It might have been years since you’ve played the game 20 Questions, but when you’re facing retirement you might expect your financial life to morph into a version of the game with dozens, even hundreds, of questions that must be dealt with. But I’ve worked through the decision to retire with both my parents in the past few years and you’d be surprised at how few questions really require resolution.

It’s a shorter-than-expected list of questions you’ll have — but they’re all very, very important. On top of that, many are confusing because of the dizzying array of options available, the conflicting advice that comes from different sources, and the difficulty of deciding who to trust for advice.

Enter Ray E. LeVitre, a certified financial planner and the author of "20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now." LeVitre’s list of decisions that must be faced, immediately, by those on the brink of retirement looks like a transcript from a very grown-up game of 20 Questions, ranging from No. 1: "Do I have enough money to retire now?" to No. 25: "What strategies should I use to ensure that my estate passes to my heirs and not to Uncle Sam?" (And, yes, that means you get five bonus questions!)

LeVitre’s approach is panic-reducing, in that it is systematic and unbiased. He sets forth a clear sequence of issues would-be retirees need to deal with and a clear set of actions steps for resolving them at a time when even the savviest individual might be experiencing a head-spinning blend of chaos, fear, excitement and uncertainty, especially in today’s market of depleted portfolios.

Book Review
Title: "20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now"
Author: Ray E. LeVitre
Publisher: Sphinx Publishing, 2010; 368 pages; $18.99

It might have been years since you’ve played the game 20 Questions, but when you’re facing retirement you might expect your financial life to morph into a version of the game with dozens, even hundreds, of questions that must be dealt with. But I’ve worked through the decision to retire with both my parents in the past few years and you’d be surprised at how few questions really require resolution.

It’s a shorter-than-expected list of questions you’ll have — but they’re all very, very important. On top of that, many are confusing because of the dizzying array of options available, the conflicting advice that comes from different sources, and the difficulty of deciding who to trust for advice.

Enter Ray E. LeVitre, a certified financial planner and the author of "20 Retirement Decisions You Need to Make Right Now." LeVitre’s list of decisions that must be faced, immediately, by those on the brink of retirement looks like a transcript from a very grown-up game of 20 Questions, ranging from No. 1: "Do I have enough money to retire now?" to No. 25: "What strategies should I use to ensure that my estate passes to my heirs and not to Uncle Sam?" (And, yes, that means you get five bonus questions!)

LeVitre’s approach is panic-reducing, in that it is systematic and unbiased. He sets forth a clear sequence of issues would-be retirees need to deal with and a clear set of actions steps for resolving them at a time when even the savviest individual might be experiencing a head-spinning blend of chaos, fear, excitement and uncertainty, especially in today’s market of depleted portfolios.

LeVitre exhorts readers to first decide: whether they have the funds to retire, whether they need a financial plan even at this late date (yes), and who they will look to for their financial advice (a fee-only adviser, of course, chosen in accordance with LeVitre’s guidelines and interview questions).

Once the first three big questions are answered, LeVitre suggests readers look at the other 22 questions as modular, to be read in the order that makes sense based on the reader’s personal timeline, priorities and pressing issues.

The first section of the book continues to explore and help readers determine their retirement readiness, evaluating assets available against projected expenses to come to a decision.

Section 2 explores various potential sources of income, from Social Security to pensions, portfolios and retirement accounts, and helps readers understand their options for taking distributions from the various sources.

Section 3 equips readers to build out a successful financial plan and investment strategy, as they’ll need to ensure the continued growth and security of their assets throughout retirement.

Sections 4 and 5 cover and guide readers through the critical miscellany of health care, long-term care, mortgage and estate planning.

There is a very particular audience who will achieve very particular advantages from reading and, more accurately, using this book: people who want or need to retire — soon.

If you’re coming up within a couple of months or years of when you’d like tor entire, this book will help you move out of the wandering in the "Do I have enough?" wilderness phase and into the relative calm of taking orderly steps to figure out what you need, whether it’s enough (or not), and then making the rest of the plans you’ll need to cover all your lifestyle bases for a financial crisis-free retirement.

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