As we come to the end of the calendar year, we get busy baking, wrapping gifts, hanging lights, and celebrating with family and friends. However, this also provides a natural time to review your financial plans and give yourself a financial checkup if you will. While it may not be the kind of thing that tops your “to do” list, it is important.
As you are looking at things that are calendar specific, for tax, charitable or other similar reasons, take time to look at where things are and make tweaks if appropriate. Perhaps you have experienced a significant life event like a change in your professional space, retirement, the death of a loved one, or the birth of a child. These are all reasons to review your portfolio as a financial checkup to make sure you are in keeping with your goals and desires.
Three-point sermons have become our hallmark and these three points are going to touch on beneficiaries, asset allocation, and financial documents. Again, not nearly as fun as singing carols around the Christmas tree but important, nonetheless. Let’s dive in.
Review your beneficiary designations.
In thinking about beneficiaries there may be a host of different contracts or accounts that you have. The two we see most often at North Main Financial, with regards to beneficiary designations, are life insurance contracts and retirement plans. While there are other situations, trust beneficiaries, annuity beneficiaries, and many others, we’re going to stick to these two for this financial checkup.
We see, with some regularity, that people have not reviewed their beneficiaries for some time. And this is not unique because it’s not on the normal checklist. For example, perhaps you’ve gone through a divorce and have your ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary. We’ve seen this at North Main Financial. If you have an ex-spouse listed as a beneficiary and you pass away, it is likely that even though you hadn’t intended for that person to receive benefits, they will. This isn’t always the case because there is the ability to contest but it is likely.
When you have a significant life event, specifically death or divorce, you should review your beneficiaries. In addition, look at the allocations if you have multiple beneficiaries. You can break down the percentages any way you like so it’s always a good idea to check this and make sure the percentages are in keeping with what you desire.
Asset allocation inside your investment portfolio.
We’ve had a lot of movement, positive and negative, in the market this year. Depending on how you are invested you may have had some significant appreciation or depreciation. Thus, it may benefit you to look at your asset allocation.
For many people who have been invested in things that track indexes, or domestic indexes, or if you have been invested in tech-specific things this year you may have experienced significant appreciation. On the other hand, if you are invested in the energy sector or other parts of the financial sector they did not perform as well this year, generally speaking. With either appreciation or depreciation, your asset allocation may be out of kilter so you may want to re-balance. However relative to investment style, if things are going well you may want to stay with it. Each person is different.
When we look at a portfolio over time, rebalancing can be a way to mitigate some risk. It’s specific to each individual and your investments in your portfolio. A financial planner can help with this type of review to make sure that your asset allocation continues to lead you to your financial goals and objectives. At North Main Financial we do this regularly with our clients as it is a key part of your financial checkup.
Check your financial documents.
The third part of this financial checkup is to check your financial documents. The documents we’re referencing here are living wills, powers of attorney, revocable and irrevocable trusts, and all your estate planning documents among others. Especially those documents that don’t have specific beneficiaries associated with them. If they don’t have specific beneficiaries associated with them, they will be handled by your will or trust documents.
Recently we had a new client and were reviewing their financial documents. Like many clients, they had not reviewed their financial documents since their children became financially independent. This client now has children that are on their own, financially independent, and married so their documents, which were about 20 years old, just weren’t relevant anymore. So, we helped them to think about the kinds of things they may want to consider as they did a revision. We helped to coordinate with their personal attorney and to recommend other attorneys to create new documents that are in line with their current financial lives.
A review of your financial documents is important to make sure that your wishes are met after you’re gone. We all experience significant life events and while it’s important to deal with the emotional aspect, the financial side of things also needs to receive attention as well.
When thinking about a financial checkup look at your beneficiary designations, specifically insurance contracts and retirement accounts. Also, look at your asset allocation. Perhaps you’ve had some significant appreciation or depreciation inside your portfolio, so you want to make sure the lineup you have is in line with your goals and desires. Finally, make sure your financial planning documents – wills, living wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, etc. – continue to be in keeping with your desires.
Interested in hearing more about this topic? You can listen to the full episode of the North Main Financial radio show on WSIC by clicking here:
If you have questions about your financial goals or would like to talk with us further about our services, give us a call at (704) 987-1425 or visit us at www.northmainfinancial.com. If you wish to schedule an introductory meeting, we would be happy to meet with you at no cost or obligation to you.
These Blogs are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice. Any opinions or forecasts contained herein reflect the subjective judgments and assumptions of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect the views of SagePoint Financial or Iredell Broadcasting.