The Risk of Living Too Long

Think accumulating assets to fund your retirement has been difficult? Just wait until the time comes to begin distributing these assets.

Most of us view risk and risk management as protecting ourselves and our families against a loss such as property, income or life. Longevity risk, however, comes from having too much of something – years of your life.

If you started working and saving for retirement at 20, took early retirement at 50 and live until 79 (the national average), you could easily take as many years to spend your nest egg as you did to build it. As medical technology increases along with life expectancy, the chance exists that you or your spouse will live past the age of 80.The longer you live, the greater your risk of outliving your money.

Planning how to make your money last as long as you do can be complex. For example, you can begin taking withdrawals from your IRA at age 59½, but should you? You must take minimum IRA distributions beginning at age 70½, but what if that pushes you into a higher tax bracket. Deciding which assets to tap when, and with what tax and investment consequences, can be overwhelming. You may need to reallocate or even liquidate investments to provide cash flow for daily living expenses, avoid as much in taxes as possible and account for potential market downswings. Strategies for repositioning your portfolio and liquidating assets can take years in order to avoid high tax bills.

Longevity risk carries within it the increased risk of disability in terms of caring for yourself. Genworth’s 2015 Cost of Care Survey showed that the average cost for a private nursing home room increased 4 percent over the past 5 years, to $91,250 a year or $2450 a day. Even assisted living communities average costs increased 2 percent. Many people mistakenly assume that Medicare will pay for nursing home stays. It does not. Long-term care insurance can range from nursing level only to complete in-home and companion care. You should consider purchasing long-term care coverage while in your 40s or 50s to secure a reasonable premium.

The stadium rock band Queen recorded a song for the movie Highlander titled Who Wants To Live Forever? It may not be forever, but Americans today certainly live longer than their ancestors. Finding ways to fund those extra years can help you have quality of life, not just quantity. Written by Securities America

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