retirement planning

Retirement Planning 101

As a second generation estate planning law firm, we at Phelps LaClair understand the anticipation of retirement. Retirement planning, like estate planning, requires an honest assessment of your dreams, desires and goals for your golden years. Estate planning deals with your assets: financial accounts, real property, retirement and investment accounts, and insurance packages. Wills and trusts serve to protect your assets and provide for the transfer of your estate to your beneficiaries. It also serves to clarify what happens in the event of incapacitation, as well as end of life desires.

Retirement planning addresses how you are going to live when you are no longer working. While there is some overlap when discussing estate versus retirement planning, they also ask separate questions. Estate planning primarily looks ahead to the end of life; retirement planning plots the best way to get there. Here are some considerations to help you make major retirement planning decisions.


When your children are grown and living in their own homes, you may feel the desire to move into a smaller, more manageable house. You will have accumulated equity in your home and you might be pondering the possibility of selling the large property. This option would give you investment opportunity and provide a less complicated and more economical living environment.

If you have lived in your home for several decades, there will be the need to update, repair or remodel things you have put off. Spending money in the right places will often yield a greater return when you sell. Kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and fresh paint are the real winners here. Landscaping increases curb appeal and decks are a good addition; things like swimming pools, on the other hand, are not a wise investment.


This is where estate planning and retirement planning really work together. Reviewing your expected pensions and Social Security benefits will reveal your fixed income potential. Assess your investments and retirement accounts to see how much you can withdraw from them at 4%. Adjusting for inflation, these two income streams will be your living allowance.

Expenses in some areas will be less after retirement. But more free time allows for greater spending on travel and hobbies. Determining how you want to live will be the foundation of your budget. If you have hobbies that could provide income and you want to work part time, all the better. Consulting, freelance, and temp work are also possibilities. Staying active and involved in creative work of any kind will yield a higher quality of life in retirement.


Paying off debt before you retire is smart. Especially if you have any high interest loans. And not creating new debt is the other side of the coin. There are exceptions for certain individuals who want to lower their tax rates. In this case, having debt might make sense. But for everyone else on a fixed income, debt is usually a big no-no.

Health care

Here is another area where estate and retirement planning intersect. One aspect of estate planning is addressing long-term care needs and Medicaid planning. There are insurances you can purchase for these needs, but you must do it at least five years before you need it. The earlier you plan, the lower the price will be. It should definitely be part of your retirement planning.


Plan with us

Phelps LaClair has helped thousands of families in Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale and Phoenix with estate plans that protect and defend the wealth they have accumulated. With over 40 years of experience, we welcome you to come in and discuss your needs and goals for the future. Your first consultation with us is complimentary: no cost and no obligation. Call us today for an appointment, and let us get you on the best road to your golden years.



Images used under creative commons license (Commerical Use) 02/23/20  Photo by Ryan Bruce from Burst

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