There are lots of reasons you should estimate how long you are likely to live. It may affect when you retire… whether you buy an annuity or long-termcare insurance…and how big a nest egg you should build.

Your estimate will be more accurate if you go beyond the life spans of your parents or the overly simplistic Social Security calculator. Instead, use life-expectancy calculators that analyze personal factors and draw on a database of deceased individuals with similar factors…

Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator, created by the medical director of the New England Centenarian Study. It asks dozens of questions about your lifestyle, education, medical and family history, even the air quality where you live and whether you floss daily.

Actuaries Longevity Illustrator calculator, developed by the American Academy of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries, compares your answers for various questions—such as when do you plan to retire and what’s your health status—to databases used by insurers setting premiums for annuity products to provide probabilities of how long you will live. Example: Depending on how he answers certain questions, a 57-year-old man in good health might have a 78% chance of living to 80…a 60% chance of living to 85…a 38% chance of living until 90…and an 18% chance of living until 95.

Once you decide on a life-expectancy number you feel comfortable with, take these additional steps…

Couples within 10 years of each other’s age typically should use the life-expectancy number of the spouse expected to live longest.

When financial planning, singles should add an extra five years to the life-expectancy estimate…and couples an extra five to 10 years. That provides a cushion in case you live longer than average.

Have an extreme-age contingency plan. Think now about what you might do if you hit your life-expectancy age and are still in good health but running low on financial assets.

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