Just as your health can benefit from regular medical checkups, periodic legal checkups help you avoid costly legal problems. These checkups allow you and your attorney to evaluate your current situation, examine options and risks, and explore any needed corrective steps. Although checkups are important throughout your life, they are of particular value before a major life change, such as retirement. If you are thinking about retiring in the near future, this is probably a perfect time to meet with your attorney to ensure that you are legally ready for this next step.
There are many important legal considerations when you are preparing to retire. Before retiring, you will need to determine what your current expenses are, the type of life style you want during retirement, and how long you expect to live. This will give you an estimate of the financial resources needed to support your retirement. Next, you will want to check your eligibility for government benefits and support, especially if you or a loved one will rely on any government support. In many circumstances, certain age and employment requirements must be met in order to be eligible. For example, your Social Security benefits will be different if you retire at 62, 65, or 70. To get a sense of your Social Security benefits, you can visit www.ssa.gov and order a copy of your Social Security statement. Other government benefits such as Medicare have additional guidelines and requirements.
Other important retirement considerations include forecasting your income and assets, breaking down and understanding your employee benefits and pension plan, and keeping up to date with your estate planning. If you plan to travel for a significant period of time, you will want to work with your attorney to determine the necessary travel documentation as well as ensure that your assets back home are protected and supervised.
Going into your legal checkup, it may be helpful to bring:
- any financial and benefit information from your employer,
- your most recent Social Security statement,
- a list of your current expenses,
- a list of your various investments, including 401(k)s, IRAs, stocks, and real
- any estate planning documents you have, and
- a list of the activities you would like to do during your retirement.
Working with your attorney to develop a solid plan can save you headaches down the road and ensure that you can enjoy your retirement years.
A note from the Editor: This is the first in a series of articles US Legal News will be running preparing you for retirement. Be sure to look for upcoming discussions on retiring out of the country, buying a second home, protecting your pension and assets, and legal protections for those starting a new career later in life.