If you’re approaching retirement, chances are you are starting to think about whether you have enough superannuation to cover your living costs and fund a comfortable retirement.

In light of the violent sell off in the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) today, protecting the nest-egg which you have so diligently saved for over decades becomes all the more important.

One important way to protect your savings is to assess whether the stocks you own are the right ones for retirement.

For example, your portfolio might currently own growth stocks such as CSL Limited (ASX: CSL).

CSL will no doubt have been a solid driver of portfolio growth, but an investor approaching retirement needs to determine if it’s the right “type” of stock to own for the future.

With a trailing dividend yield of just 1.6% and a high price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of around 30 times, CSL is arguably not the type of stock that investors in their 60’s should own if their primary concern is capital preservation.

Rather, at this point in an investment lifecycle, investors may be better off holding defensively positioned, high yielding stocks such as the following three…

AGL Energy Ltd (ASX: AGL) is one of Australia’s leading generators and suppliers of electricity, AGL provides an essential utility service. The benefits for investors of owning utility companies such as AGL are multiple.

For one, a utility will usually enjoy a very wide customer base. In AGL’s case, it has over 3.7 million customers.

Secondly, revenues are reliable and predictable thanks to the non-discretionary nature of their service.

In my opinion AGL certainly meets the criteria for defensive.

On the second criteria of dividends, history can be a good guide. Looking back over the past decade and AGL has consistently grown its yearly fully franked dividend. In FY 2007 the total dividend was 35.5 cents per share (cps), last year it grew to 68 cps.

Based on FY 2016 dividends paid, AGL is trading on a yield of 4%.

APA Group (ASX: APA) is Australia’s leading owner of natural gas transmission infrastructure, primarily pipelines.

APA’s long-life assets attract long term contracts from customers which provides reliable, regular and predictable revenues for APA. Like AGL, APA’s business is defensively positioned.

APA also has a solid long-term track record of growing its dividend, although the corporate structure means that the dividends are unfranked.

Based on the FY 2016 pay out, APA is offering shareholders a yield of 4.7%.

Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) isn’t a utility, however, its business model does exhibit many defensive traits.

For instance, Westfield enters into long term lease agreements with its tenants which provide reasonably consistent and predictable revenues. Importantly, thanks to the group’s extensive property portfolio, Westfield is diversified by customer type, and location with Westfield owning 35 malls across the USA, UK and Europe.

Changes to the corporate structure of the Westfield empire over the years make historical comparison somewhat complicated. However, based on dividends paid in 2015 (the group operates on a calendar year basis), the stock trades on an unfranked yield of 3.5%.

Forget companies cutting dividends like BHP and Rio Tinto when you can get GROWING dividends.

This "dirt cheap" company. is growing like gangbusters, and trading on a fat dividend yield, FULLY FRANKED. With interest rates set to stay at these low levels for years to come, for income-hungry investors, including SMSFs, this ASX company could be the "Holy Grail" of dividend plays for 2016. Click here to gain access to this comprehensive FREE investment report, including the name of this fast growing ASX dividend share. No credit card required.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Motley Fool’s #1 Dividend Pick for 2017!

With its shares up 155% in just the last five years, this ‘under the radar’ consumer favourite is both a hot growth stock AND our expert’s #1 dividend pick for 2017. Now we’re pulling back the curtain for you... And all you have to do to discover the name, code and a full analysis is enter your email below!

Simply enter your email now to receive your copy of our brand-new FREE report, “The Motley Fool’s Top Dividend Stock for 2017.”

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our https://www.fool.com.au/financial-services-guide">Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.

Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.