Seven Steps to Take at Age 59 1/2
When you turn 59 1/2, you reach a small milestone. You're old enough for your birthday cake to light up the room, and you are able to start spending, without penalty, the money you've accumulated in your IRAs and other retirement-savings accounts.
It's not cause for a huge celebration, but it is a good time to take stock of savings, pensions, Social Security and all the other financial issues that seemed totally meaningless just a few years ago when retirement was an eon away. Now you are only a handful of years from 65, and those years will go faster than you think.
Take this opportunity to examine these seven financial issues while you're still in a good position to do something about them.
1. The gold watch and other benefits. Ask the human resource department or the accounting department to figure out what, if any, money or insurance you'll be entitled to when you retire. If part of it is in the form of company stock or options, ask what can be done to ensure that you'll be eligible to sell the stock and pay taxes at the 15-percent capital gains rates instead of regular income tax rates.
2. Hunt for missing money. Make a list of all the past employers for which you worked for more than a year. Call the human resource departments and ask if you are entitled to any retirement benefits. If you are, make sure that the employer has your current address and marital status -- unless you really want your ex-spouse to have a claim. If the plan calls for naming a beneficiary, update that information.