Planning for Retirement as a Single Person

Single, childless seniors do not have the same support as those with a spouse, life partner, or adult children who can step in when needed to provide care and financial support as they age and require assistance to care for themselves or a serious medical condition.

  •   Close to nine percent (9%) of adults 50 or older have never married.
  •   About one third (1/3) of baby boomers don’t have any children.

Source: U.S. Census.


You’ll need to think and try to answer four (4) main questions when planning your retirement:

  •   Who will care for me?
  •   How will I pay for retirement?
  •   How can I find professional help?
  •   Where will I live?


Who will care for you?

Building a team requires more than finding people who will manage your financial and medical affairs. For example, you will probably need people to food shop, run errands for you, or take you to appointments. Even though there may be no spouse or children, perhaps there are siblings, nieces, nephews, or cousins that may be relied on to assist with those matters. If family or friends are not available to help carry out your wishes and make legal, financial, and health care decisions for you, an accountant, lawyer, or trust company officer may be able to fill those shoes. Make sure you express your desires and provide detailed instructions.


How will you pay for retirement?

A good place to start is to create an income safety net and build a reserve that will enable you to cover your monthly living expenses for two (2) years. Any market downturn will be minimized allowing you to weather shaky markets without selling stocks or bonds when the prices are low. Another avenue is to bulk up on disability insurance, consider an employer-sponsored plan, if available, or buying supplemental disability insurance. Also, consider when will be the best time to retire, for social security purposes.


How can you find professional help?

There are professional you will need as you grow older. Among the mix will be a certified financial planner, an estate planning or elder law attorney, and a certified public accountant. Also, a social worker or geriatric care manager, that assists with Medicare paperwork, placing a home health care aide in your home, or selecting a long-term care facility for an extended stay will be crucial.


Estate planning involves getting all of your legal documents in order to make sure your wishes are known and that someone you trust can make decisions for you. Among the documents part of a standard estate plan are:

  •   Durable power of attorney;
  •   Living will and health care proxy;
  •   Information releases;
  •   Will; and
  •   Trust if applicable.


Where will you live?

Housing options is the last main consideration when planning for retirement. If you live in a large house, you may consider downsizing to minimize your living expenses and make your home more physically accessible. If you cannot stay in your own home, housing options for single retirees include home sharing, continuing care retirement communities, naturally occurring retirement communities; or co-housing options. Decide what will work best for you.


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