It’s never too early to start thinking about your retirement options. The decisions you make in the lead-up to your planned retirement date could have a significant impact on your financial security for the rest of your life.
Ideally, you should be making serious plans around how you intend to turn your pension savings into a retirement income from around two years before you retire.
What are you hoping to accomplish when you retire? Do you want to move to a smaller home, travel, spend time with your children? Once you know what you want to do, you can start looking at how much it’s likely to cost. If you do have specific post-retirement ambitions, your financial advisor can help you to calculate your likely income and start building an action plan.
Your pension provider should contact you in the months leading up to your retirement with guidelines for what to do next. Don’t wait for them to get to you though – you can request a statement at any time.
The first step towards calculating a realistic retirement income is to note down all your potential income sources. If you’ve paid into multiple pension pots over the years, find out how all of them currently stand. You should also calculate your likely state pension income – an up-to-date state pension calculator is available at gov.uk – and think about any other potential income streams such as property, savings and investments.
If you’ve paid into pension funds in the past and are no longer sure how to access them, the government offers a free tracing service for workplace and personal pensions.
When you retire, you’re eligible to claim up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum. If you’re going to take this route, calculate how much it’s likely to be worth and start thinking about what you might like to do with it. You could use it to clear some debts, help your children to get on the property ladder, pay off your mortgage – or just treat yourself to something special.
You’re not obligated to take the money, and if you decide not to touch it, you obviously have more cash to generate into a yearly income. An IFA can help you to weigh up the pros and cons of taking the cash and explore options for what you might do with it.
This might not seem like an obvious part of preparing for retirement, but in addition to being a good precaution for your health, a detailed medical check-up can also help you to identify any issues that might affect the annuity rates you can be offered. If you’re overweight, a smoker, have high blood pressure, are diabetic or have suffered from a serious illness in the past, you may well be eligible for enhanced rates that can significantly boost your income.
When you’ve thought about your retirement goals and calculated your assets, if you haven’t already consulted an independent financial advisor, now’s the time. Even if you have a clear idea of the route you want to take, an IFA can identify opportunities and potential pitfalls that you might have missed. At My Pension Choices, our advisors offer a free, no obligation initial consultation, so there’s no reason not to have a discussion.
It may not be the most pleasant thing to think about, but an important part of preparing for your retirement is making plans for what might happen to your assets when you die. Your priorities in terms of leaving something behind can have a major impact on the kind of pension income option that’s best suited for you. Most standard annuities cease after you die, meaning your pension fund is lost even if you haven’t received the full benefit of it. Taking your money as a lump sum or going into income drawdown may have tax implications. Again, a qualified IFA can help you to make the right plans to avoid unnecessary charges and protect your assets for your family.
Once you’ve taken these steps, you should be in a much stronger position to come to a decision that you can feel good about. Remember, if you do decide to take an annuity, be sure to explore the market for the best rates rather than settling with your existing pension provider.
For more information about your retirement options and to get connected to an independent financial advisor in your area, fill in our secure form or call us on 0800 008 6065 to speak to a member of our team.
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