The time valley between an active summer and busy holiday season is the perfect time for a quick financial planning checkup. We’ve compiled the following 12-point checklist from the most common matters we uncover and review during our formally scheduled client review meetings.
For our clients, yes, we review these items for you regularly so please use this list as a reminder and refresher and call us with any questions. For those of you that are not clients, we encourage you to discuss these topics with your financial professionals (or schedule an appointment with Quartz!).
And keep in mind, each of these considerations is “dependent upon your personal situation”. Now, on to the list:
- Has your 2023 income deviated significantly from prior years (or do you expect it to do so next year)? If so, low-income years can be good times to consider tax strategies such as a Roth IRA conversion. Likewise, abnormally high-income years (e.g., a large business or land sale) could present an opportunity to max out pre-tax retirement contributions and/or use tax-loss harvesting strategies in your portfolio.
- Do you expect any large expense items that will require liquidation of investment assets next year? If so, prepare early to help mitigate market volatility risks.
- Review excess cash flow for your optimal contributions to your tax-free, tax-deferred, and taxable savings and investing buckets to achieve maximum tax efficiency.
- Maximize retirement plan contributions for 2023 ($22,500 plus an additional $7,500 for age 50+). And don’t forget spousal IRA contribution opportunities.
- If participating in a qualified health plan, have you made your Health Savings Account contribution for 2023 (up to $7,750 for family contributions).
- Over 70 ½? Consider reducing your tax burden by using a Qualified Charitable Distribution in lieu of all or a portion of your annual IRA Required Minimum Distribution. Timing is critical so if you’ve already taken 2023 RMD and are charitably inclined, put this on your January 1 checklist!
- Review your 2022 tax return for tax brackets, estimated taxes, withholding levels, and other tax planning opportunities.
- For any life insurance, annuities, or illiquid investments, do you understand their purpose and function, and do they need to be reviewed to ensure they are still in sync with your needs?
- Have you reviewed your beneficiary designation on each of your retirement plans (401k, IRAs, etc.) and life insurance and annuity policies to ensure they are coordinated with your Will?
- Check your estate plan, specifically your Will, General Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and Living Will (4 separate documents) to be sure the instructions and named agent selections still reflect your desires and newer details like digital assets are addressed. If the plan is older than 3 years, now would be a good time for a formal review.
- Review real property and investment accounts for potential ownership issues or opportunities. For instance, if you own out-of-state property or are concerned about asset protection, an LLC or similar entity can be beneficial.
- Have you completed your 2023 charitable and family gifting commitments? The 2023 annual gift tax exemption amount is $17,000. To gift more than that tax-free, spouses can consider splitting gifts, or you may be able to use a portion of your lifetime exclusion amount.
Of course, this is a sampling of the myriad of financial planning considerations that could affect your long-term financial outcomes. The important takeaway is that what applies to your situation one year may not apply in another year and decisions on one point can have an impact on how you apply any of the other points, so ongoing review and refinement is critical. If you have any specific questions or would like to discuss your overall plan, please contact us.
Want a Year-End Planning checklist to fill out on your own? Click HERE for our fillable, PDF version.