Starting your Estate Planning

Seniors are often concerned with aging and the general infirmity that it often brings. They also wonder who will take care of their loved ones, home and pets when they are gone. This is why estate planning is so important to do at the present time. With comprehensive and effective planning, seniors can ensure that their estates are organized while they're still healthy and vigorous. They can then rest confident and assured that their wishes will be carried out and their loved ones will be taken care of just as they want them to be.

The best place to start is by taking inventory of your entire financial picture, including income, expenses, assets and liabilities. You'll also need to decide if retirement living is an acceptable option (or even feasible) and whether or not the family home should be sold. Be sure to discuss these issues with your family as you go along. For instance, you may not think that any of your children wants your old house, but one may cherish it and wish to reside there or at least keep it among the family's heritage.

You may wish to consider reverse-asset options for funding your retirement, but also discuss these choices with the ones that matter most to you. Reverse-asset options are most commonly recognized in the form of reverse mortgages. Under these plans, you basically sell your house back to the mortgage company in payments, just like you originally purchased it from them. Instead of the mortgage payment moving from you to the lender, the payment is now made from the lender to you each month, allowing you to continue to live in your home while receiving payments for it to help finance your retirement.

A senior life settlement offers a similar way to finance your latter years. With it, you sell your life insurance policy to a third party for an amount greater than what the insurance company would give you if you cashed it out with them, but less than policy's face value. Upon your death, the purchaser would receive the policy's death benefits. Keep in mind, however, that you'll need a secondary life insurance policy to cover final funeral expenses or you'll have to pre-plan and pre-purchase your funeral so you don't leave your family with an unnecessary financial burden in their time of grief.

One of the best decisions that you can make about planning for your estate is to talk to an experienced attorney who specializes in such matters. Although a few hours of their time might seem expensive now, it can save you a lot of time and money later. Estate lawyers will take your wishes and financial circumstances into consideration, and then suggest the best ways to disburse your assets with a minimum amount of tax liability upon your estate. Once your estate plan is set up, it's easy to maintain (generally requiring only an annual review) and will cost you only a few more billable hours – unless, of course, you need to make radical changes to it.

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