Wealth Advisory & Planning
March 25, 2022
Planning for the Ages: Your 40s through 60s
Each decade of life brings unique challenges and opportunities, financial and otherwise. Here, we focus on three formative decades — 40s, 50s and 60s — and highlight crucial planning issues for each decade.
Revisit (or establish) your estate plan. It is likely much has changed since you first drafted your will, or perhaps you are working on the first iteration of your will. Your family, financial circumstances and even your state of residence could be different from years ago. Moreover, recent changes in federal and state tax laws provide sufficient reason to review the documents you have or to create those you do not have.
Consider wealth transfer techniques early. Many of the best tax-saving wealth transfer techniques rely heavily on leveraging the benefit of incremental transfers over time. Your 40s might be the perfect opportunity to begin engaging in some of these techniques, especially if you are doing well financially. Whether it is making annual exclusion gifts or adding to a child’s 529 prepaid tuition plan, the sooner you start, the better your end result.
Take stock of your possessions. It likely has been a long time since you slept on a futon or considered milk crates a suitable storage system. If you have begun to amass some nice things in addition to your liquid assets, ensure that your property and casualty insurance policy is up to date and your homeowner’s coverage is commensurate with the value of your home and belongings.
Review your life insurance. With parents who are getting older, it may have crossed your mind that you, too, are mortal. If you have not factored the costs of college and wealth replacement at your current income level into the calculations of your life insurance death benefit, it is time for a re-do. You may want to add a long-term care rider to your life insurance policy, especially if you are in your late 40s, while your health is good and interest rates are low.
Run cash flow projections. By now you have developed routine saving and spending habits, and a fair number of your expenses — student loans, mortgage, car payments — are predictable. Why not have your financial planner run a sufficiency analysis to see if, at your current rate of saving and spending, you will be prepared for retirement in 20 or 30 years? It can be an eye-opening exercise to see the power of compounding, or the bite inflation takes out of your purchasing power. Worst-case scenario, you may be incentivized to redouble your efforts and make the most of your long-time horizon.
Take advantage of catch-up contributions. In your 30s and 40s, salary deferrals to your 401(k) account can often take a back seat to more immediate spending needs. However, starting at age 50, the IRS permits “catch up” contributions of an additional $6,500 over and above the regular $20,500 401(k) annual contribution limit, and an additional $1,000 over the regular $6,000 IRA annual contribution limit. Though it is best to start saving early, taking advantage of these increased contribution limits can go a long way toward making up for lost time.
Know when to practice some tough love. In your late 50s, if your children are out of school and you have done a good job of modeling sound financial behaviors, it is time for them to shoulder most of their day-to-day “carrying costs.” Reserve your checkbook for the big things like weddings or down payments on a house and give your children the gift of personal financial responsibility.
Consider downsizing. There is something to be said for reevaluating your priorities. If your house is still where the holidays happen and you are hoping to teach your grandchildren to swim in your pool, you might not be there yet.
Alternatively, become a landlord. If you cannot bring yourself to sell your house, or if cost is not the issue, why not maintain your property or invest in a second property as a rental unit? With more U.S. households renting now than in the past 50 years, investments in residential rental properties can build future cash flow and tax-deferred wealth while potentially providing tax write-offs against other income. Investing now means you may be able to defer tax liability and reap the benefits of some additional income during your retirement years. That said, as with any investment, you should do your due diligence and seek professional advice.
Bring in the professionals. Your 50s may be your highest-earning years yet. But while you should be achieving maximum return on your investments during this crucial time, you should also be positioned defensively in anticipation of retirement. Even with all the wisdom of your years, it remains a possibility that you could use some advice in this regard. If you have not done so already, bring in the expertise appropriate to guide you and your family toward your lifestyle, legacy and philanthropic goals. A holistic, goals-based approach to wealth management can make the difference between sufficiency and real success.
Construct your general retirement plan. The vision of retirement shimmers on the horizon, but have you given any consideration to the bigger picture? If you will be relocating, take into account whether your retirement dollars will cover medical care and other services for seniors in your chosen domicile and will support your lifestyle needs. Talk to your advisors to ensure your assets are sufficient to retire and know exactly how much you can spend and how you anticipate spending it.
Do your research on Social Security. If and when you are eligible for Social Security, it is important to understand the implications of your decision to file for benefits. As always, timing is everything: You can file early (ages 62-65, depending on your year of birth), wait until full retirement age (age 66 and four months for those turning 62 this year) or wait until after full retirement age (earning “delayed retirement credits” until age 70). Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and you should factor your life expectancy into the mix.
Consult with Medicare experts. You will need to decide how best to ensure adequate medical coverage during retirement. Upon reaching age 65, you will become eligible for Medicare or Medicare Advantage, an alternative to Medicare offered by private insurers. Deciphering the myriad options can be challenging, and it is advisable to work with an agent to determine an affordable level of coverage. Many reputable agents will provide the analysis for free.
Review your estate planning documents. Confirm that your estate planning documents are up to date and meet your expectations. Ask your Glenmede Relationship Management Team to create an estate plan flow chart using your net worth statement and the provisions of your will and/or trust to help you visualize the way your assets will pass at your death. A flow chart can also illustrate anticipated transfer tax liability and guide you in your decisions regarding the implementation of advanced wealth transfer techniques to mitigate taxes.
Start to open up. You may be asking yourself where the years have gone? Yesterday your children were toddlers, and today you marvel at the organized and enterprising young adults they have become. Family dynamics can change during your 60s, and it may be time to begin engaging the next generation in the family wealth legacy. At a minimum, your children should know where assets are located and how to proceed should anything happen to you. If you are charitably inclined, this may be the ideal time to establish a family foundation or donor-advised fund to allow your children and grandchildren to experience the beauty of shared family philanthropy.
This presentation is intended to provide a review of issues or topics of possible interest to Glenmede Trust Company clients and friends and is not intended as investment, tax or legal advice. It contains Glenmede’s opinions, which may change after the date of publication. Information obtained from third-party sources is assumed reliable but is not verified. No outcome, including performance or tax consequences, is guaranteed, due to various risks and uncertainties. Clients are encouraged to discuss anything they see here of interest with their tax advisor, attorney or Glenmede Relationship Manager.