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Considering the move to an active-adult community? We’ve got advice on evaluating the options.

As retirement nears, many older adults consider the benefits that an active-adult community can offer. For some, the option to downsize out of an over-large house can mean a more comfortable retirement and a larger estate to pass on to heirs. For others, the proximity to recreation and community promises to help keep them active for years to come.

California offers a vast array of active-adult communities, large and small, lavish and budget-minded. And although comparing sports offerings and swimming pools can be fun, experts say that a robust analysis of the benefits and potential problems ought to weigh into the decision.

John Brady, the creator of active-adult community directory, told Fox Business that prospective buyers should conduct thorough due diligence on the financial health of a community. This can include looking at the financial documents, asking about the number of homes in foreclosure, reading the minutes from the Homeowners Association meetings and talking to current residents. For even more peace of mind, Brady says, ask an accountant or an attorney to help review financial and legal documents. Excellent due diligence up front can help eliminate significant and costly surprises later on.

Ann Brenoff at the Huffington Post suggests that retirees with grandchildren check the community’s policy on and attitude toward children. According to Brenoff, some communities limit the number of nights that children can spend the night -- which may put a cramp in some people's' grandparenting style.

Finally, most experts agree that potential buyers should give the community a trial run before buying. Adults can rent one of the homes for a month or two or arrange an extended stay. This can give future buyers the confidence of knowing that the community and its residents are a great fit.

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Go Red for American Heart Month: Four fun ways to get heart-healthy with loved ones

February is a time for matters of the heart -- and that includes heart health. This month is American Heart Month, and groups like the American Heart Association want to get people talking about how to prevent heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women in the United States.

The risk of heart disease rises with age, especially after age 45 for men and age 55 for women. One in four Americans dies of heart disease, and it can run in families, so it is likely that you know someone who is at risk. While anyone with risk factors should be under a doctor’s care, you can help support your loved ones in getting and staying healthy by putting some fun into heart-healthy habits.

1. Organize a weekly family walk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) point out that regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat heart disease. Help get your loved ones in the habit and spend some quality time together by taking a weekly walk together.

2. Offer a few great “mocktails” at your next cocktail party.

The CDC also suggests that limiting alcohol use can help lower blood pressure, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Show friends and family that cocktail hour can be fun, delicious and heart-healthy by serving up some tasty alcohol-free cocktails.

3. Give a heart-healthy Valentine’s Day gift: a home blood pressure monitor.

Monitoring your blood pressure at home can save your life. Medical researchers agree that home blood pressure monitoring significantly impacts whether patients achieve and maintain healthy blood pressure levels. The American Heart Association recommends that anyone with risk factors for high blood pressure monitor blood pressure at home regularly, in addition to formal medical care.

4. Sign up for the Bay Area Heart Walk.

The next local Heart Walk, sponsored by the American Heart Association, is on September 16 in Redwood City. A number of other walks around the Bay Area follow in September and October. More information can be found on the American Heart Association website.

While heart health can be fun, it is still a serious topic that should be discussed as a family. Many of the risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are often symptomless, leading to an unexpected heart attack or stroke. Discussing heart disease with your family may also provide an opportunity to discuss the importance of advance health care directives. Advance health care directives can help reassure family members that in the event of a sudden health event, such as a heart attack, the wishes of each family member will be followed.

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Despite Pervasive Myths, Estate Planning Significantly Benefits Young and Growing Families

One of the most pervasive myths about estate planning is that it is most crucial for the elderly. According to a national estate planning survey, this myth is one reason that the majority of people under the age of 34 do not have a will. But young adults, and especially young adults with growing families, run serious risks without a comprehensive estate plan -- and this is true whether they are have significant assets to protect or are just beginning to build wealth.

Newly-married couples are often surprised to learn how important it is for each spouse to sign a power of attorney to cover circumstances if one the spouses becomes incapacitated. Many believe that if one spouse becomes incapacitated, the other spouse will have the legal authority to act in his or her place, but that is not universally true. 

Without a power of attorney, a spouse will be unable to make decisions about the other’s individually-owned assets, including insurance accounts. Furthermore, he or she may be legally unable to sell jointly-owned illiquid assets, such as a car, without going to court. An estate planning attorney can structure the power of attorney so that it is only activated under certain circumstances, such as incapacitation, if that is desired.

As young families grow, naming guardians for minor children becomes the most important estate planning task. Parents should name both a guardian and an alternate guardian. Without a properly executed document naming a guardian, any interested party may apply to the courts for guardianship, and a judge will decide who among them is appointed guardian.

When young families begin to accumulate assets, it may be time to consider setting up a trust to ensure that the assets will not pass through probate. To families with few assets, it may not seem to be worth the expense to set up a trust. But it is important to remember that probate may be even more expensive. Young couples may want to consult an estate planning attorney to discuss the best way to preserve growing assets.

Like many older adults, young adults may feel uncomfortable discussing topics that touch on death or incapacitation. But young families can also look at these preparations as a way to further show love, care and concern for each family member, and that perspective can make the discussion easier.

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