Retirement advice: how to navigate common retirement challenges

1 min readLast updated December 22, 2023by Rachel Carey

This article will take you through some of the most common life changes people go through as they approach retirement and how you can navigate them. 

Summary 

  • Divorce or legal separation can severely affect retirees’ lives, with retirement savings being one of your most valuable assets in divorce.  

  • Choosing where to spend your retirement is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in later life, as your desired state will dramatically impact your income.  

  • A good retirement plan can help you overcome any challenge retirement throws your way.  

  • A financial advisor can help you create a solid retirement plan and navigate all the challenges retirement can bring.  

Here are some of the most common life changes people go through as they approach retirement and how you can navigate them. 

How would a divorce impact my retirement? 

Divorce or legal separation can severely affect retirees’ lives. 

Dividing marital assets can affect your living standards – with retirement plans and pensions among the most valuable assets in a divorce.   

Any accumulation of retirement funds earned during marriage is typically viewed as joint property and will be subject to division. 

This means if you have an IRA or defined contribution plan such as a 401(k), although these accounts only have a sole account holder, the money that goes into them during a marriage technically belongs to both parties.  

While dividing these assets is usually straightforward, dividing a guaranteed pension can be trickier when survivor benefits, alternative assets and life insurance policies come into play.   

For employer-sponsored plans such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, or traditional pension plans, a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is a court order used to divide retirement assets.  

This must comply with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which governs these plans. Meanwhile, IRAs are divided using a process known as ‘transfer incident to divorce.’  

Dividing retirement funds can be a complex and emotional undertaking. However, understanding the rules that govern the process and anticipating the impact such a life change will have can help ease the process.   

Better still, make a plan ahead of time. 

While it may not be what you want to think about during your engagement or within your first few months of marriage, it could save a lot of heartache in the future.   

How can I plan for healthcare in retirement? 

Increased medical bills are inevitable as we get older, as annual checkups tend to turn into more regular doctor's visits. So, adapting to this change in routine without proper planning can be costly.    

According to the Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, an average retired couple aged 65 in 2022 needed approximately $315,000 saved (after tax) to cover healthcare expenses in retirement.   

Multiple types of healthcare insurance are available to US citizens to cover these expenses, including private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.    

While anyone over 65 is eligible for Medicare, it does not cover all health expenses. 

There may also be a cost associated with Medicare. For those below the threshold of 10 years, the premium for Part A is either $278 or $505 in 2024, depending on how long you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes.     

Long-term health insurance is an option for those worried about long-term care costs. Although purchasing this in your 50s is recommended, the longer you wait, the more expensive it becomes.    

A health savings account (HSA) is also an option. 

This type of savings plan allows you to set aside pre-tax money to pay for qualified medical costs. 

 However, you may only contribute to an HSA if you have a high-deductible healthcare plan. 

Earnings from an HSA are tax-deferred, and distributions for qualified medical expenses are free from federal taxes. Your HSA balance can also be invested, allowing it to grow over time.  

Should I move to another state for retirement? 

As we get older, our priorities change, and we start to look at what we want out of life. For over 200,000 retirees in the US, this means relocating.  

Finding a place to relax, enjoy your golden years, and get on with living the rest of your life is crucial for those approaching retirement. 

Finding cheaper housing, being closer to family, and tax benefits may also factor into the decision-making process.   

Realizing your dream retirement lifestyle depends on which state you choose to retire in. 

So, what are the best and worst states to retire to?  

The answer to this question all depends on your priorities and financial situation.  

In 2022, Alabama was the best place to retire for fixed-income retirees. 

For those retiring on Social Security, states including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Tennessee were popular as they do not tax Social Security income.   

Delaware is also a good choice for tax reasons due to its low property taxes and no sales or death taxes, while Mississippi is home to one of the most tax-friendly retirement systems in the country, and the cost of living is lower than the national average.  

In contrast, some of the worst states for retirees include Alaska; despite it being an income tax and tax-free sales state, its harsh weather conditions and high cost of living make it an undesirable option.   

Due to their high costs, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado also join the list of undesirable locations.   

Choosing where you retire is ultimately a personal decision. 

Still, with plenty of research and preparation, you’ll find a range of great states that suit your retirement needs, financial situation, and lifestyle preferences.   

How can I prepare for the challenges of retirement? 

Life is full of big financial decisions – some you see coming and some that come out of nowhere. Unexpected changes can hugely impact your retirement planning, especially the closer you get to quitting work altogether. 

Luckily, retirement planning is something you don’t have to do alone. 

An SEC-regulated, fiduciary financial advisor can help you navigate retirement’s challenges and all other aspects of later life planning. 

Matching with a financial advisor who is perfectly suited to meet your needs is just a few clicks away with Unbiased. Get started here.

Senior Content Writer

Rachel Carey

Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.