Retirement planning can be a launch pad for estate planning

Are you avoiding estate planning because you don’t want to think about your own mortality? An easier way to approach the subject might be to think about retirement needs. After all, some investment products, like lifetime annuities and pension benefits, are often calculated based on projected life expectancy, so prudent financial planning can transition smoothly into a discussion of how an individual might like to distribute his or her estate assets.

Notably, data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that Americans are living longer than ever. The number of centenarians has doubled in the past 20 years, with around 70,000 Americans who are 100 years of age or older. By 2050, the number of Americans reaching traditional retirement age, or 65 years of age, will have doubled.

Our law firm has helped many clients approach estate planning as part of their financial planning. Retirement accounts, like IRAs or 401(k)s, are a good starting place for several reasons. First, they require extra attention because they may have special rules, such as minimum required distributions. Second, such accounts can avoid probate with a named beneficiary, which can serve as a catalyst for thinking about other asset transfers than an individual may want to earmark from his or her estate. Finally, retirement accounts should be analyzed for their potential impact to federal and/or state estate and income taxes.

Our law firm believes that it is never too early for individual who is interested in protecting his or her investments to start making decisions involving real estate, elder law and estate planning. Asset protection may even include planning for problems relating to Medicaid eligibility.


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