Checklist: Layoff or Buyout

Sometimes things don't work out quite the way you plan. So if you're facing a layoff or an early retirement buyout, we want you to know you have options and factors you can control during this life change. We are here to help you make decisions now that can affect your future. This checklist offers ideas and options to consider during this challenging time.

First things first

  • If you know ahead of time that you're being laid off, work to build up your emergency reserves. Ideally, we suggest having at least three to six months' worth of living expenses saved, but every bit counts.
  • If you are offered a buyout, determine whether it will be taxable. Could you roll the proceeds directly into an IRA or other tax-deferred account?
  • Obtain copies of retirement plan paperwork, including 401(k), pension and stock options, from your employer's Human Resources department. To help avoid potential penalties or taxes, consider consulting a tax professional before making decisions about your retirement funds.
  • Meet with your financial advisor to:
    • Explore whether early retirement is an option
    • Review your financial situation and update short- and long-term goals
    • Discuss options for the money in your retirement plans

If you still need to work

Nonfinancial Considerations:

  • Ask your employer for a reference letter.
  • Take advantage of any outplacement services your employer offers.
  • Ensure that your work experience and skills are updated on networking sites such as LinkedIn. These sites may also offer "virtual" networking opportunities.
  • Sign up for job notification emails from job search websites and employers you're interested in.
  • Contact your references to let them know you're in the job market.
  • Consider additional education or training that will help you advance your career or change industries.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of starting your own business, or pursuing consulting or contract work, if this interests you.

Financial Considerations:

  • Determine your current and future bills and living expenses.
    • If necessary, contact creditors to determine whether you can defer payments or change terms.
    • Review and prioritize your expenses to identify areas where you can cut back (for example, cable TV or dining out)
  • Identify all potential sources of income.
    • Consider severance pay, unemployment benefits, spousal/partner income, investment income and emergency savings.
    • Evaluate temporary sources of funds, such as credit cards, home equity loans, other loans or family sources.
  • Apply for unemployment benefits if you are being laid off. Review how unemployment benefits may be taxed and set aside money to cover it.

Review your insurance coverage

  • Review health insurance coverage. If you're not covered, consider enrolling in the federal Health Care Marketplace, extending your existing coverage under COBRA, switching to your spouse/partner's policy or buying private insurance.
  • Review your life insurance. If you aren't covered through work any longer, talk with your financial advisor to determine how much insurance you need and whether you should purchase or increase coverage on an individual policy.
  • Investigate whether any of your insurance policies contain a provision (rider) that waives premiums during periods of unemployment.

How we can help

A layoff or buyout will affect your whole life, but we're here to help turn this experience into a positive opportunity for a new chapter. Talk to your financial advisor to help guide you in the right direction when it comes to your financial goals.

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