Planning for the efficient transfer of assets at death is a critical element of retirement planning, especially if there are survivors who are dependent upon the assets for their financial security. Estate planning may be as simple as drafting a will, powers of attorney for medical and financial decisions, and ensuring that beneficiary designations have been properly filed and reflect your wishes.
Larger estates and those with young children, non-United States citizens, or dependents with special needs, may find that they have more complex estate planning needs. Whether simple or complex, all good estate plans will have considered the following:
- How assets are to be transferred.
- Determining whether there will be transfer taxes or other fees associated with the transfer, and how those are to be paid. Estate tax mitigation strategies and charitable planning may be considered.
- Addressing guardianship of dependent minor children, and the cost of their ongoing care.
- Planning for a disability or incapacity and end-of-life medical care.
- Specific situations such as special needs planning, foreign spouse and/or multiple marriage scenarios, assets owned in multiple jurisdictions or community property states, and planning for chronic care needs can require more specialized planning.
Estate planning is not only for the wealthy and there is no requirement that it be ruinously expensive or mind- numbingly complex. Effective partnership between your retirement planning team and qualified legal counsel can help provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you and your loved ones are properly cared for in the future.