Post Retirement is Time to Address these Overlooked Issues
Would you willingly leave your heirs a tax liability that can be avoided or overpay taxes during your retirement years? Of course not. But odds are, because of ignorance, you're likely doing so.
If married, would you provide an income stream to your surviving spouse that is smaller than available? You probably will.
It's especially crazy, even selfish, when you think of the unnecessary hardship you create on family when you ignore important post retirement issues. Or when you are simply ignorant (means "not knowing", does not mean stupid). You simply compound their loss with a financial calamity. Very nice of you.
Let's address some of these post retirement financial and estate issues you can address.
And by the way, if you think the issues below are only for "old people," when is it that you will die? Illness and injury do not discriminate. Cancer is as happy to attack you as it is an older person. The bus that goes out of control mows down people of all ages. So the following issues are only partially age-dependent.
Now is the time to get your documents in one place. It's the #1 post retirement responsibility. No excuse - you don't have to go to work.
We collect and lose a lot of information about what we have. Do you know where your insurance policy, deeds, will, and all your bank accounts – just to name a few – are located? If you die, all these documents and more must be found and acted upon – or else your spouse and beneficiaries lose their benefit! (Life insurance companies will not pay off unless your beneficiary makes a claim).
Part of estate planning is getting your documents in order - the sooner the better and this estate planning checklist will help. It'll help you recognize what titling needs to be changed as the majority of people have mistitled assets.
Also, settling estates can be time consuming and costly. Knowing where documents are shortens the time and helps reduce costs. Start collecting them into one place or at least constructing a list of where they are and what should be done about them. It's also a great idea that your retirement advisors have a copy also. Have your documents scanned and get a copy to your financial advisors.
Here's a post retirement checklist of things to find and record their location and what to do about them:
Wills and trusts
List your executor and trustees and update where needed. Make sure that these people have a copy of your important documents and that your beneficiaries know the identity of your executors and beneficiaries to contact. Create a will or trust NOW if you don't have one.
Review the titles to real property and cars and update if necessary. For example,having only your name on the deed creates needless problems. Take advantage of title to a trust or to a beneficiary in beneficiary deed states.
Identify all checking, savings, brokerage accounts, and their titling. Make sure you've registered "transfer on death" statements for easy transfer to your beneficiaries too.
Where are your health and long term care policies? In the event of an accident, do you want your family to pay cash for medical items for which you already have insurance?
Pension, retirement programs and annuities (e.g. IRAs, 401(k), ESOP, etc)
Record all employer-sponsored programs you're participating in. List who to contact and phone numbers. Estimate present value and the benefits each holds. Make sure that the beneficiaries are clearly listed by name with percentages each is to inherit. Note that no matter what you say in your will or trust, these items always go to the people listed as beneficiary. Do you even remember who you listed as beneficiary? Check it.
Benefits due you or your spouse
Find and list if your spouse will be due any social security, medical or other benefits as your survivor.
Tax and legal advice
Your estate tax planning should map out what passes to your spouse, and what goes to a trust with all tax consequences. You should identify who will be a suitable estate attorney for your affairs and suggestions on estate tax-related decisions.
Property Insurance policies
Find and review all your policies – life, home, automobile – and give their contact information. Some of these may carry additional benefits in the event of your death.
Credit cards and other liabilities
List all your credit cards and debt obligations (mortgage, bank loans, etc.) with their outstanding balances. Give contacts and telephones. Some credit cards carry death benefits too. All credit cards will need to be canceled so they don't continue to accumulate fees and interest charges.
Would you rather your family have to deal with this because you didn't? Take care of them now so that your family members will be spared these details and decisions.
Your first reaction will be to procrastinate feeling that this is too much to do. But just take each bolded item above on the estate planning checklist to tackle each week.
You'll find that in a few weeks, your post retirement organization is complete. It will be a great feeling.