8 Questions Financial Advisers Hear Most Often

No one goes to a financial adviser if they already know everything there is to know about retirement planning and investing. So most people will, logically, come armed with a variety of questions when they meet with an adviser, especially if it is for the first time.

Financial advisers say they hear many of the same questions repeatedly from clients looking to build their retirement savings or live large in retirement. Most of the questions center around the ability of clients to retire, or the information needed to build wealth in the hopes of retiring comfortably.

This list of common questions for financial advisers was compiled with the help of Greg Hammer of Hammer Financial Group in Northwest Indiana, and Willie Schuette, financial coach with JL Smith Group in Ohio.

1. "Can I retire?"

This is really the ultimate question posed to most financial advisers. Clients want to know if they can afford to stop working. And if not now, when?

A financial adviser will help you determine how much money you have and how much more you'll need, based on your life expectancy and retirement plans. Both Hammer and Schuette said they often have to break the news to clients that they need to keep working, but that's better than telling them after they’ve retired that their money is likely to run out.

2. "Can you help me avoid paying taxes?"

The Internal Revenue Service can take a chunk out of your earnings, and often leave you with less cash than you originally planned. Financial advisers say they get a lot of questions about how to avoid a big tax hit, especially from retirees looking to preserve every dollar they have.

Advisers field many questions about Roth IRAs, which allow investors to invest money and withdraw it tax-free upon retirement. Many investors turn to financial advisers for advice on the tax implications of converting traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs. There are also a multitude of other tax questions relating to municipal bonds, inheritance taxes, and tax deductions.

3. "How can I preserve my money?"

Financial advisers say clients are generally aware that they need to invest more conservatively as they get older to protect against market downturns, but aren't quite sure how. What's the right investment mix based on their age, their money saved, and retirement date? What's the best way to go about shifting away from stocks to cash and bonds?

Hammer and Schuette say they get questions like this all the time, and are happy to walk clients through the best approach to keeping their retirement nest eggs secure.

4. "When should I collect Social Security?"

Retirees can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62, but will get larger monthly payments the longer they wait. Financial advisers will usually work with retirees to develop income sources that will allow them to delay collecting Social Security. But both Hammer and Schuette said their recommendations depend on the individual client's circumstances and financial needs. (See also: 5 Sobering Facts About Social Security You Shouldn't Panic Over)

5. "What's the deal with health care?"

With Congress working to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, many clients are wondering how their health care may be affected. Financial advisers have received this question from retirees who are not old enough to collect Medicare, as well as younger clients who don't get insurance through an employer. Advisers say they will walk clients through the cost of health care and the proper plans, as well as assist with setting up things like health savings accounts and emergency funds.

6. "I know I need life insurance, but what kind? And how much?"

Financial advisers say clients usually know they need some sort of life insurance to protect their families, but are often bewildered by the offerings. There's whole and term life insurance, and policies with varying sizes, lengths, and premiums. An adviser can help find the right kind of insurance for each person and their unique situation. (See also: Why Your Group Life Insurance Is Not Enough)

7. "My spouse just died. What do I do?"

Many people feel confident in their financial planning, until something changes in their life that throws things out of whack. A loss of a spouse or other major change cannot only be challenging emotionally, but it can drastically change a person's financial needs. There may be a sudden loss of income when a spouse dies, and there are endless concerns about taxes, life insurance, and even real estate.

8. "How do I take care of my heirs?"

For most people, the main financial goal is amassing enough wealth to last their full retirement, and there's not much consideration for the next generation. After all, saving for your own several decades of life after retirement is hard enough.

But Hammer and Schuette say there is a segment of clients seeking the best approach to passing wealth onto to their children and other relatives. Financial advisers say that in these cases, the conversation centers not only on amassing wealth, but taking into account things like inheritance taxes, and performing full, in-depth estate planning.

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