Importance of Estate Planning
During retirement there are three things that can happen. We can live a long time, pass away too soon, or become ill and need some form of extended care. An essential part of your retirement preparation needs to include your completed Estate Plan.
Estate Planning spells out the manner in which your property should be managed and distributed both during your lifetime and ultimately at your death.
I strongly recommend consulting with a qualified Estate Planning Attorney to review your options. I would select an attorney who exclusively works in this specialized area of law. You may pay a little more for their services, however from my experience, it is well worth it.
Most people need at least three Estate Planning documents:
- A properly executed will
- Power of Attorney
- Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Advance Medical Directive
Many attorneys recommend additional documents that are more specific, such as a Banking Power of Attorney, an IRA Trust, a Family Protection Trust, and an Irrevocable Trust to name a few. You may realize that you can only determine what you truly need by consulting with a qualified and experienced attorney.
Points to Ponder
The following are a couple of questions and topics to ponder as you think about your estate planning. Think through these topics as if you were going through them today:
- Imagine how I will feel to take care of my outstanding estate issues
- If I’m unable to make financial decisions for myself and/or my family, who is most qualified? Why?
- What happens to my family if I need some form of extended care and I can no longer watch over my family?
- What if my spouse needs some form of extended care?
- What happens to my family if I pass away sooner than expected?
- What happens if my spouse passes away sooner than expected?
When my children inherit my assets (IRA’s, real estate, investments), will they be able to manage this newfound wealth? Will they utilize their inheritance wisely? What happens to my assets if my children divorce? What happens if they have financial difficulty, even bankruptcy? Will it be beneficial to provide safeguards that make sure this money takes care of my children in the manner you desire?
An additional part of the Estate Planning process is to ensure that the beneficiary wording of your IRA’s, Qualified Retirement Plans, and Life Insurance policies are properly coordinated with your Estate Planning desires and estate documents. There are many intricacies with these designations that can make a difference in how your assets will be treated.
From my experience, the coordinated team approach works best. Your Financial Advisor, Estate Planning Attorney and CPA, together should discuss your situation. Having all three advisors discuss YOU and YOUR needs often leads to an estate plan that is most reflective your financial and nonfinancial desires.
An additional benefit of a well-prepared estate plan is knowing what to do in advance of issues that may occur!
For More Planning Information
For information on one of upcoming Retirement Income Planning workshops that will include a discussion of Estate issues, please click here Retirement Income Planning Workshop.