Spring is here. The trees and flowers are blooming, and as the showers wash away the pollen, perhaps you too should do a bit of cleaning. Last month, we discussed preparing for next year’s tax filing. Now let’s talk about spring cleaning in your financial world.
Investment/Banking accounts: Consolidating some or all accounts may reduce fees incurred. Statements and other mailings can be set up online to allow reviewing via email when it is convenient for you, and it will reduce clutter in your mailbox and shredder. Bill pay is a great option to avoid paying for both stamps and checks.
Credit cards: Various companies offer cheaper rates for balance transfers, and some may even reduce the rate if you call. However, check your credit report first, for reports not in good standing could result in your rate reduction request triggering an increase in the rate. An annual review of your credit details with all three credit reporting agencies is essential. Start here: www.annualcreditreport.com.
Estate planning: Review your will, living trust and power of attorney documents. If you don’t have a will, create one. There are software programs available at reasonable prices, or you may prefer to meet with an estate attorney. If you own real estate and/or personal property such as a car, jewelry or even a TV, you get to decide—through a will—who takes possession of those items at your passing. Having such plans in place could also avoid a lengthy probate process for your loved ones. Having a power of attorney in place, should you become ill and unable to handle your finances, is also very important. It designates someone you trust to legally step in and make decisions for you. Finally, to avoid confusion, shred all old and/or prior documents once you have them updated.
Retirement assets: Wipe away clutter by consolidating or rolling over former employer 401(k) plans and IRAs. Increasing your current 401(k) contribution when you receive increases may help take the sting out of putting away additional funds. Also review and make updates to your beneficiary designations.
CRC 1480208 4/2016
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC (“Morgan Stanley”), its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. This material was not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. Clients should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving trust and estate planning and other legal matters.
The Niou Way Group at Morgan Stanley is a Financial Advisor team based in Richmond, VA. Although The Niou Way Group has compensated The Times Dispatch to have this article featured in its publications, this is not a solicitation nor intended to provide individually tailored investment advice. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors. The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.
The Niou Way Group at Morgan Stanley
Stephanie J. Caudill – Portfolio Associate
Stamford Y. Niou, CPM® –Senior Portfolio Management Director, Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor Phone: 804-780-3343