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Things to Know Before You Retire

Being prepared for retirement, whether it’s right around the corner or years to come helps to make the journey into retirement an enjoyable experience. Financial advisors are trained to help guide individuals by creating personalized retirement planning to meet their financial needs.

Start with Personal Retirement Expectations

Knowing what you want to do with your free time when you retire is an important part of setting retirement financial goals. Making a list of interests and potential activities is a start. Some things to think about are would you stay in your current Northern Michigan home or possibly downsize to something lower maintenance or relocate to a warmer destination? How much would you like to travel? How much discretionary income would you need? A financial advisor planner may be able to provide you with a helpful worksheet to answer some of these questions.

Understand Retirement Financial Outlook

Financial planners work with individuals to identify income sources, retirement income, lifestyle and healthy living expenses, insurance for home and car, social security and Medicare entitlement, budget, estate planning, long-term care and what questions to ask employers about the company retirement plan.

Being well informed and prepared prior to retirement makes the transition easier, can lower stress levels and puts supports in place ready for the change. The help of a trusted financial planner can facilitate a positive experience into retirement for a better quality of life.

Have a Health Care Plan

As you age health care becomes increasingly important and often more expensive to obtain. Having a clear plan for how you will obtain health care and understanding the coverage and associated costs is a crucial step prior to retirement.

Choose How & When to Take Retirement Distributions

If you have a pension you’ll need to decide which distribution option is best for you. Some options you may have to consider are a qualified joint life and survivor annuity (QJSA) or single life annuity, and monthly pension payments or a lump-sum payout. There are unique benefits and drawbacks to each and your unique circumstances will help determine which option is best for you.

If you have a 401(k) you will have more decisions to make. For example you may have the option to, leave your money where it is, roll the money into an IRA, take periodic distributions, purchase an annuity or take the lump sum and run. Not all employers allow retirees to keep their 401(k) into retirement so you’ll have to check with your employer to determine what specific options are available to you. Keep in mind that the decisions you make in regards to how and when you take your retirement distributions can have a significant impact on your retirement.

Estate Planning

I’ve never met a person excited to do their estate planning, but it’s likely you’ll be relieved to have it done. Deciding how you want your assets distributed after your gone can be far more complicated than you might think. It’s a good idea to consult with your trusted advisors. Proper estate planning can assure that your assets will go where you want them to with minimal tax burden to the recipients. Your typical estate planning should include a will, a living will, healthcare proxy, a person with power of attorney and sometimes a trust. These essential elements will not only provide direction for distributing your assets, but will also allow people you trust to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf in the event that you are not able to.

Gaining Knowledge About Retirement

Reading books about retirement and learning about the experiences of others gives general insight into the financial and emotional impact of retirement. A financial planner may also be able to help you better understand how to prepare for retirement given your unique circumstances and goals. Often by enlisting the help of a financial advisor, individuals are able to understand their own retirement expectations and current position in relation to retiring. To contact Craig Wealth Advisors of Northern Michigan for a complimentary consultation with Debbie Craig CFP® call 231-331-5500 or fill out the short contact form.

By Debbie Craig CFP®, MBA, CRPS®

Branch Manager

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