Whether you are thinking about life-long finances or planning for retirement, it’s always a good idea to discuss ideas and strategies with a professional, like a financial advisor or an accountant. When it comes to an estate plan, an estate or elder law attorney who focuses their practice in this exact area is your best choice.
Some people love do-it-yourself projects, and that works out fine in many cases. However, we also know about the car that sits in a garage for twenty years and unfinished basements that never get finished. When dealing with legal and financial planning and issues like estate and tax planning, insurance, education funding, etc., a professional will help you address specific goals, with real-world solutions. Unfortunately, many people start plans that are based on strategies, scenarios and assumptions that may prove unreliable and unsustainable. That can mean bad results. Therefore, as you start to plan, exercise caution if you’re considering the strategies below.
Working forever. Frequently people think they’ll never have enough money to retire. This drives people to look at extending their working years as a possible answer. This can make sense for some, but in many cases, people assume that they’ll “never stop working” and use this as the solution for their financial planning concerns.
Remember, we’re all living longer than ever before, and you may experience health issues, ageism and skills obsolescence that can restrict the length of your career and or the earning potential during this phase of your life. There’s just no way to tell how long your health will let you work on either a full or part-time basis. Too often people make assumptions about how long they have to work without ever creating a real financial plan based on their abilities, the job market and their family needs. Working forever is not a plan; it is the denial of reality and a future to plan.
Assumptions on life expectancy. Some seniors use a shortened life expectancy assumption to make retirement seem more feasible. However, that’s another assumption that’s based on something out of your control. Life expectancies are also being extended, not shortening. Be sure to consider the impact of longer life expectancies on the sustainability of your plan. Have you saved enough to have enough money at age 90 or 95? This is more and more common and must be part of a realistic plan.
Downsizing. Your home is usually one of the bigger investments a person makes, so downsizing or “rightsizing” your home is often seen as a way to reduce costs and improve the quality of retirement. Swapping a larger, more expensive home for a smaller one may be a great way to reduce costs, especially if you can use the equity proceeds towards a mortgage on your next purchase. The housing market is volatile and selling your home at a profit is not always a certainty.
However, reducing the size of your home may not certainly decrease expenses, as much as you might think. That’s because real estate tax reductions may be offset by things like new homeowner’s association fees. There’s also paying off debts, realtor fees, moving expenses and costs associated with the next home that can leave little gain.
Everyone’s situation is different, and what works for one person may not work for someone else, even though it may look like they have the exact same lives and resources. These are important matters, and wise counsel from experienced professionals will save you and your family from unnecessary stress, expenses and lost time.
Reference: nj.com (June 14, 2019) “Retirement plans that might not pan-out”