Spring has finally arrived in Georgia, along with the annual ritual of “spring cleaning.” It also means tax time, which creates the perfect opportunity to “clean house” and get our financial affairs in order. Following a few simple steps can make cleaning your financial house relatively painless.
First, take an inventory of your assets and liabilities. It sounds intimidating, but it is just creating a list of what you own and what you owe. It provides a snapshot of where you stand financially and can be a great tool to compare your financial health from year to year.
Second, review your financial accounts. Make a list of all financial accounts, where they are held, and the contact information for financial advisors, accountants, or brokers. Can any accounts (or safe deposit boxes) be consolidated or closed? Are you paying too much in fees? Are beneficiary designations current?
Third, locate and review all insurance policies. Check your policies to make sure they have not lapsed or expired, you have sufficient coverage, and all beneficiaries are current. Consult with your agent or trusted professional advisor about life or health changes affecting the amount of coverage you need.
Fourth, locate and review your estate planning documents. These documents may include a will, trust, power of attorney, advanced healthcare directives, or living will. Have there been any recent life changes in the family like a birth, death, marriage, or divorce? If it has been more than five years since you prepared or updated your documents, or if you don’t have any, consult with an estate planning lawyer to make sure you have the proper documents in place to protect your loved ones and your legacy.
Finally, if you have minor or special needs children, is there a plan in place to provide for their care in an emergency? An emergency child protection plan can appoint a temporary guardian while you are incapacitated, or after death until a permanent guardian is appointed, so that the child would not be placed in foster care.
While getting your “house in order” seems like work, a bit of effort now can save you and your loved ones from unnecessary stress, hassles, and expenses later.