Planning for your retirement is the best way to ensure you live comfortably after you retire. The earlier you get started, and the more extensively you plan, the more time your money will have to grow. The time required in building a successful retirement plan can make the process overwhelming. And, even once retirement is reached, managing your retirement is an ongoing responsibility. However, the process can be made less challenging by developing a practical and attainable savings and investment plan, and staying committed for the long-term.
Working with Your Attorney
To ensure the most secure retirement, it may be in your best interests to consult with a retirement planning attorney. A retirement planning attorney can help you understand how to take best advantage of your retirement funds and assets. In planning your retirement, your attorney can also help you to take advantage of beneficial tax rules. In doing so, you'll need to gather many documents and provide copies to your attorney. While reviewing your documents, you and your attorney can work together as partners to plan your retirement in a manner that protects you and your family's immediate and long-term interests. The following is a non-exhaustive set of documents your attorney may request.
Tax Documents and Account Statements
To adequately estimate your future Social Security benefits, it's important to review your individual and business income tax returns. Along with other proof of current income, these documents can be used to determine what percentage of your income needs saving in order to meet your retirement goal.
Bank statements, certificates of deposit, and other account statements can be used to determine what immediate funds are available for you and your family. You and your attorney can decide whether to consolidate accounts or potentially move your accounts to best serve you.
|____||Individual income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)|
|____||Business income tax returns for past three to five years (federal, state, and local)|
|____||Proof of your current income|
|____||Proof or spouse's current income|
|____||Certificates of Deposit|
Retirement Accounts, Stock Portfolios, and Real Property
Whether you have an employer-sponsored defined benefit pension, 401(k), IRA, or other retirement account, you and your attorney can discuss and plan how to best utilize your retirement accounts and consider tax implications so that you may be covered for the future. You and your attorney should also review your investment portfolio to determine whether the level of risk is appropriate for retirement planning. You should also look at your mortgages and appraisals and consider whether selling, downsizing, or refinancing is appropriate for your retirement goal.
|____||Retirement account statements|
|____||Social security estimate of benefits|
|____||Other bills (e.g., children's college tuition, health and dental insurance premiums, unreimbursed medical bills, etc.)|
Estate Planning, Insurance Policies, and Personal Property
While planning your retirement you can also revisit your estate plan. You and your attorney can review your will and any powers of attorney and advance health care directives. It's a good idea to ensure that your estate plan follows your retirement goal. You may also wish to review your various insurance policies, whether life, health, or homeowner. While many retirees drop their life insurance policies, you may wish to hold onto your policy for posterity or estate purposes.
Finally, it's a good idea to review a list of your personal property, including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, and office equipment. You and your attorney can determine what items of personal property, if any, should be liquidated as part of your retirement plan.
|____||Powers of Attorney|
|____||Durable Powers of Attorney|
|____||Advance Health Care Directives|
|____||Life insurance policies|
|____||Health insurance policies|
|____||Homeowner's insurance policies|
|____||Automobile insurance policies|
|____||Personal property appraisals|
|____||List of personal property, including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, computers, home office equipment, clothing and furs, etc.|
|____||List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriage|
|____||List of property acquired by each spouse individually by gift or inheritance during the marriage|
|____||List of contents of safety deposit boxes|
When consulting with your attorney in planning for your retirement, the more information you can provide and the more clearly you present your goal, the less challenging the process will be. Visit FindLaw's Retirement Planning section for additional resources and browse for Social Security and retirement attorneys in your area.