While the end of the year is admittedly busy, I feel compelled to add to your to-do list!
I was recently reminded of a clever habit of one of my newer clients who hold their very own financial “State of the Union” around their kitchen table each year. For them, this serves as a structured time for them to reflect on the past year and to help them financially plan forward.
In preparing for our upcoming Money Series joint presentation, where we will each share tips regarding year-end financial planning ideas, local attorney Greg Luyt of Bowerman, Bowden, Ford, Clulo & Luyt introduced me to an expanded and robust version of this same disciplined habit.
For those who have been left behind to piece together the puzzle of another person’s life, being handed a cheat sheet is truly welcome. Mr. Luyt’s important idea is to encourage you to create what he calls a Family Guidebook to make things much easier for your loved ones after you are gone.
This essentially entails the creation of a set of communications that may encompass an inventory of – among other important items – your various financial accounts, the location and your intentions for your cherished personal belongings and even a narrative reflecting your final wishes with regard to your funeral arrangements.
Luyt stresses that, regardless of your financial means, your Family Guidebook can cost you next to nothing to create. All it takes is your time to reflect, review and routinely renew your intentions. Add this one to your list of soon-to-be-successful New Year’s resolutions.
Now, I’ll move on to time-sensitive things that you probably shouldn’t put off until next year. As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, it might actually save you money.
If we assume the nearly identical tax plans of the House Republicans and President-elect Trump will actually be implemented, your ability to deduct charitable donations, property taxes, state income taxes, and in most cases, even your mortgage interest, may be long gone.
Even if the contemplated changes fail to materialize, we absolutely know we can still deduct these expenses in 2016. So, your proactive planning has no downside.
To ensure your ability to deduct these expenses, consider paying early your winter property tax bill, your next estimated state income tax payment and even your January mortgage payment before the end of the year. Under most scenarios, and for most taxpayers, this will result in lower taxes.
Importantly, for those with charitable intent, talk to your adviser soon about storing up multiple years of your charitable donations by opening a “donor-advised” fund. It’s extraordinarily easy, anyone can do it and there’s still time. To add to your pressure, there are only twenty six days left to plan. Start now!
For more tips on year-end financial planning, join Jason P. Tank, CFA and local attorney, Greg Luyt, on Wednesday, December 14 at 6:30pm for their joint presentation for the Front Street Foundation’s Money Series held in the McGuire Room at the Traverse Area District Library. Visit FrontStreetFoundation.org or call (231) 714-6459 to register.