Financial & Estate Planning

Much of the attention to retirement planning involves building up savings, but proper financial preparation for retirement involves more than that. Other vital steps:

* Pay off debt. Before you retire, you’ll be better off if your credit card, mortgage, and other debts are paid off. The money you spend on debt repayment will eat into the amount you have left for other retirement pursuits.

* Keep up your health insurance. Even after you reach 65 and qualify for Medicare, you either should buy a Medigap policy as a supplement, sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, or if you’re continuing your FEHB coverage, as most federal retirees do, keep that and possibly consider switching to a lower cost plan. Medicare has many gaps (deductibles, coinsurance, vision care, hearing aids, etc.) that need to be covered. Second-payer plans, like FEHB for someone who has Medicare, fill many of those gaps.

* You should investigate long-term care insurance, too—both the government’s Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program and whatever is available (less and less) in the private market.

* Don’t neglect other coverage. You’ll still need adequate home and auto insurance; excess liability (“umbrella”) coverage also is vital.