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There are an estimated 75 million or so baby boomers in the United States, many of which are contemplating whether or not they are financially prepared for retirement. Here are some guidelines to follow if you are one of them.
Create a list of your current income and expenses, and how you think this may change once you are retired.
Simplify your retirement accounts by consolidating your accounts such as IRAs. This will help from a tax standpoint as well as RMD (required minimum distribution) standpoint. After age 70.5, you are required to take annual withdrawal amounts from your 401(k) and IRA accounts. A penalty of 50% will be assessed (on the amount you should have withdrawn) for failure to do so.
Create a will and/or living will naming executor, power of attorney, beneficiaries, etc.
Re-evaluate your current investment portfolio. In most cases, dialing down your risk tolerance and shifting focus to a low volatility, capital preservation and income strategy makes sense.
If possible, consider delaying taking social security until after age 70, otherwise the benefit you receive will be decreased.
Give yourself a thorough insurance checkup.
Sign up for Medicare as soon as you are eligible. Eligibility takes place 3 months before you turn 65, and lasts until 3 months after. If you enroll after this time period, your monthly premiums will go up by 10% for each 12 month period you were eligible for. If you are retiring before age 65, a plan such as COBRA continuation coverage will be needed to cover the time between retirement and age 65, when eligibility occurs.
Consider long–term care insurance. Your state may offer a plan that enables you to keep an amount equal to your insurance coverage and still qualify for Medicaid if your insurance benefit runs out. Without insurance you may end up spending down all of your assets to qualify for Medicaid.
Consult with a certified financial planner. This professional can help you determine if your anticipated expenses in retirement do not exceed your inflow of money. They can help identify specific tax strategies that may make sense for you, and help you devise a plan for how much, how often, and from where money should be pulled from during retirement. Planners can also calculate your estate tax (federal and state, which change based on enacted legislation), and recommend strategies for lessening the estate tax.
Retirement is supposed to be happily referred to as the “golden years,” not the stressful years. Give yourself some peace of mind by giving your retirement plan the thought and reflection it requires.
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