People like to set resolutions for the New Year – lose weight, spend more time with family, get their estate plan in order, put finances in order. But resolutions always seem to fade by February. Maybe it’s because they are too vague, too big, too unwieldy. Why not set goals instead, with mini-goals along the way to get you there?
If your goal is to get your finances in order, start with tracking your spending. You don’t need anything fancy, a notebook or spreadsheet on your computer will be fine. Next, keep track of all your bills and income. When you have a month or so of expenses tracked, and all of your bills in one place, contact a financial planner to help you make sense of it all, and put a plan in place for moving forward. This might involve investing your money in a certain way, obtaining appropriate insurance policies, even setting up a college fund for your children.
If your goal is to “get your affairs in order”, again, start small. First, sit down with your spouse or partner and decide what you want to accomplish. It might be making sure someone is appointed to care for your children if you are unavailable, or having someone be able to make decisions for you and manage your finances if you are unable. Perhaps you want to protect your assets or provide for a child with special needs, or maybe you just want to make things simple for your family if you pass away.
After you’ve thought about your “big” goals, think about who the people are that you trust and who you’d want to handle things in the event you are unable. It might be that you and your spouse choose each other as the primary agent named in your documents, but that you each choose different alternates. That is fine. In addition, you can choose different people to manage your finances, make health care decisions and become the guardian of any minor children. The important thing is that you are choosing people you trust, and who will be able to handle the responsibilities.
Once you’ve decided who you’d like to appoint and what your vision for the future looks like, or even if you’ve just narrowed it down a little, you should contact your attorney to meet and talk about your plans. Your attorney can review your current situation and your goals and let you know what you need to do to achieve them. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to having your estate plan in place and you can move on to working on your other goals like reducing stress and getting in shape.