Savvy estate planning in California involves reviewing your plan and possibly updating it when there are big changes in your life. Retirement may be one of those big changes, and there are several things you may want to consider. If you do not already have an estate plan, when retirement is approaching or after you have just retired is a good time to tackle one.
Your needs and goals
It is important to first look at what you have versus what you will need for retirement, including noting the dates tax-free distributions begin from various retirement accounts. Next, you should think about your goals, including whether they have changed since you last updated the plan. This might include considering if you want to leave any portion of your assets to charity and which beneficiaries you want to receive them.
You need to be sure that all of your estate planning documents are consistent with one another. In particular, review your beneficiary designations since these are easily forgotten about and can be sources of conflict within a family. Beneficiary designations override wills, so you could end up leaving assets to the wrong person if you do not check them. It is also critical to ensure your beneficiary designations contain both primary and contingent beneficiaries (if applicable).
Tax implications will vary based on state and federal laws, the value of your assets and what type of assets they are. You may want to meet with a financial or legal professional to determine what type of arrangement would be most beneficial to your heirs.
Planning for incapacity
Finally, this is a good time to ensure that you have a plan in place in case you become incapacitated. This might include a living will, which is known as an Advance Health Care Directive here in California, and financial powers of attorney to manage your finances if you are unable to.
Estate planning can be important at every stage of life, whether you are on the verge of graduating from college or retiring. However, those stages bring with them different considerations, and your plan should be updated periodically to reflect any changed or new life circumstances affecting you.