Resolutions for 2017.

614744234As we begin a new year, committing to resolutions are popular pastimes. The most popular one is our desire to lose weight. I am among the guilty. The gyms, weight reduction products, Oprah Weight Watchers spots, etc. slam us with messages in January about memberships and programs to help us in our ongoing struggles. Alas, by February 95%+ of us fall off the wagon. Better luck next year.


My suggestions for all us of us are easier and more accomplishable. Furthermore you and your family will be the beneficiaries of these resolutions for years to come. These suggestions come in the form of important tasks that are mandatory for all of us, young and old. So here they are:

1. Create a will
If you aren’t going to die, a will is not necessary. For the rest of us who will someday leave this earth, it is mandatory. You might say, “A will is not necessary. It’s all going to…wife/kids/person/charity/etc”. Not unless you write it down and say so. The state will decide who gets what. Are you OK with that? In fact if you don’t have a will, don’t waste time reading the rest of this article. Stop here and get it done. Start by writing down your wishes and then you can get a lawyer to draft a simple document, and revisit it annually. . BTW, titling of investments, retirement account supersedes your will. Are the beneficiaries who you want?

2. Power of attorney with DNR provisions
What if you can’t make decisions for yourself? Who will do so? Do you want to be kept on life support? No? Then say so. You need to establish a health-care power of attorney with an explanation of how you’d like to be treated in case of incapacity.

3. Annual net worth calculations
Include all asset items—savings. Checking, investments, 401ks, real estate etc. Include all liabilities—mortgages, loans, etc. In the end it’s simple math–Assets minus liabilities equals net worth. I suggest you chart this minimally once a year. It’s ok to do so more often.

4. A short written document with all pertinent info
I wrote about this recently In Talk About Finances To Your Family. This document needs to include phone numbers, people to call, documents—all in a single place. It’s critical to create a simple to do list. This should include real estate info, insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc–The whole shebang. I have a purple bucket in my home with all these documents. All family members know where it is, and on the top of the bucket is a simple 3-page document called. “If something happens…”Don’t make it hard for a bereaved spouse, child, other so try to sort through your documents. Having a simple list of numbers, documents, people to call and things to do is one of the biggest gifts you can give your family if you have an untimely passing. Do it once and then it’s easy to update once a year.

You may not be able to lose weight in 2017 or get a big raise, or get a better job, but if you organize your finances properly you’ll earn more while you are living and better provide your family when you’re gone. That’s a resolution worth keeping.

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