Broker Check

Your New Year's financial resolutions - some things to check

| December 30, 2019

Getting on top of your finances in the New Year might be nearly as popular as starting a new diet or workout routine.

Here are some questions to consider … about your current situation … goals … and values.  Recognizing there are many different family structures these days, for now I’m aiming at two people who consider their resources to be “joint” for purposes of both of their retirements.  It is also true that the legal structures and available choices have not in all cases caught up with modern realities. In all cases, it is really about available choices.  Particularly in the realms of Social Security, "Qualified" Retirement Plans of all flavors, Pensions and Annuities ... get the facts about your choices ... in writing if possible. 


  1. How much more (if any) must you save to meet your retirement goal?
  2. What are your estimated retirement living expenses?
  3. What is your estimated Rate of Return … now … and in retirement?
  4. Are all of your finances – spending – jobs – businesses – real estate – taxes - retirement and non-retirement investment accounts … in synch and in alignment with your answers?
  5. Do you have enough guaranteed joint lifetime income?
  6. Still enough when one dies? The smaller of two Social Security “checks” goes away.  Pension payment might reduce to 50% ... or (yikes!) zero!
  7. Is there any life insurance in force?
  8. Will it expire?
  9. Or stay in effect until the insured dies, regardless of how old?  Thereby possibly replacing all or part of a lost Social Security check and / or pension payment.
  10. Does new life insurance make sense – considering age and health?
  11. Is there still enough guaranteed lifetime income if one becomes incapacitated? State laws are different.  If the one incapacitated has e.g. a substantial IRA in her / his name only, that income might be required to go only for her care, leaving the other spouse / life partner in financial stress. 
  12. Is Long Term Care insurance a viable option? Financially and medically?
  13. What kind?
  14. If not, will you check out the options available in your state?
  15. Are your Powers of Attorney up to date? (If not, assets in one name (e.g. IRA) could be temporarily “frozen” until a court decides on incompetency and who has the decision-making power.)
  16. Are your Beneficiary Designation forms up-to-date and consistent with your wishes and your other documents?  A Beneficiary Designation form might supersede a will.  These forms are all very important … one or the other depending on the size and location of assets … and need to be safeguarded with the same level of care as wills and other legal documents.
  17. Do your providers of all flavors (Legal, Tax, Advisory, Custodian, 401-k, etc. etc.) share info with each other?
  18. Does any one person understand the complete picture?  ... aka "Quarterback?"
  19. Do you need a Financial Adviser?
  20. If so, what "flavor?"

I intentionally chose a couple at the beginning of this writing because a couple's situation -- particularly with children / next generation family members ... is potentially much more complex than a single person -- especially a single person without children.  

I personally know individuals who:

  • Do not have children.
  • Are not currently married or in a primary relationship.
  • Own her / his own home 100% outright.
  • Draw a lifetime pension that more than meets their needs.

This person might live out her / his life and not "need" or even benefit from a professional financial adviser of any kind.

For the rest of us, as Barry said in the link, financial advisers are available to you.  


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