Tag Archive | "estate planning"

Retiring? 5 Ways to make sure that you are ready

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Retiring? 5 Ways to make sure that you are ready

I can’t count the number of articles that I have read outlining how to prepare for retirement. But what about once you reach retirement? I’m certain that we all hope to be living on the beach sipping a cool drink in the shade. But if the financial markets in the last few years have taught us anything then it is that the unexpected happens.

Rocking ChairNot having a steady source of new income exposes you to a new foray of potential problems. To make sure that you continue to be financially prepared, I’ve compiled a few suggestions.

  • Invest in income producing assets with an eye on capital preservation – During the accumulation and growth phase of life, the objective is to save money and make it grow. In retirement however, your objective is capital preservation and income. Therefore, you need to take the time to move the majority of your investments (stocks, mutual funds, bonds, real estate, commodities, currencies, etc) into assets or investments that are low risk (capital preservation) and pay out on a regular basis (income). Speak with a financial advisor to determine what the right mix is for you.
  • Complete your estate planning – Estate planning is the process by which you create the necessary vehicles to transfer the maximum dollar amount from your estate (the stuff you own when you pass away) to whomever or whatever you designate. So for example, proper estate planning helps avoid probate (see Judicial Nightmare) and death taxes. Basically, you are making sure that what you want goes to who you want it to go to without facing costly and timely court procedures and taxes.
  • Update your Last Will and Testament – Although, a Will is part of estate planning, I believe it merits its own bullet point. Different events in life will cause you to update your Will (a new baby for example). However, we tend to wait years in between updates, especially once we stop having kids. But with the addition of grandkids and potentially the consolidation of assets to prepare for retirement, your Will may be out of date or contain provisos that are now meaningless.
  • Make sure your children know what to do in case of an emergency – So assuming you’ve gone to all of the hassle of moving around investments, using a tax attorney to do your estate planning, updated your Will, and then something happens, will your children know what to do? Do they have any idea where the Will is or what your wishes are in the event you need resuscitation? Certified Wellness Counselor Karen O’Neil has actually put together a workbook outlining everything you should do so that nothing goes unforgotten. You can read more about her and A Guide to Getting Affairs in Order at her website.
  • Protect against identity theft and scams – Unfortunately, retirees and senior citizens are often targets of identity theft and scams. Use the same cautionary sensibility that got you where you are to guard against deviants. Also, strongly consider using credit monitoring to protect yourself. Several years ago, a laptop containing the private information of thousands of war veterans was stolen. That information was used to steal many of the identities. So invest the $10 a month to gain peace of mind.

As I mentioned above, retirement is about fulfilling your dreams, spending time with family, and generally just doing what you want. So make sure to take the necessary steps so that your retirement isn’t interrupted by costly mistakes.

Posted in Investing, Featured, RetirementComments (1)

Review of writing a Will on LegalZoom

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Review of writing a Will on LegalZoom

LegalZoom LogoMy wife and I hand wrote Wills several years ago before we had any children or assets for that matter. With the birth of our second girl two weeks ago, we decided that it was definitely time to update our Wills. We decided to try LegalZoom.com this time to make sure that we didn’t miss anything. There are three packages available, shown below. The big difference between the packages is whether or not you believe you’ll need to make revisions in the next 30 days or over the next year. Also, the Premium package gets it to you faster. We selected the Standard option.

LegalZoom Pricing

What I liked

  1. Straightforward questionnaire – You simply fill out a questionnaire, review your answers, and then make your purchase. Meaning, you can complete the whole process before making the purchase decision. You will have to setup an account though.
  2. Helpful information – On several of the questions, I wasn’t real sure how to answer. LegalZoom offers additional information via a Help button on every question. Also, you can see on several questions how other people responded. If you find yourself completely confused, you can call a 1-800 number.
  3. Free revisions for 30 days – Apparently I married myself, at least according to my Will. I entered my name when I should have entered my wife’s name on one field in the questionnaire making me my own executor. Luckily, the cheapest option allows for free revisions for the first 30 days.
  4. Advanced clauses and provisions – As I was taking the questionnaire, I had the option to include certain clauses and make provisions that I had never heard of, which I greatly appreciated. For example, I included a clause that says my executor isn’t liable if they make an honest mistake. I also setup a provision that gives my wife the option to setup a Credit Shelter Trust if she so chooses. If my wife and I died in a common disaster, then I have a provision for a Testamentary Trust that manages everything left to my girls until they graduate from a four year college or turn 25 (you set the restrictions).

What I didn’t like

  1. Lost my information – If you don’t have time to finish the questionnaire, then you can save it and return later. Great feature, but it lost some of my work multiple times. Usually it was just some names, which wasn’t a big deal. But I had written several paragraphs that outlined specific instructions to my heirs that was lost and had to be rewritten. I was a bit frustrated.
  2. Hard to pick up where I left off – When returning to complete my Will via My Account, I found that clicking “Finish Your Order” didn’t return me to where I had left off but rather returned me to page one of the questionnaire and I had to advance myself through the questionnaire to where I had left off. Though, I found that if I navigated to the homepage first and clicked the link to complete my Will, it usually took me to the right spot. Very odd and annoying.


We paid $69 for the first Will and $59 for the second one (total $130.95). I’m glad that we used LegalZoom. We spent far less than we would have spent with a lawyer, but I still have the peace of mind that it was prepared correctly and according to my state’s laws. Also, the process was simple and quick. So what you’re really paying for is time and peace of mind. If you don’t already have a Will or need to revise yours, DO IT! Don’t leave loved ones with a mess if you die, it’s just rude. I liked and recommend LegalZoom, but whether you use them or not, get your Will in place.

Posted in Estate Planning, FeaturedComments (10)

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