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Important estate planning decisions couples need to consider

New Jersey couples approaching retirement or who are currently retired may benefit from consulting a financial planner to review any investments that fund their estate plan.

Such advice can help couples learn how to move investments around to produce a higher yield and potentially earn more interest per year. However, there are other questions that are not generally addressed by only working with a financial planner.

A recent media report illustrated how one couple who had various types of accounts and retirement savings could meet their retirement goals.

In this particular instance the husband was the primary contributor to the household's annual income, through his pension.

It was recommended that the couple should consider taking additional steps in order to plan for the death of either spouse. This is an important part of any estate plan; to ensure that either spouse in the marriage has adequate income when the other dies. The adequacy of a single income in retirement after a spouse's death can be addressed through estate planning.

An additional suggestion for couples is how important it is to continue to pay for any life insurance premiums so the surviving spouse would have enough cash to cover the expenses of the deceased spouse. It is impossible to know which person in a marriage will die first so, it is best to plan for any scenario.

It is also important for couples to take the time to review any estate planning documentation. While the couple in this story did have a will, it was over 30 years old. A lot can change in 30 years and it is necessary to update wills to account for any life events such as the birth or death of family members. The absence of contingent beneficiaries can complicate the processing of estate plans and wills after an individual dies.

Source: NJ.com, "Get with the plan: Retired couple rooted in New Jersey," Karin Price Mueller, April 8, 2012

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Law Offices of Nancy M. Rice
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