Spring is officially here….finally! Even though yesterday looked more like January with blowing snow, the calendar says it is spring. With spring comes spring cleaning. We should also look to do some tidying-up in our financial world, as well. Here are a few tips to spruce up your 2014.
1. Complete your taxes!
If you haven’t already filed your taxes, get them done. Remember the taxes you are filing belong to last year. The numbers and information are history. We are looking backwards when we prepare last year’s taxes, and, if you want to be financially successful, we need to look forward.
2. Tidy up your safe or safety deposit box
Are your documents safe? Are your estate planning documents (and other important documents) protected against fire and flood damage? If you don’t have these documents in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box, it’s time to act.
Here’s a list (at least a few) of the documents you will want protected:
- Estate planning documents and trusts
- Life insurance policies
- Deeds (home)
- Auto titles
- Home, auto, and umbrella insurance policies
- Access info (passwords, web addresses)
Hint: it’s important to have copies of these documents saved electronically and securely backed up to the cloud, as well.
3. Are your beneficiary designations up to date
Have you reviewed your beneficiary designations lately? This often forgotten aspect of planning is extremely important and should be reviewed. Check designations on all retirement accounts, POD or TOD accounts, as well as, the titling of joint accounts. Don’t forget to include a contingent beneficiary in case your primary predeceases you.
4. Do your estate planning appointees know their job?
If you created (or amended) a will, health care power of attorney or any other estate planning document, do the people appointed to positions know their job…or even know they are appointed? If you provide guardianship of your children to a family member through your will, it’s important that the family member 1. know this, and 2. understand your wishes.
The most tragic circumstances can be compounded by poor planning and surprises. Do the work on the front end and the folks impacted by your passing will be grateful…..plus, your wishes will be carried out more efficiently.
While it’s spring and while we’re cleaning, we should take a few minutes to make sure our financial house is in order. Knowing you have accomplished these tasks may help you sleep as much as a days’ worth of work in the yard….just without all the spring allergies!