Taking Charge of Decisions that Will Help Us Thrive as We Age | The New York Community Trust
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September 27, 2019   |   By Marie D'Costa
Taking Charge of Decisions that Will Help Us Thrive as We Age

Women's Philanthropic Learning Series participants around a table
Takeaways from our most recent 2019 Women’s Financial & Philanthropic Learning Series

The Women’s Financial & Philanthropic Learning Series recently hosted an event titled “Taking Charge On My Own,” an evening of learning, conversation, and cocktails as women discussed how to make sure their vision for retirement becomes a reality. The event was the second installment in a three-part series, Our Third Age*: Transitioning, Aging, Coping, and Thriving. For more information about the series, visit our events page or contact Marie D’Costa at (212) 686-2461.

“Thank you for putting this special program together. I look forward to participating in the next one! Grateful to be in a room full of women who are equally interested in redefining ‘retirement’ and harnessing our vision for the next chapter of our lives.”
Anonymous participant

The night began with a discussion about how events in the third life stage—such as retirement, divorce, or becoming a widow—can lead to feelings of anxiety and loss of identity. Building a life plan or road map that delineates your assets; setting goals for yourself as to what you want to accomplish before, during, and after a life change; and addressing the question, “What do I want to do in the future?” can help you address these feelings and be more focused and intentional in your approach. These three exercises can be useful whether you are well into the retirement years or just planning for them, and can help to relieve the anxiety and confusion that is often intertwined with transitioning into retirement.

Asking questions about what you would like retirement to look like, from a financial standpoint (e.g., will I have enough to live the life I envision), a legal standpoint (e.g., being prepared for the loss of a spouse, reviewing legal documents to ensure my wishes are carried out), and a medical standpoint (e.g., support mechanisms, access to assistance in planning or coping), was a big focus of the evening’s program.

The panelists also provided the following tips and recommendations:

  • Talk with professional advisors about estate planning to ensure your wishes are honored after death. These advisors might be a trust and estates attorney, wealth manager, or chartered retirement plan specialist, among other types of professional advisors. Getting a second (or third) opinion helps ensure a full picture.
  • Review your will every three to five years to make sure it continues to reflect your wishes.
  • Check that the designated beneficiaries on your retirement plan(s), health savings account, and life insurance forms are up-to-date and reflect any recent name changes.
  • List an executor who you think will be able to handle the required paperwork. This is a huge task, as the paperwork ranges from terminating leases and credit cards to notifying government agencies and supervising the distribution of assets.
  • Consult with your employer regarding the specifics of beneficiary designation on these plans. Many retirement savings plans, such as 401(K)s and 403(B)s, require a spouse’s signature to give up their right to receive a portion of the assets.
  • Use IRA assets to make a philanthropic impact. Public charities receive 100% of the IRA assets that a donor designates to them. In addition, at death, the donor avoids paying income tax and estate tax on donated IRA assets. An individual who inherits IRA assets, on the other hand, must pay income tax—and depending on the asset’s value—may pay estate tax on the gift.

Staying active and connected are great ways to stave off anxiety and loss of identity. Volunteering, participating in programs designed specifically for those in our “Third Age,” or investing time and/or resources in nonprofits are three ways to get involved.

Three organizations for older adults transitioning to, or in, retirement are:

  • SPOP (Service Program for Older People)—enhances the quality of life of older adults by fostering their independent living through the delivery of comprehensive mental health care and supportive services. The Trust funds SPOP through gifts by bequest and individual donor’s contributions from their donor-advised funds.
  • The Transition Network (TTN)—is an inclusive community of professional women, 50 and forward, whose members inspire and support each other to continue a life of learning, engagement, and leadership.
  • ReServe is for professionals over 50 who can earn a stipend for providing services to a nonprofit or government agency. Reservists work part-time and help with capacity building in areas such as: financial management, strategic planning, and community outreach.

Whether it’s a health, legal, or financial matter, women who take charge of their future will flourish in their Third Age. We hope you’ll join us for the next installment of our Women’s Financial and Philanthropic Learning Series.

Panelists: The session featured a panel of experts from the medical, financial, and legal fields. They included Kim Isaacs Katz, Principal at Bernstein Global Wealth Management in New York and member of The Trust’s Women’s Advisory Council; Gretchen Beall Schumann, Esq., Partner, Cohen Rabin Stine Schumann LLP; and Catherine Thurston, LCSW, Chief Program Officer, Service Program for Older People. Patricia Caldwell, Partner and Managing Director at Gordian Group and member of The Trust’s Women’s Advisory Council, moderated the discussion.

*Translated from the Spanish term, La Tercera Edad, Our Third Age is the third chapter of our lives. In their first age, women flower into young adults; in the second, we build our families and professional lives; and finally, in our third age, we thrive in retirement and the sweet years of life.

 

 

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