The March 17th Wall Street Journal had an interesting take on assisted living for retirees. The article covered several ideas that may be attractive to some of you. In 2010, an estimated 733,200 people in the U.S. lived in assisted living facilities according to the National Center for Assisted Living. Typically, the living arrangement is a one bedroom apartment that provides access to a dining facility, exercise rooms, with housekeeping, laundry, on site medical care plus transportation to doctor’s appointments. The cost of this care can easily exceed $5,000 per month and may approach the $10,000 per month level. As a result, as expected in a free enterprise system, alternative solutions are appearing. For example, in the story, a son rented a home for his father in Costa Rica which he shared with two other men. The price—$3,500/month—included a nurse supervisor, three aides, a care coordinator and a chauffeur. The son admits that he had qualms at first and checked every reference he could. He even contracted with a local secretary to make unannounced visits. The arrangement worked so well that he started making plans for his mother, who had divorced his dad years ago. Another option in some areas is the use of a “backyard” cottage that your parent/parents could use as separate living quarters. An example is the “MedCottage” which has a 12 by 24 foot living area with a handicapped accessible bathroom, kitchen, hospital bed and is outfitted so that the person living there can be monitored online. Apparently one of the biggest challenges to this approach is getting the proper building permits, but this seems to be a reasonable compromise between a parent moving back in and giving up independence. For really thinking outside the box, some retirees “retire on water” by booking serial trips on cruise ships. Cruise ship living compares to assisted living setups in that both offer some of the same amenities and services like dining, escorts to meals, help with medicines and housekeeping. The costs may be comparable and the cruise ships have a physician and nurses on duty 24/7.
Just a note or reminder concerning gifts. At the beginning of last year, the exemption went up from $1 million for single filers and $2 million for married couples to $5 million and $10 million, respectively. These new levels are only good through the end of 2012, barring unforeseen and unexpected developments in the tax law. If the shoe fits, take advantage of these tax breaks while they are available. Changing the subject, the same Wall Street Journal edition reported on changes to 1099 forms that may affect small business. First, the 1099-K was developed to require third parties—credit or debit card firms—to tell the IRS about their payments to businesses. For 2011 and after, these firms have to issue the 1099-K to the IRS and the taxpayer giving the amounts of such payments. This treatment is designed to shed light on businesses that may be underreporting their income. Also, be observant of the question on Schedule C, Schedule E and forms 1120S and 1065 that say, “Did you make any payments that would require you to file Form 1099. If “yes”, did you file or will you file the required forms 1099?” Firms are usually required to issue 1099 forms to providers of more than $600 worth of services during the year, unless the vendors are incorporated. Noncompliance can be very expensive.
I have trouble watching the news these days. There are too many stories that reflect a total lack of godliness in our society. Rich robbing the rich, poor robbing the poor and random acts of violence punctuate the headlines. The congregations at churches and temples do not seem to get younger, only older. The Bible is known by name only in many homes. Until recently, I was guilty of parking it on a bookshelf, never to be opened. Fortunately, a friend of mine encouraged me with a gift that opened this treasure of God’s promises, warnings, miracles and love. I have discovered that all I know, all I have, all I want is so insignificant compared to what I can learn from reading His word. I guess timing is everything, but why did I wait so long? I can only hope that I will work to follow the direction given in Matthew 10: “What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” Join me and share the promise, one step at a time. Maybe we can help turn this country back to God.
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