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Plan a profitable retirement

Eric Broili

For many Americans today, a retirement plan at work is the largest single amount of money they’ll ever control.

And leaving a long-time employer to retire, take another job or start a new business means making one of the most important financial decisions they’ll ever make.

Too many people take action at these times without understanding all their options.

In the process, they pay unnecessary taxes and penalties, choose distribution plans they live to regret, and deplete assets they’ve worked years to accumulate.

If you’re deciding how to receive your benefits and savings, careful planning and timing is critical.

Get as much information as you can about your choices before giving your employer specific instructions to transfer your savings to you.

Use the following steps to help guide you through the process.

Here are six steps to making the right choices for your retirement plan distribution: Take time before you act You’re about to make decisions you may not be able to change in the future.

Take the time you need now to thoroughly understand your choices, and weigh them carefully.

Consider meeting with a tax advisor to evaluate the tax consequences of various choices and a financial advisor for investment guidance.

Ask your employer to explain your choices Make sure you understand all the benefits you’re entitled to receive before you leave your employer.

Re-assess your financial and life goals Consider both your short- and longterm financial goals.

Use your answers to these questions as a guide to decisions for your retirement plan assets: What are your biggest financial priorities for today? For your future? When will you need income from your retirement savings? How much will you need? How will you invest your savings? Do you have the time, knowledge and temperament to make frequent investment decisions yourself, or do you prefer to leave the decisions to others? Weigh the tax consequences of your choices Most likely, you and your employer have been contributing money before taxes to your plan at work, and that money has grown free of current taxes.

If you decide to take it out of the plan when you leave, generally you’ll owe taxes on it, (plus penalties if you’re under age 55) unless you transfer it to another eligible retirement plan or an IRA.

If you’ve accumulated substantial assets in your plan or have complicated decisions to make such as what to do with company stock or an annuity distribution, meet with a tax advisor who can help you “do the numbers” for various scenarios.

Some choices may be more advantageous from a tax perspective than others.

Decide on the right vehicles for your funds short- and long-term Once you understand your choices, decide on which vehicles to use for your assets.

You can keep all of your assets in one place or divide them among several different accounts.

Depending upon your specific situation, you can: Leave all or part of your retirement money in your employer’s plan Move all or part of it to an IRA Hold after-tax benefits and/or employer stock in a taxable brokerage account Employ a variety of strategies to minimize taxes and penalties on withdrawals.

Develop an investment plan to fit your retirement goals When you’re clear about your longand short-term financial goals, develop an investment strategy to help achieve them: A financial advisor can create an investment plan to generate current income, if you need it, and keep your principal growing for the future.

An advisor will work with you to design an investment strategy, select individual investments and monitor your portfolio to help you achieve your specific goals.

If you enjoy managing your money yourself, take advantage of information about allocating assets and selecting investments for your current and future needs.

Now is an opportune time to establish short- and long-term financial goals, reevaluate your plans for getting there and take advantage of professional help so you can enjoy the retirement you’ve been expecting.

Eric Broili is a financial consultant of Wells Fargo Investments, LLC (member NYSE/SIPC), a non-bank affiliate ofWells Fargo & Company.