Quarantine, A Time for Financial Planning: Part 1
At ISG our firm strives to improve every aspect of your financial health, not simply investment returns. As you may know, comprehensive financial planning is a valued service that our experienced financial advisors and financial planners offer. Financial planning covers a range of issues that together make up your financial health. Over the next few weeks, our financial planning team is highlighting a few timely topics. The three articles are unique in that each can be addressed during this time of quarantine and social distancing.
As a Final Act of Love, Plan Thoughtful
“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." Loretta Lynn’s classic lyrics ring true. Most days we do our best to avoid too much rumination on the subject of death. Consequently, estate planning seems to be a task perpetually on the backburner. But these forward-thinking decisions are important. They are plans you want to craft diligently. Your heirs and the executor of your estate — the person you choose to oversee that your wishes are carried out — will remember you kindly for your clarity of purpose. The alternative is an estate and probate maze for loved ones sometimes sparking a family feud.
To help, here are three key rules for planning your estate:
Name Beneficiaries Correctly
Accounts with beneficiaries supersede your will, so double-check they are in line with your wishes. Beneficiaries are on documents filed with your insurer, annuity provider, employer retirement accounts, IRA, and usually for brokerage accounts. Your advisor can check your current beneficiaries and help adjust things if needed. Accounts held in a trust are bound by the trust documents and will require updating through a trusted lawyer. Revisit beneficiary designations every 5-10 years alongside your wills and other estate planning documents.
Keep Estate Plans Current
Years or decades may pass between when an estate plan is devised and your death. A lot can change over time. If you divorced and never updated your will afterward, your ex could end up inheriting your worldly possessions. Children bring constant change, so be sure to keep current on your wishes for guardianship and your choice of executor. What's more, tax laws may have changed, and old trusts and plans may be out of sync with current rules. Long story short, reviewing your will regularly makes sense.
Share Vital Information
What do your loved ones need to access when (not “if”) you aren’t around to help? Be sure your executor and heirs have a list of accounts and access to them, when the need arises. Wills, estate planning documents, and account access information (usernames and passwords) should be stored in a location that is known to your heirs. Encrypting and saving this information is best. Writing it down and storing it in a safe deposit box is next best. Online password keepers are plentiful and can be a time saver. Most take a small fee so compare 1Password, MSecure, or Keeper to start. Mortgage documents, the deed to your home, your last mortgage payment and paperwork on your car are best kept in a fire-proof safe or bank deposit box. If they are at the bank, remember to arrange access for your executor.
If you want to leave a parting gift to those you love, stress-free last wishes is a thoughtful final act.