According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people today can expect to live longer in retirement than ever before. Increased life expectancies mean we’ll all probably have to do a better job of planning our retirement and protecting our estate assets than previous generations. Working out a sound financial plan now—before you need it—can help accomplish retirement and other important financial goals.
Creating a financial plan can help ensure a comfortable retirement. In drawing up your plan, you’ll have to review your:
- Anticipated costs of living during retirement.
- Current retirement assets.
- Current retirement savings and investments.
- Expected rates of investment, and present and potential inflation rates.
Once this information is determined, any shortfall between projected retirement income and anticipated costs of living during your retirement can be calculated. It’s important to plan so you have enough assets to get you through—not merely to—retirement. A comprehensive retirement plan might include elements such as:
- 401(k) plans.
- Roth or traditional IRAs.
- Education savings plans.
- Life insurance or annuities.
- Tax-advantaged investments.
Most of us already know our estate includes every asset and debt we have. However, few of us probably also realize that:
- Federal tax rates begin at 37 percent and rise to 49 percent for estates valued at $1 million or more for 2003.
- Estate taxes are due within nine months of death.
To help meet estimated future needs, typical financial plans often employ the following strategies:
- Updating current estate plans.
- Titling assets to maximize credit available against federal estate taxes.
- Purchasing life insurance to cover estate tax and settlement costs.
- Establishing certain irrevocable trusts, which may help remove assets from your taxable estate.
- Making gifts of $11,000 or less to reduce the value of your estate.
In short, talking with a financial and tax advisor regarding the adequacy of current estate and retirement plans is an essential first step for anyone interested in leaving behind a lasting personal and financial legacy. IBI