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You can use several legal tools to maintain control over your affairs in later years. These will enable you to decide, while healthy and alert, what you want done in the event of death or disability. Be sure to discuss any arrangements with your survivors to save them from facing difficult decisions and to give them peace of mind, knowing they are complying with your wishes.


Where to live after retirement is a major decision. Perhaps you plan to relocate to a more favorable climate or to be near family. Research the consequences of such a move in terms of the basic cost of living, access to health care, and state and federal tax obligations.

If you are considering the advantages and disadvantages of selling your home, whether or not you plan to relocate, these are some relevant questions to ask:

In addition to owning a home or renting an apartment, a number of other housing options may be available in your community, many of which offer savings on housing expenses. These are some alternatives to consider:


An important part of financial planning is anticipating how to handle bad times. Prudent planning includes learning about public and private benefits programs. In most communities, governmental and private agencies offer services to help care for older persons, such as low-cost medical clinics, home health care, housing options, adult day care, and chore services.

The local Social Security Administration office has information about entitlement programs such as Medicaid, disability insurance, food stamps, and Supplemental Security Income. Ask about your state's Medicaid "divestment" rules which permit transfers of some assets to other people if done a specified length of time before applying for Medicaid (usually at least three years). Divestment is a precaution some take to avoid "spousal impoverishment" when all the family's assets are spent before a sick family member can be eligible for Medicaid assistance.

When arranging family matters, it will ease your survivors' emotional burden if you let them know your preference for funeral or memorial arrangements. You can handle these matters yourself by planning through a non-profit cooperative memorial society or by prepaying at the funeral home of your choice. If you decide to pre-pay, be sure you or your survivors can cancel the contract should you move or change your mind. Planning ahead and using comparative shopping skills can save thousands of dollars in funeral expenses.


It's never too early to start retirement planning, and never too late to make adjustments in your financial situation. Whether wealthy or not and it's probably more important for those who are not to investigate your options and making practical choices now can allow you to stay in charge and meet your future financial goals.

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