Written by Andrew Allen, Private Wealth Advisor in Ronald Blue Trust’s Atlanta, GA office
How do you envision your retirement? Maybe you plan to fill your time with travel, family, mission work, a special hobby, volunteering at your church or favorite charity, gardening, taking a class, or even working a fun, part-time job.
While the Bible says very little about the concept of retirement, there will likely come a time when God encourages you to transition from your career to a new season of life and a new focus. Once you stop working for a paycheck and begin investing your time and energy elsewhere, the following retirement checklist will help assess your readiness.
Retirement Plan Checklist:
Two to Three Years in Advance
- Meet with your financial advisor to evaluate your financial readiness for retirement.
- If you are a business owner, assess if your succession plan is in place.
- Consider why you should retire and what God might be calling you to in this new season.
One to Two Years in Advance
- Will your cash flow needs change? If so, consider developing a new budget for retirement considering income sources and cash flow needs.
- Consider stock options and deferred compensation in your income sources and how they may impact your taxes.
- Evaluate when to take Social Security (for benefit information go to https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/).
- Are you charitably inclined? If so, consider grouping the next few years of giving into your last employment year for tax benefits, and decide how you will approach giving in retirement.
- Have you considered how you would fund long-term healthcare needs? Consider Long Term Care insurance, self-funding strategies, and assisted living communities.
- Is your estate plan outdated? Review and update your estate planning documents and account beneficiaries (wills/trusts, powers of attorney, advanced healthcare directive).
- Establish and maintain cash reserves of 6 to 12 months of living expenses.
- Pay off debt – to $0 by retirement – or consider whether to keep working.
- If you are a business owner and charitably minded, consider gifting some of your business interests prior to entering talks with a prospective buyer.
Six to Twelve Months in Advance
- If you have an employer pension, evaluate all of the options available to you within the context of your overall retirement plan (annuitizing the payments, selecting levels of survivorship benefits, or rolling over a lump sum to an IRA).
- Check to see if you have unused vacation days that should be taken before retiring and if so, find out if you could receive additional compensation for any unused days.
- Line up health/dental/vision insurance following retirement. (private, Medicare, Medigap, etc.) https://www.medicare.gov/
- How will retirement affect your life insurance needs? Will employer-provided coverage expire? If so, reassess your needs and consider options for replacing coverage, if needed.
- Write down goals for how you will spend your time (hobbies, reading, part-time work, golf, fishing, volunteering).
- If you’re married, dream with your spouse about things you would like to do both individually and together in retirement (travel, spending time with kids/grandkids, engaging in cultural events/activities).
- Make sure the beneficiaries on your accounts are consistent with your current wishes. (Review your beneficiaries yearly.)
- Within three months after retirement, consider your options for managing employer-sponsored retirement plans (401k/403b/457/SEP/Pension), including keeping assets in the plan, or rolling over to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). IRAs typically offer lower fees and expanded investment options, but employer plans can have benefits such as additional creditor protections and plan sponsor fiduciary responsibilities.
- If applicable, discuss with your financial advisor and CPA whether it makes sense to roll company stock out of your 401k plan into a brokerage account to use the net unrealized appreciated asset technique. Using this technique could result in favorable capital gains tax treatment for this money versus paying ordinary income tax rates.
Whether you are well on your way in preparing for retirement or still have some items to get in order, be sure to seek wise counsel so you can move confidently into what God has planned for you in this next season of life.
At Ronald Blue Trust, we assist clients in creating a retirement plan designed to set you on a path toward sound financial decisions and wise stewardship and help you leave a lasting legacy aligned with your values. If you would like to talk with a Ronald Blue Trust advisor about your road map to a fulfilling retirement, please contact us at 800.987.2987 or email [email protected].