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6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Money Talks News logo Money Talks News 11/8/2020 Chris Kissell
a little boy that is sitting in the grass © Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB /

A majority of retirees — 53% — have a last will and testament. But most lack six other crucial legal documents.

In fact, amid the coronavirus pandemic, 30% of retirees have none of these crucial documents — not even a will — according to the 20th annual Transamerica Retirement Survey of Retirees.

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The survey found that among retirees:

  • 32% have a power of attorney or medical proxy, which allows designated people to make medical decisions on the retiree’s behalf.
  • 30% have an advance directive or living will, which communicates their end-of-life medical preferences to health care providers.
  • 28% have designated a power of attorney to make financial decisions on their behalf.
  • 19% have written funeral and burial arrangements.
  • 18% have filled out a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) waiver, which allows designated people to speak to health care and insurance providers on the retiree’s behalf.
  • 11% have a trust.

The study highlights a gap retirees need to fill if they want to be properly prepared for the end of their lives.

Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of the Transamerica Institute and the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, says COVID-19 has made the situation even more challenging:

“Retirees can and should be taking more steps to safeguard their health and financial well-being. However, they may find it difficult while sheltering in place. Now more than ever before, they may need extra encouragement and support from their families and friends.”

Related: 3 Cable TV Companies Hiking Prices for 2020

Planning your estate

The Transamerica findings should not surprise anyone. Americans have a long history of ignoring death — and estate planning questions. Who wants to think about their ultimate demise when they are out enjoying their lives?

But planning your estate now will give you peace of mind, and save your heirs and loved ones a mountain of trouble when you depart this planet.

For more on the estate planning documents you need — including a couple not mentioned in the Transamerica survey — check out “8 Documents That Are Essential to Planning Your Estate.”

Wondering where to find these crucial documents? Check out Money Talks News partner Rocket Lawyer, where you likely will find everything you need at a low cost.

For more on getting your financial house in order during your golden years, read “7 Money Moves You Should Make After Retiring.”


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