2020 Financial Resolutions
November 18th, 2019
The new year is a perfect time to review and update your financial resolutions. Here are some things to consider as you plan for 2020 and beyond.
To begin, you have to know what you are working with.
- Inventory assets. Your estate plan will have to dispose of everything you own, otherwise the state's law of intestacy will apply. This includes bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, and business interests. Don't overlook insurance policies and retirement plan benefits. You'll need to know how as well as what: which property is owned jointly and which is owned outright.
- Identify beneficiaries. A surviving spouse and children are the usual persons to be protected. You may have more distant relatives to include, and you may want to remember some charities in your estate plan. Pet care needs after your death should not be overlooked, either.
- Check beneficiary designations. If you have an IRA or an employer-provided retirement plan, you already started on your estate planning when you made your beneficiary designations. These designations should be reviewed periodically, especially when there have been changes in family circumstances, such as a divorce.
- Weigh trust benefits. Trusts offer a wide range of financial benefits, which can be especially valuable when beneficiaries need help with money management. Trusts may be established and funded during life (the living trust) or in a will (the testamentary trust).
The next steps require the advice of an attorney and the execution of legal documents.
- Make a will. Your will contains instructions for the disposition of your property. It also nominates an executor or personal representative to manage the settlement of your estate.
- Make a living will. This document addresses your expectations for medical care at the end of your life. You may also want to execute a power of attorney for health care to identify an individual authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Execute a durable power of attorney. Identify an individual who can make financial decisions on your behalf.
- Create a document locator. Your family needs to know where your will and powers of attorney are kept. Your executor will need to know the location of all your other important papers, such as tax returns, account statements, property deeds, and insurance policies.
- Make arrangements for any safe-deposit boxes. Very often a safe-deposit box is closed upon death and cannot be opened until probate. That makes it a poor choice for storing documents that will be important at death.
These steps are not complete; they are simply suggestive of the ranges of issues that you will need to address in your estate planning.
Our Wealth Management Team delivers comprehensive solutions to help you achieve your goals. For more ideas and discussion, contact one of our Wealth Advisors or read more of our Wealth Management articles.