Planning for retirement when you don’t have kids

Couples who don’t have children tend to have more financial flexibility to pursue their own goals throughout life and in retirement. But this flexibility doesn’t mean they don’t need to manage their future financial, health and legacy needs. If you are child-free and preparing for retirement, here are five steps to get started:

Prioritize saving for retirement: Since you’re not facing the costs for childcare and educational institutions, consider doubling-down on saving for retirement. You have the potential to spend decades in retirement pursuing your hobbies and goals. Calculate what it will take for you to live the lifestyle you want and compare it to your current savings. Create a plan to save the difference. Consider contributing as much as you can to your workplace savings plan, if you have one, and consider building up Roth IRA savings to help create a source of income that is potentially tax-free in retirement.

Recognize your long-term care challenges: Long-term care can be a challenge for anyone as they age, and there’s added complexity in situations where you may not be able to rely on family members to step in. Regardless of your situation, make it a priority to decide how you will manage health care costs in retirement. Explore your options through Medicare and your current or former employer and consider if long-term care insurance would benefit you. Additionally, consider researching caregiving options and long-term care facilities in your area so you are familiar with the choices if needed down the road.

Prepare for medical care: Before you experience a significant medical event — which can happen at any time — make sure to have an advanced directive, also known as a living will, in place. This document lets your spouse, extended family and friends know your preferences for treatment and gives you the opportunity to designate a health care power of attorney.

Have financial decision-makers in place: It’s also important to designate a spouse, friend, extended family member or professional to look out for your financial interests if you become incapacitated. Draw up documents to name a durable power of attorney to oversee your financial matters if you are unable to, including legal and tax concerns. Keep in mind that choosing someone to help watch out for you does not mean you have to share your full financial situation and account numbers. Rather, a common approach is to share enough information so the contact can step in, should a situation arise.

Plan your legacy: With no direct heirs in line to inherit your estate, you will want to consider what you’d like your legacy to be — including how your assets should be distributed upon your death. You may choose to leave your estate to any combination of family members, friends, charities, education institutions, or other causes that are important to you. Creating or updating your will is one of the best ways to articulate your wishes.

Also consider using trusts, which sometimes allow more flexibility than a will. Consult with a financial advisor, attorney and tax legal professional to develop a comprehensive strategy that suits your goals.