5 Steps to Consider Before Retirement
Whether you're hoping to retire soon or are just beginning to explore the idea of stepping back from your job, you're probably wondering how to make it happen. Will you have enough money? How will you spend your time? What will you do for health insurance? Here, you’ll find a useful countdown of the five biggest steps to developing a solid retirement plan.
5. Assess Your Retirement Goals
What does retirement look like for you? Do you plan to or want to continue working part-time? Will you travel? Do you want to sell your home and hit the road in an RV? At what age will you claim Social Security? When will you qualify for Medicare?
Everyone's retirement goals are different, which means your financial plan for retirement will also be different.
4. Decide How to Draw Down Savings
Depending on whether your assets are held in a pre-tax account, a post-tax account, or a taxable account, your savings drawdown strategy can vary widely. Your age can also dictate when, how, and how much you withdraw from your retirement accounts. For example, if you plan to retire before age 59.5, you may want to first begin withdrawing funds from a taxable account to provide flexibility until you're able to take penalty-free withdrawals from a 401(k) or a traditional IRA.
3. Enlist a Financial Professional
If you don't yet have a dedicated financial professional, now may be the time to assess your retirement readiness and work to optimize your income and assets as you enter retirement. You don't want to find yourself in a position where your retirement needs exceed your income or assets and you're forced to scale down—or even go back to work—after you've already been enjoying retirement for a few years.
2. Survey Potential Large Expenses
Beginning your retirement with multiple large, unexpected expenses can send even the most carefully planned budgets off track. Before you retire, consider some of the biggest expenses that are likely to come your way.
- Will your home need new windows or a new roof soon?
- Are your major appliances—washer and dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, HVAC—getting older?
- How much longer do you expect your vehicle to last?
- Is your health plan switching to a high-deductible one?
By planning for large expenses before you retire, you can work to ensure these costs won't catch you by surprise.
1. Begin Planning Your Estate
Whenever you're making a big financial shift or embarking on a new phase of your life, it's important to revisit and assess your estate plan. If you pass away without a valid will or other estate plan, your heirs could find themselves embroiled in a messy, expensive court battle to reclaim and divide your assets.
In some cases, you may only need a will to dispose of your assets in the way you'd like. Other situations may call for an irrevocable trust or some other multifaceted approach to managing your estate. Talking to an attorney and your financial professional can give you a better idea of the options available to you and where each different path may lead.