Estate planning sounds intimidating, but it is an important step for each person to take to ensure that their assets are managed and passed on according to their wishes. Employees and retirees enrolled in Boeing retirement plans should take extra care to create an estate plan which considers their retirement benefits, and how they fit into the overall picture of their estate. If you live in the state of Washington, consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney at Baxter Legal Services at (425) 686-0574 to understand how we may be able to assist with your estate planning needs.
What Is Estate Planning?
Many Boeing retirement recipients are unsure why they need an estate plan. Comprehensive estate plans include a robust set of documents that provide instructions for how and to whom the estate owner wants their assets distributed following their death.
Beyond a Last Will and Testament (will), estate plans often encompass a wide range of documents concerning the estate owner’s assets and wishes, both in life and in death. Estate plans may include elements such as:
- A will defining how assets will be distributed among heirs
- Proper asset titling and beneficiary designations to ensure property and other assets, such as Boeing retirement benefits, are left to the intended heirs while minimizing transfer taxes and other fees
- Powers of attorney which allow a designated party to make medical and/or financial decisions on the estate owner’s behalf while the estate owner is alive
- Advance directives which provide instructions regarding the types of medical treatment the estate owner wants to receive and who can make medical decisions for them, if they become unable to make medical decisions on their own while they are alive
- Advance care planning as recommended by the National Institute on Aging, to assist loved ones in managing the estate owner’s affairs if they become unable to do independently
- Trusts which can hold assets on an owner’s behalf and pass them to a successor trustee on the owner’s death or incapacitation
- Life insurance to provide an additional benefit to surviving loved ones
- Tax planning considerations to minimize the tax burden placed on heirs
- Strategic planning to provide optimal financial support for surviving loved ones
What Happens To Boeing Retirement Benefits After Death?
The decisions made during a retiree’s lifetime will determine what happens to Boeing retirement benefits after death. Whether eligible for a Boeing pension, considering a pension buyout, or funding retirement through the Voluntary Investment Plan (VIP) program, employees and retirees must consider their wishes for passing on their Boeing retirement benefits to survivors and make choices accordingly.
Boeing VIP Program
Employees and retirees enrolled in the VIP Boeing retirement program should designate a beneficiary at the time they enroll in the VIP program. The beneficiary will receive the balance of the employee’s or retiree’s account if they die before the balance is paid out. VIP program beneficiaries may be designated or changed at any time, but changes must be completed according to the program administrator’s rules, and before the employee’s or retiree’s death. If a beneficiary is not designated before death, the account balance is distributed to:
- The surviving spouse; if no spouse,
- Surviving children, in equal shares; if no children,
- Another relative designated by the Boeing Employee Benefit Plans Committee, or to the deceased’s estate
Boeing Pension Program
Some eligible retirees elect to receive an annuity from their Boeing retirement pension outside of the VIP program. While a retiree’s pension payments stop after their death, a decision must be made as to whether their surviving spouse will receive a pension after the retiree’s death. Electing a surviving spouse pension comes at the expense of reduced monthly pension payments during the retiree’s life, but provides some financial peace of mind for the future needs of the spouse. Attorneys at Washington-based Baxter Legal Services are knowledgeable regarding Boeing retirement benefits and may be able to help with your estate planning needs.
Why Boeing Retirement Recipients Need An Estate Plan
Estate planning is a good idea for nearly everyone, and Boeing retirement recipients are no exception. Here are just a few ways that an estate plan can help protect your Boeing retirement benefits.
Manage Finances In Life
Financial powers of attorney permit someone else to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself, including making changes to your retirement benefits. If you become ill or incapacitated, a designated power of attorney can make changes to Boeing retirement accounts on your behalf. It is important to note that the Boeing Retirement Service Center only accepts specific documents for power of attorney.
Designate Proper Beneficiaries
Estate planning can also include management of designated surviving beneficiaries for Boeing pension and VIP program benefits. As discussed above, when a Boeing employee or retiree dies, any payable retirement benefits are given to the person designated as a surviving beneficiary in Boeing’s files. The designated beneficiary overrides any beneficiary named in the deceased’s will or other documents. For example, if a Boeing retiree designates their spouse as the beneficiary, becomes divorced from the spouse, and remarries someone else without changing the beneficiary, the ex-spouse would receive the balance of the deceased’s retirement accounts.
Assess The Impact of Boeing Retirement Benefits
Estate planning also takes into account financial decisions made in life and their impact on the legacy passed on to surviving loved ones. Understanding the role Boeing retirement benefits play in supporting the retiree in life, and whether they will be available to survivors, can help employees and retirees make informed decisions about other assets they own.
How An Estate Planning Attorney Can Help With Boeing Retirement Benefits
Having an estate plan ensures that your Boeing retirement benefits and other assets will be managed and distributed according to your wishes, both in life and after you pass on. If you are interested in creating an estate plan, consider speaking with an attorney who is familiar with Boeing retirement plans at Baxter Legal Services at (425) 686-0574 to understand how we may be able to help with your estate planning needs.