When you are approaching retirement, think about your next estate planning steps. Estate planning as you get older is particularly important because you may start having health problems. You can check on your existing estate plan, set up an advance health care directive, and move some assets to decrease your probate estate.
Your Existing Estate Plan
First, check on your existing estate plan. If you signed a will or other estate documents a long time ago, now is the time to review them. Make sure the documents still reflect your wishes and life situation. You may have experienced deaths or births in the family, significant financial changes, or health scares since you last made an estate plan. All of these changes are good reasons to update the documents.
Do You Have an Advance Health Care Directive?
Your previous estate planning may not have included signing an advance health care directive. In California, this document combines a health care power of attorney and a living will. You can specify health care and end-of-life wishes in one document, which also appoints someone to make health care decisions for you if you cannot. Signing one of these directives is a great update to an estate plan for someone beginning to experience health issues.
Thinking About the Future
As you continue doing estate planning, think about the costs of probate and estate administration looming in the future. You may want to talk to your estate planning lawyer about moving property out of your probate estate. Since the cost of probate increases for larger estates, this approach makes sense for some people.
You can reduce the size of your probate estate by moving assets into trusts, spending money on non-probate assets like life insurance, or making lifetime gifts to family. Property placed in trust passes to the trust beneficiaries by direction of the trustee, without your executor or the probate court’s involvement.
Finally, you may have increased expenses in retirement as you stop working and perhaps have health problems. Doing some estate planning now can help you feel more secure in your financial position.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.