The final phase(s) in an investor's life cycle is the spending/gifting phase, during which wealth accumulated over many years of saving and investing is finally distributed to the owner and/or her beneficiaries. During this phase, capital preservation is paramount, although investing for growth is still a critical – though less important – piece of the puzzle.

Unlike in previous phases, where investing towards some goal was the primary concern, the spending/gifting phase places emphasis on preserving one's wealth as an income supplement and ultimately passing that wealth along to future generations. Estate planning, charitable giving and gifting all come to the fore during the spending/gifting phase.

In practical terms, the spending/gifting phase is the most difficult to navigate, as market fluctuations, interest rate movements, inflation, tax law changes and a host of other potential pitfalls can throw a monkey wrench into even the best laid of plans. As such, whereas one might have skated through with a do-it-yourself approach during the accumulation phase and consolidation phases, seeking out the help of competent attorneys, accountants and fee-only financial planners is critical in ensuring sound strategy. (For more on this, read Skipping-Out on Probate Costs and Gifting Your Retirement Assets to Charity.)

This question was answered by Justin Bynum

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