With the end of the year approaching, it is good time to review your estate plan and take care of any last minute financial chores before any new tax and estate planning laws take effect for the following year. Here are eight basic items to check off of your to-do list as the end of the year approaches:
Review your Current Retirement Accounts
With the stock market rebounding this year and other market indexes at all-time highs, it is important to revisit your current retirement accounts and consider reallocating your asset distribution within your retirement accounts. It is also a good chance to see if you are on track with your contributions for the year, especially if your employer matches your contribution to the account. Even if you can’t make the maximum this year, consider bumping up your contributions until the end of the year.
Prepare for Open Enrollment
With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, employers are trying harder than ever to cut down on healthcare benefits and costs. Consider renewing your usage year to date and your employment-based insurance enrollment materials. Compare and contrast any changes in your coverage.
Update Other Estate Planning Documents
This is also a great time to reflect on any events or life changes that have happened in the last year, and adjust your estate plan accordingly. This could mean adding or removing beneficiaries from accounts, heirs from your will or trust, or adjusting the allocations of the estate between existing members. Remember that an estate plan also includes retirement accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, and other assets besides your will and any trusts.
Set Up Retirement Plan if Self-Employed
Options for self-employed retirement plans include a simplified employee pension (SEP-IRA), a Solo 401(k), a SIMPLE IRA, or a pension plan. If you can establish a plan by the end of the year you can contribute up until you file your annual tax return next April.
Check Social Security Statements
The Social Security Administration recently announced plans to start mailing statements again after stopping the paper mail practice years ago. Make sure to review the statement to ensure that you have been given credit for all of the years that you worked and that you understand all of the benefits that you are entitled to receive.
Review and Update Old Pension and Retirement Accounts
Be sure that you are aware of any and all old retirement accounts or pensions that you had in previous jobs. If you find an old retirement account, consider what you wish to do with the funds. Most will allow you to roll it into a new employer plan or roll it into an IRA.
Review Investments and Strategies
Similar to reviewing the asset allocation in your retirement account, also review your current investment holdings in the markets. Check to see how your assets did in the market, and consider how much risk you want to take with your investments moving forward.
Create or Update the Estate’s Financial Plan
Whether you are in the earlier stages of your career or at the twilight of your retirement, you should sit down with an estate planning attorney and financial advisor to review your estate’s financial plan. Be sure that they know about your financial goals for you and what you would like to pass to your heirs.