Everyone hopes for a comfortable retirement, but how many really plan for a long and fulfilling retirement? You know you should put money away for your retirement, but as that day approaches (particularly with world share markets and superannuation funds in crisis), which financial and investment strategies should you follow to help yourself enjoy the lifestyle you’ve envisioned?
You could literally spend decades in retirement. With advances in medicine and healthcare, it is actually becoming increasingly likely that Australians will live longer in retirement than they were in the workforce. Keep this type of longevity in mind when you create investment strategies for your retirement.
Consider these 7 principles when mapping-out your journey toward retirement:
1. Write down your goals.
Although “retirement” is an individual matter and means something different to each person, I can say with confidence that everyone shares the need to enter retirement with a strategy in place. Accordingly, you will find it helpful to write down what you want to do in retirement. Then you can determine how you will pay for it. As a starting point, list all your income sources (such as your Super and other savings) and your expenses (such as mortgage, utilities, food and travel).
2. Inflation won’t retire.
If you spend 25 years in retirement, prices will inevitably double from average annual inflation rate. Investments with growth potential can help fight inflation. That is why you need to plan a mixture of investments, to balance considerations of security & risk, income and growth, even in retirement.
3. Expect the unexpected.
Unexpected financial issues relating to your family or health can (and probably will) crop up during your retirement years. To prepare for them, make sure you have set aside adequate liquid (cash) reserves. An Emergency Fund is a sound strategy for most retirees.
4. Invest in your health.
Health-care costs are a major concern for retirees. Take steps, such as exercising and maintaining a healthy diet, to keep yourself in good shape. Maintain adequate health insurance. Don’t procrastinate about regularly consulting your health care professionals.
5. Make an integrated Estate Plan.
Many retirees have a grab-bag of estate planning documents that have been cobbled-together over the years and thrown into a drawer without much thought about how they interact. Often these people will have a variety of investments, sometimes incorrectly titled or misregistered within the loose family structure. There should be an over-arching estate-plan strategy in place, to identify what assets you own and control, and to arrange them in an optimal manner for your circumstances.
6. Define your legacy.
Work with a qualified legal adviser to make sure your estate plans and the appropriate documents and arrangements — beneficiaries, Will, power of attorney and the like — are up to date. A properly integrated estate plan can help ensure your wishes are carried out exactly as you intended. Further, when “putting your affairs in order”, you may like to consider the emotional & ethical implications of your own mortality. This might include a business succession plan, a charity program, a letter to loved-ones or a pre-arranged funeral.
7. Keep up to date
This means informing yourself about developments in the law, tax, etc AND ensuring that your documents are updated to reflect those changes and your changing personal circumstances. Consult with your estate planning lawyer to make sure your strategies are still on track.
As you near retirement, or if you have just retired, put these principles to work. It will take some time, but it’s worth the effort.
Death & taxes, illness & share-market corrections may be unavoidable … but they don’t have to ruin your family or your business. Make the effort to protect the people you really care about. Call Genders & Partners to create an integrated estate plan and genuine advice on retirement in Adelaide. And do it NOW … before it is too late.
Rod Genders is a senior Australian lawyer specialising in estate planning and accident compensation. His boutique specialist law firm is one of the oldest and most respected in Australia – visit it at www.genders.com.au . Rod is also a prolific author and speaker. Some of his articles and books on Wills, Probate, Trusts, Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Retirement Planning may be found at www.genders.com.au/adelaide-lawyer-blog/.
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