At the start of a new year I am full of good intentions to get more organized and accomplish goals. As one of my goals I am reviewing plans for my family’s investments, estate and long term care. I have taken the basic steps, have documents in place, have insurance and titled some assets POD or TOD. But like the shoe maker’s kids going without shoes, I have not done all of the steps my most diligent clients have taken to make sure their house is in order. Through a series of articles in my newsletter I will tell you of what steps I am taking to make my planning more comprehensive and ease the burden on my loved ones in case something unexpected happens to me.

       I recently participated in a financial literacy, budgeting and spending program at my church. The first step in this program is to see where you are. This makes sense because you cannot make plans for what you need to do unless you determine issues and know how to measure your progress. Therefore I first need to make a list of my assets and liabilities. Then I need to estimate my income and expenses. An accountant would label this information as a balance sheet and income statement. A banker might consider the information as net worth and cash flow statements.

       At the beginning of 2012 I will receive financial statements on investments, receive income tax information and know the county’s estimate of the value of my house. In addition I will gather my income from all sources and deductable expenditures to complete income tax returns. Determining debt and spending distributions will take more time, but can be done based on a review of last year’s statements and reports. While it is beneficial to know detailed information about debts and spending, for estate and long term care planning overall spending and debt totals are sufficient. If you need forms that list categories for assets, liabilities, income and expenses I can forward you my Estate Planning Information form and the budgets that are used in determining long term care planning. Please let me know if you would like me to send you the forms.

       While it is absolutely no fun to list lots of numbers and maybe determine that you did not fully appreciate your financial position, knowledge can make you wiser and better prepared. I will let you know next month on my progress and the next step in preparing my plan.