Planning For Your Family Future

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Estate Planning for Retirement

Serving Families and Individuals throughout Rock Springs, Wyoming and the Surrounding Areas

Retirement is often an exciting, yet bittersweet time of life. Chances are good that all of your children have left the nest with lives and growing families of their own. If your parents are living, perhaps you are taking care of their personal, health care and financial responsibilities. Now is a good time to create (or revisit) your estate plan and make sure your adult children and parents have their legal ducks-in-a-row, too. Using thorough retirement planning, our attorneys can help you prevent issues that can happen when families are not up-to-code with their estate planning. Below are four considerations to help you protect benefits today and prepare for the future.

1) How do estate planning documents and retirement planning work together?

Unfortunately, many married couples mistakenly believe that they can make personal, health care and financial decisions for one another should either spouse become legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness. Nothing could be further from reality!

Without proper estate planning in advance to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, he or she will not have legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you). For example, medical privacy laws such as HIPPA will bar access to your medical records and the ability to consult with your attending physician, financial laws limit control over your finances, and IRS regulations will prohibit filing a “legal” joint income tax return…for starters.

Unless you legally appoint a decision-maker or medical agent through proper estate planning, then a probate judge will select one for you. While the judge will likely appoint your spouse, the probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record, and is a real hassle for your spouse.

Did you know that in the absence of proper estate planning, your assets including any retirement benefits may be distributed after death based on “one-size-fits-all” state laws written for people who do not have their own estate plan? Of course, this impersonal estate plan written by state lawmakers may not reflect your own unique circumstances and objectives for your spouse and assets.

In fact, depending on how you titled your assets and how your beneficiary designations are arranged in your estate planning and retirement benefit plans, you may disinherit your own spouse and force your spouse to sue your estate! Fortunately, our lawyers employ thorough retirement planning to replace that impersonal, state-written, one-size-fits-all estate plan with one we design together for your unique circumstances and objectives.

2) How does the death of one spouse affect retirement planning?

While the death of one spouse is something no married couple wants to think about, it is highly likely that the surviving spouse may remarry at some point. In a recent University of California study, researchers found that 60% of widowers are involved in a new relationship within two years after losing their wives, while only 20% of widows have a new relationship.  Furthermore, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, men are 10 times more likely to remarry after age 65. And the average time before they are remarried is just 2.5 years.

Due to the risks of losing about half of your personal assets or disinheriting your own children and grandchildren should the remarriage not work out, our legal team recommends that individuals who are remarrying create a legally enforceable premarital agreement before saying “I do” on his or her wedding day as part of thorough retirement planning.  As you can see, planning for being single again includes planning for any new relationships on the future, while preserving (and protecting) the relationships you already have.

3) When did you last review your beneficiary designations?

When it comes to your children and grandchildren, great care should be given to protect any inheritance both for them and from them. For starters, wealth representing a lifetime of your hard work and thrift can be squandered in very short order. Dollars earned just spend differently than dollars inherited. In addition to good, old-fashioned squandering, an inheritance can quickly vanish through divorces, lawsuits, and bankruptcies.

Our lawyers help you coordinate the beneficiary designations on your life insurance and retirement plans with your estate plan to avoid unpleasant, unintended consequences. For example, all beneficiary designations for your retirement plans need to be revisited, especially due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down on June 12, 2014, (See Clark, et ux v. Rameker).

The Clark case sent shock waves through the estate planning community after a unanimous court ruled that inherited IRAs are not “retirement funds” within the meaning of federal bankruptcy law.  Accordingly, if your children or grandchildren are “direct” designated beneficiaries of your IRA, then the distributions may be subject to their divorces, lawsuits and bankruptcies. Careful planning is required to protect these important assets, while at the same time preserving the ability to stretch distributions as long as possible for your beneficiaries. Remember, two things you cannot choose in life are your own parents and the spouses of your children.

4) What is your plan to pay for long-term care, if you need it?

Have you noticed how expensive the continuum of care is? From in-home assistance to assisted living to skilled nursing the expenses can destroy savings and investments created over a lifetime of hard work and thrift.

Now that you are planning for retirement, do not delay. Lock-in a long-term care insurance policy while you are still able to qualify physically and mentally. Some versions of coverage only pay if you need long-term care assistance, but others can now do double-duty and turn into life insurance if you do not need such assistance. That is a popular alternative to traditional long-term care insurance.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most Americans turning age 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives. Curiously, a majority of people think they will not be among those needing care (i.e., denial) or think that Medicare will pay for long-term care expenses (i.e., ignorance)! Our legal team wants to help you make informed planning choices.  If you will need assistance with the activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and transferring), then you may want to hire a professional to take care of you instead of your children. Proper retirement planning will ensure that you have set aside funds to pay for long-term care.

When you are ready

Call our law office today at (###) ###-#### or request a complimentary consultation with one of our estate lawyers who will review the changes in your family situation, your assets, and your goals, then work with you to come up with a new or updated plan to accomplish your goals.

Sources

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "How Much Care Will You Need?" LongTermCare.gov
  • U.S. Census Bureau: "Remarriage in the United States: American Community Survey Reports."
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Client Success Stories

Bethany was amazing very helpful and kind. Made me feel very comfortable in a rough situation. Made sure I got what I wanted set up and took care of me and my family. Awesome job. I recommend her 100%.
Cari Covolo
December 22, 2021.
Bethany was professional, very knowledgeable, personable, and easy to work with. She made the daunting task of setting up a will easy and seamless.
Amanda Larson
October 21, 2021.
Bethany was great! She explained the details of probate and how it works in detail. Our purpose was to protect our children in the untimely event of both of us passing at the same time. The estate planning put our minds at ease. She encourages us to follow up with her periodically and make sure everything is still in order. This impressed us, she cares.
Dale Arey
October 13, 2021.
Bethany was great to work with! We highly recommend Legacy Law. Bethany was always well prepared and made things feel simple and easy to understand. She made a process that can feel overwhelming feel simple and manageable to do. She is very organized, professional and caring. She did an excellent job in preparing all the estate documents and helping us create a living trust!
Carey Larson
October 8, 2021.
Bethany was really helpful in getting our trust set in place; she answered all our questions thoroughly and we have peace of mind that our estate and affairs are in order. Highly recommend!
Paul Alvey
September 6, 2021.
I was pretty nervous/unsure about needing a will/ trust and decided to explore my options. I found an introductory video on-line from Legacy Law. From there I set up a meeting with Bethany and went in with a boatload of questions. My questions were answered patiently and with great expertise. I never felt pressured and came out feeling reassured and comfortable with my choices/decisions. This was all done professionally and in a very timely manner. To this day, if I have a question all I have to do is give Bethany or Brynn a call. It is without hesitation that I recommend Legacy Law and their services.
Patsy Christensen
August 31, 2021.
Thank you LegacyLaw Estate planning was a breeze with them .
Deborah Doak
August 21, 2021.
Bethany was great! Very professional and personal. She was always able and willing to answer our questions and come up with the best solution for our needs. I highly recommend her for estate planning and to navigate all the legal intricacies related to that.
Jeff Wilson
August 20, 2021.
Bethany was very professional, reasonably priced and very thorough when working with us on our trust. We highly recommend her for very individualized planning and attention to detail.
Robin Schamber
August 9, 2021.
Bethany was very professional and easy to work with. She answered all my questions and helped me put together a good living trust that I feel comfortable with. I would highly recommend her to anyone who is thinking about estate planning.
Steve Boyd
August 3, 2021.
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