King Solomon famously wrote, “It is the little foxes that spoil the vine.” In a secular moment, he might have written: “it is the little assets that spoil the estate plan.”
We uncover forgotten assets in a family’s financial situation more often than not with careful examination. They may be overlooked or held in accounts you no longer check; however, these neglected assets require your attention.
It may be a small 401k from a first job, an old IRA contribution, or a stock lingering in a long-forgotten lockbox. While focusing our attention on larger assets and the current context is easy, investments are not meant to function on autopilot. Tax requirements and investment opportunities dictate at least occasional attention.
When reviewing your assets, some basic rules apply. Generally, a family will have a joint account and a couple of IRA’s or retirement accounts. Remember that retirement and IRA accounts must stay in individual names, and account holders cannot mix their money with their spouse’s accounts.
If you have three or four small IRA accounts in your name, you can place them in a single account to simplify and generally reduce administrative expenses. If you have old retirement accounts, you may be able to move them to your current retirement plan or directly to your IRA.
Orphan accounts and long-lost dollars can impact decisions we should be made in any one of five distinct financial areas. These areas are not prominent, and it isn’t easy to understand how they interrelate.
Where do you begin? Always start with the end in mind. For most people, the starting point is their retirement plan. We call it your life after work because most people don’t vacation the rest of their lives after leaving the workforce. Instead, they transition into a new phase.
Tax planning must be done proactively before the end of every year to determine contributions and financial decisions properly. Creating and following your investment policy is paramount to getting through the storms and challenges of market movements.
There are also one-off situations that accompany life. Some are good and others painful, but they are part of the process. Last, but not least is the legacy plan that ensures your assets are distributed where and how you want them after you are gone. Allowing orphan assets to exist without recognition can create challenges in each of the five critical financial elements.
When we uncover investment decisions that create tax penalties, the situation occurs because another account had been totally disregarded more often than not. When estate plans fail, it is because accounts weren’t titled correctly, so the documents could not function as intended. When insurance policies don’t deliver as expected, beneficiary designations are overlooked. Each seemingly minor scenario can create huge holes in your financial future.
Understanding the reciprocal relationship between investments and taxes is critical. Just as important is keeping track of what you own.
The Financial Enhancement Group is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through World Equity Group, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services can be provided by Financial Enhancement Group (FEG) or World Equity Group. FEG and World Equity Group are separately owned and operated.