Starting The New Year Off In A Positive Way

We are into the new year and have possibly made resolutions to improve certain aspects of our lives in one way or another.  One of the most common areas is with regard to finances.  So, if you are one of those resolution makers, let’s look at some things to consider:

First of all, take a look at your 2019 financial resolutions – were you able to accomplish those resolutions or did they get cast by the wayside?  Examine your progress, or lack thereof, and evaluate your savings and spending habits, set some realistic goals and consider any life changes which may have occurred or will be occurring. 

Remember to take advantage of contributions to whatever type of retirement plan you may have.  Check with your employer for employer-sponsored plans or your financial advisor for IRA contributions.  Remember that if you are of a more seasoned in age, you may be able to make catch up contributions. 

If you have a Flexible Spending Account through your employer and participate in the same, make sure you know how to take advantage of the Account with co-pays, medications, etc.  If you forget to use this benefit on the spot, familiarize yourself with ways to file claims for reimbursement. 

Take time to review your estate planning documents.  Many people think that this is something they don’t wish to think about because it deals with death, but think again.  Estate planning includes powers of attorney and health care directives which are effective during lifetime and have no effect post-death.  Also, you may have a living trust or may be able to benefit from a living trust.  Make certain the parties you have designated as executors or agents are still desired or able to handle these duties.  If you have special situations in your family – a special needs individual, a family member in an unsteady marriage, a family member which substance abuse issues or financial issues, you may wish to make certain that your estate plan reflects your intentions and protects the potential individual who may benefit from your estate. 

Laws change as does life and as a general rule, you should review your estate planning documents at least every five years.  While older documents may set forth your intentions, there may be instances where a new document or two may better serve you if revised. 

Also, it never hurts to review any life insurance policies you may have.  A review of the beneficiary designations on insurance and retirement-type assets can proactively avoid any potential problems that may exist with incorrect or out-of-date beneficiary designations.             

Let’s be positive and proactive in the new year.

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Kay Sowa

About the Author

Kay Sowa is a paralegal in the Trusts and Estates Group at Capehart & Scatchard, P.A. She is an IRS Enrolled Agent, an Accredited Estate Planner®, and a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. She oversees the trust and estate administration practice for the firm. She is an accomplished author and lecturer who has frequently spoken on behalf of a number of organizations including the National Business Institute and the Institute of Paralegal Education.

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