Legal Documents Retirees Need but Don't Have

You're retired. Congratulations on starting the next chapter in life's journey! Now that your time is your own, you can pursue your dreams. Have you always wanted to take up painting or travel the world? Now's the time. 

While you're enjoying this next stage of life, here are 13 documents that will help give you peace of mind and facilitate navigating an enjoyable retirement.

Last Will and Testament

The most important document of estate planning, a last will and testament outlines all the details of how you'd like your affairs settled when you're gone. This includes the distribution of your estate and wishes such as funeral arrangements.

By getting this crucial document completed, you can go on to enjoy your retirement knowing that your estate will pass on as you would like. Not having this document can lead to your estate being tied up in probate court.

Beneficiary Designation Forms

The beneficiary designations you fill out for accounts such as insurance policies, 401(k)s, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) take priority over what you put in your will. That means if you have designated someone as a beneficiary for your 401(k) but listed someone else as a beneficiary in your will, the beneficiary named on the retirement plan will take precedence over the person listed in the will. It's a good idea to revise your beneficiary designation forms to match your current will.

Durable Power of Attorney

If you are unable to make decisions for yourself at some point, a durable power of attorney grants someone you trust the ability to take action on your behalf. This person will represent and protect your interests when you aren't able to do so.

General Power of Attorney

A non-durable power of attorney, a general power of attorney allows you to designate another person to make decisions on your behalf. This power of attorney is often used to make financial or business decisions, including asset management.

For example, if you own a company but are onsite infrequently now that you've retired, you can grant a general power of attorney to a business partner or child who is there on a day-to-day basis. This frees you up to take that long-awaited dream vacation.

Advanced Healthcare Directive

Created when you're well and of sound mind, an advanced healthcare directive informs medical professionals and those responsible for your care of your wishes when it comes to your health should you become incapacitated. This legal form offers you a chance to make decisions before any health issues occur.

HIPAA Waiver

A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act HIPAA waiver of authorization allows certain people you designate to speak to healthcare and insurance providers on your behalf. This can mean that your doctor provides information about your health to third parties, such as other medical professionals, researchers, attorneys, and family members.

Pension Paperwork

While pension plans aren't as common as they once were, you may have a defined pension plan through your former place of employment and are receiving a pension. Ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork together for the plan, including the Summary Plan Description. 

You should also have an Individual Benefit Statement. This document details your earned benefits. The information will also state what happens to the pension income should the primary holder of the pension pass away. You can find more information about pensions through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Insurance Policy Documents

You likely have insurance policies. It's advisable to collect all your insurance policy information and store it in one secure location. That way, the information is easily accessed by your heirs in the event of your death.

Business Plan

Being retired doesn't necessarily mean you're done working. Many people who've officially left the rat race like to keep busy with freelancing work or a small side hustle. 

Maybe you've decided to start your own small business or nonprofit doing what you love now that you answer to no one. If so, a business plan is the best way to express your intent and list your mission and various goals. You'll also need a business plan if you decide to seek funding or take on a partner.

Passports and Visas

If you want to travel the world, an up-to-date passport is a necessity. When planning a trip out of the country, plan well ahead, especially if your passport is out-of-date or nonexistent. It can take 10-12 weeks to get a new one.

In addition to a passport, some countries require a tourist visa to enter. Well before your departure date, find out if you need visas. Some countries require obtaining a visa before departure while others grant them when you arrive.

Satisfaction of Mortgage

If you've paid off your mortgage loan free and clear, congratulations! If you plan to soon, you'll want a satisfaction of mortgage. This document confirms that you've met all the terms. Once you've paid up, the lender is obligated to release the lien on the property and send you a satisfaction of mortgage that proves you have the freedom of owning your home outright.

Personal Financial Statement

If you wish to purchase property or a high-ticket item like the car of your dreams, you may be required to present a personal financial statement. Such a document details all your finances. You can use it for various legal procedures, including applying for a business loan or a mortgage on a vacation home.

Home Inventory

If you're thinking about having some long-awaited remodeling done to make your home even more of a sanctuary, it's a good idea to protect your belongings by listing out what you own and its value. This is also important in the unfortunate event that your home is burglarized or you suffer a house fire. You will need the inventory for insurance claims.

When well-planned, retirement can be an exciting journey filled with new freedoms and adventures. Make the experience even more enjoyable by getting all the legal paperwork out of the way. Check out 360 Legal Forms' free trial today. 

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