Right For Retirement

By Kathy Casteel

Columbia has become an attractive destination for people looking to transition into retirement. More than 15% of Columbia’s population is older than 60, a segment that is growing every year. Columbia’s retirees — and those nearing that milestone — have many decisions to make, from estate planning to investment arrangements, insurance adjustments to tax considerations. The choices can be a dizzying and you might need some help. As you settle into your new environs, it’s a good time to tap into financial services here that can help with those momentous decisions.

“Retirement is an ideal time to consider, or revisit, estate planning,” says attorney Nathan Jones. “Many retirees haven’t looked at their wills or trust since their children were young. It’s not uncommon that their wills still appoint a guardian for their kids when those children are now adults with kids of their own.”
Jones notes that a well-drafted plan is the best way to ensure that family and assets are protected. “My clients are concerned with ensuring that the assets they’ve worked their entire careers for pass to the individuals and organizations they care about, as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible,” he adds.
For new residents, these concerns can become clouded with differences in state laws. “Moving to a new state any time, regardless of age, is a good reason to have your planning reviewed,” Jones advises. “Estate planning laws are different in every state, as are ways to avoid probate.”

Getting your affairs in order is a smart move anytime. Basic documents — wills, trusts, health care directives, financial power of attorney, beneficiary forms and insurance policies — should be updated periodically with the help of legal and financial advisers. Sole proprietors need to protect their businesses with a succession plan; those in multiple-owner ventures should look at buyout agreements. Investment plans and their tax implications also take on new significance as people near retirement.

“Estate planning, retirement planning and insurance planning are three important pillars in a person’s financial situation,” says Travis Cook, president and CEO of Convergence Financial. “These pillars are integrated parts of a person’s financial picture and it is important that a client work with a team that thinks with a 360-degree, comprehensive mindset. Retirees need to realize that decisions made in any one of these areas will most likely have an impact in another or all other areas.”

Some may opt for a retirement adviser, a financial professional whose services center on helping clients save and prepare for the future. These professionals look at retirement plans objectively and determine what is working and what needs improvement. They stay on top of changes in tax laws that affect their clients’ bottom line. And, they can help clients keep a level head in a volatile market.

“A piece of advice we often give our upcoming retirees is to not make major decisions for the first 12 months of retirement,” Cook says. “I think this advice is even more important when you combine that with a relocation. Take some time to truly understand what your expenses are going to be now that you’re retired because they might be much different than what you’re used to. Once you’re retired, every day is now Saturday. And for most people, Saturday is the most expensive day of the week. So what impact does this have on your discretionary expenses?”

The choices for financial counsel vary widely in Columbia. Advisers hold qualifying titles such as certified financial planner, chartered financial analyst, personal financial specialist or registered investment adviser. Specialists include retirement income certified professional, chartered retirement plans specialist, certified senior consultant or chartered retirement planning counselor. But titles don’t tell you the whole story.

Look for these variables ,too, when choosing an adviser to fit your needs:

Professional background and certification.
Range of services.
Fee structure.
Fiduciary status, meaning one is obligated to act in your best interest.
Communication methods and frequency.
Overall strategy and style.
Type of clientele.

“It’s critical to partner with an adviser who sees a client’s entire financial picture, not just one piece, and offers advice that keeps all considerations in mind,” Cook says. “We preach to our clients the importance of having a solid plan in place and to have professionals collaborating among these various subjects on their behalf.”