There are countless books, articles, and videos that discuss how to plan for your retirement — many of which can be found at universities, books written by financial gurus, business owners, institutions and professionals in the industry. If one were to Google retirement planning, there would be tons of information, multiple websites, retirement calculators and sources to learn about what to do and how to do it.

There is no one right way to plan or a single investment strategy that works for everyone. But there are some important elements to follow that can help improve the odds of retiring successfully. Some of them include investment strategies, retirement timeline, risk management and asset protection, and estate planning.

Investing has many levels that range from very risky to very conservative. An investor can choose to invest in stocks, bonds, annuities, insurance and real estate. All of these can be valuable if used the proper way and for the right purpose.

But before choosing an investment, I would recommend to complete a series of questionnaires to learn more about what may be suited for that investor. Also, having a good mix of different risk levels and different products can help provide opportunity and protection.

Another important element that should be at the top of the retirement planning list is the value of time. The earlier we start the better the odds to navigate through difficult markets and the better we can plan for life changing events. Navigating through difficult markets is very challenging and staying the course usually works to the investors favor. Having the courage to stay invested and setting aside emotional decisions is critical. Also, by starting sooner it will allow investors to take advantage of compound interest.

Risk management and asset protection can be looked at in many different ways. The most common, is protecting our loved ones by insuring them and the assets we have accumulated. Unknown events will occur from time to time and preparing for these events before they happen can make or break our retirement success. Balancing for the now as well as the future is essential.

Once we have reached our goals, investors should plan to protect their estate with the hope to pass it to their heirs. This task first begins by organizing financials and personal interest to meet one’s wishes upon their passing. The best and most appropriate way to accomplish this is to seek the services of an attorney. It is important to provide the attorney all of the necessary information and have thorough discussions of your wishes so they can be carried out accordingly.

These are important elements of retirement planning and vary per person or household. It is important to take the time to research and learn about what steps to take in starting your plan, managing your plan, and having a resolution to your estate. I recommend working with a financial professional and reviewing your plan annually.

For more information about retirement planning and investing, visit Jacob Gold & Associates’ website.

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This information was prepared by Michael Cochell of Jacob Gold & Associates Inc. and is for educational information only. The opinions/views expressed within are that of Michael Cochell of Jacob Gold & Associates Inc. and do not necessarily reflect those of ING Financial Partners or its representatives. In addition, they are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Neither ING Financial Partners nor its representatives provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your financial professional, attorney, accountant or tax advisor regarding your individual situation prior to making any investment decisions.