Football season has begun with millions of people tuning in to watch their favorite teams battle it out on the gridiron. For retirees and those approaching retirement, fall is also a good time of year to assess your own “team” of professional services providers. These are the people who you may need to call on to ensure your future is secure or should you no longer be able to take care of certain tasks on your own as you age.
Let’s take a look at the professionals who should be on your roster.
As people age, it is generally wise to shift your retirement savings from potentially higher-risk stocks into lower-risk assets — often cash and bonds. A money manager (which might also be termed a financial planner, financial advisor, investment advisor, or even a wealth manager, depending in part on their training and credentials) can ensure your portfolio is appropriately diversified and you’re on track to have enough money to meet your post-retirement monetary needs.
It’s important to ensure your money manager is acting as a fiduciary — a hot topic in today’s financial world. Put simply, a fiduciary must put your best interests first, ahead of their own, eschewing any conflicts of interest. This often means a fiduciary will work on a fee-based sales model versus a commission-based model.
But keep in mind that not all money managers are fiduciaries. You can ensure your advisor is a fiduciary (as well as highly trained and experienced in their field) by working with a certified financial planner (CFP). The code of ethics for CFPs requires that they “must act as a fiduciary, and therefore, act in the best interest of the client.”
Be sure to ask the person managing your investments to state in writing that they will act as a fiduciary at all times for your accounts. You can verify if a money manager is a CFP through the CFP Board’s website. You can also verify if a financial advisor is a fee-only fiduciary on the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors or on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Adviser Database.
There are several changes that people may experience to their tax situation as they grow older. For one, many retirees will shift from earning active income from a paycheck to earning more passive income, such as from a pension, retirement accounts, and Social Security. A tax professional can help guide you during this transition and offer advice on how to take advantage of certain tax breaks and deductions granted to seniors.
Another common tax change that can apply to retirees is if you have residences in more than one state, such as with those who might spend winters in warmer climates and summers further north. There can be tax advantages to changing your primary residence to one state or another, depending on the tax code of those two states. An accountant can offer guidance on how to minimize your tax burden.
You can find a credentialed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) using the CPAVerify website, which is populated by official state regulatory data sent from Boards of Accountancy to this central database.
It can be helpful to have a relationship with an experienced attorney throughout life — someone to consult on a variety of legal matters. In particular, as you age, there are several legal documents that you need to draw up and maintain to ensure your interests are protected and your wishes are respected. Such estate planning documents include:
There are attorneys who specialize in elder law, though in most cases, a typical experienced attorney would be able to help you draw up these key documents. And should you experience a major life change — a marriage or divorce, birth, major health event, move, etc. — it is important to update these documents as well.
Lawyers are licensed by individual states. Each states’ agency can help you to find out if a person has a law license and is permitted to practice in that particular state. Visit the American Bar Association website for a list of links to each states’ attorney licensing agency.
Primary care physician
As we get older, it is common to have an increasing number of health issues. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one out of two American adults suffer from high blood pressure, and more than one in three has high cholesterol, both of which increase the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
With six in 10 Americans suffering from some sort of chronic disease, it is common to require the expertise of a medical specialist. But it remains important to have a trusted primary care physician at the helm of your medical team — someone who can aggregate the lab work, test results, and reports from various specialists.
To meet this need, the so-called “medical home” model of healthcare is growing increasingly popular. This patient-centered, comprehensive approach to primary care facilitates partnerships between the patient, their family, clinicians, and medical staff. As the CDC states, this model “has been associated with effective chronic disease management, increased patient and provider satisfaction, cost savings, improved quality of care, and increased preventive care.”
Similar to attorneys, physicians are licensed by a state agency. Here’s a centralized list of links to each state’s medical license lookup tool.
Home upkeep experts
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this one as it can become increasingly important and valuable to have a little extra help with physical chores as we age. Particularly for those who plan to remain in their current home as they grow older, it may be wise to find a skilled and trustworthy handyman, lawn service, and housekeeper to have on your “team” bench.
Should your mobility decline or if you have a health event, having these experts available to you can be invaluable. But even before that, it can be helpful to call on an expert to help with certain tasks around the house or yard. Not only can it be safer in some situations (for example, tasks that require a ladder), it also can save you several days of sore joints and muscles!
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