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Your Life-Planning Checklist

Many people have experienced life changes -- marriage, the birth of a child, retirement -- and when they happen, financial planning may need to change accordingly. So to help you prepare for possible adjustments to your plans, the following checklist identifies several potential life-changing events and offers brief tips for addressing each. Keep in mind that your financial advisor may help you with these and other personal transitions.


  • Identify shared financial goals and begin working together to pursue them.
  • Review all investment accounts (including IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans) to ensure that your combined assets are adequately diversified and appropriate for your goals.
  • Purchase (or increase) life insurance coverage.
  • Update beneficiary designations.

New Baby

  • Increase life insurance coverage.
  • Increase emergency savings.
  • Start setting aside money for college in a tax-advantaged account, such as a 529 college savings plan.
  • Update beneficiary designations.

Empty Nester

  • Increase contributions to retirement accounts.
  • If the size of your home exceeds your needs, consider downsizing to a smaller home and potentially lowering your living expenses.


  • Cancel joint financial accounts, such as credit cards and checking accounts.
  • Take a fresh look at your plans for the future to determine whether your divorce will affect your financial needs, risk tolerance, and time frames.
  • Increase retirement account contributions if necessary.
  • Update beneficiary designations.


  • Increase retirement account contributions.
  • Increase emergency savings.
  • Pay off debt.
  • Review investment strategies.
  • Assess insurance coverage, particularly if a windfall results in an increased standard of living.


  • Determine the best age for collecting Social Security (early retirement at age 62, full retirement age 67 or later, which may result in a delayed retirement credit).
  • Develop a budget to determine how much you will need for ongoing living expenses in retirement.
  • Decide whether you want to stop working entirely, or work part time or seasonally, to maintain an ongoing source of income.
  • Apply for Medicare when you become eligible.
  • Determine sources of medical insurance to help you finance health care not covered by Medicare.
  • If you are older than age 70 1/2, review your traditional employer-sponsored retirement plan and traditional IRAto determine when you must start taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) and how much you'll need towithdraw. Note that RMDs are not required from Roth accounts.

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