Personal Security Checklist

check-list

Staying Up to Date on these Issues Will Avoid Hassles

These days it can seem like we’re all busier than ever. Activities we used to have time for are fading away as the demands on us increase. Do you find you have time to do all the things you WANT to do, much less the things you NEED to do?

I heard a long time ago about Parkinson’s Law: that work will always expand to fill the time allotted to complete it. If there is no deadline, many tasks just get postponed indefinitely, hoping that one day we’ll have time to complete them.

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Why This is Important?

This came to mind recently when one of my clients passed away. She had been in declining health for a few years. When we spoke about 4 or 5 years ago, we talked about who were the beneficiaries of her accounts, and she made a few updates.

We also discussed other things she needed to attend to in order to get her affairs in order. A will, durable powers of attorney, health care directives were among the items discussed.

Flash forward a few years; her health situation had worsened, and it was becoming clear she could no longer live alone. During that time there were a few hospital visits that were not planned.

There were problems in her getting timely treatment as she hadn’t completed her health care directive and under the HIPAA laws, the hospital couldn’t speak to anyone about care options as she was barely conscious and there was nobody designated for the hospital to contact.

She ultimately had to move to a nursing home for care. However, due to her medical condition, she had trouble making financial decisions or even paying bills. She was having trouble signing her name and there was no durable power of attorney in place.

Luckily, she was able to designate someone to be her “attorney in fact” before her condition declined to the point where she could no longer make those decisions, so would not be able to designate someone to be her Power of Attorney (POA).

At the time she went into the nursing home, she had expressed a desire to adjust her beneficiary designations on an annuity she owned. I sent out the paperwork several times, but she never completed and signed the documents. She died without making these changes, which directly led to my writing this post.

Things to Consider NOW Before it is Too Late

  1. Check Your Beneficiaries. Lots of people forget to add a beneficiary to their retirement plans at work. The other thing I see is someone put down a beneficiary when they took out an insurance policy or opened a retirement account, but since then, their beneficiary passed away and the money then gets distributed by law. The money will always be distributed, whether it goes to those you want it to or not. Take a few minutes every couple of years and check them.

Pro Tip: Review your beneficiaries every couple of years to make sure your money goes to whom you want when you pass away.

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  1. Create or Update Your Wills and Trusts. Most people don’t know that you already have a default will, even if you didn’t write one yourself yet. It was written by the state you live in and can be found in that state’s probated code. If there are no legal beneficiaries in many states your beneficiary could be that state!Your hard-earned money could end up in state coffers if you’re not careful! Please take the time to create a will or trust so that there are directions so those you leave behind can carry out your wishes. This doesn’t take long and you will be very relieved once this is done. Once created, you need to review them from time to time, for the same reasons I stated about your beneficiaries.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a will, the state’s laws dictate where your estate goes! Create a will and review it every few years to make passing your estate easier.

  1. Do You Have a Health Care Directive or Living Will? Most people don’t realize that once your kids reach the legal adult age of 18, medical professionals can’t discuss your child’s health with you, unless you have a healthcare directive or living will executed by that child. Especially if you send your child off to college and they get sick or into an accident, the medical professionals working with them won’t be able to inform you or take instructions from you regarding care.Please take the time to prepare this document and keep it on file for all those folks who are important in your life.

Pro Tip: Make sure each person in your life that’s important to you has a healthcare directive in place so that somebody can help them when they can’t help themselves.

  1. Do You Have an Open Enrollment Period for Benefits? If you do, take the time to understand what is available through your employer. There are often good opportunities available. Things like pre-tax expense benefits, discounted long term care insurance, enhanced retirement or educational benefits, long term disability, or other opportunities that can be worth looking at and taking advantage of.There are also things to avoid, like buying additional life insurance, which can be far more expensive than if you obtained it individually. If you can’t get life insurance on the open market, however, your employee benefits might be a great way to get some!

Pro Tip: Benefits might be available for you from your employer which can help you in your overall retirement or estate plan. Take advantage of open enrollment!

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What You Can Do Right Now

Take some time and review these things.

I promise, it will take less time than planning your next vacation! You will be prepared for the unexpected, and you will find yourself enjoying a calm peace of mind as a result.

The benefits are much longer lasting than a vacation, so put these on your calendar.

If you have questions or need help figuring out the next steps, contact our office at (415) 331-9030 or email me directly at roger@gainerfinancial.com.

We have many resources that we can share with you. This is an important step on your path to Retire Happy!