Kelly J. Bullis: Senior tax help
As I get older, I appreciate any help I can get. For our senior citizens, it only makes sense that we do everything we can to make life as easy and comfortable as possible. They took care of us while we were growing up and getting started in life; now it’s their turn.
Here are some thoughts for those of you who might be new to the “senior citizen” world.
TAX PREPARATION: Usually, when you are retired, your tax situation simplifies down to retirement income and Social Security. At that point, you don’t need expensive tax preparers like me. The good news is that most senior citizen centers have free tax preparation services for simple returns.
SOCIAL SECURITY/MEDICARE: If you have attained the proper age, it’s time to notify the Social Security Administration that you would like to start receiving your benefits and be signed up for Medicare health insurance. Call the local Social Security office to schedule an appointment to meet with them. You will find them to be very friendly and helpful, but if you just show up, you might wait all day before somebody can see you.
HEALTH INSURANCE: You might currently have another health insurance policy. You need to contact them to let them know you are now enrolled in Medicare. They will offer you a “supplemental” policy (much less expensive). Depending on how healthy you are, you might or might not need that.
ESTATE DOCUMENTS: When you retire is a good time to pull out your will, trust, power of attorney for financial and health matters, etc. and review to make sure they are up-to-date. It would be worth spending a bit to have your attorney look them over to make sure they are up-to-date legally. (Laws change over time and trusts especially can become outdated.)
LIFE INSURANCE: If you have a “Universal Life” policy, at some point, the older you get, the cash value decreases all the way eventually to zero. Cashing out/closing that policy while the value is still high is a good idea. Contact your life insurance agent to see about transferring that policy to something else (like Long-Term Care?) or closing it out. Beware, there might be a tax impact to closing the policy, so work with your CPA on that.
HOME LEGAL PROTECTION: Most folks usually have their mortgages paid off by the time they retire. There is a simple process called “homesteading” that you should look into. It isn’t perfect, but it does add a layer of legal protection from lawsuits and creditors. Putting the home title into your trust might also be a good idea at this point if you haven’t already done so.
Did you hear? Prov. 24:27 says, “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.”
Kelly Bullis is a certified public accountant in Carson City. Contact him at 775-882-4459, on the Web at http://www.bullisandco.com and on Facebook.