Retirement Planning Questionnaire

Successful retirement planning is a vital part of preparing for life after work. This retirement planning questionnaire can help you begin the process. Thinking carefully about your retirement can help you assess and plan for your potential needs and desired lifestyle as a retiree.

You can use this questionnaire to guide your retirement planning. Or you can bring these questions to a meeting with a qualified attorney or financial planner. Make sure you answer the questions as thoroughly as possible.

Married couples may consider completing the survey twice, once together and once individually. This can help you prepare in case one spouse outlives the other.

The Basics

Both when you want to retire and the lifestyle you wish to maintain in retirement are factors that should be central to your planning. Keep these targets in mind as you think about your savings goals.

When do you want to retire?

How do you imagine your retirement? What sort of activities do you see occupying the majority of your time?

Where do you want to live? Do you want to retire at home, in a retirement community, in a new city, or somewhere closer to family? How much do you estimate your living expenses to be during retirement?

Where do you want to spend your retirement? Do you want to retire in your current home, in a retirement community, in a new city, or somewhere closer to family?

Do you want to be involved in financial planning decisions, or would you prefer to leave the decisions to an expert?


Savings, Assets, and Debts

No consensus exists on how much of your retirement income should replace your current income. This number differs for everyone due to variables like retirement lifestyle and needs. But it's important to save and pay down debt.

Even if you are saddled with debt, you may still have significant assets that can be redirected toward your retirement cash flow. Think about the following when planning for your retirement:

What are the balances in your savings accounts, including money market or certificates of deposit? Can you find accounts with higher interest rates to boost your savings?

Have you worked with an insurance agent to open a cash-value life insurance plan?

Do you have a 401(k), Roth individual retirement account (Roth IRA), annuity, mutual fund, or other retirement savings plan? If yes, how much do you have in each investment account? What is the average annual rate of return on your plans? You should factor in the income tax you will pay on 401(k) withdrawals at retirement.

Does your employer offer matching contributions if you have a 401(k)? Have you been contributing up to the maximum matching level?

Have you switched jobs multiple times during your working years? Are there any employer-sponsored retirement plans you need to consolidate with your current savings?

Besides your retirement savings, what other assets do you have? This should include the current value of your home and other real estate, stocks, bonds, valuable jewelry, etc. Remember that property taxes in your state may affect your net worth (assets minus debts).

Do you expect to inherit any significant assets in the near future?

Will you receive a defined benefit pension through work?

What are your current liabilities? Do you have outstanding student loans, mortgages, or credit card debt?

Social Security Benefits

Consider looking at your Social Security retirement benefits. You may be eligible for disability payments if you need to stop working before retirement age. You may also qualify for retirement benefits. Ask yourself these questions:

What are your estimated payments for Social Security disability and retirement? If you need to know your estimated monthly benefits, you can look them up online.

When do you want to retire? Your full retirement benefit depends on your date of birth. You can take a reduced amount of Social Security benefits early, at 62 years of age.

Health and Longevity

How prepared you are for retirement depends on how long your retirement will last. Some experts recommend planning for a 30-year retirement, but everyone's circumstances will vary.

What is your rough life expectancy? You can use this calculator to get a general estimate.

Does your family have a history of long life, certain diseases, or other factors that may impact your health as you age?

Have you experienced or are you currently experiencing any major medical issues?

Do you have health insurance? If so, what is your insurance company's deductible?

Do you plan on using the same health plan for a portion of your retirement? Are you eligible for Medicare, and will your state pay your insurance premiums?

Do you have disability insurance coverage through your employer?

Do you have life insurance or long-term care insurance?

Legal Documents for Retirement

Planning for retirement doesn't only mean putting away savings and paying down debt. A lawyer can help you prepare important documents to protect your wishes in case of death or incapacity.

Have you transferred assets to a trust to benefit any family members?

Are you the trustee or beneficiary of any trusts?

Have you created a will?

Have you executed an advanced health care directive and a durable power of attorney for health care?

Have you executed a durable power of attorney for finances?

Do you have a living will?

Next Steps

As you begin planning for retirement or adjusting to your current retirement plan, you must consider many factors. This financial planning questionnaire can help you assess your retirement preparedness and potential needs in the future. However, if you want more information, you may pursue professional assistance. If you're concerned about retirement planning or have questions about the preparation process, consider contacting an elder law or estate planning attorney.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • The initial Social Security process doesn’t require an attorney
  • An attorney primarily handles claims that are denied
  • It can be helpful to have an attorney during Social Security benefit disputes or appeals

A Social Security lawyer can help protect your rights to your benefits.

 Find a local attorney

Don’t Forget About Estate Planning

Now is a great time to consider creating or revising your estate plan. Protect your assets through a will, decide who can make financial decisions for you through a power of attorney, and ensure you make important health care decisions through a health care directive. You can create these critical documents online using DIY estate planning forms.

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