What’s better than growing old gracefully? Staying comfortable and solvent as you do so. There’s an art to getting later life planning spot-on, but with our quick list of things to remember you’ll have time to draw breath while you’re drawing your pension.

Here’s a startling fact: most people retiring today will spend more than half as long retired as they spent in employment. Longer lifespans mean the 30-year retirement is no longer exceptional. Whether you find that encouraging or horrifying may depend on how well prepared you are for later life.

It’s misleading to think of retirement as a single life stage. After all, a lot can happen in two or three decades. Here we run through some of the aspects of later life planning you may need to think about – preferably at the start of your retirement when your options are most open.

Where do you want to live?

Sounds like a simple question, but the implications are huge. Now you’re retired you’re no longer bound by a workplace, so the UK (indeed, the world) is your oyster. However, social ties may argue for staying put. If property prices where you live now are high, you may be able to free up a lot of money by ‘rightsizing’ – not buying a smaller property necessarily, but a similar or even larger home in a cheaper area.

On the other hand, what if you already live in a low-cost area but want to be near family in a high-cost one? One solution can be selling up and renting somewhere in the new location, if buying is too expensive, and using some of the proceeds of the old home to buy an annuity to cover the rent on the new one.

Or you may decide you want to stay put, and free up some of the value of your home by renting out rooms or through equity release. The choice is yours, but a financial adviser can help you consider all your options and find out which suits you best.

Will you need a bit of extra care?

The idea of long-term care might conjure up unpleasant visions for some people, but it’s an extremely broad area – it might include anything from a warden-assisted bungalow to regular home visits, to a permanent retirement home and ongoing medical costs. By planning your financial needs in advance, you can ensure that your last years are comfortable ones while also easing the pressure on your family. Talk to a financial adviser who specialises in long-term care planning: a typical solution might be an ‘immediate needs care annuity’, which pays a guaranteed sum that can rise with rising care costs – and can also be paid direct to the provider to avoid income tax on you. Your adviser can also help you find out whether you qualify for local authority help with care costs.

Have you set up Power of Attorney?

Power of Attorney is the legal authority of another individual to make decisions on your behalf. It can be temporary (e.g. for the duration of an illness or hospital stay) or lasting (e.g. if you have been diagnosed with dementia and are no longer confident or comfortable administering your own affairs.

Of course, the time to decide on who should get Power of Attorney (if possible a trusted family member) is when you are in good health and confident of your own judgement. Remember, anyone over the age of 18 can set up Power of Attorney – and may need it (as age isn’t the only thing that can affect your capacity to act for yourself). You can set up Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) quickly and easily through Will & Probate Services. If you leave your loved ones to sort it out, they’ll have to do it through the courts with a Deputyship application which is costly and time-consuming.

Have you planned your estate?

Many financial advisers refer to inheritance tax (IHT) as a ‘voluntary’ tax, so it’s remarkable how many people still end up paying it. Remember too that any IHT bill must be settled within six months of your death, and if your assets are tied up in property this isn’t a great deal of time for your family to release them.
The best way to handle the IHT issue is well in advance. Talk to your financial adviser about reducing the value of your estate gradually over the later years of your life. You can give away significant amounts as gifts (though beware of what qualifies and what may not) and can also set up insurance to pay any IHT liability straight away.

Use the unbiased.co.uk Inheritance Tax Primer Pack to start making your estate more tax-efficient. Even more importantly, make sure your Will is written and up to date! Here is a link to our Will Writing service.

Who will pay for your funeral?

All right, it’s not a pleasant thought – but it’s even less pleasant to imagine your loved ones scrabbling around to find the money during a particular difficult month. Yes, ultimately the costs could come out of your estate, but even with the fastest solicitor in the west that’s not going to happen before your funeral.

Not everybody realises that you can pre pay your funeral costs (we can help you with this via Safe Hands Funeral Plans) Otherwise, it’s worth setting aside a fund specifically for those costs, so your family has one less thing to worry about.

There is of course a sixth and most important point – which is to enjoy your retirement. With the help of the right advisors who specialise in later life planning, you can make the most of all the good things about being older and care-free, while knowing that all the dull-but-necessary stuff has been taken care of.

Lifetime gifting for efficient inheritance tax planning