8 Estate Planning Tips for a Secure Retirement in Utah

Jeremy AtwoodEstate Planning

Elder grandfather at table with family. When to hire a elder law attorney

If there’s one thing we often ignore in our twenties, it’s retirement. After all, why bother with something that seems so far away?

However, the plans you make today can significantly impact your tomorrow. According to the 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey, only 64% of American workers feel confident about their retirement savings. 

As you prepare for retirement, it’s important to look beyond your investments and savings. Estate planning plays a key role in securing your financial future, so you can leave a meaningful legacy for your loved ones. 

How to Plan Your Estate for a Secure Retirement

In this blog post, the estate planning attorneys at Jeremy Atwood Law will explore eight essential estate planning tips every retiree should know. 

Let’s dive in. 

1. Examine Your Current Estate

Before you start planning, you need to get a clear picture of where you stand financially. Take a look at everything you own- your house, investments, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and any other valuables. Understanding what you have will help you make smart choices about how to handle your assets when you retire. 

2. Create a Will

Think of a will as the foundation of your estate plan. It explains who gets what after you’re gone to prevent family disputes. 

Work with an estate planning lawyer to write your will, clearly stating who should inherit your assets. Keep it straightforward and legally binding.  

Here are some additional tips to consider. 

  • Choose your beneficiaries: Decide who gets what. You can leave specific items to individuals or designate percentages of your estate. 
  • Select an executor: This person will manage your estate and see that your will is carried out as written. Choose someone responsible and in a good position to handle the task. 
  • Sign and witness: A will must be signed in the presence of witnesses to be legally valid. The number of witnesses can vary by state, so make sure you meet local requirements. 
  • Keep it in a safe place: Once signed, store your will in a secure location and inform your executor or a trusted family member where it is kept. 

3. Establish a Living Trust

A living trust can be a game-changer for retirement estate planning. It helps you skip the lengthy and expensive probate process and gives you more control over your assets, both now and in the future.

Set up a living trust with the help of a financial advisor or an estate planning attorney who understands your goals. Next, you can move your assets (house, bank accounts, and any other valuables you own) into the trust.  

Note that you maintain complete control over the assets in the trust while you’re alive. After you pass, they will be directly transferred to your designated beneficiaries, according to your terms. 

4. Update Beneficiary Designations

Did you know not all your assets automatically go through your will? Some, like your 401(k), IRA, and life insurance policies are controlled by beneficiary designations. 

Now, it’s important to update your beneficiaries regularly, or else: 

  • Your assets will go to your closest relatives as determined by plan rules or state law, which may not be what you want. 
  • Your estate will go through probate, slowing down the distribution process and causing legal headaches. 
  • The wrong person, like an ex-spouse, might receive your assets. 

Hence, you must update your beneficiaries after major life events to send your assets exactly where you want them to go. Remember to review and possibly update your designations after major life events like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.

5. Power of Attorney

As you get older, there might be times when you’re unable to handle your affairs due to health issues or other reasons. A Power of Attorney (POA) lets someone you trust to manage things for you, whether it’s paying bills, handling investments, or making medical decisions. 

There are different types of POA to consider: 

  • A financial POA grants your chosen person the authority to manage your bank accounts, pay bills, and oversee investments. 
  • A healthcare POA allows someone to make healthcare decisions if you’re unable to do so yourself. They’ll likely act on your wishes. 
  • A durable POA remains in effect even if you become incapacitated to manage your affairs continuously. 
  • A limited POA grants specific powers for a particular task or time, like selling a property while you’re out of the country. 

Having the right POAs means you know that if something happens, someone you trust will take care of things just the way you would want. Put simply, it’s the gateway to a stress-free retirement. 

6. Plan for Long-Term Care

Long-term care can be a significant expense during your retirement. Unless you’re careful, it can drain your savings quickly.

We recommend including provisions for long-term care in your estate plan to protect your assets and make sure you get the necessary care without depleting your resources. 

  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Get long-term insurance to cover the costs of nursing homes, assisted living, or in-home care. 
  • Life Insurance with Long-Term Riders: Some life insurance policies offer riders that allow you to use part of the death benefit for long-term care expenses. 
  • Medicaid Trusts: Setting up a Medicaid trust can help you qualify for Medicaid while preserving your assets. 

By incorporating these options into your estate planning requirements, you can save your assets for your heirs and maintain your quality of life during your golden years. It’s a win-win!

7. Think About Tax Implications 

Taxes can take a big bite out of your estate if not carefully planned for. You need to consider strategies to minimize estate/inheritance taxes and leave more for your inheritors. 

Effective strategies can include: 

  • Gifting Assets: You can reduce your taxable estate by gifting money or assets to your heirs while you’re still around. 
  • Charitable Donations: Leave a portion of your estate to charity to reduce its size. 
  • Use Life Insurance: Proceeds from life insurance are generally income tax-free and can be structured to help pay for any taxes due upon death.

8. Seek Professional Advice

While there are plenty of resources to guide you through estate planning, it’s still a niche subject. The last thing you want is to make a wrong decision that ruins your entire legacy. 

Fortunately, consulting a Utah estate planning attorney can help you avoid common pitfalls and protect your assets.  

  • Attorneys understand state and federal laws affecting your estate. They’ll see that your plan complies with all legal requirements. 
  • A lawyer can create tailored estate plans that address your unique needs and goals. 

The Bottom Line 

Retirement should be your time to soak up the good life, but it’s also essential to think about what you’re leaving behind for your loved ones. An estate plan gives you the peace of mind of knowing everything’s buttoned up and just right for the future.

Are you ready to secure your legacy and protect your loved ones? Contact Jeremy Atwood Law today to start crafting your personalized estate plan. With us, you get to partner with a seasoned Utah estate planning attorney who can understand and act on your wishes.

Let’s make sure your golden years are truly golden. Get in touch to set your estate plans in motion today!