retirement locations of the investor's choice, private annuities, or charitable remainder trusts, in addition to investment real estate.
Look for an advisory firm that positions itself as a family business office, where the expertise needed for all investment transactions are located under one roof, and where all of the professionals function as a team, working together to achieve the best after-tax outcome for their client.
Wall Street Does Not Want Investors to Know….
They Can Create Their Own Hedge Funds to Protect Capital.
It has become the investment recommendation of the day -- put a portion of your assets in a hedge fund to protect against future market declines. Hedge funds have become popular since the 2000-2003 market downturn. Investment managers want to show their clients and prospects that they have a plan for the next downturn, no matter when it occurs.
However, what Wall Street and many investment advisors will tell you, but won't emphasize, is that hedge funds, even good ones, cost 2% a year and the manager takes 20% of the profit. Last year, many hedge funds just about earned their fees, and no more, so any gains were eaten up in hedge fund fees and expenses, while the stock market produced a 10% return. So much for hedge funds that did not work very well in last year's primarily sideways market. Most hedge funds are designed to be market neutral. When the market declines, the best that will happen, is the investor will break even,
What good advisors will recommend and something that investors can do themselves is create their own hedge fund. It is not rocket science. A portfolio of bonds, real estate and a stock portfolio of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) with stop loss provisions will do the trick. Stop loss is a mechanism that is put into place when the ETFs are purchased and they limit the loss the client will withstand in a down market. For example, Vanguard's ETF Total Stock Market Index Fund has 3000 companies and includes large, mid- and small-cap equity investments. It does not track the S&P 500 that covers only the large cap universe. If an investor's stop loss is at 5% and the market declines 10%, the investor would only lose 5% and be sitting safely in cash in a money market on the sidelines.
In an environment where investors will be lucky to get 7 or 8 percent return going forward, success is in cutting costs -- ETFs save most clients about 2% a year in expenses and sidestep most management fees experienced in mutual funds -- becomes paramount. Investors really can “do-it-themselves” and create their own personal hedge fund.
Conflict Free Financial Advice Comes Into Its Own in 2005.
The financial services industry is filled with smart people who understand that the trend to offering investors conflict free advice is here to stay. Consumers are driving this trend in their search for conflict-free advice. No longer will deals that favor the financial product providers be hidden beneath layers of subterfuge. It has been obvious for years that Wall Street has become a massive conflict of interest.
Smart financial advisors are now choosing product where there are no commissions, no payments, no trips, no gifts and very low management fees and transaction costs. These advisors will depend on client fees, and when their asset grows, their revenues grow.
Advisors want to be on the same page with their clients, and that requires offering products with the lowest expenses, the chance for the best returns. Investors do not need to pay an expensive middleman who can now be completely cut out of the equation.
Wall Street never wanted investors to know that it is very easy to invest retirement money. Financial advisors moving to a conflict-free practice would have avoided the mutual fund scandals by investing in ETFs, and the current insurance company scandals by scrutinizing what insurance products are the cleanest in terms of benefit to the investor.
Staying out of conflict with your clients will not be easy. When an investor calls Vanguard, they are offered a variety of Vanguard Funds that may not always be the best or lowest cost option. The same thing happens at Fidelity. The phone representatives at these companies charge up to 1% for their phone services in helping callers determine their asset allocation between Fidelity and Vanguard Funds. The conflict is apparent. Conflict goes far beyond the investment products themselves, including:
o The attorney who suggests a bank trust department be named executor, because he is likely to receive clients who need legal work from the bank.
o The attorney who does not suggest ways to keep an estate out of probate because he will make more settling the probate than writing the will, increasing the settlement charges by 700% than what was necessary.
o The insurance agent who may be more interested in the commission on the product sale than whether the product is the right fit for the client.
The first question every investor should ask a financial advisor is “What is your conflict-free approach to working in the best interests of your clients?” It should be very obvious when an advisor has thoughtful answers to this key question that is at the heart of a long-term relationship.