Checklist: Getting Ready to Retire


You plan, dream and talk about it for decades – and now it's finally within sight: retirement. Now that your vision is about to become a reality, there are lots of details to take care of. In addition to talking to your financial advisor, this checklist can help you get started.

Coming down the home stretch

  • Take stock of your income, expenses, assets and other financial obligations. Your assets include:
    • Retirement savings: IRAs and employer-sponsored plans
    • Equity in your home and other real estate
    • Cash value of life insurance
    • Investments
    • Bank accounts
  • Work with your financial advisor to identify a specific goal for the amount of savings you want to have at retirement – and develop a strategy to reach it.
  • If you still have a few years to retire, ramp up your retirement plan contributions and savings as much as possible. Limits on contributions to IRAs and many employer retirement plans – e.g., 401(k) and 403(b) plans – are higher for people 50 and over.
  • Work to pay off all your debts, including mortgage, car loans, credit cards and home equity loans.

Determine what to expect

  • Estimate your Social Security benefits ‒ see to calculate your benefits ‒ and any pensions or other government benefits.
  • Think about when you'd like to retire. Your age when you retire will impact the amount of Social Security benefits you receive.
  • Work with your financial advisor to estimate how much income you think you'll need in retirement. Take into consideration that some expenses (such as health care) may be higher in retirement, while others will be lower.
  • If you don't already own a permanent life insurance policy, you might want to consider purchasing one from Edward Jones. It allows you to build cash value that you can pass on to beneficiaries, tax-free.
  • What other financial obligations do you have? Are you caring for parents or supporting children? Do you want to help children or grandchildren with their education or leave an inheritance? Do you wish to make donations to charity?
  • Estimate how many years you may spend in retirement based on average life expectancy. If your family has a history of living well into the 90s or longer, expect that you'll live that long, too!

Put your plan into action

  • Learn about the requirements for your retirement plans – how early you can start taking penalty-free withdrawals, when you must begin withdrawing, and how long you can continue making contributions.
  • Review the beneficiaries listed on your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities and trusts, and make sure they're up-to-date.
  • Enroll in Medicare three months before you turn 65, and look into Medicare supplemental insurance. If leaving your job before age 65, determine how you will cover health care. Options may include:
    • Enrolling in your spouse's medical plan
    • Obtaining insurance through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace
    • Extending your employer's coverage under COBRA
    • Purchasing private insurance
  • Consider purchasing long-term care insurance.
  • Everyone knows about Social Security, but you may qualify for other benefits. You may be eligible for federal benefits to help pay for medications, health care or utilities. Visit to find out.
  • Meet with an estate-planning attorney to ensure you have a strategy in place that will carry out your wishes. Review and, if necessary, update your:
    • Will
    • Living will
    • Durable health care power of attorney
    • Health care power of attorney
    • Trust

Consider your lifestyle

  • Think about – and discuss with your loved ones – how you'd like to spend your time. Do you plan to earn income in any way, such as a part-time job or consulting? Or are you ready to leave the workforce altogether?
  • Be sure to think about the nonfinancial considerations and discuss them with your loved ones. It's important to have a plan for how you'll spend your newfound free time. 

How we can help

You've been working for retirement your whole life. First, talk to your financial advisor to make sure you're on track according to your goals ‒ and then start living the life you've been planning for.

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