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Is It Time To Find A Financial Planner?

Is It Time To Find A Financial Planner?

By Gary Foreman

For years you did your own financial planning.

And, it hasn’t turned out bad. You bought and paid for a home, put two kids through college and saved for retirement. In fact, you’re pretty proud of what you’ve accomplished.

But now the stakes are different. Many of the old rules don’t apply. There are new questions to ask and new problems to solve. It might be time to consider finding a professional financial advisor.

Finding the right one will be your first task. One way to compare advisors is to ask them if they can help solve the specific challenges boomers face. Here are some questions that you can ask to test them.

Can you update my estate plan?

No one wants to talk about it, but sooner or later we’ll all pass away. You need to have an estate plan that minimizes any taxes and makes it clear how you want your assets to be distributed. A proper will is a must. Given circumstances you might want to set up a trust. You want to make things as easy as possible for your kids.

Can you help me plan for incapacity?

Modern medicine has brought many miracles. But it also has increased the chances that you’ll live long enough to be incapacitated at some point. Having the proper plan in place can protect your quality of life if that should happen. It will also allow you to choose who makes decisions on your behalf.

What can you do to make things easy for my heirs?

Sure, you know that your brokerage statements are in the bottom drawer of your desk. And that a list of your online passwords is hidden under your monitor. But, if your kids needed to settle your estate or temporarily take care of your affairs would they know where to find key documents? It’s important to have a complete list of where to find all your important account numbers, phone numbers and passwords. You might even consider getting an organizer that’s designed specifically for this purpose.

Can you make sure that I won’t run out of money in retirement?

If a couple turns 65 today their life expectancy is about 20 years. And one of them is likely to live into their 90’s. That’s a long time to draw money from your savings. You need to ensure that your Financial Planner has the knowledge and expertise to make sure the financial plan they develop for your retirement is going to last as long as you do.

Can you help me choose an investment plan that’s appropriate for my boomer years?

A related question is how to create an investment plan that works for the balance of your life. You can’t just move your money into bonds and certificates of deposit. Even a little inflation can drastically affect your purchasing power over 20 or 30 years. You’ll need a plan that provides safety from market volatility and inflation.

Can you help me plan for lifestyle changes?

Will you move to a retirement community? Buy a condo for the winter months? Or perhaps you’ll rent an apartment in an assited living facility. Even if you plan on staying in your home there will be changes in your lifestyle. Those changes will have serious financial ramifications. You may need to decide how to invest the proceeds of a home sale. Or decide how to pay for extra help around the house. A good financial planner can help with these decisions.

Finding a good financial planner will only be the beginning. In some cases even the most qualified advisor will need to call in other professionals. For instance a Certified Financial Planner(s) will want to use a lawyer to prepare wills and trusts. The fact that they know what’s outside their expertise and can recommend a qualified professional enhances their standing.

The decisions you make now will need to serve you well for the rest of your life. So as our father’s used to say “measure twice, but cut only once”.

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Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and CreditCards.com. The site features an active section for baby boomers that's updated weekly.