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Is Your Estate Planning Strategy in Order?

Retirement Watch Weekly
Brought to you by Eagle Financial Publications

How to Create an Estate Planning Strategy in 8 Steps



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Bob CarlsonFellow Investor,

Last week, we began our 8-point estate planning checklist, including how to handle your will, and avoiding probate.

Today, we’ll complete the checklist, starting with…

Powers of attorney. You need these documents before you have a will, because you’re likely to become disabled or need help managing affairs before you pass away.

There are two main types of power of attorney (POA).

You need a financial POA designating one or more people to pay your bills, manage investments, and handle other financial matters when you aren’t able to.

The need might be temporary, or it might be long-term. You can create a general durable power of attorney enabling the person (or persons) to take any actions that need to be taken.

Or you can limit the scope of authority a person has. Limiting the scope of a POA takes the risk that an unanticipated action needs to be taken but no one legally is authorized to act.

A healthcare POA is the second document. There are several variations, also known as healthcare proxies, living wills and advance medical directives.

The document designates one or more people to make medical decisions when you aren’t able to, usually in the case of a medical emergency or crisis.

Beneficiary designations. Some assets aren’t affected by the terms of your will. They avoid probate, and ownership by automatic operation of law to the person named in the beneficiary designation form or ownership document.

Your will comes into play only if you failed to name a beneficiary, or named your estate.

IRAs and other qualified retirement plans are usually the most important and valuable assets in this category.

When you want the next generation of owners to benefit from the tax deferral, it’s important to name individuals as beneficiaries. If you name your estate or fail to name a beneficiary, the IRA will have to be distributed and taxed within five years.

Life insurance policies and annuities also have beneficiary designations. Even some obscure assets, such as credit card points, sometimes allow a beneficiary to be named.

There’s no reason to delay a beneficiary review or change. Too many people fail to update beneficiary designations. Some of their assets go to people they didn’t intend, and the heirs waste assets fighting over them in court.

Read this If You Have Money in an IRA...

Gone are the days when you set and forget your IRA. Today, there's a war against your IRAs, and it's being waged by the IRS. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to maximize the value of your IRAs -- and ensure your nest egg churns out distributions for years on end.

Click here to learn how to get your FREE copy of Bob Carlson's "Little Black Book of IRA Secrets."

Digital assets. The law is slowly evolving in this area, but you need to take action.

First, you need to compile a list of your digital assets: social media sites, other websites, email addresses and any others you might have. The list should include the address or other identifier, plus the access information such as username and password.

Then make a list of any automatic payments you set up to have amounts automatically charged to a payment card or deducted from a financial account. Provide all the details about the account and how to access it. Your executor has to ensure payments are made and eventually cease.

Philanthropy. While some people argue that major tax reform will reduce charitable giving, I’m skeptical.

I believe most people make charitable contributions with little tax motivation and structure gifts to maximize tax benefits after deciding how much to give.

If that describes you, then you’ll want to plan charitable giving without waiting for the tax law to settle.

The earlier you begin planning, the more choices you’ll have in structuring direct gifts of cash or property, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts and other strategies.

Education. Perhaps the most neglected area of estate planning is to educate and inform the beneficiaries of the estate. Loved ones need to know the basics of your estate and then plan for it.

Don’t wait for Congress. Take action now.

To a better retirement,

Bob Carlson
Bob Carlson
Editor, Retirement Watch Weekly

Publisher's Note: Here’s what paid-up subscribers have access to in the new September issue of Retirement Watch:

  • IRA Pitfalls, Mistakes & Opportunities
  • How to Plan Your Spending Strategy
  • Power of Attorney vs Living Trust
  • Tips for Commodities, Gold & Taxes

  • Click here to join Retirement Watch, and get immediate access to this month’s issue, plus the full archive of back issues and special reports.

    Bob's Blog

    Your Kids and Your Long-Term Care
    by Bob Carlson
    Editor, Retirement Watch

    This article has a lot of interesting data about nursing home care. It explains how long people are likely to need a nursing home stay and how much it could cost. It also makes the interesting point that elderly people with adult children are likely to need less long-term care than others. You can use the piece to sort through the marketing hype about how much long-term care people need and develop useful probabilities.

    The study found that Americans between 57 and 61 had a 56 percent chance of having a nursing home stay of at least one day, higher than in some previous studies. That’s likely due in part to hospitals discharging people faster than in the past, and to a rise in stays in post-hospitalization rehabilitation centers. As long as someone has been in the hospital for three days, Medicare fully covers the cost of post-hospitalization rehab for up to 20 days, and then pays part of the cost for stays of up to 100 days.

    The bad news: The averages on cost and nights spent in a nursing home are skewed by some huge numbers for a small percentage of people. Those who fall into that unhappy camp would need to save about $47,000 at 57 to cover the costs, assuming a long-term return of 3 percent on that money. Assume zero growth and the amount they’d need to save swells to $115,000.

    How To Make a Fortune from Football's Marijuana Connection

    With all the bad press about opioid addiction and CTE research, it’s not a question of IF the image-conscious NFL is ready to embrace marijuana... It’s HOW SOON. After all, the NFL recently asked its own players union to ramp up efforts studying cannabis.

    Fortunately, you don’t have to wait to start profiting from marijuana today. That's because one investigative analyst knows exactly how this “NFL Connection” will play out, and how to make the biggest gains from the marijuana boom. Click here for full details.

    Want More Retirement Advice?

    Check out my website,, where you’ll find hundreds of free articles covering every aspect of retirement planning.

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    Bob Carlson

    About Bob Carlson:

    Robert C. Carlson is the author of the books The New Rules of Retirement and Retirement Tax Guide, editor and investment director of the popular retirement newsletter, Retirement Watch, and editor of the free weekly e-letter, Retirement Watch Weekly.  Bob is a frequent speaker at investment conferences around the country, and you can also hear Bob as a featured guest on nationally-syndicated radio shows, such as The Retirement Hour, Dateline Washington, Family News in Focus, The Michael Reagan Show, Money Matters and The Stock Doctor.
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