One of the big goals most investors have for their portfolios is to fund their retirements. It's sad to say, but building a nest egg that's large enough to keep us secure in our old age is going to be a much heavier lift for today's workers than it was for our parents or grandparents. 

Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp discuss one of five major ways that retirement planning has changed, and what you can do to adjust to the new realities. In this clip, we learn that the classic strategy of getting to retirement with all your debts paid off -- no mortgage, no loans -- well, that's gone right out the window. Of course, that could wind up being more of a problem for your debtors than it is for you.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on June 21, 2016

Alison Southwick: All right, No. 3.

Robert Brokamp: This one is just a trend in what we're comfortable with these days, and that is more debt. More people are getting near retirement or in retirement with more debt. For example, if you look at the 65-74 age range, according to the Federal Reserve, back in 1989 only about 20% of those people had a mortgage. Today it's about 40%. And not only is the percentage more, but the size of the loan is bigger, even adjusting for inflation. So we're just more comfortable going into our retirements with debt.

Transamerica did a study about what your No. 1 priorities are, or even your greatest fears, in terms of your expenses and your money in retirement. No. 1 was just getting by, but No. 2 was paying off credit cards, and No. 3 was paying the mortgage. So it's just become more a part of reality for people that they have this debt.

I'll definitely say that, for me, personally, it is definitely my goal to have my mortgage paid off before I retire. I met with some people recently, who have a good bit of student loans, and they're paying about 7%; but they also had a lot of cash on the side earning less than 1%. I think for a lot of people -- that saved part of your portfolio, or just money you have on the side not really earning anything -- paying off debt beforehand makes a lot of sense.

Alison: I should know the answer to this, but if I have a lot of debt and I die, does it come out of my estate? Or does anyone else have to pay my debt?

Robert: It does. So one of the jobs of your executor is to settle the claims of the estate before money is distributed to your heirs.

Alison: But what if there's not enough money in my estate to cover my debts? Then it's like, "Sorry! She died on ya!"

Robert: Yes.

Alison: So go out in a blaze of glory, is what you're telling me...

Robert: That's what I'm telling you to do.

Alison: ...if I don't want to leave anything to my daughter.

Robert: Right, exactly.

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