Investors should ask advisors what rates of returns they are using for stocks and bonds within the projections. I suggest being conservative. Investors should consider income taxes in their projections as income taxes play a large role in what after tax income will be to support their cash flow.
Q: What are some common misconceptions people have when it comes to qualified retirement plans?
Coppa: The most common misconception people have with regard to their 401(k) plans is that they believe it is not worth it because their company doesn't match their contribution. This could not be farther from the truth. Regardless of the company match (which would be nice) it still makes sense to contribute whether it is for tax-deferred growth on a traditional 401(k) or for tax-free growth on a Roth 401(k). It is the most beneficial way to save for retirement.
Many investors also may claim that since their 401(k) does not allow for individual stock purchases, they rather invest outside their 401(k). I would recommend that someone first contribute to a 401(k) diversifying across the funds offered within the plan and any excess cash be invested in a taxable account where individual stock purchases can be made.
Q: What mistakes do you see when people look to rollover an existing IRA or past qualified plans to a new self-directed plan?
Coppa: The most common mistake investors make within their 401(k) is the improper allocation of their contributions. All too often you see someone who either has their money all in a cash account taking no risk or all allocated in one or two funds taking on too much risk.
Some plans are offering default allocations so investors do not take too much or too little risk depending on their age. Investors are sometimes overwhelmed or just don't take the time to allocate their contributions.
Also, many investors have old 401(k) plans from former employers and they fail to pay any attention to their plan balances, the allocation, changes to the investment offerings, etc. We usually recommend rolling the old 401(k) to an IRA for more control.
Many people even forget about their old 401(k) because they no longer work for the former employer or no longer have access to the company benefits website. Finally just setting an allocation is not enough.
(Read more: 401(k) plans are underfunded)
Individuals also need to periodically rebalance the current contributions as the market , over time, will alter the asset allocation. Investors may be taking on too much or too little risk as a result of market moves even though you set your asset allocation for contributions.
Q: When do you start to discuss long-term-care insurance costs with clients? Is there a "good time" for someone to look to purchase LTC coverage?
Coppa: LTC insurance is a tricky subject. The premiums for many of those insured, who purchased policies years ago, have increased over recent years. Basically, insurance companies have seen people living longer and the cost of care has increased dramatically relative to their projections made years ago.
In fact, many companies no longer even offer LTC insurance. For people considering LTC, I recommend considering it in their late 50s when premiums may not be as high as compared to waiting until their late 60s. It also makes sense to get LTC coverage when your health may be better. Many people also look to obtain LTC from their employer group plan. I suggest these people inquire as to the options at the time of termination or retirement from the company and their ability to convert the policy to an individual plan.
Q: When should people start to think about taking Social Security benefits?
Coppa: Social Security benefits can also be fairly tricky. People should start to consider Social Security when they near 60 years old. Not that they will begin their benefit at that time but they should begin to understand their options so they can make informed decisions.
Full retirement age and receipt of full benefits depends on someone's year of birth. Full retirement age is between 65 and 67. For baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 full retirement age is 66. The earliest you can receive benefits is age 62 but benefits will be reduced between 20 percent and 30 percent, depending on someone's year of birth.
(Read more: A look at retirement for baby boomers)
Delaying your receipt of benefits can increase your income by 8 percent per year of delay after the age someone is eligible for full benefits.
Finally a spouse who has not earned as large a benefit as their spouse may be better off taking 50 percent of their spouses benefit if it is greater than their own
So there is a lot of detail to taking Social Security benefits. The key is to start early to think about it. It's important to review the annual Social Security statement showing the anticipated benefit and consider one's cash flow needs, spousal eligibility and also life expectancy to make an informed decision as to whether to start early, at full retirement, or to delay until age 70.
—By Jim Pavia, CNBC.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @jimpavia.