By Kate Ashford
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Using a financial adviser for your investment needs is 100% on brand, but what about the other parts of your retirement life? For example, a third of people ages 64 and up have a financial adviser, but only 2% of them asked their adviser to help with their Medicare choices, according to a July 2022 report from health care consulting firm Sage Growth Partners.
But Medicare and other non-portfolio topics — like travel and long-term care — can affect your finances.
“We are actively bringing these ideas to our clients, but there are still plenty of advisers out there that are not,” says Crystal Cox, a certified financial planner in Madison, Wisconsin. “They’re still focused just on the investments and the portfolio.”
Here are some questions to ask at your next meeting.
1. What retirement decisions do I need to think about?
Your life in retirement may not continue as it has in the past. Do you plan to travel? Do you intend to move to a different state or downsize? How often will you want to buy a new vehicle?
“Most people just think, ‘I need a certain amount of money to live on,’” says Daniel Lash, a CFP in Vienna, Virginia. “What about all the ancillary things that come along with living? All the things you want to do?”
Mapping your retirement plans can help you and your adviser pinpoint when and how you’ll need cash.
“Do you have an idea of where you’re going to move, and what does real estate look like in that general area?” Lash says. “They’ve thought about retiring, not ‘What am I going to do when I retire?’”
2. What should I know about Medicare?
Although you generally can’t sign up for Medicare until you’re closer to 65 years old, your income in the years beforehand will affect what you pay for coverage. Each year, both Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D base their premiums on your reported modified adjusted gross income from two years prior. So if you filed individually making more than $91,000, or filed jointly making more than $182,000, you’ll pay additional amounts each month.
“Because there’s a lookback on earnings for Medicare expenditures, we’ll adjust plans accordingly, because they might be paying considerably more the first couple of years in retirement than later in retirement,” Lash says.
It’s also wise to consider guidance on Medicare choices in general, because you sometimes can’t change coverage later if your health situation shifts — and Medicare is complicated . “We do an annual meeting with somebody that specializes in Medicare,” Lash says. “All clients are invited to attend.”