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Retirement preparations should include estate planning

When people start getting close to retirement age, they may take steps to turn their retirement dreams into reality. Common planning for those nearing the end of their working career includes planning a vacation, making arrangements to sell their house and move or sitting down to consult with their financial advisor and change their investment strategy.

Too many people overlook an important area of retirement planning. If you don't already have an estate plan and last will in place, now is the time to create one. If you created one years ago, it is likely that your family situation and financial circumstances have shifted drastically since then.

Those life changes mean that you should review your last will or estate plan in depth and consider making any necessary changes. Outdated language in your last will makes it more vulnerable to challenges from family members who aren't happy with your plans. Dying without a last will could leave you without any control over your legacy.

Your estate plan needs to reflect your current situation

Many people create an estate plan, in part, to ensure that their children have a caregiver and assets to their name if something tragic happens. If your children have grown up and left the home, you should remove any language talking about a guardian for them. It is possible that you have had more children or that you want to include your grandchildren in the last will. You can add new beneficiaries while removing unwanted ones.

If you have divorced, you want to remove your ex from any of the documents, including your advance medical directive and power of attorney documents. If you got remarried, you probably want to add your new spouse. In some cases, people for whom you wanted to leave something have passed on or are no longer part of your life. Making updates now helps ensure that you have an accurate and thorough estate plan.

Steps you take now could benefit you and your children later

As you grow older, you may need increasing levels of support and care. Eventually, a nursing home could be necessary for your safety and medical care. Unfortunately, Medicare and private insurance typically won't cover in-patient nursing home care. Instead, you will need to qualify for Medicaid.

Planning now for future medical needs could include creating or updating your advance medical directive. It could also mean creating a trust or transferring assets to loved ones now as gifts to help ensure that you can qualify for Medicaid when the time comes.

Creating power of attorney documents that authorize someone to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf is also an important concern. Even if you have taken these steps before, if your opinion about your medical needs or your family has changed, updating your wishes is usually a good decision.

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