The end of the year is a good time to make sure your financial house is in order. Everyone has their own process but the common denominator of a successful financial review is that it is comprehensive and repeatable.
Here are some suggestions of things you may consider including in your annual review process:
You should periodically review all accounts that have a beneficiary designation such as; life insurance policies, 401(k) plans, IRAs, any accounts where you have POD (payable on death) or TOD (transfer on death) designations. Life changes such as birth of another child or death of a beneficiary necessitate that your money is passed on to the intended parties.
Review your current debt levels and amount you are paying. Rates are ever-changing and you should make sure that you take full advantage of any refinancing or debt consolidation opportunities.
Estate Planning Documents
- Is your will up to date?
- Who is listed on your health care power of attorney documents?
- Did you acquire property that needs to be funded into your family trusts?
- Do family members or the appropriate individual(s) know where/how to access your documents?
- Do you or your financial advisor have a reallocation plan in place, and if so, when was the last time any adjustments were made to your portfolio?
- What are your current investment fees and are they reasonable?
- If applicable, did I take all of my required distributions out of my retirement accounts?
- Do I have adequate coverage?
- Have my circumstances changed that I no longer need as much coverage (e.g. house paid off, kids self-sufficient, etc.)
- Does my existing policy have excess cash value that could be potentially used for long-term care
- Are my premiums reasonable?
It is amazing how many people don’t know what percentage of pay they are contributing to their workplace retirement plan. Between your contributions and your employer’s are you saving 10-15% of your salary each year. If not a good plan is to increase your deferral percentage each January 1st by 1% until you’ve reached your stated goal. This strategy insures you don’t remain stagnate in your savings without feeling the pain of a large increase.
Do you get a large sum of money back at tax time or have to pay a lot to the IRS each year? If so a changes to the amount withheld from your paycheck may be in order.
If your statements summarize the full year’s activities it is a good idea to keep the year-end statement and shred the quarterly or monthly statements you received during the year. This will cut down the volume of paperwork in your files and make it much easier to find information when you need it.