Will and Estate Plans
Have a look at your will and estate plans. Look over your beneficiary designations to make sure they are relevant to your current situation. In this category, you should include appointing a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. If you have them in place, make sure they are still willing and able to do the job. No one can predict when, or if, they will become incapacitated, so it is best to be prepared.
It is also time to pull out all of your insurance policies. Adjust your homeowner’s and auto insurance policies to reflect your current needs. Look at your life insurance policies. Consider a universal life policy. These are permanent policies that feature more flexible premiums than whole life. Also, since interest rates are so low, it is possible that your policy isn’t meeting projected returns putting it in a position to lapse. Ask the issuer for an in-force illustration. This will show future projections for your policy. Ask your agent what you need to do to prevent your policy from lapsing.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Flexible spending accounts (FSA) are great tools, but the money is lost to you if you do not use it by years-end. It is time to start spending! Stop over at www.irs.gov and view Publication 502 to see what expenses are covered by your FSA and start stocking up. If you have a huge balance, you may want to adjust your contributions in 2013.
New Tax Implications
2013 is poised to see some tax changes that you need to prepare for. Ordinary income and short-term capital gains will rise to 39.6 percent, tax on long-term capital gains will increase to 20 percent, and some dividends could be taxed at ordinary income tax levels. All of these changes will take place if the Bush-era tax cuts are allowed to expire. We will have to see what Congress manages to do by December 31st. Talk to your financial adviser about the tax implications that you may be facing.
Last of all, look over your budgeting goals from 2012. See how many you have met and prepare your 2013 goals. Begin forming your long term budget for next year. Use this time to prepare a rough draft that leaves enough flexibility for fine tuning as January closes in.
There is plenty to do. Hopefully, you stay on top of your budget and financial goals so that you can make the most of the coming year.
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