Planning your retirement is not just about saving money. It’s important to think about how retiring will affect different parts of your life. Having a clear idea of what you want your retirement to be like can help you reach both your financial and non-financial goals.
You’ve worked hard for a long time and finally have enough money saved to retire. You want to make sure that your hard-earned money is used in a way that makes you and your family happy.
Take these tips from an estate planning lawyer into account as you plan for a happy retirement.
1. Make a list of your assets and determine their value
Making a list of your assets and figuring out how much they are worth is an important step in planning for your financial future and retirement. By knowing what you own and how much it’s worth, you’ll be better able to decide how to invest and save your money.
To make this list, you just need to get together all of your investments, real estate, bank accounts, insurance policies, and other valuable things. Next, give each item a rough idea of what it’s worth now.
But don’t stop there! Think about how these assets might change over time and think about the things on the list below.
- What was the price when it was first bought? If you have to sell an asset and pay capital gains tax, you will need this information.
- How much does it cost to keep up? That should include how much your work costs. For example, a lot of people don’t think about the fact that they will need management for their rental property.
- Is there a chance that the value could go down? For instance, if you buy stocks or bonds, there is always a chance that you will lose money.
- How quickly can you get cash if you need it? If you are retired, you may at some point need to use your assets. Some assets, like real estate, are hard to turn into cash, and if you do, you may have to pay capital gains tax or other taxes. It’s important to know which assets can give you cash quickly and easily while causing you to pay the least amount of taxes.
To get the most out of your assets, you might want to talk to a financial advisor. They can help you predict future growth and make sure you have a good plan.
If you take care of your assets and plan for them, you’ll be on your way to a comfortable and secure financial future.
2. What makes you happy? And how much does it cost?
To figure out how much money you need for retirement, you must first decide what kind of lifestyle you want.
You probably have the time and money to think about what makes you happy for the first time in your life. Want to go somewhere? Want to buy a house? Get out of debt? More time with your family? Do good for other people? Focus on activities that make you happy and make life worth living.
Once you know what your goals are, think about how much they will cost. It’s a good idea to make a budget for retirement. This should include all of your expected costs, like housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and entertainment. Make sure to include both one-time costs, like home repairs or big purchases, and recurring costs, like vacations or hobbies. The rate of inflation is another thing to think about. The cost of living tends to go up over time, which can change how much your retirement savings can buy.
And if you worry that you won’t be able to afford the retirement you want, don’t forget that you have choices. To keep living the way they want, many retirees downsize their homes or choose to relocate to a more affordable country. In the end, you can do anything as long as you plan ahead.
3. Can your income support your retirement lifestyle?
Once you know how much money will be needed each year, then it’s time to figure out what kind of income sources are available to support this level of spending over 30 years or more.
here are several sources of income you should consider when planning for retirement, including:
- Social Security: This is typically the primary source of income for most retirees, so it’s important to understand how much you can expect to receive and how to maximize your benefits.
- Pension: If you’re eligible for a pension, this can be a significant source of retirement income. Pensions provide a guaranteed monthly income, often based on your years of service and salary.
- Investments: Your retirement savings, including 401(k)s, IRAs, and other investment accounts, can provide a steady stream of income during retirement through the use of strategies such as annuities or dividend-paying stocks.
- Part-time work: Many retirees choose to work part-time during retirement, either for additional income or simply for the enjoyment of staying active.
It’s important to take stock of all of your potential sources of income and to estimate how much you can realistically expect to receive from each. This will give you a better understanding of how much money you’ll have to live on during retirement.
4. Consider your health as an asset
Healthcare costs remain one of the biggest expenditures during retirement years. According to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate (LINK), a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2022 can expect to pay about $315,000 in healthcare costs throughout their retirement. This figure does not include long-term care costs, either in a nursing home or at home, which can be a significant amount.
A healthy body and mind can help ensure that you’re able to enjoy your golden years to the fullest. Investing in your health today is the best way to secure your future and avoid unexpected health costs in the future.
Here are a few things to consider when it comes to your health and retirement planning:
- Be Honest About Your Health: Knowing your current health status and any potential health risks is crucial in evaluating and preparing for potential health costs in the future. This includes understanding any chronic conditions you may have, as well as potential genetic predispositions.
- Invest in Prevention: By investing in preventive care and healthy habits, you can help reduce your risk of future health problems and reduce the impact of any existing conditions. This includes regular check-ups with your doctor, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in physical activity.
- Evaluate Your Coverage: Make sure you understand the coverage provided by your health insurance and consider if it’s enough to meet your needs. You may need to supplement your coverage with additional insurance products, such as a long-term care policy.
- Plan for Long-term care: No one wants to think about worst-case scenarios, but it’s important to plan for them nonetheless. Consider the potential costs of long-term care or in-home health care, and include these in your retirement planning projections.
5. Who can you trust to take care of you?
“Who Can You Trust for my Care?” is one of the most important questions that anyone can ask themselves. If you don’t have any family or friends nearby, it’s especially important that you make a plan for your future care.
Having a trusted individual who knows where your important documents are stored and how to access them in an emergency could mean everything in the event of an emergency. It is also wise to have someone who is knowledgeable in financial matters.
The following legal documents are critical for retirement.
- Power of Attorney: This allows someone else to act on your behalf in financial matters such as paying bills or making investments on your behalf. This requires a written document designating that person as your agent, as well as signed forms from both parties (you and your agent)
- Healthcare Power of Attorney (Advance Healthcare Directive or Healthcare Proxy): This document allows someone else to make decisions about your health care if you ever become unable to do so.
It’s best to prepare these documents as soon as possible, even before you retire, with the help of an estate planning attorney who is up-to-date with current laws. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be properly reflected in writing and you will be well taken care of during your later days.
6. Think about all the external sources of support available to you when you need them
Social Security you’ve been funding with your income throughout working years provides a monthly income, which can help cover living expenses.
What are other sources of support when you can rely on during retirement? Are your children able to step up when you need their help? Can you qualify for government benefits when you cannot afford medical expenses?
Getting help from children during retirement can take various forms, including:
Financial support: Children may choose to provide financial support to their parents, either through gifts or loans, to help cover the costs of healthcare or other expenses during retirement.
Caregiving: Children may provide direct care for their aging parents, such as helping with grocery shopping, transportation, or home maintenance.
Housing: Children may provide housing for their parents, either by inviting them to live with them or by helping to pay for assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
It’s important to have open and honest conversations with children about any potential support during retirement years, as these arrangements can be sensitive and it’s best to have clear expectations and agreements in place ahead of time. Receiving support from children may affect their own financial stability and future plans, so it’s essential to make these arrangements in a way that is sustainable and fair for both parties involved.
Medicare is a federal health insurance program that provides coverage to people over the age of 65, as well as to people under 65 with certain disabilities. It is one of the primary sources of healthcare coverage for retirees, and can be an important source of financial assistance for those who are retired and on a fixed income.
While Medicare can be a significant source of financial assistance for retirees, it is important to note that it does not cover all healthcare expenses, and there may be deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance associated with using the coverage. So if your medical bills run $30,000 a year, Medicare will only cover $24,000 of that amount. It’s still better than having no insurance at all, but it isn’t as great as many people think it is.
Medicaid is a need-based program that provides health coverage to eligible individuals, including those in retirement. Medicaid can cover certain healthcare expenses that Medicare does not cover, including long-term care.
Eligibility for Medicaid varies from state to state. Consulting with an estate planning attorney or an elder law attorney can help you understand your options and determine the best plan for your specific situation.
There are charitable organizations that provide financial assistance or other forms of support to seniors, such as Meals on Wheels or local senior centers.
7. Be strategic about how to transfer your wealth to the next generation
Your retirement planning should include creating a plan that enables you to make the most of your financial resources, but also allows for future generations to benefit from your wealth and hard work.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Purpose of the gift or inheritance: Determine why you want to give a gift or inheritance to the next generation and what your goals are for the transfer of assets. You might have wishes about how your children spend the family wealth, whether in charitable activities or specific investments.
- Timing of the transfer: Consider when it is appropriate to make the transfer, whether it be during your lifetime or after your death. Bill Perkins, the author of the book “Die With Zero” advises against leaving inheritance to children after your death, and instead gifting when money has the most impact on children’s lives while they are growing their own family and assets. But leaving inheritances after death have tax and other benefits that gifting during a lifetime cannot provide. An estate planning lawyer can advise you to find the most tax-efficient and effective timing of the wealth transfer.
- Method of transfer: Many retirees choose to transfer their remaining wealth through a will, joint ownership or cash gift during their lifetime. There can be a better way to transfer your assets. For example, if you want to leave behind an inheritance for your children or grandchildren, consider leaving them through a trust instead of directly passing on assets after your death. A trust can help reduce estate taxes and probate costs as well as protecting inheritance against children’s creditors.
- Communication with beneficiaries: You might prefer to communicate your plans with the recipients and ensure that they understand the purpose and conditions of the transfer. However, sharing your plan too soon could result in your decisions being influenced by the recipients.
- Consider estate and gift taxes: Be aware of the tax implications of the gift or inheritance and consider strategies for minimizing taxes.
8. Don’t forget to take a look at the tax side of things
Even if you will likely pay less income tax during retirement, other types of tax can have a big impact on how much money you and your family will have.
- Property Tax: Depending on where you live, your property tax bill could be a significant part of your monthly expenses. Some states and counties have programs that offer discounts for senior owners. You might consider moving to a state with lower property taxes.
- Estate/Gift Tax: If you have a substantial estate, you may be subject to estate or gift taxes when you pass on your assets to your heirs.
- Income Tax: The amount of taxes you’ll pay on your retirement income will depend on the type of accounts you withdraw from and your overall income. It’s a good idea to work with a financial advisor to come up with a withdrawal strategy that minimizes your tax bill.
By considering these tax implications, you can make informed decisions about your retirement planning and potentially save thousands of dollars in the long run.
9. Consider setting up a trust to avoid the probate or to achieve specific financial goals
When planning for retirement, it’s important to consider not just your current financial situation but also what will happen to your assets after your passing or during incapacity. A trust can be a valuable tool in this regard, as it allows you to have trusted individuals or entities manage your assets for the benefit of designated beneficiaries.
One important benefit of setting up a trust is that it can help you avoid the probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive. By transferring ownership of your assets to a trust, you can ensure that they will be managed and distributed according to your wishes, without the need for court involvement.
Another important benefit of a trust is that it can be used to help qualify for Medicaid, which can pay for expensive healthcare costs, including long-term care costs. This can be achieved through a special type of trust, known as a Medicaid trust.
In addition to avoiding probate and helping with healthcare costs, a trust can also help efficiently transfer wealth to the next generation and can be used to reduce taxes, such as estate or gift taxes, or maintain property tax exemptions for seniors. For example, you can set up an irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) so that your beneficiaries receive the proceeds of your life insurance policies without having to pay estate tax.
When setting up a trust, it’s important to choose a trustworthy and capable trustee and to clearly define the terms and conditions of the trust in a legal document. This will ensure that your assets are managed and distributed according to your wishes. It’s always a good idea to talk to an estate planning attorney to get personalized advice.
Consider setting up a trust as part of your overall retirement planning strategy.
10. Be ready to adjust to changing situations
Retirement is a long-term goal that must be carefully planned for. Even the best-laid plans, however, can be derailed by unforeseen events. To keep your retirement on track, you must be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. Here are some things to remember:
- Plan for flexibility: Consider using financial strategies that provide retirement income flexibility.
- Stay informed: Keep up to date on changes in the economy, tax laws, and other factors that may have an impact on your retirement plans.
- Keep an emergency fund: To cover unexpected expenses, it’s critical to have a contingency plan in place, such as an emergency fund.
- Be prepared for inflation: Inflation can gradually erode the purchasing power of your retirement savings, so it’s critical to plan for it.
- Regularly re-evaluate your plans: Re-evaluate your retirement plans on a regular basis to ensure they still align with your current goals and circumstances.
- Think about long-term care: Unexpected health events can be costly and disruptive, so it’s critical to plan ahead of time for the possibility of needing long-term care.
You can help ensure that your retirement stays on track by being prepared for unexpected events and adjusting your plans accordingly.
Retirement planning is a multifaceted process that necessitates careful consideration of numerous factors. The ten points covered in this article provide a thorough overview of what you should think about when planning for retirement. These considerations are critical to ensuring that your retirement is secure and comfortable, from making a list of your assets and determining their value to considering all of the external sources of support available to you and being prepared to adjust to changing situations.
You can ensure that you have the resources and support you need to live a happy and fulfilling life in your golden years by taking the time to plan for your retirement. Whether you’re just getting started with retirement planning or have been saving for years, remember that it’s never too late to take charge of your financial future.