Nowadays retirement seems like more of a dream than a reality given the tough economic environment. For many, it is difficult enough just to meet current expenses and obligations. However, whether a voluntary choice or due to events such as illness or job loss, retirement is a reality that needs to be planned for.
As reported by Jean Folger in Investopedia at SFGate, "10 Things You Must Know Before You Retire", "27% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings for retirement, and that only 46% of workers have tried to calculate how much money they will need to have saved for retirement."
Estate planning is among the 10 items listed in the Article that should be part of a retirement plan. At its most basic level, without any estate plan or a Last Will, a person's assets may have to be distributed according to the State laws of intestacy. This means that State statutes will determine the estate beneficiaries. Worse yet, if these heirs at law are unknown, complicated kinship proceedings may be needed and the assets may ultimately be taken over by the State treasury.
A good estate plan typically includes a Last Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney. A Living Trust or other types of trusts may be needed and estate and gift tax considerations should be reviewed.
A Last Will provides the road map for the disposition of assets. Names of beneficiaries and specific amounts of bequests can be set forth. A person's choice of Executors and Trustees can also be made clear in the Will. After the Will is admitted to probate, the process of estate administration can be completed and the intentions and desires of the testator (the person who made the Will) can be fulfilled and not left to chance by the application of the intestacy laws.