Pre-Retirement Checklist: 7 Steps to Get Ready

When you’re getting ready to retire, you’re likely thinking of relaxing on warm lakefront beaches, having no schedule, and enjoying plenty of free time. You may be planning on moving to a senior living community, like The Merion, where everything is taken care of for you. However, there are necessary steps you have to take to get to that point. Preparing for retirement will help you set up your future and easily transition into your retirement.

Follow this pre-retirement checklist to develop your retirement plan. Once you’ve taken the necessary steps, you’ll be ready to retire with peace of mind.

1. Analyze Your Assets

The first step is to examine your assets to get an idea of your financial situation. While this can seem like a large task, you can break it down into smaller categories to help you stay organized and informed about your finances.

  • Sources of income
  • Savings
  • Insurance policies
  • Properties
  • Vehicles
  • Valuables


You’ll also need to examine what could subtract from your assets.

  • Debts
  • Loans



Once you’ve gathered this information, you can compare your savings to the recommended average savings a person should have when they retire. There are many online retirement planning tools to see if you’re on the right track.

2. Calculate Retirement Income

Now that you know how much you have, it’s time to calculate what you’ll need. There are so many factors to consider when figuring out what you’ll need to retire comfortably.

Your future expenses will include:

  • Costs of living (housing, utilities, food)
  • Costs of healthcare (doctor visits, medication)


Ask yourself questions like, are you planning on downsizing to an apartment or moving to a senior living community? Does the area you’re moving to have a higher cost of living?

It’s important to research the costs of living in a senior living community so you can compare that to the costs of living at home. You’ll also see all the service and amenities you’ll be able to enjoy when you live in a senior living community like The Merion.

You’ll also need to determine if you’ll work in retirement. While it sounds like an oxymoron, some people may prefer to have a part-time job to stay busy and continue to have another source of income.

However, if you plan on never clocking in again, you’ll need to learn when your assets will start to benefit you. This includes your Social Security, retirement accounts like a 401k, traditional and Roth IRAs, and pensions.

Plan for Unexpected Costs

Leave room in your budget for unexpected expenses – you never know when a car will break down or an appliance will stop working.

While these situations can be stressful, paying for them doesn’t have to be. Setting aside some money in your budget for an emergency fund will give you breathing room and peace of mind.

Comparing what you’ll need versus what you have can give you a better idea of how soon you can retire.

3. Pay Off All Outstanding Debt

You’ll see what debts you owe since you have organized your assets and what will affect them in Step 1. Look at the total amounts and their interest rates. It’s best to start with the debts with the highest interest rates, so they can’t continue to affect you in retirement. 

You’ll likely be looking to sell your home for a smaller space or a senior living community as part of your retirement planning, which will greatly reduce your debt burden.

senior couple going over their pre-retirement checklist with a financial planner

4. Plan for Future Health Care Costs

One significant item you’ll need to continue to afford is your health care. Health care costs can vary depending on when you retire.

For example, if you plan to retire before age 65, you may not yet be eligible for Medicare. When you’re no longer receiving health care through your employer, you may have to enroll in your spouse’s health insurance plan or find an individual plan to cover your health care costs until you’re eligible for Medicare.

You may also explore contributing to a health savings account with your current health plan. When you contribute to these accounts, you set aside pre-taxed dollars to cover medical expenses. This may reduce your overall health care costs, and you can access this account until the funds are gone.

When you’re planning for future health care costs, examine the type of care offered at your senior living community. The Merion offers MerionCares, which provides you with a customized care plan so you can feel your best. If your health needs change, your care plan can also change if and when you need it.

5. Create an Estate Plan

Estate planning is important to ensure your affairs are in order. A certified Notary must notarize papers establishing beneficiaries for a life insurance plan or guardians for any dependents.

Having an elder law attorney can be helpful when planning for the future. They’ll work with you to help you create a will, and the plan for dividing your assets will mean that your family will have a secure strategy to move forward.

In addition to dividing your assets, you may also want to consider valuables and family heirlooms and who you would like to receive them.

Another aspect of creating this plan is designating a power of attorney. This individual can make decisions for you and your estate should you not be able to make them yourself.

If you have any wishes for funeral arrangements, this is the time to put it in writing. Should the worst happen, your family won’t have to guess or decide what you would have wanted.

6. Develop an Investment Strategy

Managing an investment portfolio is a great way to set up earnings to help you live the retirement of your dreams. Consider speaking to a financial advisor to review different strategies and set up investments to start saving.

You can continue to manage investments during retirement as well. Remember that you can adjust your strategy if your needs or preferences change.

7. Know When to Access Your Retirement Accounts

Many of your retirement accounts may have an early withdrawal penalty if you have to take out money before a certain age. An individual retirement account has a penalty if you withdraw before age 59 and ½.

But this is not to be confused with full retirement age, when you’re eligible to receive full social security benefits, which is 67 years of age.

At age 62, you can start receiving social security benefits. However, the longer you wait to allow your benefits to kick in, the higher the amount you’ll receive will be. The highest age you can delay social security benefits is age 70.

Learning when you’ll maximize your retirement benefits and when you can withdraw from them without any penalties is key to making the most of your retirement funds.

Download your free PDF pre-retirement checklist here!

Pre-retirement check list

Retirement at The Merion

Ready for retirement? We’re eager to welcome you to our community. At The Merion, residents make the most of their retirement. Our community is full of active older adults who enjoy a life of fun events, lifelong learning opportunities, robust services and amenities, and a full social calendar.

Give us a call to learn more about our vibrant senior living community.