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Coronavirus market plunge is making people question if they should sell stocks and run to cash

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You have questions, and we have answers when it comes to managing money and investments through the middle of a pandemic. Many older Americans are particularly concerned about their ability to maintain their lifestyle in a recession. Thus, the question of whether to sell stocks and run to cash is not uncommon, especially for retirees.

To help you navigate this uncertainty, I've been talking to financial experts about this concern. While it is best to speak to your own financial advisor and team of experts about your specific financial situation, here are some tips to think about right now.

My husband and I are 78 years old and have several million in the stock market. What's the downside of taking it out now so we will know that we have enough to live on?

1. Reevaluate your financial obligations.

For the next few months, the Bank of Grandma and Grandpa may need to close. "Some retirees have been known to give excessive amounts of money to children and grandchildren and have a high travel budget," said certified financial planner Lazetta Braxton, co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners. "This is the season for covering essentials and medical expenses."

2. Understand your asset allocation, risk and income.

Retirees should have "a clear understanding of their allocation between stocks, bonds and cash to determine how much risk they are exposed to and the variance of income based on the underlying investments," said Braxton, who is also a member of the CNBC Financial Advisors Council.

"Having a well-diversified portfolio that fits an individual's risk portfolio should be the focus. Times like this are great opportunities to reevaluate their risk profile," said Ken Couser, director of financial planning at Janney Montgomery Scott. "A complete financial plan will include an appropriate allocation to cash or cash equivalents. These types of allocations and equivalents allow individuals to ride out the markets during downturns."

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3. Selling investments in a down market locks in losses.

Think about what the investment strategy you had before the market downtown and follow the plan. "Adjustments may need to be made, but not before evaluating the plan's objectives to identify where those changes might need to take place, Couser said. Reducing exposure to stocks may make investors feel better now, but will come at a price.

"It will lock in their losses and cause them to incur taxes, as they likely still have profits on their taxable accounts," said Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Engines and a CNBC contributor.

4. Investing in stocks can help ensure your retirement lifestyle keeps up with inflation.

Most retirees need exposure to stocks to make sure their lifestyle keeps up with inflation, but that's not where they should have the money they need to live on today. "Retirees should view the meaningful portion of conservative fixed income in their portfolio as their income engine in the short-term while their portfolio's stock exposure is designed to generate income years from now," said certified financial planner Tim Maurer, director of advisor development at Buckingham Wealth Partners and a member of the CNBC Financial Advisors Council.

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5. Before doing anything rash, talk to a financial advisor.

Don't panic — and don't go through it alone. If you don't have a financial plan, work with a financial advisor to establish one with the appropriate risk profile and objectives. "Having the appropriate plan in place allows individuals to see past the market swings and evaluate what, if any, effect these swings have on their retirement goals," Couser said.

"A good advisor can offer a variety of options, such as reducing the allocation, setting up a dollar-cost averaging rebuy strategy, or a rebalancing approach to their current portfolio," Edelman said. "Running to cash is not the only, and not likely the best, answer."

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