My husband and I just became Empty Nesters. Most of the articles you read on the “empty nest,” focus on couples now having more time for each other or redecorating the newly-vacated room (We haven’t gotten to this quite yet.) However, there are financial and legal issues to consider at this time too.
If you are not paying college tuition, or you just finished doing so, you may find that your bank account is healthy for the first time in a long time. It’s tempting to splurge on all the things you’ve put off, waiting until the kids were grown. However, this is a unique opportunity to bolster retirement savings and build up (or build back) the emergency cushion that so many of us forget we need—until there’s an emergency.
Many parents continue to help their children financially. That’s a great thing to do, if you and your retirement accounts can afford it. Consider putting specific limits on any continuing support, like paying a monthly phone bill or a credit card bill or a one year time limit.
In some instances, kids never become completely financially independent. For children with disabilities that limit their earnings abilities, you should consider what programs and benefits are available to help. It is important to adjust your estate and financial planning to address the needs of children who are not independent.
If you haven’t updated your will since your kids were small, put this on your “before the holidays” list. There have been many changes to tax laws and your life may have experienced some changes as well. Review your estate plan with your attorney to be sure you aren’t missing any opportunities to minimize taxes or maximize your planned giving legacy.
This is also the time to check on your beneficiary designations. Make a complete list of all of your accounts that have beneficiary designations and make sure they are up to date.
Now that the kids are grown it’s a good time to revisit your power of attorney and medical directives. If your child is responsible enough, you may want to name your child as back-up agents. Your kids also need to have their own basic documents even if they have limited assets.