The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a group that represents state insurance regulators, offers information on this coverage, including a free brochure, "A Shopper's Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance," that you can order.

4. Don't forget to include medical costs

Paying for health insurance before age 65, when you qualify for Medicare coverage, can be extremely costly.

But even once you qualify for Medicare, your expenses aren't over. Those age 65 and older spent an average of $4,888 per capita for deductibles, co-payments, premiums and other health care expenses not covered by insurance, according to the 2004 National Health Expenditure Survey. That's more than twice as much as the typical nonelderly adult, the survey found.

It's not unusual for a couple, even in relatively good health, to spend $1,000 or more a month on these costs.

The average expenditure climbs with age: $3,851 for those 65 to 74, $5,066 for those 75 to 84 and $8,304 for those 85 and older.

5. Deal with your debt

Ideally, you'll enter retirement with no debt, but you definitely want to blitz any credit card balances or other consumer loans before you get there.

If you're having trouble paying off this toxic debt, contact a legitimate credit counselor (one affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling) or a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

6. Draw up a retirement budget

Now that you're almost at the finish line, you can replace the usual retirement rules of thumb ("plan on spending 70% to 80% of your pre-retirement income") with concrete figures.

Not sure if your budget will work? You might take it on a trial run for a few months by living with it as if you really were retired (just keep showing up for work).

7. Review your Social Security and pension options

You can draw on Social Security as early as age 62, but the longer you wait to start taking payments, the bigger your benefit checks will be.

Signing up at 62 basically means locking in a lower benefit for the rest of your life. If you don't expect to live very long or you can't work and need the money, then by all means, sign up. Otherwise, think twice.

If you'll continue working, definitely hold off on Social Security payments unless you won't be making much. If you sign up before full retirement age and earn more than a certain amount -- $14,640 for 2012 -- you'll have to give up $1 in Social Security benefits for every $2 you earn.

You also should check with current and former employers to see if you qualify for any traditional pension benefits and, if so, how much you can expect. You may have a choice on how to take the money: as a lump sum, as a lifelong string of monthly checks or as a string of monthly checks that lasts for your lifetime plus that of your spouse.

If you're thinking of taking the lump-sum option, talk to your human-resources department about how it would calculate the amount. You also might want to schedule an appointment with a fee-only financial planner who's experienced in handling pension payouts for some advice on your situation.

8. Check your withdrawal rate

The consensus among financial planners has been that you shouldn't withdraw more than 3% to 4% of your retirement savings the first year, though that has its critics.

The earlier you retire and the longer you expect to live, the more conservative you'll want to be about tapping your savings.

9. Consider an immediate annuity

For clients who don't have traditional pensions and who can swing the cost, financial planner Sheryl Garrett, the author of "Just Give Me the Answers," recommends taking a portion of their nest eggs and buying an immediate annuity. This is an insurance product that promises you a lifetime stream of income in exchange for a lump-sum investment.

When combined with Social Security checks, an immediate annuity can help guarantee that you're able to pay your basic expenses regardless of how your other investments perform.