Retirement Planning Help
4 steps for smart retirement planning
Whether you are thinking about or already enjoying retirement, certain legal documents can protect all older Hoosiers regardless of their income and/or net worth. Many of these documents can be found online but can cause serious harm if not properly understood or prepared. An estate planning or elder law attorney can help you understand your choices and prepare the documents you need to carry out your wishes regardless of your wealth.
1: Select a financial power of attorney for financial decision making
You need to plan ahead for when you may become incapacitated or can no longer handle your financial affairs. Even if you are married, your spouse does not have the have the legal right to act for you. For instance, if it became necessary to sell your jointly owned house, your spouse could not do so if you could not also sign the deed.
You should sign a financial power of attorney to designate the person of your choice to manage your financial affairs. A financial power of attorney is flexible and can be written as broadly or as limited as you wish. It can be made effective immediately or go into effect when you are incapacitated. If you do not have a financial power of attorney, a court may have to appoint a guardian to handle your financial affairs at a much greater cost.
2: Select a healthcare power of attorney for healthcare decision making.
You never know when a health event might make you unable, in the short or long term, to make your own decisions about your care.
You should sign a healthcare power of attorney to designate the person of your choice to make decisions for you when your doctor determines you cannot make healthcare decisions yourself. You should also sign a living will to make clear whether or not you want extraordinary measures to be taken to sustain your life should you have a terminal condition with death expected in a short time.
3: Prepare an estate plan
An estate plan determines how your property will be distributed at your death. Without an estate plan, Indiana decides who receives your property. Your attorney can assist you in deciding the best options for you such as a will, a trust or transfer on death designations.
After your attorney has prepared your estate plan, you should review it every three to five years and after any major change such as a divorce or death. You should also review the beneficiary designationson your life insurance, retirement, bank, and other accounts frequently. Accounts with a beneficiary designation go directly to the beneficiary which could change your estate plan.
4: Think twice before gifting
Because of the huge expense, many people needing long term care will exhaust their assets and have to apply to Medicaid. When deciding eligibility for Medicaid, Indiana will currently ask about gifts you have made in the last five years. Think carefully about making gifts until you are satisfied that you have sufficient assets and/or long term care insurance to cover long term care needs for the next five years.
Also making a gift can have serious harmful consequences. For example, we are aware of an elderly father who gifted his residence to his son without talking to an attorney first. The son died unexpectedly and the son’s children inherited the house. The grandchildren are now evicting their grandfather from his lifelong home in order to sell the house and cash in their inheritance.
With over 30 years of experience, you can trust Steven Knecht to help you with your estate planning needs because your family and you have a lot at stake on the outcome.