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Financial Post columnist (Rechtshaffen) shows how many Canadians can afford Retirement Homes

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A financial expert and Financial Post columnist compares the costs of senior housing options including home care, long-term care and a retirement home.

A newspaper columnist recently contacted Amica to research an article on the cost of private retirement living. This wasn’t any reporter: it was Ted Rechtshaffen, a personal finance columnist for the Financial Post and the president and CEO of TriDelta Financial, a wealth management company he launched for Canadians looking for objective financial advice. He’s been named one of the Top 50 Financial Advisers in Canada by Wealth Professional Magazine. He’s also the son of a resident at Amica senior living.

Rechtshaffen’s column carried this headline: “Here’s what it costs to live in a retirement home — and the bottom line is less than you might think.” His article looks behind the monthly fee for a high quality seniors’ residence to debunk myths about the cost of private retirement living.

His aging clients often wonder if they can afford to live in a private retirement community, and how much extra in expenses they’ll pay. As he says, some seniors get “sticker shock” when they see that a nice residence costs $6,000 per month. “They wonder how they can suddenly add $72,000 to their annual expenses,” writes Rechtshaffen.

As the financial expert explains, it’s worth looking beyond the price tag to consider how moving to a residence for seniors would impact both your quality of life and your monthly expenses. (You can download this senior living financial planning worksheet to see how your finances compare with retirement expenses.) He says it’s important to consider these five factors behind the cost of retirement homes:

#1 Living at home isn’t free. Even if you have no mortgage, you may still be paying for rent, property taxes or condo fees, maintenance, utilities and food. Monthly expenses vary widely, but Rechtshaffen tallies how you’ll free up funds by moving out of a home. For more info, see six myths about the cost of senior living.

#2 How much does your lifestyle cost? You might be traveling, dining out, buying new clothes and spending on entertainment at age 70. By the time you’re considering a retirement residence you might be 15 to 20 years older: how might your spending change at 88?

#3 Get help from tax credits. If you’re paying for assisted living or a-la-carte health services in a private residence, these might be deducted from income under Medical Expenses or the Disability Tax Credit.

#4 You can tap multiple income sources. If you’re attracted to the high-level service, convenience and camaraderie associated with a good senior living residence, remember that you may have various sources of funding, including Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, RRSPs/RIFs and more.

#5 Will your long-term care insurance cover some costs? Some people carry this kind of insurance, which can help if you find yourself needing assistance and care as you age.

Read the full article by Rechtshaffen to find a list of key issues to consider for your own retirement situation. You can also see his table comparing typical costs associated with living at home with private care, living in a private retirement residence and living in a public nursing home. Living at home with full-time care could wind up costing more than you think, while living in a decent retirement home can offer comparatively great value. Check out the article to see the surprising math behind common senior housing options.

Reproduced from Amica Conversations.

Ted Rechtshaffen
Provided By:
Ted Rechtshaffen, MBA, CFP
President and CEO
tedr@tridelta.ca
(416) 733-3292 x 221

The newly rich: How your world changes when downsizing creates a windfall

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You may never have imagined yourself sitting on a financial windfall and wondering what to do with it but many older Canadians who have lived through the housing market’s finest hours are facing just that.

If the investment in your family home has paid off handsomely over your lifetime, there might come a time to lock in those gains. You could downsize and buy a cheaper home or condo — if you knew how long you might want to live in the property and if you don’t mind all the land transfer taxes and transaction costs.

9589919_sOr you could give yourself the flexibility of renting an equally nice home or condo.

The question is – what do you do with it, and what do you need to think about, when that big cheque comes from the real estate lawyer?

Here are five things to think about:

  • What is your new annual budget going to look like? You will have major savings on annual house upkeep and repairs and no more realty taxes. You will have major new expenses with your monthly rent. Will this end up costing you $40,000 more a year or only $10,000 more or is it closer to a break even scenario?
  • In order to cover off annual spending, how much, if any, do you need to draw each year from your non-registered investments? The key is not to think about how much income does this need to spin off, but rather cash flow. This income focus is a mistake that many people make, and it sometimes leads to higher risk investments and almost always in much higher taxes.
  • Based on your current situation, what is the chance of you outliving your money? What is your likely estate value and lifetime tax bill? These important questions may require help from a financial planner, but if you don’t already have a strong handle on this, now is the time to get it. Aside from peace of mind, having this knowledge will drive a number of decisions around your spending habits, investment strategy, gifting habits (to family or charity), tax planning and estate planning.
  • Your tax bill is getting very big, and you need to figure out how to make it smaller. In addition to being forced to draw 7.59% of your RRIF value (based on age 73), you are now suddenly taxed on income and realized capital gains on investments. If you earn 5% income (half Canadian dividends and half interest or U.S. dividends) on this portfolio, that works out to $35,000 of Canadian dividends and $35,000 of fully taxed interest and U.S. dividends. You could be facing over $20,000 in taxes that you weren’t facing before plus you could lose $6,700 in annual Old Age Security (OAS) payments. This is a little less painful if you are able to fully split income with your spouse, but can be very expensive if you are single.

 

The good news on the investment front is that you can structure the portfolio to generate much less income, cut  your tax bill, and possibly even keep your full Old Age Security payment in the process. Among the tools to help accomplish this would be:

  • Start with an investment portfolio that has limited exposure to interest income and U.S. dividend income in the taxable investment account. This will lower the amount of income that faces the highest tax rate.
  • If you are paying for investment advice, try and ensure that the investment fees are tax deductible. This will lower your overall cost and also lower your taxable income and can help with OAS recovery.
  • Consider Corporate Class funds that have low yields and can defer capital gains – or other income limiting investments.
  • Look at other tax sheltering ideas such as shifting some funds to tax sheltered insurance or using flow through shares with investment certainty (a locked-in loss) that is more than offset by government tax credits.
  • Look at gifting strategies as part of the overall plan – both giving to family and to charity.
  • How do you use your wealth to make the most of your remaining years? This is touched upon above, but it is really about sitting down and saying ‘what do I want to do now? What goals do I have for myself?’ Not just the bucket list idea, but what kind of values and relationships do I want to leave with my kids and grandkids and friends? Do I want to try to make a bigger difference in other people’s lives – either financially or through other things that I can do? When you suddenly have more liquid wealth at your disposal, it is a good time to take a step back and think about what it can allow you to do?

 

While the selling of your family home can trigger this type of review, it can happen in other situations as well. Often it is at a time of inheritance or in some cases when a retiree chooses to take the value of their pension as a lump sum. It can even be the much rarer scenario of a lottery win.

At all of these times of positive financial change, it is important to think about how it could change your lifestyle, how your tax situation changes, what type of advice you might require, and how it might allow you to positively impact others. These situations may never come up in your life, but if it does, it is often a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plan wisely.

Ted can be reached at tedr@tridelta.ca or by phone at 416-733-3292 x221 or 1-888-816-8927 x221

Reproduced from the National Post newspaper article 1st October 2014.

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