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Considering a slow transition to retirement

While we talk a lot about things such as wills and trusts when discussing estate planning, your estate plans should be relevant to your entire life. How do you plan to live in later years, and how will you finance your lifestyle? What are your preferences for health care, and do you have a document communicating those preferences should you be unable to state them yourself? If something happens that causes you to be unable to make daily decisions on your own, who do you want making those decisions for you?

All of these questions are important and should be included in your estate plans, but if you haven't already retired, decisions about retirement should also be considered. One thing a growing number of older individuals are doing is stepping slowly into retirement. An increasing number of employers are letting workers reduce hours or work partial weeks before they later officially retire.

What are some benefits of step-down retirement? First, retirement can be a big life change. Some individuals find that a sudden reduction in daily obligations means they lose function of mental and other capacities faster. Others deal with depression or other issues because of the sudden change. Making a change slowly makes it less jarring across the life.

Another reason to ease into retirement might be financial. If you don't have enough money saved to make you feel stable, you might want the part-time income in early retirement. Finally, some people simply really enjoy their work. Even though they are ready to take it a bit easier, they might not be ready to give up the work completely.

Deciding when and how to retire is a serious decision that shouldn't be made in a hurry. The same is true for other late-life decisions, which is why it can be a good idea to work with a professional who understands all the options when making your estate plans.

Source: AARP, "Easing Into Retirement," Eileen Ambrose, accessed Feb. 05, 2016

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