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Can you believe it’s 2020 already? We aren’t just in a new year but a new decade too. I have the usual list of resolutions, and I bet you do too. I wonder which ones of mine will make it past January. I turn 50 this year, and if fitness doesn’t move to the top of the priority list now, I don’t know if it ever will.
As a Certified Financial Planner™, I would like to emphasize financial planning as a good resolution for you to push to the top of your list of priorities. Even if you don’t go through the financial planning process with me, or another planner, you should at the very least gather the items on the financial planning checklist – easily available online through a search engine or from any branch of First American Bank and Trust.
Gathering your financial information at one time and in one place is eye opening at a minimum and January is the easiest time to pull it together. All your key documents such as your W-2, year-end bank and investment statements, employee benefit confirmations, mortgage statement and property tax bills should be arriving for tax preparation.
However, legal documents are one of the few items on the list that do not come in at tax time. Legal documents? What legal documents? It is alarming how many people are walking around without a will or the necessary powers of attorney. If you understood how difficult it is to settle an estate without a will, you might make an emergency call to an estate attorney.
Designating a power of attorney is critical at any age. In Georgia, there are two types: a financial power of attorney and a power of attorney for healthcare/medical decisions. These are critically important elements for your estate plan so don’t procrastinate!
If you’re savvy enough to already have your legal documents in place, you still aren’t off the hook. It’s important to revisit them upon any significant life change. This goes for beneficiaries as well. Did you know certain beneficiary designations on retirement accounts can generate a higher tax liability than others?
Knowing your goals and knowing what you have is half of the battle. Once you have made it that far, you might as well go all the way and start the financial planning process. Even if you only gather the information on the checklist, you will already be ahead of most everyone else.

Laurel Alberty is a Certified Financial Planner with First American Bank & Trust

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