Financial Review: 5 Documents to Start the Year Strong

2022 is winding down and the holidays are upon us. These last few weeks are an ideal time to reflect on our accomplishments in the past year and think about the opportunities the new year will bring. Going into the New Year strong is on everyone’s list of resolutions, so how do we put our best foot forward as we head into 2023? We pull it together in the last month of the year and end 2022 with our annual financial review.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or two!) – it’s time to get serious about your aging plan and financial future. Now is the time to take a couple of hours to pull out your documents and review the details of each to be sure you are on track. Not quite where you need to be? Challenge yourself to schedule appointments with the experts before 2022 comes to a close.

Be prepared to start 2023 strong by organizing your future and give these five documents a financial review before the end of this year.

making notes for financial review

5 Documents to Review Annually        

  1. Advance Directives
  2. Beneficiary Designations on Financial Accounts
  3. Homeowners insurance
  4. Homestead status (if you revised your deed in 2022)
  5. Retirement accounts

1. Make your wishes known - and keep them up to date - with advance directives. 

Anyone who is age 18 and older should have a power of attorney. Often a large part of an estate plan is the power of attorney.  It  can be a foundation document for the overall financial goals and wishes we want to communicate to loved ones while we are able. Do an end-of-year review of your advance directives and ensure that they reflect your current wishes and any changes that may have occurred since you had them created.

5 Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

Life and family changes

Changes in the law

Healthcare needs have changed

Gifting and charitable donations

Peace of mind

Pro-tip: Without a durable power of attorney, guardianship may be necessary. Guardianship can be emotionally difficult and cost your loved one’s thousands. Don't have a durable power of attorney? There's no time like the present - call an Elder Law Attorney and check that off your to-do list in 2022!

2. Review your Beneficiary Designations to be sure they aren’t lost by the financial institution.

Keeping track of who you have designated on your various financial accounts will be managed easily with an annual financial review. You want to be sure the right names are on your documents with the most current contact information. If beneficiaries are not designated and the account is in one name, probate is necessary after the death of the account holder.

Pro-tip: If you aren’t sure who to designate as a beneficiary, you can reach out to your attorney to be sure designations are handled properly.

holding hands in support

3. Give your homeowner’s insurance policy a finanical review for proper coverage and limits.

Did you upgrade your kitchen or add a custom media room this year? Ensure your home and belongings are fully protected with a review that reflects your current property and possessions. New furniture can affect the value of your home and certain safety upgrades may qualify you for discounts on your policy. Schedule a quick conversation with your insurance provider before the end of the year to start 2023 with the comfort of knowing your insurance meets your current needs.

Pro-tip: As part of your financial review, shop around to make sure you’re receiving the best rates and confirm you have the right coverage for you.

4. Confirm homestead exemption for a home transferred to a trust.

Florida has an exceptionally strong and unique homestead protection offered under the Florida Constitution. In Florida, there is no cap on the value of the home in homestead protection. Often real estate with this exception can avoid probate and cannot be attached as an asset in a lien or sold to satisfy a debt. If you have a home that is not titled in your Florida revocable living trust, or you are considering a trust, call a trusted real estate attorney to review the pros and cons of adding your homestead to a trust.

Pro-tip: If you are in retirement or taking care of aging parents, it is important to talk about finances and the future. An experienced attorney can determine if a trust is right for you and your family.

5. Retirement goals change regularly; an annual financial review can keep you on track.

No matter your age or if you are already retired, a financial review of your retirement accounts is a great way to wrap up 2022. Changes in life and lifestyle choices may require a reimagining of your plan. So, checking in every year ensures you are able to live your retired years within budget. Markets can be unpredictable so be sure you are making the right adjustments to avoid surprises later. Plans don’t have to be set in stone. By performing a thorough financial review once a year you are allowing yourself the flexibility of making the most of your time and resources.

Pro-tip: If you aren’t sure that you are getting the most out of your retirement accounts, speak with a trusted advisor before making any changes.

Bonus Pro-tip: If you don’t access your retirement (or other online) accounts regularly, log in at least a couple of times a year to make sure you are never locked out. Changing your password is also a good idea to protect yourself from fraudulent activity.

If you are overwhelmed at the thought of reviewing these documents, you don’t have to do it alone. There are experts in Real Estate Law and Estate Planning who can go over your plan with you and make sure you are up-to-date and on track. These experts are committed to helping you – your life, your legacy, your plan.

There are so many reasons Elder Law Attorneys are a Resource We Love. From helping seniors and their families plan for the future to providing annual financial reviews to help them stay on track, an Elder Law Attorney can help you finish every year with confidence.  You can read more about them in the Legal and Financial Section of our Blog.

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