The journey of aging: Approaching life transitions

By Ron Detweiler | Guest Column

More than 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 each day and retiring from the workplace or selling/passing down their businesses. In retirement, these seniors are living longer, are more active, and are forced to plan for and adapt to a significant number of life and financial transition challenges that are different from those they experienced while working or in earlier phases of life.

In order to prepare for life transition challenges, research and results suggest that proactive planning starting at an earlier age results in a more financially successful retirement. Simply put, it is never too late to begin your planning and conversations. In our experience, planning and communication equate to peace of mind as it relates to having a sense of confidence and stability for a smooth retirement.

Common questions that come to mind for consideration are:

  • How much money will I need for retirement?
  • Will my assets last?
  • Are my options affordable?
  • Will I have continuum of care?
  • How do I get started planning?
  • Where can I seek advice?
  • What’s next?

Once you commit to investing time in your planning, equally important is committing to a holistic approach for a full financial and tax assessment review. Start with identifying what and where your financial resources are held and who your key people are, which will potentially include advisors, beneficiaries, trustees, power of attorneys, health care agents, family and others.

Forming your team of key advisors will get you started in the right direction, and often your tax professional or financial advisor are in the best position to have access to much of the pertinent information you will need to plan for life’s transitions. Your advisors should be committed to helping you to maintain choice, control and independence as you age. The right team can provide the knowledge and insight you need to plan for the most critical issues you will face. These issues might include: Becoming a caregiver, retirement, downsizing or right-sizing a home, death of a parent, health challenges, divorce, remarriage, death of a spouse or partner, moving, aging barriers and end-of-life issues.

In your preparation, consider:

  • what you might want if something happens in your life to cause a notable shift
  • creating options for a “plan B” that could be considered, if needed
  • involving family and those that you love so they are aware of your decisions

We recommend that your planning and process precede any specific product or strategy. Build your planning around your personal goals and objectives to ensure the greatest opportunity for success. Identifying and incorporating life’s “what-if” scenarios in your comprehensive plan allows you to stress test the plan, ensure you have confidence in the results, and be best prepared to handle life’s transitions.

Starting the process and having essential conversations is the best first step. Rely on your team of advisors to help you pull everything together so you can have clear visibility and confidence in how your future will evolve – especially from a financial perspective.

We encourage you to start your essential conversations now with your key advisors and family to be in the best possible position to live life confidently and comfortably in the future. •

Ron Detweiler is a senior tax manager with Honkamp Krueger & Co. PC.