Create a personal checklist for tax season

It’s that time of year, preparing for your annual tax filing and
organizing all of last year’s documents. While you’re at it, it’s also
a great time to do a personal annual update. A great time to think
about what you want to accomplish and to set specific goals. A good way
to start is to create your own personal annual update checklist.
Things change – interest rates, tax laws, jobs, housing and your
personal situation. Many events may require you to revise your
financial and estate plans. Here are a few ideas to get you started
with your own checklist:
– Marriage, divorce, separation or serious consideration of one of
those options by a family member.
– Expected or actual birth of a child or grandchild, adoption or
addition of a stepchild.
– Health changes that affect your or your family’s planning, lifestyle
or attitudes.
– Desire to add or delete specific bequests.
– Decision to make gifts of property or cash to your children and/or
grandchildren, or to make a charitable gift.
– Significant changes in your asset values.
– Acquisition or disposal of real estate (or serious consideration).
– A received or imminent inheritance.
– A change (or consideration of a change) in life insurance
– Reconsideration of designated guardian(s), successor guardian(s) or
living will appointees.
– Wish to name a specific person as advisor to your executor and/or
– Relocation due to a job transfer, retirement, or personal reason.
– Significant changes in your spending patterns.
– Changes in retirement planning.
– Purchase of a retirement home, vacation home or rental property.
– Significant realized or unrealized capital gains or losses from last
– Auto, home, and health insurance review.
– Changes in your savings plan contributions.
OK, perhaps this is not the most enjoyable task, but clearly not having
your proverbial ducks in a row when the unexpected occurs can result in anything from a minor inconvenience to a serious tragedy.
Along with your estate plan (note, no matter your financial situation,
you have an estate; estates are not only for the wealthy), consider
writing down your objectives, ideas and wishes in a personal letter to
your family that will guide them in handling estate and investment
matters, and in making other important decisions, in your absence.
Consider including a note of caution not to consider your thoughts
rigid or binding, but to temper them by careful consideration of facts
and circumstances existing when a decision must be made. Things change,
and we can’t foresee every eventuality.
Here are some ideas of what you may want to include in your letter:
– Provisions relating to medical and nursing home care.
– Wishes regarding life support systems and organ donation.
– Advice on whom to seek out for medical, legal and financial counsel.
– Arrangements for funeral, last rights and burial.
– Investment philosophy.
– Important goals or wishes for the family.
– Special information or other comments for a spouse.
– A list of bank and brokerage accounts, insurance policies, etc.
– Locations of original legal documents (power of attorney, will, etc.)
Your letter should be signed and dated, and may be sealed. The envelope
should be marked “To be opened in the event of my serious illness,
incapacitation or death,” and the location of the letter should be
known by at least two or three trusted family members or friends.
It is important to address these and related issues and to have a plan
in place to insure that any future situation can be managed in the best
possible manner and according to your wishes. It is also one of the
most meaningful ways you can show your loved ones how much you care
about them.
Initially, this task may take some time, however once you have created
your personal annual update checklist and written your personal letter
to your family, it becomes a very short to-do for review and update in
future years.
Remember the old adage that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I
hope you can make the time to complete these truly important steps, you
will have a greater peace of mind knowing you have planned not only for
your own best well being, but for that of your loved ones as well.
The above material was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Kristi is a
local independent financial consultant with 30 years in financial
services. She is a registered representative with and securities and
advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered
Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC. She can be reached in Gilroy at
(408) 848-0874, or Hollister at (831) 634-1144, or at Her column runs on the third Tuesday of the