Managing small estates

Your answers to questions in the Monitor appear to be aimed mainly at readers with lots of money. What can a person with a small home ($20,000 value) and about $10,000 saved for retirement do? Or, a woman I know is divorced and about to retire. Her former husband has remarried. Can she get social security from her husband's account; her benefits are minimal, because she hasn't been working long. P.K.

A couple or a person with limited resources living mainly on social security benefits in retirement needs to watch his or her spending even more carefully than those with more resources. But people with limited savings, who possibly do not own a house, may take advantage of programs for the elderly poor such as food stamps, subsidized housing, and supplemental social security programs. Numerous programs funded by federal, state, and local governments aim to improve the standard of living for retirees without extensive savings or pensions other than social security.

Actively investigate the opportunities for stretching your own limited funds through use of available resources. Start with the office for the elderly. or some similar title, in your community. Or call your councilman's office for leads. Parttime work may also be available.

The divorce you mention will be eligible for social security benefits on her ex-husband's account if she was married to him for a minimum of 10 years, regardless of his remarriage. The earliest she can receive benefits is age 62 if her ex-husband is retired also and drawing social security benefits.

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