Managing your financial life is not just about money.

Life Insurance & Legal Documents

This is the 13th article (and last) in a series on retirement.  In this piece I will answer questions 29, 30, 31 and 32 questions that you must answer before retiring.

  1. What about life insurance?

If you have done well financially in your life, you may well not need any life insurance. If you have not done so well, you may need to have life insurance on one or both spouses to provide financial security. The problem with this situation is that it is pretty expensive to carry life insurance on folks in their sixties or older, and those costs may well impact the quality of life in retirement. There is a fair chunk of math involved in determining whether or not you will need life insurance in retirement. Please spend a lot of time analyzing this, or better yet, hire a certified financial planner practitioner who acts as a fiduciary to perform these calculations for you.

  1. What about legal documents?

We are not attorneys and are not giving legal advice.  That said, we know the legal basics as it relates to our clients. At the very least, everyone needs a basic will, power of attorney, health care proxy and living will as legal documents.  There are some situations where a trust strategy may be appropriate.  If you own property in multiple states, a trust is a good way to avoid two probates.  If you have a child who is not good with money or has special needs, a trust is a great way to protect that child and the money. Trusts may protect your assets from the high cost of nursing homes.  Or maybe you just want to get your children their inheritances quickly, quietly, confidentially and not go through the probate process. Please consult with an attorney and get this done.

  1. What do I tell my kids about my financial situation?

If you have ever settled a family member’s estate, you know how long and difficult this process can be. If you had little or no information and guidance beforehand as to how to do so, the process was frustrating, overwhelming and hugely time consuming.  I come down on the side of sharing the details of your financial situation with at least one of your children, if not all.  I have worked with many clients over the years, and I am comfortable stating that many children will fight about money that results from an inheritance. These fights can divide families for generations.  It is better that your children know what is planned for them while you are living.  Yes, they may fight or disagree, but better to have that before you die, so that you may explain any differences in how you choose to treat them.

  1. Can I really do all the math on retirement myself?

I am a Certified Financial Planner Practitioner.  I have been helping folks plan for retirement in that capacity since 1992.  I am very biased. The vast majority of folks reading this do not have the time, energy and expertise to craft their own written, comprehensive retirement plan.  Retiring is the biggest financial decision you will make in your life. If you are wrong, you don’t get a do-over. Hire a Certified Financial Planner Practitioner acting as a fiduciary to craft a comprehensive, written retirement plan for your, preferably many years before you retire.  Re-visit this plan regularly. Amend and adjust as necessary. Retire with confidence!


If you have a question for me, I can be reached at  I promise that I will respond. If you missed any of the previous articles in this series, they can be found at my website

Michael J. McNamara Ph.D., CFP®


*Any financial advice in this article is intended to be generic in nature. Readers should consult with their own financial advisors before implementing any advice or suggestions above.

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