|by Bruce W. Helmer, RPC (President)
The coming of a new year provides a good opportunity for you to take a fresh look at your financial situation. Doing so can ensure that the areas that are most important to you and your family are adequately covered.
Proper financial planning involves more than simply investing your dollars in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. Your financial advisor can assist you in assessing your entire financial situation. These are some of the areas that you and your advisor may wish to evaluate:
Insurance. Will your family continue to enjoy the same standard of living if something were to happen to you or your spouse? You may wish to reevaluate your life insurance coverage to ensure that it is adequate to provide for your family and to assure that your children receive the education they need to succeed in life. You might also verify that you have adequate disability and health insurance to pay the bills if you become ill or disabled for an extended period of time. Your financial advisor can help you to determine the level of insurance coverage that you and your spouse need to protect your family in case unexpected events occur.
Asset allocation. Do you have the proper allocation of stocks, bonds, and other investments in your portfolio in light of your age and financial goals? The closer you get to retiring and to reaching your retirement savings goals, the more conservative you may want to become with your asset allocation. Your financial advisor can help you to determine a proper asset combination based on your financial situation, as well as your goals and objectives.
Estate planning. Do you and your spouse have a will and an estate plan that will properly distribute your assets to your family, friends, and favorite charities? A trust can help you and your beneficiaries shelter your assets from taxes and make it easier for your assets to transfer directly to your beneficiaries. You might also want to complete other estate planning-related documents, such as a power of attorney and a health care proxy. Such documents grant authority to another person to make legal or medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to make those decisions on your own. You might also consider creating a living will, which stipulates the level of care you prefer if you become incapacitated. Your financial advisor can help you to set up an estate plan that will make life easier for you and your family, both medically and financially, in the years to come.
Retirement account. Have you contributed the maximum amount to your tax-sheltered retirement account? Your financial advisor can show you how a retirement account can help save on taxes now and enhance your investments tax-exempt until you retire.
College savings. Will your children have the money they need to attend the college or university of their choice? The sooner you begin to save, the easier it will be to finance your children’s college costs. Your financial advisor can explain how to set up a tax-sheltered 529 college education savings plan or another plan to help cover your children’s higher education costs.