Longevity & Aging

No doubt about it: at some point we’re neither semi-retired, findependent or fully retired. We’re out there in a retirement community or retirement home, and maybe for a few years near the end of this incarnation, some time to reflect on it all in a nursing home. Our Longevity & Aging category features our own unique blog posts, as well as blog feeds from Mark Venning’s ChangeRangers.com and other experts.

My RRIF playbook: what you need to know in 2017

“Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.” — George Burns (1896–1996) Comedian, actor, singer and writer

There are three retirement accounts everyone ought to understand. They are the RRSP, the TFSA and the RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund).  I submit that the early part of each year is preferred to review the RRSP and TFSA. That leaves the RRIF to be dealt with well before year-end.

Start paying special attention to planning the RRIF, even if you don’t yet need one.

Be very mindful of the RRIF. Recognise its purpose and how it complements the other two accounts. Review it periodically to ensure it stays on track.

The RRIF is firmly entrenched as a prominent retirement planning vehicle, serving as an essential foundation of retirement nest eggs. For example, starting a RRIF at 71 implies long planning, often to age 90 or more: especially if there is a younger spouse or common-law partner.

Three conversion choices for RRSPs

RRIFs typically result from the aftermath of mandatory RRSP conversions. Three conversion choices include cashing the RRSP, purchasing a variety of annuities and using the RRIF account. The RRIF is most popular because it provides considerable flexibility. Avoid cashing RRSPs.

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Women have distinct financial planning needs

Marie Philips

By Marie Philips

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

The financial assets controlled by Canadian women as well the income earned by women is projected to grow significantly over the next decade.

This increase in wealth will result from a greater overall participation in the work force, higher level professions, an increase in female entrepreneurship and being the beneficiaries of a large share of the $1 trillion wealth transfer that is underway in Canada.

By 2026, women in Canada will control close to half of all accumulated financial wealth, roughly $900 billion in financial and real estate assets. That’s a significant increase compared to a decade earlier, when the share was closer to one third.

Yet according to a recent white paper published by IPC Private Wealth in collaboration with Strategic Insight, almost two  thirds of financial advisors (85% of whom are men) do not believe a female client should be viewed in any different light than a male client.

If we look at some of the concerns women have, we can see that there are distinct financial planning needs for women compared to men. Life expectancy at birth now means mortality in 2015 is 84 (80 for men).  Women live longer and are likely to have interrupted careers as a result of family responsibilities (children and caring for elderly parents) which all lead to potential lower available savings for retirement income.

Caregiver women more likely to end up in poverty

Research shows that women caregivers are likely to spend an average of 12 years out of the workforce raising children and caring for an older relative or friend.  Continue Reading…

5 common senior financial traps and how to avoid them

Scott Terrio’s Twitter feed (@CooperTrustee) reads like a financial horror story. Terrio, an insolvency expert at Cooper & Co. in Toronto, uses the 140-character medium to share the multitude of ways seemingly well-off Canadians end up buried in debt and turning to debt consolidation, consumer proposals, and even bankruptcy.

Canada’s record household debt levels have been a cause for concern for years, but Terrio sees a new problem on the horizon. Canadian seniors are the demographic increasing debt at the fastest rate.

Take Dorothy, an 81-year-old widow who owns a home with a 1st mortgage from a secondary lender. She refinanced a couple of years ago to do house repairs ($18,000), assist her son with divorce legal fees ($37,000), and to help her grandson with tuition ($8,500).

When her partner died she was no longer able to make the mortgage payments. A friend from church referred her to a mortgage broker.

The broker suggested a reverse mortgage,  which would let her stay in her house without the monthly mortgage payment. But the money from the reverse mortgage wasn’t enough to pay out the 1st mortgage after fees and penalties. She needed a private 2nd mortgage at 12 per cent to pay the balance.

Dorothy co-signed a $26,000 car loan for her nephew and co-signed with her son for funeral expenses ($12,000) for her partner. Her son stopped paying, so Dorothy was pursued (100 per cent).

She then ran into tax trouble by not having tax on her OAS & CPP deducted for the first few years. She owes $21,000 in tax, much of it penalties and interest.

This scenario is becoming more common among seniors today.

“Many are in a unique quandary. They’re asset-rich, but cash-poor. Cash flow is tight. Pensions are fixed, and many have underestimated retirement costs,” said Terrio.

So what do they do? Many seniors cash out assets to make ends meet. Others raid their home equity and take out lines of credit. All have financial consequences.

We asked Terrio to share the top financial traps seniors fall into and how to avoid them:

1.) Tax problems

Most seniors were used to being paid by their employers in after-tax dollars. At pension time, many don’t have taxes deducted to offset their Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan income and therefore end up spending taxable pension income.

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CPP Survivor Benefits not what many were hoping for

Enhancements to the CPP are always being suggested, largely to address the fact that fewer Canadians now have workplace pensions. The latest deal made by provincial Finance Ministers in June 2016 will boost CPP income from one quarter of pensionable earnings to one-third. The change will phase in slowly from 2019 to 2025 (when the pensionable earnings target will be $82,700), so it will be a while for these changes to be felt by future retirees.

Related: Canada Pension Plan expansion and why it matters

Of more pressing concern to current retirees, and not addressed – or even on the radar – is the issue of CPP survivor benefits.

As noted in this Globe and Mail article, if you find yourself widowed, you may not get the survivor benefit that you expected.

CPP Survivor Benefits calculation

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Retired Money: Pension Survivor Benefits

Pension Survivor Benefits are one of those morbid topics every couple needs to investigate. No matter how happy a marriage may be, at some point the phrase “till Death do us part” sadly comes into play.

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column looks at the somewhat morbid topic of survivor benefits on employer pensions, savings and especially the triad of the three major Government retirement benefits we’ve looked at in recent Retired Money columns: the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS) and for some, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).

You can access the full MoneySense column by clicking on the highlighted headline here: Survivor Benefits: A Guide to CPP, OAS, GIS and more.

The piece begins with a look at the more or less straightforward survivor benefits of employer-sponsored pensions. It notes that pension law requires that you and your spouse be offered a joint-and-survivor pension that makes payouts until both partners die. While pension administrators will likely encourage the pensioner to provide for the spouse, some may offer a spouse the option to waive their pension rights.

Depending on the paperwork signed when you elected to start receiving a corporate pension, your spouse may be entitled to a good percentage of what the lead pensioner is promised: it can range from 50% to two thirds to 75% and may even be 100%.

Things are relatively simply on RRSPs and RRIFs. Ideally you and your spouse have named each other the beneficiary on your RRSPs and eventually RRIFs. If so, the rules are relatively simple: the money in the one spouse’s plan rolls over tax-free to the survivor. It’s only when the second spouse dies that there will be a large tax liability to the government.

Tax-free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), introduced in 2009, have a special wrinkle and here we will refer you to a past Retired Money column. The main thing is to ensure you and your partner do the paperwork and name each other a Successor Holder for your respective TFSAs.

Given the preceding, readers may be surprised to find that survivor benefits for CPP, OAS and GIS are quite a bit more complex, and may be less generous than you may have supposed.

No real OAS Survivor Benefit after 65

For starters, there really is no OAS Survivor benefit after 65, since Ottawa assumes the survivor will have their own OAS benefits. There is an income-tested transitional benefit called the Allowance for the Survivor but it’s only for those aged 60 to 64 and subject to various conditions.  Service Canada says once these beneficiaries reach age 65, their benefit is converted to an OA pension and “possibly the Guaranteed Income Supplement.”

Similarly, Survivor Benefits for CPP may be less than couples may have been hoping for, particularly if both had been receiving the maximum.  A survivor who is 65 or older and not already receiving CPP benefits qualifies for a survivor benefit of 60% of the deceased spouse’s CPP pension, assuming benefits beginning at 65.

Combined CPP Survivor Benefit and Retirement Pension can’t exceed $1,114.17 a month

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