The MetLife Mature Market Institute has available to consumers, especially those who are not in "traditional families," some tips on how to make the right choices in preparing for retirement, notwithstanding the challenges they face.   "These tips are designed to provide guidance to people in different family situations prepare financially for their own retirement, as well as for the financial future of their children, stepchildren and ex-spouse, if applicable," says Sandra Timmermann, director of the Institute. "There are many financial variables for those in 'blended families'--those with two parents and at least one child from a previous relationship. Many may be paying for college tuition, weddings and health and dental care. They are responsible, not only for their own children, but for their stepchildren as well, further taxing their ability to save for retirement and to have adequate lifetime income. Single women have additional challenges, since they must depend solely on their own resources."   According to MetLife, these guidelines include the following: for blended families, determine whether or not your ex-spouse will rely on you for support in retirement; communicate on matters related to your children and who will pay for college, a wedding, and health care; understand the laws in your state regarding asset division; and consider establishing a living trust to protect assets that are designated for your children to prevent an ex-spouse or anyone else from gaining access.   In addition, you can establish a bank account that is payable on death to a child, spouse, or any individual you designate to avoid possible probate, and when purchasing a home with your current spouse, consider who will be named on the deed, which affects how funds are distributed upon sale of the property.  Of course, if you or your spouse have children from a previous relationship, think about whether you want your new spouse to adopt your children or become a guardian to establish important rights related to care, parenting, and financial responsibility.   As to single women, know your risk tolerance, says MetLife. Since single women do not have a spouse with a second income, it's important to know what you can tolerate, and consider establishing a living trust to protect assets that are designated for your children. Trusts can be used for many purposes, such as child support, education, special needs, and medical.   Again, you can establish a bank account that is payable on death to a child or any individual you designate. Consider also obtaining a prenuptial agreement if you decide to marry, which may protect your assets for your children. If you have children and decide to remarry, consider whether or not you want your new spouse to adopt them or become a guardian. Make sure your Will designates who will care for your children.   Moreover, the survey points out that single women and those with blended families feel less prepared for retirement than their counterparts with traditional families. They say it is significantly more difficult for them to save for retirement and to make contributions to their retirement accounts. Fewer than half (42 percent) of single women own 401(k)s, compared with 58 percent of blended families and 70 percent of traditional families.

Roughly one in five blended families and single women (19 percent and 18 percent respectively) are concerned that they don't have safeguards to ensure that an ex-spouse will not lay claim to their income or savings meant for themselves or their children. Single women report specific challenges, including the fact that they lack the safety net of a second income that their married peers have. In addition, among survey respondents who are working, single women were more likely than their married counterparts to be working only part-time.   To receive a copy of the tip sheet, call (203) 221-6580 or e-mail: MatureMarketInstitute@metlife.com. The publication can also be accessed online at http://www.maturemarketinstitute.com/ under 'What's New.'     

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