February is one of my favorite months of the year. Two of my favorite people, my mom and sister, celebrate their birthdays this month, we get Super Bowl Sunday, and best of all, we enjoy a day that’s all about LOVE. Love comes in many forms. Whether it’s the family we’re born into, the family we choose, our neighbors, friends, partners, co-workers, charities, clubs, or social groups, love looks different for all of us. But when it comes to your finances, how are you showing love to the important ones in your life? Now, you’re probably guessing that I’m referring to gifting or paying for things – and that may be how you choose to bless the important people in your life – but I want to challenge you to think even further.
Here are a few ways that we can give a gift of love to those who mean the most to us:
Take care of the hard stuff
At Stonegate, we’ve walked alongside many clients as they navigate one of life’s toughest challenges: the loss of a loved one. During a time of loss, it is a gift to have a clearly laid out plan. Be sure that you have completed your will, power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney. Also confirm that any beneficiary designations are up-to-date and reflect your wishes. Whether you are leaving assets to your family or a charitable organization, an estate plan is a necessary part of bringing purpose to your prosperity.
Choose an executor that has the time and expertise to oversee the settlement of your estate. Now, expertise does not necessarily mean work history in finance or legal matters, however it should be someone that has the experience or capability to handle this process. An executor will collect and divide assets, pay any outstanding debts, and divide appropriate assets between beneficiaries. It can also be helpful to choose someone with good interpersonal skills.
Consider consolidation if appropriate. If you have many accounts that could be consolidated or streamlined, they may be easier to handle after your passing if they were consolidated. Take some time to consider how many steps it would take your executor to close out these accounts and if the process could be made simpler. Organize your important documents and clear out clutter that is no longer needed.
If you have preferences about a memorial service, funeral arrangements, or burial services, take the time to pre-plan and perhaps even pre-pay them. It is not a fun or easy task to plan for these matters, but it can lift a considerable weight from the shoulders of those that remain to carry out your wishes.
Have the difficult conversations
Take the time to discuss your desires with your family, friends, or those close to you. Having a clear guideline can eliminate friction between involved parties and make it easier for your wishes to be fulfilled. Speak with your executor to let them know your passwords, where your accounts are held, where copies of your estate planning documents are kept, and any important people to contact.
If you’re planning to leave furniture or belongings to your children, nieces or nephews, or others, take the time to go through things now to decide who may want what, and if no one wants it, consider getting rid of it now versus later. This may mean you won’t have to deal with it later, someone enjoys it sooner, and less clutter to live with. You may also enjoy the opportunity to walk down memory lane and share some history or stories from the past.
Hope for the best, but plan for the worst
Risk management is a very important piece of your financial plan and it changes at each stage of life. Are you appropriately insured for your stage of life? For those of you that may be younger and starting families, life and disability insurance are extremely important. As you move toward retirement, your life and disability insurance needs change but you may want to consider how you’re going to address Long Term Care. No matter what your age or stage of life, insurance need is a conversation you should have. If you have questions about your insurance coverage needs, please feel free to reach out to us and set up a time to chat.
Grab those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities
As you walk through these steps of planning for the future, also be sure to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime moments right in front of you. Covid has changed a lot of our plans but it’s important to not put those plans off forever. Of course, plans change and circumstances change, but what big dreams do you still have? What have you been putting off that you feel safe to do now? Give a gift of love to all those around you, including yourself, by continuing to dream big and live the life you always dreamed of when you can. Plan those family trips, volunteer at your favorite charity, call a neighbor or friend, treat yourself to that dinner or dessert. A life well-lived is the greatest gift of all to anyone you love.
If you have questions regarding your estate plan, insurance needs, or goal planning, please reach out to your Stonegate Team at 919-460-4688.