By Maurice Stouse
Branch Manager and Financial Advisor
Each new year brings resolutions, new goals, new plans as well as the review of existing plans. Short term, many of you might want to look to where you want to be in six months but equally important is to plan for where you want to be in five years and well beyond that. Keeping that in mind, as we enter the new year, here are 10 considerations investors, savers and planners might want to plan and or review now.
- Retirement plans. Have you funded your IRA (assuming you qualify for and have one) for 2020? Typically, you have until the federal income tax filing deadline. If you are self-employed or a small business, have you made the necessary contributions for 2020? Do you utilize a SEP, a 401k or a Defined Benefit Plan? What might you need to know about a Roth IRA? You might also want to review the investments you have for retirement including current allocations, any rebalancing considerations and if the portfolio is in line with your current investment objectives, risk tolerance and time frame. Lastly, did you take a Required Minimum Distribution in 2020 or did you waive that per the CARES Act? It is also a good idea to preview what your distribution might be for 2021.
- Beneficiaries. The new year is also a good time to review current beneficiaries on your retirement plans and see if they are current or perhaps need to be updated. The same would be for non-retirement accounts. You can have a beneficiary buy way of “Transfer on Death” on your nonretirement accounts if you would like to.
- Estate planning. Whether you have an estate plan or not, it is also a good time to review how your assets are titled and how ownership will transfer upon your passing. This would go not only for financial assets (stocks, bonds, mutual funds and the like) but also for real estate. That would mean both home ownership (your domicile) or investment or income producing real estate. It is also a time to look at your will as well as medical directives and power of attorney should you have a need for those.
- Long Term Care. Do you have a plan in place for your long-term health and physical care, should that be needed?
- Trusted contacts. Many firms today offer you the option of having a trusted contact listed on your account(s) should you like to have that. Or you might want to see your options for granting authority to your accounts by power of attorney form, trading authorization (limited or full) or simple inquiry authority.
- Asset allocation. Review of what you own and where you own it and why you own it.
- Tax Efficiency – review of tax treatment of your investments. Are they tax deductible, tax free or tax deferred?
- Charitable giving – do you have a giving plan or perhaps a donor advised fund or your own foundation? The new year is a good time to review what you have or perhaps to learn about or consider alternatives available.
- College Savings Plans – There are three main categories: 529 plans, UTMAs (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) as well as state tuition plans. The new year is an opportunity to either fund or learn more about which of these might best fit your plans or objectives.
- Income planning. The new year is also a time to look at your sources of income. Systematic Withdrawal plans, dividend income only, bond interest or fixed income interest are areas that might warrant a review early in the year. Systematic withdrawal plans might mean the systematic redemption of principal in addition to any earnings. You might want to explore the components to your income plan to ensure you are not accelerating your draw down of principal in down years for variable or stock market investments (and the like).
Most investors, firms and advisors encourage investors to look at their plans regularly, on a quarterly, or at least on an annual basis. Take time early in the year to plan for now and for the years that come for you.
Maurice Stouse is a Financial Advisor and the branch manager of The First Wealth Management and Raymond James and he resides in Grayton Beach. He has been in financial services for over 33 years. His main office is located at First Florida Bank, a division of the First, A National Banking Association, 2000 98 Palms Blvd, Destin, FL 32541. Branch offices in Niceville, Mary Esther, Miramar Beach, Freeport and Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Moultrie, GA. Phone 850.654.8124. Raymond James advisors do not offer tax advice. Please see your tax professionals. Email: Maurice.email@example.com.Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC, and are not insured by bank insurance, the FDIC or any other government agency, are not deposits or obligations of the bank, are not guaranteed by the bank, and are subject to risks, including the possible loss of principal. Investment Advisory Services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. The First Wealth Management First Florida Bank, and The First, A National Banking Association are not registered broker/dealers and are independent of Raymond James Financial Services. Views expressed are the current opinion of the author, not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James, and are subject to change without notice. Information provided is general in nature and is not a complete statement of all information necessary for making an investment decision and is not a recommendation or a solicitation to buy or sell any security. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation. Investors should consult their investment professional prior to making an investment decision. Please note, changes in tax law may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person’s situation. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of RJFS, we do not provide advice on tax matters. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.