Many people build their retirement and estate plans around their children and grandchildren. Everything from where they live, to how they spend their time and money, to the legacy they want to leave behind is considered through the prism of their role as parents and grandparents. For those without kids and grandkids, a different formula may apply as these individuals may have more financial freedom and flexibility as they enter retirement and beyond. But they still need to be as vigilant – if not more – about planning for their later years. If this describes your situation, read on for tips to help you navigate the many decisions that factor into retirement and estate planning.
1. Prioritize saving for retirement
Since you’re not facing the costs for childcare and educational institutions, consider doubling-down on saving for retirement. You have the potential to spend decades in retirement pursuing your hobbies and goals. Calculate what it will take for you to live the lifestyle you want and compare it to your current savings. Create a plan to save the difference. Contribute as much as you can to your workplace savings plan, if you have one, and consider building up Roth IRA savings to help create a source of income that is potentially tax-free in retirement.
2. Recognize your long-term care challenges
Long-term care can be a challenge for anyone as they age, and there’s added complexity in situations where you may not be able to rely on family members to step in. Regardless of your situation, make it a priority to decide how you will manage healthcare costs in retirement. Medical expenses continue to rise, so it’s important to have adequate savings and insurance coverage. Explore your options through Medicare and your current or former employer and consider if long-term care insurance would benefit you. Additionally, consider researching caregiving options and long-term care facilities in your area so that you are familiar with the choices if you need them down the road.
3. Prepare for medical care
Before you experience a significant medical event – which can happen at any time – make sure to have an advanced directive, also known as a living will, in place. This document lets your spouse, extended family and friends know your preferences for treatment and gives you the opportunity to designate a healthcare power of attorney, who will be empowered to make decisions on your behalf if necessary.
4. Have financial decision-makers in place
It’s also important to designate a spouse, friend, extended family member or professional to look out for your financial interests if you become incapacitated. Draw up documents to name a durable power of attorney to oversee your financial matters if you are unable to, including legal and tax matters. Keep in mind that choosing someone to help watch out for you does not mean you have to share your full financial situation and account numbers. Rather, a common approach is to share enough information so that the contact can step in, should a situation arise where you need help making financial decisions.
5. Plan your legacy
With no direct heirs in line to inherit your estate, you will want to consider what you’d like your legacy to be – including how your assets should be distributed upon your death. You may choose to leave your estate to any combination of family members, friends, charities, education institutions, or other causes that are important to you. Creating or updating your will is one of the best ways to articulate your wishes.
Also consider using trusts, which sometimes allow more flexibility than a will, to help you meet specific legacy goals. Consult with a financial advisor, attorney and tax legal professional to develop a comprehensive legacy strategy that suits your ultimate goals.
Carrie A. McPherson, CRPS®, CDFA®, ChSNC® is a Financial Advisor and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst with BeaconPoint Wealth Advisors, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Providence, RI. She specializes in fee based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 15 years. Please contact her at https://www.ameripriseadvisors.com/team/beacon-point-wealth-advisors or (401)824-2557, 1 Citizens Plaza Ste 610 Providence, RI 02903.
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