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What Couples Should Discuss Before Retiring

Compromise is an important part of marriage. From deciding how much to spend on a new living room set to what to watch on TV tonight, compromise is constant.

It can also be a big part of retirement conversations. While agreeing on the financial and logistical issues around retirement is great if you can get there, chances are there are some aspects of a life together without work that will be a compromise. Getting on the same page before retirement can make it a lot easier.

Here are some topics couples should talk about before retirement:

When to retire
Do you both plan on retiring at the same time? Maybe one person wants to wait until age 70 to receive the most Social Security benefits, while the other wants to collect them when they’re first eligible at age 62.

Full retirement age is 67 to receive full Social Security benefits. Delayed retirement credits for waiting until age 70 increase the monthly benefit.

What are your retirement goals?
Each person may have different dreams of what retirement should be. One may want to travel immediately, while the other wants to stay home.

Both can be done, of course. Discussing what you want to do in retirement is one of the best things about planning for it. Doing those things together — after figuring out what they are — can make your retirement dreams come true.

How to pay for it
Social Security is an important part of funding retirement, but it shouldn’t be the only way.

If your goals are bigger than your assets, you’ll have to make some adjustments. To determine how much money you’ll have in retirement, a couple should meet with their financial advisor.

Each spouse should have access to their savings, investments, pension, insurance and other accounts, and have a short monthly meeting on where they stand. Make sure each person is listed on the paperwork for each account and that beneficiary information is complete.

What’s in your will?
This is the unpleasant part of planning for retirement, but it’s something worth doing. Set up a will together so that your family knows how your estate will be handled, and what they should do about taxes and other financial issues. Your financial advisor should be able to help, as should an attorney.

This is the final step of retirement, and of life, and it’s one you don’t want to avoid. With proper planning, it will be after a long and enjoyable retirement.

Where to find free help with taxes
Preparing your tax returns can be a chore. The good news is that filing your taxes is free — if you can figure out how to fill out the forms accurately.

If not, you may want to buy some tax preparation software or hire a tax preparer to do the detailed work for you.

If you prefer not to spend money for tax prep help, or don’t have the money for it, there are some free alternatives. Here are a few ways to get free help preparing and filing your taxes:

Free e-file forms from the IRS
The IRS offers free fillable forms that can be completed online. The program operates from January through mid-October, when accounts are erased from the server. Estimated tax payments can be paid online, and tax refunds can be paid through direct deposit to your bank.

For incomes above $64,000, free file fillable forms are available. The forms offer only basic guidance and you must know how to do your taxes yourself. You must have your 2015 tax return available, and state tax prep isn’t available.

Free File
For incomes below $64,000, another IRS program, called Free File, offers help. It works with a dozen tax software companies in the Free File Alliance to provide free tax filing assistance.

The program is geared toward low- and moderate-income taxpayers. Some may have restrictions on age and where you live, and the program will walk you through programs that meet your criteria. After selecting the software that works best for your tax situation, you’ll be transferred from IRS.gov to the company’s website to complete your returns.

AARP aide
The AARP Foundation offers free help through its Tax-Aide program that’s run by volunteers.

The program has helped nearly 50 million low- to moderate-income taxpayers since 1968 and is available to anyone 50 and older who can’t afford a tax preparation service.

It’s offered at more than 5,000 locations in libraries, malls, banks, community centers and senior centers. AARP membership isn’t required.

Volunteer Income Tax Association
Known as VITA, this program from the IRS offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English speaking taxpayers.

IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly
The TCE program is another IRS program, offering free help for all taxpayers but focusing on people 60 and older. Its volunteers specialize in questions and pensions and retirement issues that are unique to seniors.

It’s offered at the same types of sites where the AARP program is, and many of the TCE sites are operation by the AARP Tax-Aide volunteers. Some sites also offer free help with Web-based tax prep software to file basic federal and state tax returns.

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