There is good news and bad news about the way Americans are planning for their retirement years. The good news is they are aware of the importance of creating a lifetime stream of income. The bad news is their awareness falls short when it comes to accurately estimating how long their lifetimes will last.

Let me summarize what LIMRA found when researching this issue. When we asked pre-retirees and retirees to list their most important income priorities for retirement, lifetime income topped the list. So you don't have to sell them on that–they know it's the key element for a secure retirement.

Where the disconnect happens is when you ask them how many years they expect to live in retirement. This is a critical issue in developing a financial plan that will ensure lifetime income. If they get it wrong, and underestimate their longevity, they are at risk of setting themselves up for retirement's worst-case scenario–still alive but with no more checks arriving in the mailbox.

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