We have had the unfortunate honor of working with many widows – both young and old, breadwinners and stay-at-home mothers.  Whether there’s any warning or not, the death of a spouse is a tragic loss, but you can help your loved ones by making sure these basics are covered:

Life Insurance:  If others are financially dependent on you, life insurance (generally term insurance to cover an actual financial need of a specific duration) can replace your income and keep from adding financial hardship to emotional hardship.

Estate Planning Documents:

Will – Directs where you want your property to go, helps to preserve your family wealth, appoints a guardian for minor children if both parents die together

Medical Directive – expresses your wishes for medical treatment, extraordinary measures, and life-ending actions when you are unable to provide those directions

Power of attorney – names someone to manage your financial affairs when you cannot

Financial Directions:  These are incredibly important in easing the process of transferring assets to your survivors and bringing your financial matters to a close. We recommend a centralized location for keeping all your financial info, passwords, estate planning documents, and any other wishes.  Even with everything in place like this, the process can is overwhelming and lengthy, but your family will appreciate what you’ve done to lessen the burden.

This is the time of year that we most focus on family.  Taking the time to plan for the unexpected is a gift to our families that will last forever.

Where did the year go?  Good thing there is one month left to take full advantage of all the tax deductions available for you.  One thing I’ve seen during the past two tax seasons  at Lighthouse Financial Advisors (LFA) is how clients benefit when everything they need for taxes is organized and complete before the year end, instead of waiting until April 15th of the following year.  This last month provides ample time to advantage of the following tax savings strategies:

  • Retirement Account Contributions:  If you haven’t maxed out for the year yet, try to increase the amount you contribute in the month of December.
  • Charitable Donations: What better time of the year to give?  If you haven’t opened a Fidelity Charitable Giving Account yet, reach out to any one of us at LFA for an easy to-do application.
  • Mortgage Interest Deduction: If you add up the amount you have paid in mortgage interest for the year, and combine it with the amount of your charitable donations, you may reach a number that exceeds the standard deduction, making it worthwhile to itemize.
  • Medical and Dental Expenses: They are often the largest expenses for retired people. Start getting all expenses organized.
  • Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs): Make sure you take your RMD before the year end.  Let your advisor know if you would like to take advantage of using your RMD to pay and offset the amount you owe in taxes.
  • HSA Contributions:  They are tax deductible; you can use your contributions to reduce your tax liability.

These are just a few of many ways to offset what you owe for taxes.  So reach out to any of us here at LFA to discuss what you can do to help lower your 2013 taxes!