The Complete Retirement Survival Guide, 2nd Edition

By Peter J. Strauss, Esq., and Nancy M. Lederman

Facts on File, ISBN: 0816048045; $18.95 softcover; 420 pages

Reviewed by Mitchell Sorkin

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I was delighted when Peter Strauss and Nancy Lederman produced a guide from their earlier publication, The Elder Law Handbook. As a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), I’ve been involved in elder-care planning on many levels and worked with Peter Strauss on several elder-care cases.

Advisors need quick answers and have relied on such resources as the Master Tax Guide and the Tax Facts. The Retirement Survival Guide is not only a new must-read reference for all financial planners, it is also a great tool to give to individuals planning for retirement.

The book takes a reader through everything about retirement and elder-care planning, including health-care costs and needs, long-term care financing, lifetime planning, gifts, estate and income tax, employment and benefits issues, housing, and how and where to get help. Each chapter is filled with pertinent questions and answers.

The book does an excellent job explaining the Medicare and Medicaid benefits and their limitations, and even includes a pro forma New York State health-care proxy.

The book helps readers negotiate the entire Medicare maze, starting with the eligibility requirements of Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (medical insurance). It also explains prescription drug benefits, deductibles, and copayments. How to appeal a Medicare decision is discussed step by step. Another chapter explains the long-term care features of Medicare, followed by the most sought-after information regarding Medicaid and long-term care. The questions of how much someone can have or give away, and the effect of these gifts on Medicaid eligibility, are addressed in detail. This is a hot topic because most older individuals want to protect their assets and pass them to their children. The most important questions concerning one’s home and spousal assets are reviewed. In addition, the guide explains the type of long-term care insurance coverage now available and how to evaluate the insurance companies that offer this fast-growing form of insurance.

Because the majority of most older Americans’ net worth lies in their home, the guidebook conveniently explains how to use reverse mortgages to “unlock” that value. The chapter on wills explains estate planning, bequests to charities, burial instructions, and what happens when someone dies without a will. Many people have pensions, IRAs, and annuities that they will use in their later years to provide cash flow. Questions and answers concerning distributions, taxability, and eligibility are reviewed and explained.

The appendices provide a complete listing of organizations and state agencies throughout the United States, including addresses and phone numbers, and a wonderful index to quickly find topics covered in the book.

Mitchell Sorkin, MBA (Tax), CPA, PFS, is a member of the NYSSCPA’s International Taxation Committee.




















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