In this paper, we develop a conceptual framework to describe an individual's preparations for later life. Situated in the life course perspective, this provides a framework that invites a more comprehensive and systematic study of preparations for later life. It describes a dynamic process that portrays the interplay between social structure and human agency. Through its consideration of collective preparations (the public protection programs offered by the state), individual preparations (financial and non-financial), and the interplay between the two, this framework provides fresh insight into the existing literature on retirement planning, the timing of retirement, savings, and consumption behaviour in later life. Moreover, the model may be used to structure research questions, to guide policy decision making and to point the direction for the design and content of future research studies. While the purpose of this paper is primarily the development of a conceptual model, we draw on empirical examples from the 1991 Survey of Aging and Independence (SAI) to illustrate some aspects of the model to Canada. We conclude by suggesting a number of research and questions that may be generated from the model.