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Retirement security when you don't have kids

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August 21st, 2015

Nobody can necessarily count on their kids to help take care of them in their older years, but adult children often provide at least some assistance. Some might handle household tasks like lawn mowing and snow shoveling. Others might invite parents to live with them in their home. 

So, if you don’t have children, retirement planning may be slightly different from your peers who are factoring kids into their plan.

“Not having children doesn’t mean you need to plan differently, but most people who I have worked with who don’t have kids seem to think differently,” says Maryland financial planner Cecilia Brown (cbeachbrown.com). “It’s as if the safety net is gone.”

Brown says you can create your own safety net by budgeting for things that adult children often take care of. You should factor in costs for a handyman to handle small home repairs and transportation costs in case you’re unable to drive. While long-term care insurance is important for all seniors, Brown says it’s critical for people who know they won’t be able to rely on adult children as caregivers.

“With your long-term care insurance, make sure that you have a really good home health rider,” Brown says. “This will pay for someone to come into your home to perform services that your children may have performed. Also, be sure to set aside funds to have someone come in and clean and perform other household tasks.”

Assembling the right team

Adult children are most people’s default choice for a health care proxy, power of attorney, and estate executor. If you don’t have kids, New Jersey wealth advisor Marco Lima (ameripriseadvisors.com/marco...) says you’ll want to take great care in assembling a team of advocates.

“Whether your support team includes your spouse or partner, a sibling or other relative, friends or a trustee, make sure everyone knows—and will support—your preferences,” Lima says. “If the people you enlist are close to you in age, appoint younger backups in case someone becomes unable to carry out his or her responsibilities.”

Deciding how to distribute assets can also be more complex for people without children. Lima says you might establish a foundation in your name or leave assets to charity or extended family members. Whatever you decide, hire a lawyer to help you spell out your wishes in a will.

“Without a will in place, your estate will be handled according to the statutes of the state in which you reside, which may not align with your goals,” he says.

Retirement planning without children to consider comes with one big perk—more money for you! Jim Ciprich (regentatlantic.com), an investment advisor in New Jersey, says that people who didn’t incur the costs of raising kids and funding college educations may have been able to save more money during their working years.

“If they lived within their means, this may mean they have more assets,” Ciprich says. “Some may be surprised at what they could afford to spend on an ongoing, inflation-adjusted basis.”

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