During a time of economic change, it is wise to review your financial plan to consider potential adjustments and improvements. Even if you reviewed your plan within the past year, the following tips can help determine whether additional revisions may be needed.
1. Review your estate plan.
The key component to an effective estate plan is to keep your documents up to date! If you don't have any estate planning documents, meet with an attorney to prepare one as soon as possible. This will ensure that that your intentions in distributing your assets are understood. If you simply need an update, this is generally an easy and affordable process, so don't hesitate.
2. Evaluate the plans for your retirement plan assets.
Those who have assets in a qualified retirement plan, such as a traditional IRA or 401(k) plan, should be aware of what happens to those assets when a plan participant dies. The short story is that these assets are taxable income to any individual who receives them, and the tax impact can be substantial.
3. Make use of opportunities to name beneficiaries.
Naming a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or retirement plan is simple but often overlooked or is out of date. Take the time to call your financial planner, group administrator or insurance agent to review your beneficiaries. You would be surprised that the person you designated 10 years ago may not be the person you would designate today.
4. There are two easy ways to give gifts tax-free and reduce your estate.
You may give up to $13,000 a year to an individual (or $26,000 if you're married and giving the gift with your spouse). You may also pay an unlimited amount of medical and education bills for someone if you pay the expenses directly to the institutions where they were incurred.
5. Don't forget to plan for incapacity. Have a Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive in place in case you are incapacitated through injury, sickness or old age. If you don't plan ahead in this respect, the Probate Court will need to appoint someone to manage your affairs and make health-care decisions for you, resulting in critical delay, additional expense and inconvenience for family members during an often stressful time.
(Source: Sharp Health Care Foundation)