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Estate planning accompanies retirement and elder care planning

Many people focus on their retirement funding, but they don't go the next step and see to it that there is an estate plan to take care of other vital necessities. Whether one resides in Texas or elsewhere, estate planning should be considered an integral part of retirement planning. The two plans should also be conjoined with long-term care planning, also called elder law planning.

The knowledge that one has put his or her retirement planning into operation usually brings a sigh of relief, for one's own security and for the protection of immediate family members. That feeling of relief, however, is only a part of the picture. A person's funds at death can be distributed by state law if there is no will, and other negative consequences can befall a family where a loved one neglected to engage in estate planning.

When there is an extended illness, health care proxies can relieve the pressure on immediate family members who would have been unduly perplexed trying to determine medical decisions if no instructions and authorizations had been provided. Another little-known estate planning protection is a prenuptial agreement for those who enter into a second or even third marriage later in life. Marriages under those circumstances are statistically likely to end in divorce. 

A prenuptial agreement can assure that one's assets and retirement benefits are not seized by an estranged spouse during late-in-life divorce proceedings. Additionally, the all-important durable power of attorney should not be neglected or forgotten. One's assets may dwindle inordinately if the court must appoint a guardian or conservator to handle the loved one's funds.

A power of attorney will usually prevent that from happening by giving authority to a trusted family member or friend to sign one's name and take care of financial matters for him or her. All of these tools and more are vitally important to Texas residents intent on preventing unnecessary waste and adverse financial outcomes later in life and at death. Accordingly, an early consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney is a prudent action that will very likely pay benefits in many different ways later in life.

Source: USA Today, "Big retirement mistake: Boomers with no estate plan", Rodney Brooks, April 8, 2015

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