Whether you reached an age where you have adult children but may not yet be retired, or you have reached retirement age, this stage of financial and estate planning, by this point, you should have a thorough and proper review of your retirement planning. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that at least 55% of adult Americans, and possibly upwards of 70%, do not have any type of estate planning in place.
As with the other stages discussed recently, at a minimum, the married couple should have a Will, in conjunction with a Living Trust (in many but not all cases), Durable Financial Power of Attorney, Living Will and Designation of Healthcare surrogate. While a Living Trust avoids probate in Florida and can also be used to avoid estate taxes, it may not be for everyone. A Living Trust can also have provisions for a surviving spouse (which is also useful in second marriages) and can have provisions if no spouse survives for distribution to the adult children and/or grandchildren.
Empty nester estate planning becomes more complicated because the children’s lifestyles have been established, and special planning may be necessary in light of the adult child’s capabilities. In some instances, an adult child may be disabled and/or become disabled. In this event, special trust provisions must be created to avoid the interruption of governmental benefits. In some cases, the adult child is competent, but may not be one with a great deal of financial responsibility. This may lead the parent to consider an ongoing trust to protect the trust assets from bad decisions of the child.