Retirees should prioritize getting necessary documents for estate planning.
If you are an adult, you should have an estate plan.
You never know when you will die, or become incapacitated.
Although you occasionally hear about people retiring in their 30s, most people retire after decades in the workforce.
These older retirees should take steps now to put necessary documents in place to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their assets.
According to a recent MSN Money article titled “6 Legal Documents Retirees Need—but Don’t Have,” many retirees have done little to no estate planning.
The 20th annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Retirees found that about 30 percent of those in retirement have an estate plan, 32 percent have a durable power of attorney for health care decisions, 30 percent have a health care treatment directive, 28 percent have a general durable power of attorney (for financial matters), 19 percent have funeral arrangements, and 18 percent have a HIPAA waiver.
This is especially disturbing when you consider what these necessary documents accomplish.
The durable power of attorney for health care decisions, also known as a medical proxy in some jurisdictions, is used to designate a trusted family member or friend to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated retiree.
With a health care treatment directive a retiree can outline preferences for end-of-life medical care.
A general durable power of attorney grants the attorney in fact (i.e., agent) authority to manage finances and pay bills on behalf of an incapacitated retiree.
Without funeral arrangements outlined, your loved ones will be scrambling to make decisions quickly after you die.
With a HIPAA waiver, retirees can give permission for their doctors to speak with specific people about their health care and provide access to medical records.
Some people may need to include a trust (revocable or irrevocable) as part of their estate planning to provide greater control over the distribution of assets to their heirs or to meet tax planning goals.
By neglecting to create the necessary documents to satisfy your unique estate planning objectives, you will potentially place your loved ones on a very problematic footing.
Without the above documents and a last will and testament, your family first may need to petition a court to have authority to assist you in your incapacity or settle your estate when you die.
Without a last will and testament or other planning arrangements, your assets will be distributed to others based on the laws of your state.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to get your necessary legal documents in place.
Reference: MSN MONEY (Dec. 15, 2020) “6 Legal Documents Retirees Need—but Don’t Have”