Here's Your Retirement "To Do" List

Donald Cussen

During your working years, you always have plenty of things you need to do and barely enough time to get them done. While retirement will certainly afford you more free time, the fact is that once you decide to retire, you’ll still have quite a bit you’ll need to tackle right before and immediately after your retirement date to ensure you keep your retirement finances in order.

So before you hit the golf course or the beach, you may want to tick off a few items on this list. Here are some things you’ll need to do once you hit retirement:

  • Apply for Medicare. When you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a seven-month initial enrollment period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. For example, if you’re eligible at age 65, you can sign up during the seven-month period that begins three months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after the month you turn 65. As long as you or your spouse worked for 10 years or more in the U.S., you won’t have to pay a monthly fee for Part A – the hospital insurance component of Medicare – but you will have a deductible. For Medicare Part B – which covers outpatient care – you’ll typically need to pay a monthly fee, a deductible and 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for some types of care. You’ll also need to determine whether you need to add any supplemental insurance.
  • Decide when to take Social Security. You don’t have to wait until retirement before you start collecting Social Security, but if you accept benefits while you are working, your monthly checks may be reduced, at least until you reach your “full” retirement age (which will likely be 66 or 67). You can start collecting Social Security as early as age 62, but each year you wait, your benefits will increase by about 8 percent until they top out at age 70. So, in deciding when to take Social Security, you’ll have to factor in your projected longevity and other sources of income, such as your IRA and 401(k).
  • Review your investment portfolio. As you enter your retirement years, you may need to adjust your investment mix. You could spend two, or even three, decades in retirement, so you will still need a reasonable percentage of growth-oriented investments to help you stay ahead of inflation. However, at this point in your life, you may also need to increase your holdings in bonds and other income-producing vehicles, such as dividend-paying stocks.
  • Choose an appropriate withdrawal strategy. You’ll have to start withdrawals from your traditional IRA and your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored plan once you reach age 70 ½, but you don’t have to wait that long. (A Roth IRA has no required minimum distribution requirements; you can keep the money in your account for as long as you choose.) In any case, though, you will eventually need to tap into your retirement plans – but how much should you withdraw each year? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including your age and the other sources of income you have available. Obviously, your ultimate goal is to withdraw enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement – but not so much that you run the risk of outliving your resources. A professional financial advisor can help you choose a withdrawal strategy that’s appropriate for your needs.
  • Create or finalize your estate plans. If you haven’t already drawn up your estate plans – your will, living trust, power of attorney, etc. – now is definitely the time. And even if you have already created these plans, you may need to revise them based on changes in your life, such as divorce or remarriage. You’ll need to work with a legal professional to ensure your estate plans are suitable for your individual situation.

These aren’t the only steps you’ll need to take to make sure your finances are in order, but addressing these points can give you a good start toward reaching the retirement lifestyle you’ve always envisioned.

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This article is provided by Donald Cussen a Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management. The information included in this article is not intended to be used as the primary basis for making investment decisions. RBC Wealth Management does not endorse this organization or publication. Consult your investment professional for additional information and guidance.

RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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