There is still time for personal planning for 2013. Taking some easy steps now can save you time, money and aggravation later in the year and further down the road.
Complete or update your legal documents. If it has been five or more years since you completed or revised your legal documents, it is time for another review with your attorney. Everyone should have a will and a living will that outlines your wishes should you become unable to make health-care decisions for yourself. You should have a medical power of attorney that designates the person you want to carry out your wishes. You should also have a financial power of attorney.
Copies of all of your legal documents should be in a safe place. Now is the time to tell or remind your partner, a friend, your attorney or accountant where those important papers are stored.
Make sure you have a valid photo ID so that you don’t have to worry about the next election cycle. Each state may have different requirements.
Make sure that a copy of your living will is on file with your doctor and your hospital.
Review your health-insurance policies and make sure they fit your current needs and budget. If your health insurance is provided through your employer, ask your human-resources professional to help you evaluate your coverage. If you have private health-care insurance, review the policy and compare it to others that are available by going to www.healthcare.gov.
If you are on Medicare or will be eligible for Medicare in the near future, start planning now. For those turning 65, you can choose between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. There are many options within Medicare and they can be complex and confusing. Visit www.medicare.gov for more information or call 800-MEDICARE.
Schedule your annual physical, preventative-care screenings and necessary and appropriate vaccinations, including pneumonia and shingles.
Update your list of health issues, medications, allergies, doctors and a friend or family member to contact so that your list is accurate in case of emergency.
Review your bank account(s). Make sure you are getting the most interest and paying the lowest fees possible on your accounts. See if you qualify for no-fee checking or ATM use.
Check with your credit-card company to see if you can get a lower interest rate or reduced annual fee. Read the fine print before completing any transaction.
Review your list of payroll tax deductions and automatic payments from your bank account or credit card to make sure they are still accurate.
You can contribute to a 2012 IRA until April 15. Check with your advisor to see whether funding a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA makes the most sense for your situation. The Roth IRA may be a good source of tax-free retirement income if you qualify.
Review your 401K, 403B, IRA and other investment accounts to make sure they are accurate and that the investments are appropriate for your retirement goals and risk tolerance.
Getting close to applying for Social Security? Make sure you understand your benefits clearly, and the pros and cons of filing early vs. waiting. With the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act under review, your choice may impact your partner as well. You only get one chance to make this decision correctly. And what makes sense for your friends and neighbors may not be right for you. Speak with a financial advisor who has expertise in Social Security planning to help you understand your options.
Start collecting all the paperwork that will be necessary to complete your income-tax returns.
General insurance issues
Review your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to make sure it’s current and the most cost-effective policy available for your current needs. Is your flood insurance policy up to date?
Make sure the beneficiaries on all of your insurance policies, pensions and other benefits are current. Even if you designate a beneficiary for these items in your will, it is important that each policy is updated and matches the beneficiary listed in your will.
Special thanks to attorney Amy Steerman and accredited domestic-partnership advisor Jeremy Gussick for their assistance in the preparation of this article.
Ed Bomba is communications chair of the LGBT Elder Initiative. The LGBTEI fosters and advocates for services and resources that are competent, culturally sensitive, inclusive and responsive to the needs of LGBT older adults. To comment on this article, suggest topics for future articles or for more information, visit www.lgbtei.org or call 267-546-3448 and watch for “Gettin’ On” each month in PGN.