By Bryan Lee, CFP®, MBA
A new year is often a time for fresh starts, intentional planning, and renewed motivation to conquer goals and accomplish things that are important to you. And after the year we just had, a fresh start is just what we need. As you transition into 2021 and all this year will bring, take some time to think about your long-term plans and reevaluate your decisions, especially in the following key areas.
Tax Strategy Planning
In the wake of a major election and a change in administration, questions naturally arise about how tax laws could change and how that will affect your wallet. If tax rates increase for your tax bracket, you may want to reconsider your savings and investing strategies. The recent stimulus bill contains several tax law changes, including the ability to roll forward unused FSA funds from 2020, (1) 100% deductible business meals, and penalty-free retirement plan withdrawals for families affected by declared disasters. (2) Because of how often new tax legislation is introduced, tax planning is not a one-and-done deal. Revisit your plan to make some shifts that will help you in the long run.
Tracking Retirement Funds
As we learned from the Great Recession, it is important to stay proactive when it comes to your cash flow and retirement funds. The temptation to adopt a “set it and forget it” approach can create financial blind spots, especially when the demands of work and family make it challenging to carve out time to review finances. Make sure you or your financial advisor is on top of tracking and montioringyour investment accounts, retirement plan balances, and other assets, and commit to start keeping a pulse on the health of your family’s finances at least once a quarter, if not monthly.
Inadequate insurance coverage is a common issue that can derail retirement plans, especially in the event of unforeseen health problems or injuries that force individuals to retire early. A 2020 study found that only 54% of Americans have life insurance, and that 40% of policyholders reported that they wished they had bought coverage sooner. (3) Applying for coverage at a younger age can result in lower premiums, and policies of varying term lengths can be stacked so that your coverage decreases over time as your investment assets increase and your need for insurance decreases. It’s prudent to make sure you have the proper policies and coverage for your unique situation.
Regularly reviewing your estate plan is a crucial component of your financial strategy. Life moves quickly, and it is all too easy to forget how much can happen in a short period of time. Arrivals of new children or grandchildren, health conditions, asset purchases or liquidations (such as buying a new home), marriage/divorce, retirement, unemployment, remarriage, and deaths in the family can make a significant impact on the big picture of your estate plan. Additionally, potential changes in estate tax law which have been mentioned by the new Biden administration (such as reducing the estate tax unified credit) can necessitate revisions to your estate plan. Certain estate planning techniques can help you achieve your wealth transfer goals, whether they include bequests to individuals or philanthropic organizations, in a more tax-efficient way, allowing your heirs and charities to receive increased benefits.
Let Us Partner With You
As we settle into the new year, it’s wise to anticipate and prepare for the changes that every season of life brings. By February, most people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions, so at least take some steps toward securing your financial future by taking action on the aforementioned items. If you are ready to reassess your long-term goals or would like to discuss how to build a solid foundation for your future, call (972) 403-1234 or contact us online to set up a complimentary get-acquainted meeting so we can see if we are a good fit!
About BryanBryan Lee is founder and President of Strategic Financial Planning, Inc., an independent, fee-only financial advisory firm. With over 27 years of industry experience, Bryan uses a unique client-first financial life planning approach and process to help his clients get the most out of life. Bryan earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and MBA in international finance from the University of North Texas and is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioner. Bryan is actively involved in his community and industry and has served on the boards of several associations and charities, including serving as President and Chairman of the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the Financial Planning Association, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, the CITY House Board of Directors President and Chairman, Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Financial Planning, Family Services of Plano, as well as a Junior Achievement Volunteer Teacher. Bryan has been featured in local and national magazines, newspapers, and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, CNNfn, USA Today, SmartMoney, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Financial Planning Magazine, The Dallas Morning News, Dow Jones Newswires, and has been recognized as a Five Star Wealth Manager and one of Dallas’s Best Financial Planners in D Magazine every year since its inception. To learn more about Bryan, connect with him on LinkedIn.