None of Your Business!? On Second Thought ... Why You Should Talk to Your Family About Retirement
As retirement nears, it becomes ever more important to discuss personal and financial topics with your family. The subjects of discussion should include any plans to relocate, your net worth, how to prepare for long-term care, and how to handle your estate after you pass.
Your family will feel the impact of your retirement in many ways. Communicating about your desires and expectations early on helps your family plan for adjustments in their own lives while giving them enough time to minimize any disruptions.
Discussing your expectations is also especially important if you have a spouse who will still be working when you retire.
How much support do you expect from your spouse and/or other family members? If you are married and your spouse continues to work, how do you customarily handle each of your incomes? Some couples share everything, but at the other extreme are couples that completely segregate each person’s income. Will you have to change how you handle this once you are no longer working?
Naturally, if you do have a working spouse, decisions will have to be made concerning how much longer your spouse will work. What does your spouse’s retirement planning include? In our 50 years of experience helping couples navigate the transition into retirement, it is a huge mistake to assume you are both on the same page – both of your expectations should be explicitly discussed. Find out what your retirement personalities are. If different, come up with a common ground.
Moreover, do you have expectations about the role you’ll play with your family. If you retire first, you may have to take on more of the household chores than you once did. Talking about this new situation ahead of time can eliminate future disagreements.
This is also the case when it comes to your estate planning. Do you have firm ideas about how you want to distribute your wealth? Family dynamics are varied. You may have a spouse or may be divorced or widowed. You may have children, stepchildren, grandchildren and/or relatives with special needs. Blended families can be especially complicated. You owe it to your beneficiaries to make your plans clear for bequeathing your estate before and at your death.
Your family should be aware of any special arrangements, such as trust funds or foundations, that can affect their own finances, and therefore, their plans. Opening up the lines of communication also allows you to enlist your family’s help if you have any special requests for distributing your wealth. We have sometimes helped clients plan "family meetings" for such discussions, and these can be especially helpful.
Discuss Lifestyle Changes
Some of the biggest lifestyle decisions involve where you want to live.
Retirement planning in Atlanta looks different than in other areas. Living costs may be higher or lower in other places. How will a move impact you and your loved ones? It’s helpful for everyone to voice their concerns, such as your family’s ability to spend time with you or quickly respond to sudden needs. If you want to relocate close to other family members, will they be able to meet your expectations for their time and support?
Your net worth is the result of a lifetime of work and financial decisions. If applicable, be sure your family understands how they will need to pitch in to help facilitate your comfortable retirement. You should review with them what you own (your assets), what you owe (your liabilities), and what you spend (your expenses).
Do you have plans to sell off some assets or reduce your liabilities? Your plans might affect your family. For example, you might want to sell a vacation home that your entire family uses. Your decisions in this matter might have an impact on your debts and taxes that impact your close relatives.
The question of your health looms large as you age. Even if you have Medicare and supplemental insurance, you will still have to decide how you want to handle your long-term care. Often, children of retirees are caught in the middle of conflicting priorities. This can be especially difficult if they’re also tending to the needs of their own families while helping you enjoy a dignified retirement.
One way to help ease these pressures is by explaining how you plan to pay for long-term care, if that proves to be necessary. Have you purchased insurance or set aside assets to pay for any care you’ll need, or are you expecting other family members to provide it? Your answer can have a huge impact on your loved ones.
Discuss Your Withdrawal Plan
Another financial topic that may impact your family’s plans deals with your retirement accounts. It’s important to clarify how much money resides in tax-deferred accounts, where withdrawals will be taxed, and Roth accounts, which can provide income that is tax-free.
Social Security benefits are also important to discuss. Let your family know how much you expect to receive each month and at what age you plan to claim benefits. Perhaps you wish to hold off until age 70 (when your benefits are maximized). If you retire earlier than that, will your family have to provide any supplemental financial support until you reach age 70? What will they need to provide once you start taking your Social Security benefits?
Involve Your Financial Advisor
Retirement planning presents an important set of decisions and challenges. It’s your chance to establish the parameters of your lifestyle going forward, the disposition of your wealth, and the demands you might need to make on family members. Your financial advisor can review your retirement and post-retirement plans, either individually or with key family members.
If talking about finances and your future health is uncomfortable, ask your financial advisor to join the conversation. At Linscomb & Williams, our financial advisors can help keep your discussion on track and make sure you don’t miss important details.
Address Any Gaps in Your Plans
As you and your family discuss your post-retirement life, make note of areas of disagreement, confusion or unresolved expectations. It’s useful to prepare for contingencies should your plans fail to work out. Anything you can anticipate now might have a smaller impact on your finances and emotional well-being if you figure out how you’ll recover from any gaps in you plans.
If you’re ready to have a serious conversation about your retirement plans, schedule a complimentary consultation with our team. Linscomb & Williams is a fee-only, fiduciary financial planning and investment management firm with offices in Atlanta, GA, Houston, TX, and Birmingham, AL.