FINANCIAL PLANNING CHECKLIST
Premature death -- How much of a financial burden would your death leave for others to deal with? This could include replacing the part of your income devoted to current expenses (home mortgage payments, household and family expenses) and future needs (college for your children, your spouse's retirement). Also included are personal debts and funeral expenses, and more.
Disability income - How would you and your family cope if you were disabled and unable to work? People are three times more likely to become disabled during their working years than they are to die during those same years, yet many people who buy life insurance fail to buy disability income insurance. This coverage, providing a weekly or monthly income benefit if you are disabled due to a covered injury or sickness, is too important to overlook.
Education funding - How can you pay college costs without saddling yourselves or your children with years of loan repayments? Paying for college can present parents and students with many questions and concerns. The costs of a college education have more than doubled in the last ten years, and that doesn't count the cost of housing, fees, books and transportation. Yet paying for college is manageable, and the earlier you start planning, the more flexibility and choice you will have.
Long-term care - How can you pay for hands-on help with everyday living? Unless you first spent down all of your resources, the government won't help with prolonged assistance or nursing care; neither will medical insurance. But long-term care insurance that covers nursing homes; assisted-living or home health care provides the care you need while increasing your leverage in getting the care you want. And spells peace of mind.
Business succession - How do you guarantee your family or associates can take over your business if you die, become disabled or retire? Whether a company has stock to redeem, partnership interests to transfer or is family owned, a funded buy-sell agreement or partial redemption allows you dispose of your business according to your wishes.
Financial independence - What are you doing to prepare for your own financial well being when you retire? Too many people don't start thinking about financial plans for retirement until they're almost ready to retire. By then it's often too late to be financially independent, or worry free. You can keep retirement from sneaking up on you by planning early. And the sooner you start, the more you can do.
Planned giving - Can a planned gift meet your charitable and financial goals? Planned gifts are popular because they can provide valuable tax benefits or income for life (or both) while leaving a legacy to someone or something important to you. Whether a donor uses cash or other assets, such as real estate, artwork, or partnership interests, the benefits of funding a planned gift can make this type of charitable giving attractive to both the donor and charity.
Estate protection -- Will your heirs have to sell important assets to cover estate taxes? Most people think estate planning is something only the wealthy need to be concerned about. But if your assets are worth $1,000,000 or more, estate planning may benefit your heirs. With federal estate tax rates as high as 45% to 55%, successful estate planning transfers your assets to your beneficiaries quickly, smoothly, and usually with minimal tax consequences.
Estate settlement planning - How can you prepare for your painful responsibilities at a parent's death? Adding to the grief is the task of disposing of the parent's estate-not just homes, securities and bank accounts, but a lifetime of possessions. How to prepare? Disposing of an estate can be easier if parents have done some careful planning; not just leaving a will, but letting children know where bank and brokerage accounts and property are located. It can also help if parents write testamentary letters expressing their wishes about who gets family heirlooms, and explaining their reasons for these decisions.
If you want to know about planning for long-term financial success, call our office.
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I get tremendous gratification from encouraging people to focus clearly on their future final success and security.
Larry Brasel, President