What’s your use-by date?

It would be helpful for some, maybe paralyzing for others, if we all came with (as in knew) an expiration date. Like a tin of sardines or jar of spaghetti sauce, with the words best-if-used-by. But we don’t, so at a certain birthday or life event (the retirement or death of a friend or loved one), we start planning for life after work. How will we get by when that regular biweekly paycheck is replaced by a smaller federal retirement benefit? Will it be enough? Will it keep pace with inflation? That’s also a good time to think about what we’ll do in retirement and what we’ll leave a spouse or kids when we are no longer around.

Many federal workers, especially in affluent areas like the Washington region, are probably worth a lot more than they think. Especially if they bought, paid for and held onto a house in the Capital Beltway region. And, if married, stayed with that same partner, avoiding the, uh, problems (financial, emotional) that usually accompany a divorce. And sometimes a second or third try.

Do you have an “estate” and not know it? What does it take and if you have one? What do you do with it?

Tom O’Rourke, an attorney based in Rockville, Maryland, says many federal workers and retirees are better off than they think. In some cases, much, much better off.

“When you consider the value of your annuity, your Thrift Savings Plan, your FEGLI (life insurance) and the house you may have purchased 30 years ago, you are probably worth a lot more than you make think,” he said.

Estate plans do three very different but important things:

“Your estate plan is designed to help you use these assets in any way you want while you are alive, and to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of incapacity, and distribute your assets in any way you want after your death,” O’Rourke said.

So who do you know, starting maybe with yourself, that could use — or desperately needs — an estate plan? How do they work? What do they cost?

Today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn radio show, O’Rourke will talk about estate planning, whether you are an active duty fed, a retiree or the friend or spouse of one. Federal News Radio reporter Nicole Ogrysko will talk about congressional plans to keep Veterans Affairs Department employees on a shorter leash. You might want to call a friend to listen. Also, the show will be archived on the Your Turn page if you miss it today, or want to listen later on.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Ralph Capone, the brother of Chicago gangster Al Capone, lobbied the Illinois legislature to require expiration dates on bottles of milk. Ralph Capone ran his brother’s legitimate bottling business during Prohibition, earning him the nickname “Bottles.”

Source: Wikipedia