The beginning of a new year is often a time to assess where we are and where we think we are going. Given the complexities of modern life and particularly our financial situations, this can be a very good idea. The following is a list of some of the steps relating to your financial situation which your adviser encourages you to consider. Of course, you may already have taken many of these steps, but it never hurts to go over them and update as needed.
First, let’s consider what you will need to have in place both to protect your loved ones and your goals in the event something happens to you making it impossible to act effectively with regard to your finances.
- A valid will – naming heirs and desires for them upon your death
- A living will – outlining steps to be taken in the event of your illness or injury
- A durable power of attorney – naming a trusted person to handle your financial business or (often separately) make your medical decisions when you are unable to do so
- An up to date listing of your online existence: logins and passwords for various accounts and equipment, e-mail addresses and access, social media accounts and any automatic/recurring transactions with banks and vendors
Next, provision for financial protection for a variety of possibilities is always worth considering and often is absolutely necessary for your family. For example, you may want to review
- Life insurance coverage to protect loved ones from both the loss of income and services upon your unexpected death as well as to cover expenses related to death and resolving an estate.
- Disability insurance to help with the often substantial loss of income and high cost of care arising with the onset of a disabling injury or disease.
- Long term care insurance to help cover the very high costs of care which may be required by older persons.
Another related consideration here is the benefit you will receive from the creation and funding of an emergency fund available to cover several months of your usual expenses and provide liquidity for unexpected big ticket costs.
Finally, we come to the ordinary financial items you probably have in place already and may plan to add more funding on an ongoing basis. These items may include:
- A qualified retirement plan deferral program – such as 401(k), 403(b), IRA, SEP IRA and the like
- Roth IRA or 401(k) account for after tax contributions
- One or more Section 529 plans to fund higher education for family members
- An ABLE plan where needed for a special needs person
Given the changes with the new tax law, there is also the need to make sure that our withholding or estimated taxes are properly figured taking the new rates and brackets (and changed deductions) in this new year.
You may need an attorney or your adviser to handle some of these items while others are simple to put in place yourself. If you have any questions, talk with your financial adviser and move ahead to make the most of the new year.
George Chamberlin & Mentor RIA Consulting © 2017-2018