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Retiring Well When You Can’t Count on Relatives

retirement signLast week we discussed how mothers need to be aware of family finances, but what if you are not a mother? Sixty-something Sheila Sullivan Zubrod wrote a piece for The Washington Post about navigating her widowed mother’s later years and figuring out she herself can retire well. Women who have no children or find themselves without relatives to depend on can ensure a comfortable retirement when they plan ahead. In the category she refers to as Aging Solo, Zubrod includes, “…countless members of families plagued by addiction, disease, cults, rapacious children, even married progeny who much prefer their in-laws.”

Zubrod writes of the importance of location when deciding where to retire. First, she tells of how her parents chose to retire in a Florida city they knew little about and that they “…made plans for active retirement but not for old age.” Her father died, then her mother’s friends died or moved away, and her mother started to struggle with dementia. Zubrod decided to care for her mother, picking a different Florida city that she later realized she didn’t research enough either.  After years of living single in major cities on both coasts, it was hard for her to adjust to a city without a major arts scene and where people focus on their children.

So Zubrod, who describes herself as a “former ad executive and a lifetime problem-solver” is looking ahead to her own retirement: “Why not focus instead on aging with a close group of friends committed to collective living and decision-making, along with paperwork management?”

Since Zubrod’s piece is a personal essay, she does not offer a lot of resources for just how a group of friends can share a group house or find someone to design a retirement colony for aging in place but she does mention elder fraud and the dangers of giving the wrong person power of attorney.

While a Fee-Only financial planner cannot choose the best retirement city for you, what they can do is help you meet financial goals so that you are free to choose where you would like to retire and retire well even if you cannot count on relatives.