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Planning Your Retirement: Get the Nonfinancial Help You Need

While most people think of financial issues when planning their retirement, the fact is, you'll also be making important nonfinancial decisions that affect the rest of your life. This post explores the help you might need with these issues, and complements my earlier column, Planning Your Retirement: Get Professional Financial Help.

One area that involves both financial and nonfinancial issues is estate planning. From the financial perspective, the method you use to generate income from your retirement savings will have a significant impact on how much money you leave to children and charities. If leaving a legacy is important to you, you'll most likely need an attorney to draft a will and/or trust, particularly if you have substantial assets or a complicated personal situation (such as children from previous marriages or dependents with special needs). If you don't specify your wishes in writing with a will, the state will make those decisions for you -- and the results might be very different from what you (not to mention your heirs) would have chosen.

You might also need help keeping healthy to minimize the money you spend on medical bills and to help you live a long, healthy life. Of course, you'll want a relationship with a general practitioner or family doctor, and if you have a specific medical condition, you'll want the appropriate specialists on your team. Most likely you'll find these professionals in your medical insurance plan's network.

It's important to recognize, however, that most doctors are trained to treat illnesses or accidents, and aren't focused on improving your general wellness and health. For this goal, you might need assistance from nurse practitioners, nutritionists, chiropractors, or personal trainers. While you might find these professionals in your medical plan's network, you might also need to go outside your network to get the help you need. With anyone you hire -- whether they're inside your plan's network or not -- look for people who have training and experience in working with people in your age group. Another possible source of help could come from the wellness program sponsored by your employer; these types of programs are becoming increasingly popular.

One area that's often overlooked is marriage or relationship counseling. "Now I have twice the husband and half the income" -- I heard this revealing comment from a participant in one of my retirement planning workshops. Many couples have devoted lots of time to their careers and raising their families, but will now be spending much more time with each other. That might be a good thing -- but if it isn't, some counseling may be in order. Counseling can also help if you'll be making some life-changing decisions, such as where you'll live and what types of activities you'll pursue during retirement. A trained counselor can guide you through these decisions with focused conversations and helpful advice. Look for professionals with specialized training; examples include Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), and Master of Social Work (MSW).

Another source of help you might consider is a life or career coach, particularly if you're interested in taking new directions with your life. A coach can help you systematically address all the issues that might come into play when making a life-changing decision.

Finally, think about help you might need from family, friends, or other social institutions such as your church, local government services or nonprofit organizations. This might include help with day-to-day activities, assistance in emergencies, sharing resources to save money, or discussing important life decisions. It takes a village to be retired!

It might take more than a week to think about and investigate the exact kind of help you need. It's OK to start now and finish later -- just get started!

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