19 Apr Retirement and Estate Planning: The Basics
Why is estate planning important for retirees? How can you best prepare for a meeting with an estate planner? How does estate planning benefit retirees in the short and long term?
To learn more about estate planning, we interviewed Marilyn S. Yee, an attorney in California who focuses on real property, trusts and estates, including litigation. With over 34 years of experience in the practice of law, Marilyn partners with Miramontes Capital for all of our client’s estate planning needs. Here are our questions and Marilyn’s answers to help you establish an effective estate plan.
Why is estate planning important for retirees?
Estate planning preserves families. If you have assets that you’ll leave behind, the last thing you want is to have your family end up in estate litigation, battling it out in court on how to handle your estate.
To avoid potential problems and to protect your assets, put your estate plan into writing. Once you have it in place, you can always amend it as your life progresses and your children grow up. It’s good to have a base foundation and revise it along the way.
Rather than try to do an estate plan yourself, trust an attorney who is licensed and can create an estate plan in California. You’ll ensure that your trust is properly set up, and that your wishes will be carried out as you’d like them to.
When retirees go to meet with an estate planner, how can you best prepare for the meeting?
First, you should know who you want to appoint as your executor and trustee. Normally married couples have their spouse as their successor. If your spouse is unable to serve, then another person such as your CPA, or a trusted friend or relative could be appointed.
Second, you’ll need to bring a list of assets to the estate planner. That way the estate planner can see what they’ll put in the trust. There are certain non-probate assets like life insurance and retirement funds that are not usually an asset of the trust, because if you have an IRA or a 401k, you’ll designate a beneficiary. However, if you do not want the beneficiary to have the lump sum amount, you can name your trust as the beneficiary. Then those proceeds go into the trust and they’re distributed per the instructions of the trust.
What about my personal property? Where does that go?
The tedious part of estate planning is where you want your personal property to go – everything in your house. Personal belongings like your furnishings, silver, crystal and jewelry do not go into the trust. You should create a list that can be attached to the document.
People have different ways of determining how their personal belongings are distributed. Sometimes people will go around their house and put stickers on everything with the name of the person they want to have it. A lot of times everything ends up getting sold because the heirs already have a house loaded to the roof with their own belongings. They cannot accommodate additional things.
How does estate planning benefit retirees in the short and long term?
In the short term, estate planning causes people to evaluate and look critically at the assets they have and what they want to do with it should an illness present itself.
In the long term, one of the biggest benefits you can have from estate planning is to preserve the family that you worked so hard to create and nurture.
It is never to early or too late for an estate plan. Estate planning is important for any adult. It is best if you write all your wishes down, talk to an estate planner, and establish a trust to avoid potential problems and to protect your assets.
Schedule an in office or over the phone consultation to discuss how Miramontes Capital can help you with your new beginning through retirement and estate planning.