If you’ve been to a gym or the produce section of a grocery store over the past few days, you know that January is a great time for setting goals for improving your health. While those of us at The Retirement Network can’t motivate you to stick to your workout regimen or eat more vegetables, we can help you improve your financial health. That’s why we put together a list of five tasks we would like to see all of our clients accomplish in the new year.
Review and update your estate planning documents: Every few years it is important to review your will, trusts, healthcare power of attorney, and other estate planning documents to make sure they still meet your goals and family situation. For a more comprehensive list of the documents that everyone should have in place, regardless of your net worth, see our article “Why Every Investor Needs an Estate Plan.”
Check your beneficiaries on your tax-advantaged accounts: When you establish a tax-advantaged account, such as an IRA, a 401(k), or a 529 college savings plan, you have to designate a beneficiary (i.e., who will receive the assets upon your death). In a lot of cases, especially for accounts that were set up decades ago, these designations were made before spouses, children, or grandchildren came into the picture. Review these designations to make sure they still reflect your current situation.
Review insurance policies: Your insurance needs change as you progress through life. For example, if you recently redecorated your home, you might need more personal property coverage. If your children are no longer living in the house, you might not want them covered on your auto policy. If your spouse decided to be a stay-at-home parent, you might want to get more life insurance or disability insurance on yourself. Regardless of what changes have happened in your life, you want to make sure you have the type and level of coverage that fit your needs.
Look into refinancing: Mortgage rates have been at historically low levels for most of the past five years. But now that the Fed has begun raising interest rates, mortgage rates may begin increasing, too. If you haven’t refinanced in a while, now may be a good time to see what kind of rates are available for you.
File your taxes sooner rather than later: The deadline for filing your tax return is April 15, but there are several benefits to filing well before then. First of all, if you’re expecting to receive a refund, it’s better to get that money sooner rather than later. Secondly, filing early is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from tax-refund fraud. This is an increasingly common form of fraud where a criminal who has access to your Social Security number and date of birth files a fraudulent return on your behalf and diverts the refund to his or her bank account.
At The Retirement Network we are here to help you look into any of these issues and cross them off of your 2016 to-do list. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Or you can bring up these questions during your annual meeting with us. In the meantime, we’ll see you on the treadmill and in the produce section.