All of us dream of a confident retirement. For some, the first thing that comes to mind when imagining retirement is simply relaxing. And while spending your days on the golf course might be fun for a while, true happiness in retirement is usually found in finding new routines, interests, and opportunities that a confident retirement can provide. The opportunity to do more of what you want to do and less of what you are bound to do is the true goal of retirement planning.

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The retirement planning process requires preparing for the unexpected. What happens if your carefully laid plan is beset by an unforeseen medical issue? Chronic illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s – or any other illness that inevitably leads to a substantially diminished physical or mental capacity – can quickly overwhelm even the most carefully constructed retirement plan. Having contingency conversations with your planner often and early will help establish the trust needed to facilitate open and honest communication in the event of such an unanticipated event.

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You probably know the significance of age 65 (Medicare!). But how about age 50? Or age 59½? Or 62? These are just a few of the important milestones that retirees and future retirees need to prepare for.

Most Americans still think about retirement as something that will happen around age 65 – give or take a few years.

That’s when you reach the traditional milestones: Medicare kicks in, and Social Security is available should you need or want to start making withdrawals.

But there are other deadlines – both before and after your mid-60s – that are important to keep in mind if you want to make the most of your investments, avoid government penalties and save on taxes. Here’s a quick checklist:

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