June 01, 2017

Get the Most Out of Retirement By Sally Balch Hurme | A Conversation-Starter on Retirement Planning

Reviewed by Jennifer J. Rose

Book Review

Get the Most Out of Retirement

By Sally Balch Hurme

Americans are retiring younger than ever before, older than ever before, and often still thinking they’ll keep on working until they draw that last breath. But one constant remains: Never before have more Americans hit that certain age when some change in their lifestyle becomes imminent.

More than half of all law firm partners are Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, and a quarter of all lawyers are 65 and older. Adding in the members of the Silent Generation, born between roughly 1927 and 1945, who’re still practicing law, the practicing bar is a graying one—just like the clients we serve.

Sally Balch Hurme, a lawyer who is committed to issues faced by an aging population, has written the fourth book in the ABA/AARP Checklist series, Get the Most Out of Retirement: Checklist for Happiness, Health, Purpose, and Financial Security.

In 12 chapters filled with worksheets and checklists, Hurme creates a road map for navigating those years filled with major changes. Starting out with “Retire! 15 Key Steps to Getting the Most Out of Your Retirement,” she braces readers for the changes ahead, which are going to happen to everyone somewhere between getting that first AARP invitation in the mail and becoming Medicare-eligible.

The book goes on to cover adjusting to changing relationships, getting organized and cleaning out the clutter, working with a retirement team, embarking on a new adventure, deciding where to live, retiring abroad, taking control of financial matters, managing retirement plans and benefits, insuring a sound retirement, dealing with legal matters, and taking care of ourselves.

More aging in place, please

According to the AARP, a majority of older adults want to age in place, remaining in their own home or community. But Hurme devotes only a scant three paragraphs to staying put, while she expands upon the issues of living in continued-care retirement communities, assisted-living facilities, and nursing homes.

My own 91-year-old father is debating whether the installation of a chair lift in the same suburban home with an ocean view where he’s lived for the past 46 years could keep him from having to make a dreaded move to a place like The Villages. His life would have been much easier if he’d faced those issues a decade or so earlier.

Because aging in place involves more issues than just bathroom grab bars, the book would do better addressing the financial and tax aspects of selling and leaving a home, how to locate and maintain services at home, and the emotional and social impact of aging in place.

Also, I’ve lived in Mexico since I was in my mid-40s, so the chapter on retiring abroad took on a special significance for me. And since I’m constantly asked about the process of packing up and leaving the United States, I was impelled to look at this chapter with a critical eye.

Of course, entire books have been written about the topic, but Hurme covers the subject tidily, covering all bases, by suggesting that readers set their priorities, narrow down retirement destinations, explore residency requirements, figure out how to manage finances abroad, check access to health care, and, finally, prepare to leave.

Advice about storing a car and selling a house was useful, but it seemed basic and superfluous. Because most would-be expatriates’ moves abroad are more like gap years, a discussion of how to plan and prepare for something less than a permanent move would have been a helpful addition.

A necessary topic

This isn’t the definitive work on retirement planning, which would have to approach the length of the 20-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary to address every need, circumstance, and situation, but it’s a great start.

And what’s important is that it opens the conversation about retirement planning, a topic all too often avoided by potential retirees and those around them. An index would make this book far more useful than checklists about getting and staying fit with geotracking, tai chi, and chair aerobics and pledges to give up high fructose corn syrup for lentils and green tea.

Affordably priced at $19.95 (ABA member price: $15.95), this book isn’t just for lawyers. It’s ideal for gifts to clients, family members, friends, and just about anyone approaching that certain age. Get the Most Out of Retirement: Checklist for Happiness, Health, Purpose, and Financial Security belongs in the hands of everyone born before the 1967 Summer of Love.

Reviewed by Jennifer J. Rose

Jennifer J. Rose lives in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico and was editor in chief of GPSolo Magazine. She also edited How to Capture and Keep Clients: Marketing Strategies for Lawyers and Effectively Staffing Your Law Firm and is a contributing editor to Internet Law Researcher, the list manager for Solosez, and a member of the ABA Senior Lawyers Division Book Board.