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Retiring jointly but separately

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Monday, December 26, 2011
Posted: 6 am ET

If you think you and your spouse are the only couple who don't see eye to eye about retirement, don't feel so special. A new study for Fidelity Investments found that most couples have major retirement planning disagreements.

The study found:

  • Forty-seven percent of couples approaching retirement don’t agree on whether they will continue to work in retirement.
  • Some 21 percent don’t agree about where they plan to live in retirement.
  • About 53 percent can't decide how old they want to be when they retire.

If you recognize yourself in this study, don't give up. The two of you don't have to agree on everything, although Fidelity and other advisers believe there are some decisions that both of you ought to seek consensus about. Those decisions include:

  • Devise a Social Security strategy. Working together can increase the amount both of you will get.
  • Work out a healthcare plan. Sharing a long-term care plan will cut the cost for both of you.
  • Share information about bank accounts, workplace savings plans, pensions IRAs, brokerage accounts, life insurance and annuities. Use this information to create a financial plan -- jointly or separately.
  • Create a joint will and accompanying healthcare directive.

Fidelity says it isn't unusual for couples to do retirement planning separately. In fact, only 38 percent of couples show up at an adviser's office together.

A singular vision isn't necessary. Neither is consolidation of assets -- although that can help. But working together to make retirement as good as it can be for both of you is a goal worth striving for.

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