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It’s no secret that the pensions landscape has altered dramatically in recent years, with legislative changes giving people much greater flexibility when accessing their retirement income.

However, coupled with State Pension age changes and increased longevity, this pension freedom has heightened the need to plan ahead in order to enhance future financial security. A well-structured retirement plan is therefore imperative and there’s ‘no time like the present’ to get started with one.

 

TEN YEARS TO GO…

Retirement may seem a distant prospect but careful planning now will shape your quality of life when you do retire. Things to consider include: the age you want to retire; how your living expenses and spending habits might alter and how much income you’ll need in retirement; paying off debts before you retire; how you’ll support any dependants when you retire and how you might pay for longterm care; the total amount you’ll actually have saved in your pension pot and whether you have any other savings, investments or assets to draw on.

 

FIVE YEARS TO GO…

At this point it’s important to ensure your goals are firmly on track. For instance, you should: consider increasing contributions and/or making lump sum payments to boost your pension pot and take advantage of any unused pension tax allowance; use the Pension Tracing Service to track down any lost pensions; request up-to-date statements for your pensions and obtain a State Pension forecast; check your savings and investments meet your attitude to risk as you approach retirement; consider part-time work options in order to phase your retirement; review or write your Will; discuss your options with a financial adviser.

 

SIX MONTHS TO GO…

This stage is concerned with checking you are retirement-ready and involves: informing your pension providers of your impending retirement so they can send information in plenty of time; reviewing your pension statements to get an accurate picture of each fund’s value; updating your beneficiary information; organising a pre-retirement meeting with your employer and informing the taxman of your intention to retire; making an appointment with a financial adviser to ensure you receive sound advice on your retirement options.

 

TWELVE TO TWO WEEKS TO GO…

You’re now rapidly approaching retirement so it’s important you have all the information you need to make your final decisions.

Tasks at this point include: speaking to a financial adviser to consider your retirement plans and receive advice on the best ways to access your pension; obtaining free and impartial guidance from Pension Wise; making sure you’ve claimed your State Pension when entitled to and researching additional entitlements you may be eligible to receive; considering your pension providers’ quotes then shopping around other providers to maximise your retirement income.

 

And finally, enjoy your retirement!