How you handle money and legal matters during retirement is more important than during your working years. It’s harder to bounce back from financial setbacks when you aren’t getting a regular paycheck. Managing finances and legal affairs to keep your savings intact and your estate plan current is part of your new responsibility as a retiree, says a recent article “7 Money Moves You Should Make After Retiring” from MoneyTalksNews.
- Review estate planning documents. One of the most important documents is your will, but you also need to review any power of attorney and trust documents. A will is used to specify what you want done with your property after you die. What happens if you die without a will? The state will step in and make those decisions for you.
If you marry, divorce, inherit, or buy property, you should update your will to reflect your changed circumstances. The arrival of a new grandchild may make you want to change your beneficiaries.
Reviewing your will after retirement and then periodically afterwards can put your mind at ease. If you don’t have a will, now is the time to have one created with an experienced estate planning attorney. You may also need a living will, power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney.
- Review named beneficiaries. Beneficiary designations require updating anytime there is a change in your life. When you purchase life insurance, enroll in a pension plan, or open an individual retirement account, you are often asked to name a beneficiary–the person who will inherit the proceeds when you die. These instructions take precedence over instructions in a will.
- Prepare for your funeral. No one wants to consider their own mortality, but helping your loved ones be financially prepared for your funeral is a gift. By planning your own funeral, including making arrangements for funds to be available to pay for it, you save your family of the burden of having to plan and pay for a funeral while they are grieving your loss. Planning in advance also gives you an opportunity to decide what type of funeral you want.
- Consider trimming transportation costs. If your household has two cars, but you could manage with one, consider paring down this expense. Seniors tend to pay higher insurance rates than young people, so this is one way to trim your monthly expenses.
- Review emergency fund status. Having money set aside for unexpected expenses is more important now than when you were working. An emergency fund can help you avoid taking money out of retirement accounts, which costs you not only the funds themselves, but the potential growth of the funds and any taxes that might be due on withdrawals.
- Plan for Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) and taxes. Once you celebrate your 72nd birthday, you’ll need to start taking RMDs from tax-deferred retirement accounts. If you miss an RMD deadline or don’t take out enough, you may have to pay a 50% tax penalty on the amount of money you did not withdraw. RMDs are treated as taxable income, so they may impact your federal income tax rate as well as the “combined income” formula used to determine the extent to which your Social Security benefits are taxable.
- Do you still need life insurance? If your family is not dependent upon your income, now might be the time to drop life insurance policies. The main purpose of life insurance is to provide an income stream for loved ones if you should die unexpectedly when you are working and raising a family. However, if you are retired, your children are grown and your spouse is not relying on your income, it may be time to let the policies lapse. On the other hand, if you can afford the premiums and wish to leave the proceeds to a spouse or your children, by all means keep the policy. However, check the beneficiary designation.
For various reasons, estate planning can be even more important after you retire. If you have not consulted with an estate planning attorney since retiring, or if you plan to retire soon, it may be time to speak with an estate planning attorney.
Reference: MoneyTalksNews (Oct. 9, 2020) “7 Money Moves You Should Make After Retiring”