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Part 2: Pre-Retirement Planning Guide

Part 2: Pre-Retirement Planning GuideThere are many steps to planning for retirement. Some are legal and financial, some are about communication, and some involve introspection – thinking about your life now and how you want to live the rest of it.

By the time most people start thinking about a retirement plan, they have a pretty decent foundation. Perhaps its assets – a house, savings, a retirement portfolio. Perhaps a strong social network comprised of family, friends, and colleagues. Furthermore, most folks have a sense of who they are, what they like, and what they don’t like. Some people may have all three of those factors in hand, while others have just one or two. What’s good to remember is that once you hit a certain age, you have a lot of the knowledge and logistics in place to create a sound retirement plan. And that’s a good place to start.

This article is Part 2 of a two-part primer on pre-retirement planning. The first article previewed the first three steps: 1.) Budgeting; 2.) Setting goals; and 3.) Finances. The following is an overview of the subsequent steps.

4. Health

The good news is that Medicare will cover many of your most basic healthcare needs in retirement. However, if you have extensive medical problems, you could be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is a good idea to earmark a separate funding source for potential medical expenses, such as a Health Savings Account (HSA). You can only fund one of these until you qualify for Medicare at age 65; hence the importance of pre-planning years in advance.

Long-term care is even more difficult to plan for because you might not need it. This is one of those high-cost scenarios best covered by insurance. However, be aware that long-term care insurance policies typically provide a limited per diem rate, which might not cover the full cost of caregiving. Therefore, you should keep some assets in reserve in case you need it for caregiving later. Another aspect of your health plan involves end-of-life decisions – make sure you communicate them to your loved ones.

5. Estate Plan

Another gift to loved ones is to leave them a roadmap of what to do with your assets after you pass away. At the very least, complete a will with instructions. And don’t wait until you retire; the burden of determining how to manage your assets is just as egregious if you pass away before retirement.

While there are financial components to your estate plan, there are logistical ones as well. Imagine if you (and your spouse/partner) both passed away suddenly in a car wreck. Is your house in order? Not only should you organize your financial house so loved ones can find your legal documents, but you also get the physical house in which you reside. Now is the time to think about downsizing and decluttering. Go through the closets, the attic, the garage and get rid of things you no longer need. Some of it your children or friends might love to have, some would make valuable contributions to local organizations, and some of it is just junk. Part of your estate plan should be to make it easier for your children to manage your property – and all the things in it – after you’re gone.

6. Legacy Plan

Your legacy is how you want people to remember you after you die. You can create your own legacy in different ways. For one, through philanthropy. If you expect to outlive your assets, develop a legal plan for giving. This could include to your children or grandchildren and/or charitable contributions to causes that represent your passions and priorities.

But your legacy is more personal than that. As you get older, you will lose people in your life, and you could die unexpectedly. Your pre-retirement plan should consider how you can repair and strengthen relationships with people in your life with whom you are estranged or not on easy terms. After all, how they remember you will also be part of your legacy.

7. Find Your Raison d’Etre

If you live a long life, you will lose friends. You may lose your spouse or life partner. You may lose siblings and even children before you pass on. How will you feel/survive/bear it? Translated from French, your “raison d’etre” means “your reason to be.” More than any other time in your life – when all your goals, dreams and relationships were ahead of you – in retirement you or your spouse may end up alone. It is vitally important that you think about and figure out what things make you happy, and are sustainable to keep making you happy should you outlive loved ones or even suffer from health problems. This is not an easy task, and a later article in this series will offer ideas on how to approach it.

The next seven Financial Planning articles in this series will discuss in more detail each of the steps previewed in this pre-retirement planning guide.


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