10 Essential Documents for RetirementWhen planning for retirement, most people focus on saving, and rightly so. Havingenough money to fund your retirement dreams is a key element to any plan. Oftenoverlooked, however, is the importance of obtaining and organizing importantdocuments. The following are 10 essential documents you will need to successfullynavigate retirement.Pension PaperworkDefined benefit pensions have become less common over the years, but there are stillmany people covered by them. If you have a pension at work, the details of the planwill be spelled out in the plan’s Summary Plan Description. In addition, you shouldreceive an Individual Benefit Statement that details the specific benefits that you haveearned and are eligible for. Make sure to review those documents as you approachretirement so that both you and your spouse have a good understanding of how muchincome you can expect from the plan and what will happen to that income if theprimary pension holder dies. Also, the Department of Health and Human Servicesoffers help and advice to pension holders through its Pension Counseling andInformation Program. Visit www.aoa.gov for more information.Beneficiary Designation FormsMany accounts, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s, annuities,and insurance policies allow you to name a beneficiary who will receive those assetswhen you die. Many people don’t realize that those designations take precedence overtheir will, even if the will is more accurate and up to date. Because of this, it isimportant to review the beneficiary designations on all your accounts (as well as thoseof your aging parents if you are helping them with their finances) prior to retiring tomake sure that they accurately reflect your wishes. Meet with your financial adviserand estate planning attorney to ensure that your designations not only pass property tothe correct people, but also minimize expense and taxes.Documents Needed When Applying for Social SecurityThe Social Security Administration will need you to provide certain documents whenfiling for retirement or survivor benefits. Documents they may request include yourSocial Security card, a certified copy of your birth certificate, proof of citizenship ifyou were not born in the U.S., military discharge papers, a copy of your marriagelicense or divorce papers, and a copy of your W-2 form (or self-employment taxreturn) for last year. Having these documents readily available will help speed theprocess along.Investment PaperworkMost people’s assets are divided into many different types of accounts. Some may betax-deferred, others may not. Some might have restrictions or requirements onwithdrawals. Some, like annuities, might give you different options for turning theaccount into a guaranteed income stream. When transitioning into retirement, it isimportant to have current copies of your account statements as well as options orrestrictions associated with each account so you can craft a distribution strategy thatmeets your needs while minimizing expense, hassle and taxes.Health Care PaperworkYour health benefits during retirement will likely come from multiple sources. Thosecould include a former employer, Medicare, Medicaid, a Medicare supplement policy,or a long-term care policy. Be sure to retain benefit summaries, contact information,and policies associated with each. If you have not filed for Social Security benefits byage 65, you will need to apply for Medicare. You can do this up to three months priorto your 65th birthday. When applying, you will likely need to provide them with thesame documents mentioned earlier for Social Security applicants.Home InventoryMany house fires or burglaries occur when the homeowner is away. When you retire,you will likely spend more time traveling or at a second home than you did duringyour working years. Because of this, it is important to inventory the contents of yourhome so that you can more easily make insurance claims and rebuild your life if theunexpected happens.Insurance PoliciesMany retirees have life insurance policies in order to replace income in the event of adeath, as a vehicle to build cash value, or for estate planning purposes. Make sure tohave current copies of your policies as well as contact information for the insurancecompany so you can easily access cash value during life or so that your heirs caneasily claim benefits if something happens to you.Will/TrustMost people need a will, regardless of the size of their estate, to control the passing ofproperty at death. Another tool to accomplish this while at the same time avoidingprobate is a Revocable Living Trust. As you enter retirement, you should meet withyour attorney to put a plan in place that passes your property to the correct people,designates the correct people to take charge, and minimizes expense, hassle and taxes.Durable Power of Attorney for Finance and Health CareA durable power of attorney for finance is a simple and inexpensive legal documentthat authorizes a person you have chosen to step in and manage your day-to-dayfinancial decisions if you become incapacitated. Everyone needs this document toprovide for the ongoing management of their financial affairs if they cannot makedecisions for themselves.Similar to the power of attorney for finance, the health care power of attorney is alegal document that authorizes a person you have chosen to step in and make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated and can no longer speak foryourself. You can also include a health care directive which provides writteninstructions to your agent that communicates your wishes regarding the withholdingor withdrawal of certain life support equipment or medical procedures.If you plan on moving to a different state when you retire, meet with your attorney tomake sure that your will, trust, and powers of attorney will be valid in your new stateof residence and make any necessary revisions.Tax ReturnsIn many ways life becomes easier after you retire. Unfortunately, this is not the casewith your taxes. In fact, because your employer is no longer automaticallywithholding from your paycheck, tracking and paying your taxes may become morecomplicated. To make matters worse, different states tax income and spendingdifferently. Will you owe tax on Social Security? How about pension and annuityincome? How much should you withhold from IRA distributions? The short answer is“It depends.”Because of this you should work closely with a trusted tax adviser, or the tax advisorsat Century Financial, and then maintain your tax returns and supporting documents forseven years. The IRS can look back three years for basic errors and six if youunderestimated income by more than 25 percent.As you can see, obtaining, understanding, and organizing your key documents will notonly help you to make informed decisions, but will also facilitate a smooth transition into a rewarding and meaningful retirement.