Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Holidays, and Year End Thoughts

Courtesy, Griswold Family.
Another year is almost in the books. As we all spend more than we probably should on gifts, tacky holiday sweaters, and those gifts you thought you bought for someone else but just decided to keep, it is always good to sit back, reflect, and make sure your affairs are in order for 2013.

Before you kidnap your boss and his wife, because that Christmas bonus for your new pool didn't come through this year, let's go through a checklist:

  1. Are your estate planning affairs (wills, trusts, powers of attorney) in order?
  2. Have you checked and reviewed beneficiary designations on bank accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement plans? (and paid premiums so your plans won't lapse.)
  3. Have you properly documented all your potential tax savings and have you filed any calendar year tax returns?
  4. Have you finalized and documented all charitable contributions for the calendar year?
  5. Have you contributed to an employee sponsored pension (or 401K), or maxed out your contribution to an IRA/Roth IRA? (It's one of the last good deals out there, if you can spare the money).
  6. Have you set up a designation of guardian for any minor children, in case something happens to you?
  7. Have you inventoried any safe deposit box, personal safe, or other location where you keep valuables, and have a copy stored off site?
  8. Have you digitized or copied important financial and personal documents, family pictures, and the like (...your itunes library) in case you need a backup?
  9. Are you travelling? Have a backup copy of your passport and other essential documents (I email a scanned copy to myself, where I can access it via the internet if I ever need it) and checked with credit card companies and cell phone carriers so you don't get his with surprise fees?
  10. It is getting down to the wire, but have you thought of gifting or utilizing the current estate and gift tax exemption amounts that expire at year end? (Good luck finding a lawyer to work on this between now and then).
Most importantly, enjoy the holidays. Be good to each other, even though times are tough all around, and there might not be as many gifts under the tree as in years past. Don't even THINK the words Fiscal Cliff. 

And if the whole Mayan Apocalypse thing is real, (which, even the Mayan's don't care about) then thank you for spending some of your last days reading our website.

See you on the other side, one way or another.


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