A retirement planner can help you navigate the world of saving and investing for retirement, and one can also provide services such as insurance and estate-planning advice. But do you really need one, or are you capable of doing a good job of planning for retirement by yourself?
Here's a list of 10 things that can help you determine if contacting a retirement planner might be a smart idea for you.
1.You're getting close to retirement and don't know what to do with your 401(k)
When you retire or leave a job, you have several options when it comes to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plans. You could leave your money in the plan and withdraw it as needed. Or you could decide to roll it into an IRA to take advantage of the broad assortment of investment options available. Based on your goals, as well as your 401(k)'s investment options, a retirement planner can help evaluate the best move for you.
2. You don't know if you're paying high fees on your investments
It's a common misconception, especially among 401(k) investors, that their retirement investments don't cost a thing.
This is 100% false. While you may not directly pay a fee to anyone when you invest in your 401(k), as a minimum, the investment funds to which your money is allocated have their own fees, known as an expense ratio. Your retirement planner can evaluate the fees you're paying and take appropriate action, if necessary.
3. You're worried about a stock market crash
According to several studies, the average retail investor significantly underperforms the market, and a primary reason is that the investor tends to let emotions get the best of him or her during market crashes. Specifically, investors tend to panic and sell when the market is low and buy stocks when the market is doing well -- the exact opposite of the "buy low, sell high" investing goal. A retirement planner can properly diversify your portfolio to help minimize the impact of any market crash and, perhaps more importantly, will act objectively and avoid the potentially devastating effects that rash investing decisions can have.
4. You don't know if you're saving enough, or how much you'll need to retire
The majority of Americans don't know how much they'll need to retire. And even if they do, many don't know how much they'll need to save and invest per month to get there. While nobody (including a retirement planner) can predict the exact performance of your investments, a retirement planner can help calculate your retirement "number" and, based on historical average investment returns, determine if you're on track to get there.
5. You aren't sure when you should file for Social Security benefits
Americans who have earned enough Social Security credits to be eligible for retirement benefits, and their spouses, can choose to claim anytime between the ages of 62 and 70. There are some good reasons to claim early, and some good reasons to claim late. To further complicate things, the full retirement age is gradually increasing, which could have negative implications if you claim early. A retirement planner can help you weigh the pros and cons of your options and help you make the best decision for you and your family.
6. You don't know how much of your savings to withdraw each year
The often-used "4% rule" of retirement says you should be able to safely withdraw 4% of your savings during your first year of retirement and give yourself cost-of-living adjustments in subsequent years without fear of running out of money.
While the 4% rule is certainly a good starting point, it isn't perfect for everyone. It doesn't take into account your personal risk tolerance, or the age at which you retire, to name a couple of its shortcomings. A retirement planner can help determine a safe withdrawal rate for your unique circumstances.
7. You're married or have children who depend on you
A retirement planner can do more than set up and manage your investments. He or she can also help you protect your loved ones in the event something happens to you. A good retirement planner can make sure you have adequate life insurance and help you craft a succession plan, such as a will.
8. You earn a lot and are worried about taxes
If you have a high income, you probably know that taxes can consume a large portion of your earnings. While this is a good problem to have, a good retirement planner can help you maximize the tax advantages of the various retirement savings options available to you and can also assist with other tax-savings strategies.
9. You're self-employed
If you're self-employed and don't know the best way to save for your retirement, a planner can help explain your options and determine the best one for you. Different account types have different benefits, and most people aren't too familiar with options such as the SIMPLE IRA, SEP-IRA, and Solo 401(k).
10. You have a high net worth
If you have, or anticipate having, a net worth in excess of the federal estate tax lifetime exclusion -- which is $5.49 million in 2017 -- a retirement planner can help you with estate-planning strategies such as trusts and the annual gift exclusion. The federal estate tax rate is currently 40% on assets in excess of the lifetime exclusion, and many states have additional estate and inheritance taxes, so this service alone could prove to be worth the cost of a retirement planner.
When you might not need a retirement planner
In a nutshell, if you have a strong knowledge of topics such as Social Security, insurance, and estate planning, and you have the time, desire, and know-how to effectively manage your own investments, you may want to handle your own retirement planner. However, if at least a few of the 10 reasons discussed here apply to you, you might want to seriously consider speaking with a professional to find out what a retirement financial planner could offer you.