While almost everyone prefers to put off planning for medical needs and estate taxes, a few steps taken now can protect your family finances in the future.
Protecting your Family's Financial Future
Whether you are a senior in your retirement years or a young parent, you should complete the financial and estate planning process. By taking these legal steps, you may make life easier for your relatives once your estate must be settled or should you face medical problems. Preparing legal and financial documents can be simple, and can provide a sense of security for you and your family.
Forbes recently recommended eight steps everyone should take to protect their family's interests:
- Financial Power of Attorney. This legal document designates someone to pay your bills, file your taxes, and manage your investments should you become incapacitated
- Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will. These legal instruments are vital so that relatives and medical professionals know your wishes
- Evaluate Your Net Worth. Put together an updated list of everything you own, including investments and life insurance policies. This may be the time to consider whether a reverse mortgage is right for you. Comparing reverse mortgage lender programs may give you an idea if the additional lump sum or a line of credit could benefit you and your family. Remember that your home remains in your name and your children inherit the property and any remaining equity once the loan is repaid
- Check Beneficiary Forms. Make sure your retirement accounts and life insurance policies have updated beneficiary forms
- Update your Will. Updating your will may ensure that your assets are divided the way you want them to be--not according to state laws. Be sure to make a new will if you move across state lines or have a major life change
- Plan for State Estate Taxes. Check your state laws to see if you need to make changes to reduce potential estate taxes
- Check the Title on Your Property. You may need to meet with a lawyer to determine the best way to handle joint bank accounts and property
- Give Your Children and Grandchildren Money. Up to $13,000 in cash, stocks, or other property may be gifted without being subject to federal or state gift or estate taxes
Financial and legal planning may help your family be prepared for the future.
Michele Lerner is a freelance writer with twenty years of experience writing articles and web content for newspapers and magazines on topics related to real estate, personal finance and business. Her clients include The Washington Times, Urban Land Magazine, NAREIT's Real Estate Portfolio, and numerous Realtor association publications. Michele's first book, "HOMEBUYING: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time" is available now at Amazon.com or from www.MicheleLerner.com.