Understanding the Basics

Five or More Years from Retirement

This is a time to continue actively building up your retirement nest egg, explore your options for living in retirement and give a priority to estate planning.

  1. Determine if you'll be eligible for retiree medical and life insurance benefits; if you're planning to retire early, be alert to benefit plans for which you may not qualify. If you are over age 50, now may be the time to evaluate long-term care insurance. See the section Bridging the Retirement Insurance Gap for more information.
  2. Complete a thorough inventory of all your assets. This includes your 401(k) plan, IRAs and other tax-deferred plans, personal savings and investments. Don't forget to include non income-producing assets, such as your home, cars, rental or vacation property, jewelry, antiques, artwork, or miscellaneous items of value. It may be necessary to reposition your savings and investments. See the section Taking Inventory for more information.
  3. If you're eligible for Social Security, audit your personal Social Security record. A Social Security Statement is sent annually to all individuals age 60 or over who are not yet receiving Social Security benefits. Review your Social Security Statement to determine the monthly benefit you can expect to receive. If you have not received this statement, file Form SSA-7004, Request for Social Security Statement, with the Social Security Administration. See the section Your Social Security Benefits for more information.
  4. Picture what your retirement will be like. If you're planning a second career or moving to a different location, start exploring your possibilities now. To decide how much income you'll need, see the section Retirement Style Checklist as well as the Helpful Hints for Determining Retirement Expenses in Discovering Your Retirement Lifestyle.
  5. Make sure your investment strategy is in line with your retirement goals. This may mean turbo-charging your savings and investment strategy. See the section Fine-Tuning Your Investment Strategy for more information.
  6. If you're planning to sell your home, make sure you know what tax opportunities and pitfalls exist. See the section The Role of Your Home in Retirement for more information.
  7. Make estate planning a priority. Make sure you are taking advantage of tax planning strategies to minimize estate shrinkage and maximize transfer of assets to family members, heirs, or charitable organizations. See the section Estate Planning Considerations for more information.
  8. See the section Putting It All Together for a pre-retirement checklist.
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