Retirement checklist

Greater flexibility around how you use your pension savings, may open up exciting new possibilities for your future. Our checklist can help you ensure your planning is on track. Are you retirement-ready?

Once, many people would have fairly limited choice in what to do with their pension at retirement. These days, you’ve got a whole world of options.

When you reach age 55, your main options at retirement are:

  • Get a guaranteed income for life (also known as an annuity)
  • Through a flexible cash or income plan (also known as drawdown)
  • Cash in your pension at once, or take cash in stages.

You can also opt for a combination of options depending on your provider - or if you don't need the money just yet, leave your pension pot where it is. 

Each option has its own upsides, downsides and tax implications. The amount you pay will be based on your circumstances and your tax situation at the time you take your pension savings. The good thing is that you can normally take the first 25% of your money tax-free.  So before you decide which option is right for you, check to see what the tax implications are.

If you're a member of an 'occupational pension scheme' or have a 'defined benefit' pension, the options available to you may vary, so please check with your provider.

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How can I take my pension savings?

Now that you have more choice over how and when you access your pension; check to see how much you could get from each of the options. If you're aged 55-85, our Retirement Income Calculator will provide an example of what you could get. Results are based on your age, pension pot size today, generic rates and current tax information. What you actually receive will depend on circumstances at the time you come to take it. 

If you’re an existing customer, it’s best to contact us and we can talk you through your options and what your pension pot could provide based on our rates. 

We also have a range of other online tools to help with your planning, and products for when the time comes. Take a look at our online tools below.

Calculators Hub 

Modern retirement takes many forms, with more of us continuing to work later on in life or on a part-time basis. Is phasing your retirement an option that you’ve considered? Perhaps you’d like to start your own business – or perhaps it’s a necessity to ensure you can live how you’d like when you retire fully. Would the State Pension and any other investments you may have, such as your home or other pensions, fund your current lifestyle, for instance? Don’t forget to also factor in inflation, which could affect the buying power of your money in the future.

As well as changing your working habits, you should consider how events that could happen after you retire could impact on your finances. No one likes to think about ill health or long-term care, but getting prepared early will ensure you have a plan in place should you need it.  Your children or even grandchildren may also need some financial help – maybe it’s with education, getting on the property ladder – or even a wedding.

You’ll spend your time in different ways once you’ve retired, and your day-to-day budget and cash needs will likely change, with some costs going up and some coming down.

Because you’ll probably spend more time at home, things like your energy bills are likely to go up. But if you were commuting to work, these costs are likely to come down. You’ll also need to factor in any money that you owe on bills, debts or your mortgage, and ensure you have enough to cover any new hobbies or significant holidays you’d like to take - along with insurance.

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Annuity tips before you buy

Whether you own your home or are renting, you’ll need to consider where you want to live when you retire, and the role your property could play in your future.

Think about whether you plan on moving for a change of lifestyle – or if you may need to downsize or release some equity from your home. Or if you want to make improvements to the property you already have.  

You might also want to make provisions for an elderly parent living with you, or for your own long-term care.

 Getting older shouldn't always be a bad thing... 

Depending on your age and where you live, there could be government benefits on top of any State Pension you may get, plus savings on things like healthcare and travel that could really boost your future income.

According to Age UK, billions of pounds in benefits and Pension Credit is going unclaimed by older people each year. Find out what’s available in your local area, and make sure you're not missing out. 

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What could you be entitled to in retirement?

Think about whether you’ll need to make provisions for a partner or dependants - both when you retire, and after you’ve gone. This may be for an elderly parent in need of financial support, or a grown up child heading to university or buying their first home.

When it comes to passing your pension on after you die, you can nominate to do this when you're still contributing to your pension plan or at the time you turn this into a guaranteed or flexible income.  If you take your pension savings as cash and have a Will, it will be up to you who you leave any money you have left, to.

Find out about the options available below, and the varying tax implications depending on whether you're still paying into your pension fund, or if you’re already taking it out as an income. 

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Ways to pass your pension on

Once you’ve worked out what your pension pot and any other savings, investments, property or entitlements could provide, you’ll be able to look at whether this would help meet your future income requirements and the lifestyle you envisage. It could also influence when you should be able to achievably retire, to try and ensure that you are financially secure. Living longer, with the potential for more time in retirement along with a rising State Pension Age, are all things to consider.

If there is going to be any potential shortfall, topping up your pension in the final years before you retire could make a difference to the amount of money you’ll have to retire with. Alongside this, if you're considering delaying your retirement and continuing to contribute to your pension, the value could still go down while the money is invested and so this will not necessarily mean a larger pot or a higher income when you do come to take it. 

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Choosing what to do with your pension savings is one of the most important decisions you're likely to make. So it's a good idea to access all of the support available to you, to help you with this decision. We recommend you use Pension Wise, a free, impartial guidance service offered by the Government once you reach 50 to help you understand your retirement options. You can speak to them on 0800 280 8880, and book an appointment to meet someone in person. And, you can visit pensionwise.gov.uk/shop-around

You may also like to contact a financial adviser.

The retirement options you get from your pension provider might not be the best for you. It's always worth comparing what you can get from other providers too, because you might be able to get a better deal.

The Money Advice Service also offers free and impartial guidance on anything and everything to do with money, not just pensions. Take a look on moneyadviceservice.org.uk. Our timeline below can also help with your retirement planning whether you’re 10 years or two weeks out. 

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start preparing for your future.

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Over 55 and looking to take your pension? 

Are you thinking about taking money from your pension now? Or perhaps you’re a few years away, but just want to know when would be the best time to take your money? A financial adviser can help. If you don't already have an adviser, we can help. We offer a restricted advice service. 

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