Estate Planning for Retirees: A Step-By-Step Approach

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A man and his financial advisor looking over an estate plan
2 Apr

Estate Planning for Retirees: A Step-By-Step Approach

As a retiree, you want to ensure your estate is in order. Update your estate plan with the correct legal documents, tax minimization strategies, and the right financial advisor.

Key takeaways:

Assess your current finances
Define your estate planning goals
Draft essential estate planning documents
Include tax implications and strategies
Incorporate flexibility and regular reviews of your plan

Creating the estate plan you want may sound daunting when you’re in retirement. You have to navigate complex tax and legal considerations and draft the correct legal documents all while trying to establish a structure that will help you and your family and continue your legacy.

Are you struggling with the nuances of estate planning or how to create a plan that reflects your goals? This guide makes the estate planning process simpler with a step-by-step approach catered to retirees. These strategies will help you consider all angles of your financial picture and gain the peace of mind that your loved ones will be protected.

1. Assess your current finances

First and foremost, carefully assess your current financial situation. How much income are you bringing in during retirement? What investments do you have? How much of your wealth will outlive you? Are you dealing with any medical issues that could impact your income?

List all of your current assets, debts, and other financial obligations. Doing this helps you take stock of where you are now and understand the value and nature of your various resources. These resources could include savings accounts, cash, market investments, real estate, businesses, and other types of property. 

2. Define your estate planning goals

Next, it’s time to dig into what you want for your legacy. Consider your lifelong goals and which goals you want to continue with your loved ones. Nailing down exactly what you envision for your assets after you’re gone includes considering these components:

  • Philanthropic goals for you and your family
  • Your beneficiaries’ educational objectives
  • Causes you want to associate with your legacy
  • Setting up your children or grandchildren with trusts for greater security

Think through how you can fulfill your purpose by ensuring your estate is distributed to the right places. You’ll then be able to set estate planning goals that align with your investment and legal preparation strategy.

3. Draft essential estate planning documents

As a retiree, you may already have a will in place, which outlines your wishes for your estate and designates an executor. If not, work with an attorney to create a will that is clear and detailed so your wishes will be carefully followed.

In addition, power of attorney and healthcare directive documents are others you may need to create. These allow you to assign responsibility to someone you trust to take over your legal, financial, or healthcare decisions if you can’t make them yourself. You don’t want your loved ones to wait until you’re incapacitated in some way to deal with these legal considerations.

These documents shouldn’t be taken lightly. Talk to an attorney about how to draft them and what to include. Discuss your thoughts with friends and family members who you want to depend on.

4. Include tax implications and strategies

Factor in how taxes will impact your estate planning goals. The implications can be significant, especially when you have a very large estate to pass on. Here are a few strategies for taxes and estate planning:


Consider making gifts to your beneficiaries. The IRS allows individuals to gift a certain amount per year to each recipient without incurring the gift tax. This is known as the annual gift tax exclusion. For 2024, the threshold is $18,000 per recipient. This can be an ongoing and strategic move in your estate plan.

Unified tax credit

Also, be aware of the unified estate and gift tax credit, which allows individuals to transfer a certain amount of assets during their lifetime or at death without incurring federal estate or gift taxes.


Irrevocable trusts can be used to remove assets from your taxable estate, lowering the overall tax obligation. Various types of trusts, such as irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs) or charitable remainder trusts, can be employed for this purpose to achieve your specific goals.

Spousal transfers

Transfers between spouses are generally not subject to estate or gift taxes. Take advantage of the unlimited marital deduction to pass assets to a surviving spouse tax-free.

Charitable giving

Consider incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan, aligned with your priorities and mission. Charitable donations can be deducted from the taxable estate, so you can use them as a tax-efficient strategy on top of giving to causes you care about most.

5. Incorporate flexibility and regular reviews of your plan

Even though you may already know your estate planning goals when you hit retirement, remember that plans can change. Periodically review your estate plan with your financial advisor to ensure your goals haven’t shifted and that you’re on track with your desired progress. Be prepared to make updates regularly.

For example, a marriage or divorce could warrant an update to a will or a significant change in your financial situation may require you to update your entire investment strategy. Tax laws also change frequently so be sure to follow updates and adjust your estate and tax planning approach accordingly.

By keeping a flexible mindset, you’ll be able to pivot when circumstances require it. Your advisor is key to ensuring you maintain an effective estate plan throughout retirement.

Ensuring a well-planned legacy with Avior

Estate planning is a key concern for those who’ve reached retirement. These five simple steps will put you on the right track to prioritize estate planning and create a better future for you and your family. Remember to stay flexible, minimize tax obligations where possible, and draft essential documents to avoid confusion for your beneficiaries after your death.

Prioritize thoughtful estate planning to secure and fulfill your legacy. The advisors at Avior are here to help make that happen. Talk to our team now to learn about our retirement and estate planning services.

Disclaimer: Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal or tax advice. Avior and our Advisors will work with your attorney and/or tax professional to assist with your legal and tax strategies. Please consult your attorney or tax professional with specific legal and/or tax questions. Investment Management and Financial Planner are offered through Avior Wealth Management, LLC, an SEC-registered investment advisor. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.  Investments are subject to loss, including the loss of principal.

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