New Year Financial Checklist: 7 Things to Think About

By: Adrienne Rothstein Grace
January 31, 2017

As you embark on a divorce, the myriad of details you must attend to can be daunting. Organizing those details into segments can make the job much more manageable. The new year brings a season of change that can spur one of those segments of details – taking a look at what has changed, and what needs to be changed for the new year. The end of one year and the beginning of another makes us think about last-minute things we need to address and good habits we want to start keeping. 

7 Aspects of Your Financial Life to Think About This Year

1. Your Investments

Review your approach to investing and make sure it suits your objectives. Look over your portfolio positions and revisit your asset allocation.

2. Your Retirement Planning Strategy

Does it seem as practical as it did a few years ago? Are you able to max out contributions to IRAs and workplace retirement plans like 401(k)s? Is it time to make catch-up contributions?

3. Review Any Sales of Appreciated Property

This includes both realized and unrealized losses and gains. Take a look back at last year’s loss carry-forwards. If you’ve sold securities, gather up cost-basis information. Look for any transactions that could potentially enhance your circumstances.

4. Your Charitable Gifting Goals

Plan contributions to charities or education accounts, and make any desired cash gifts to family members. The annual federal gift tax exclusion is $14,000 per individual for 2015, so you can gift up to $14,000 to as many individuals as you like this year without tax consequences. A married couple can gift up to $28,000 tax-free to as many individuals as they wish.

You can choose to gift appreciated securities to a charity. If you have owned them for more than a year, you can deduct 100% of their fair market value and legally avoid capital gains tax you would normally incur from selling them.

Besides outright gifts, you can plan other financial moves for your family – you can create and fund trusts, for example. The end of a year is a good time to review trusts you have in place.

5. Your Life Insurance Coverage

Are your policies and beneficiaries up-to-date? Review premium costs, beneficiaries, and any and all life events that may have altered your coverage needs.

6. Speaking of Life Events...

Did you happen to get married or divorced in 2016? Did you move or change jobs? Buy a home or business? Did you lose a family member, or see a severe illness or ailment affect a loved one? Did you reach the point at which Mom or Dad needed assisted living? Was there a new addition to your family? Did you receive an inheritance or a gift?

7. Did You Reach Any of These Financially Important Ages in 2016? 

If so, act accordingly.

  • Did you turn 70½ last year? If so, you must now take Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from your IRA(s).

  • Did you turn 65 last year? If so, you’re now eligible to apply for Medicare.

  • Did you turn 62 last year? If so, you’re now eligible to apply for Social Security benefits.

  • Did you turn 59½ last year? If so, you may take IRA distributions without a 10% penalty.

  • Did you turn 55 last year? If so, and you retired during this year, you may now take distributions from your 401(k) account without penalty.

  • Did you turn 50 last year? If so, “catch-up” contributions may now be made to IRAs (and certain qualified retirement plans).

It's a new year – ready for you to take control of a new you embarking on a journey of an even better tomorrow! 

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