Blog Home

Estate Planning: Essential Steps for Seniors and Their Families

Get a root canal? Or spend the afternoon estate planning? Pretty sure most of us would choose the former. There may be nothing less appealing than preparing for your own demise. But, think of it as one moment of sacrifice to create a better future for your loved ones. In short, consider time spent discussing your legacy as taking one for the team.  

Carefully organizing all of your important documents and financial information will yield a double bonus. First, you will ensure that your wishes and goals are clear and easy to execute. Second, you will save your heirs from the stress of having to wade through an unmanageable mess. Your loved ones will be free to move on with their lives instead of trying to untangle yours. There will be no arguing, no confusion and no doubt as to your intentions. They will appreciate the gift.

Though we all know how important it is to plan for the future, too many adults over 55 do not have a will. Nor do they realize that a will is only part of the estate story. As you begin to collect documents pertaining to your possessions, vehicle, bank accounts, life insurance, or any outstanding debts, you’ll see the importance of appointing a designated power of attorney, creating a living will and establishing beneficiaries.  

Here are a few basic estate planning tips to help you get started.

The Four Essentials of Estate Planning


Your will is a pretty straightforward document that includes:

  • A list of beneficiaries
  • A list of significant assets to leave your heirs
  • A list of your debts, including mortgages, car loans, credit cards, etc.
  • A named executor to see that your wishes are carried out


A trust is a provision that allows you to put your property into the hands of a designated person, a trustee, until your beneficiaries can claim it. Trusts can yield tax breaks, put restrictions on the distribution of assets and bypass the probate process.

There are several kinds of trusts:

  • Revocable Living Trust
    • In a revocable living trust, you are the trustee and can appoint a successor trustee to take over when the time comes. As the trustee you have the power and flexibility to move assets around and make changes regarding distribution.
  • Irrevocable Living Trus
    • An irrevocable living trust allows your heirs to access their inheritance before you are gone. You cannot be the designated trustee. Irrevocable trusts have tax benefits as you reduce the value of your estate in your lifetime. If you choose this option, remember it cannot be undone. Irrevocable means, well…irrevocable.
  • Special Needs Trust
    • In the event you have an heir with disabilities, a special needs trust is essential. It will allow them to access their inheritance while still claiming their government benefits.
  • Spendthrift Trust
    • This type of trust helps support family members who may be tempted to misuse their inheritance. These trusts are irrevocable and can be set up in a variety of different ways. For example, inheritance due to a family member struggling with addiction may be conditional on the completion of a treatment program. Or, you may stipulate that they may receive an allotment every few years until a certain age. It’s up to you.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney is both a document and a responsibility. The document stipulates who should make your healthcare decisions if you become unable to communicate those decisions yourself. The person whose name is on that document is your health care proxy and responsible for making critical life and death decisions for you.

Living Will

A living will is a document that clearly outlines your end of life wishes. It will only come into play if you are unable to speak for yourself. A living will supersedes the power of your health care proxy.

Estate planning can be overwhelming. If you need help finding a skilled professional to assist you, try the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils’ website.

Once you’ve created a solid plan, it’s a good idea to revisit it every so often to make modifications as your circumstances change. For example, maybe you will soon be selling your home and embarking upon a new retirement adventure at one of Overture’s premier senior apartment communities.A small change on paper - but a major change for the better in your life.

Book a tour today. You can’t take it with you, but you can sure have a lot of fun with it enjoying the ultimate retirement experience.

No comments yet

Leave a Comment

  • 0/256