Since so many of us have more free time these days, with the pandemic affecting us, it is a good time to get your finances and legal affairs in order. While it can be a daunting task, the way to handle it in a less stressful manner is to choose one area at a time.
One can start by simply compiling a list of one’s assets. When monthly or quarterly bank and investment account statements come presents an opportunity to start this list. You should include account numbers, phone numbers and the approximate value of the assets. You should also not forget your home, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. Once you take pen to paper, you will realize that you have assets that you might not have been thinking about.
The second step would be to step back and see if your assets can be consolidated somewhat. Again, start one at a time. Many clients have their assets dispersed among many bank accounts, mutual funds and other investment accounts, which makes it very difficult to manage as one gets older, and it makes it extremely time consuming for one’s children or heirs to do this when you are gone. Consolidating and having a financial advisor is something which can be done easily and will prove quite beneficial.
Once you have handle on your assets, you should take a look at your estate planning documents, to see if they are current and accurately reflect your wishes. If you do not have the necessary documents, or if yours are outdated, you should seek to meet with an estate planning attorney. Before you do that, you should also check the beneficiary designations on your accounts, to see if you have listed these, and you should also take note of the ownership. For example, are some of the accounts joint with another person? It is especially important to make sure there are beneficiaries listed on your retirement accounts. Lastly, it is essential that all of your beneficiaries are over the age of 18, as minors can not legally inherit.
The current pandemic has given many of us a lot of spare time. It is an opportunity to get one’s affairs in order and make matters easier for when one becomes older, if one becomes disabled, and also for your family, when the time comes for them to step in.