Making a List, Checking It Twice

ResolutionsAs the year begins to wind down, it’s common to spend some time reflecting upon key events of the last twelve months. We think about the good and the bad and all the stuff in between and we look forward, with some combination of anticipation and trepidation, to starting again with a whole new set of days at our disposal.

Some of us start the new year with a set of ambitious resolutions. Some of us prefer to simply continue with a regime of old, comfortable habits. I’d like to propose that residents of both camps will be extremely pleased with themselves in January if they spend just a little of their precious time in December tending to some tedious, but necessary, housekeeping items. Here are some suggestions:

Update your emergency contact list. Be sure that you have correct phone numbers, addresses and electronic contact information for the most important people in your life.

Update your “important information” list, which should include entries for bank, brokerage and retirement accounts, loan and mortgage accounts, doctors, lawyers, CPAs, financial advisors, clergy, insurance agents and policies, Social Security, Medicare, military records, safe deposit location and any other items you want to share with the person you designate to stand in for you should you not be able to speak for yourself.

•Review your estate documents, including your durable power of attorney, advanced health care directives, will, funeral agent (not applicable in all states) and pre-paid funeral arrangements. If you don’t have these in place, or don’t know what they are, make a resolution to get educated about these issues in 2015.

Review beneficiary designations for bank accounts, IRAs and pensions, brokerage accounts, insurance policies and U.S. Savings Bonds.

•If you’re still working, use your last paycheck opportunity to add a little extra to your 401K or IRA.

•If you have a health savings account, check the balance and try to spend it down on allowable items before year’s end.

•If you’re approaching the year following the year in which you turn 70 and one-half, remember to pay attention to the need to take any required minimum distributions from retirement accounts.

I know, I know. These things are irksome. A buzz-kill. Some are downright unpleasant to think about. But if you can find a few hours to attend to them before the serious holiday revelry begins, you will be able to go lightly and joyously into the fray, knowing that you’ve given yourself the precious gift of a year full of security for those you love.

Blog by Holly Deni