Planning for Partial Retirement

What to do now to prepare for the transition

If you want to keep working, only on a less demanding schedule, you’re not alone. Many people these days are considering a “partial retirement.” According to a University of Michigan study, 20 percent of those ages 65 to 67 consider themselves partially retired, while in 1960 this group was nonexistent[1]. The reasons for this trend vary: Some partial retirees need to prolong income to support their lifestyle, but others simply enjoy their work and don’t want to stop[2]. Can you participate in this trend? Possibly—but it takes planning. To help you clarify your goals and how to reach them, consider drafting a partial retirement plan.

The process of retiring, especially partially, is complicated for medical professionals, largely because of their practices. If you’re the owner of a private practice, a partial retirement must be planned well in advance, and generally is more successful if there is a planned duration[3]. But whether you’re negotiating with partners to scale back, looking for possible buyers to take over your practice or considering moving into an entirely different part-time job, planning is crucial. Consider the following questions and discuss them with your business and life partners. Then share the answers with your accountant and/or financial professional.

  • Do you want to change jobs, or stay at the same job and reduce hours?
  • Have you made a financial plan that takes into account the reduced compensation resulting from fewer hours?
  • Have you spoken with your financial advisor to prepare for partial retirement?
  • Have you communicated your plans to your life partner and your business partners?

Once you’ve discussed these questions with all the players, the next step is to sit down with your accountant or financial professional and draft an actual plan for your proposed retirement. This plan should cover financial matters, including how much you expect to earn and how that will cover your living expenses; work responsibilities including scheduling, such as on-call hours, regular hours worked and patients taken on; the expected duration of this arrangement; how a change in work habits will affect the ownership of the practice; and a clearly stated plan for the eventual transition to complete retirement[4].

All of the above goes double if you’re in a solo practice and plan to eventually sell or hand down your practice to the next generation. Preparing a business for sale takes years if you want to get the best price, and both you and your patients will benefit from long-term planning.

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Important Legal Disclosures and Information

  1. http://blogs.marketwatch.com/encore/2013/11/15/the-rise-of-the-partial-retirement/

  2. http://www.benefitspro.com/2013/11/18/more-americans-opting-for-partial-retirement

  3. http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/content/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/exit-and-succession-planni?page=full

  4. http://www.thehealthcaregroup.com/PDF/92839.pdf

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