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What should I do to prepare for a potentially successful year ahead? © anyaberkut via iStock
Dec 7, 2016

What should I do to prepare for a potentially successful year ahead?

A new year can bring about the best of intentions. Many of us will turn our thoughts to living a healthier lifestyle, spending more time with family and “working smarter” in the year ahead. We may even join a new gym!

At this time of year, too, it’s common to think about where you are in relation to where you want to be, and to attempt to close any gaps. It’s a good time to put some structure to these thoughts and evaluate the year ahead.

But where do you start?

First, think about any plans that you had for 2016 that you were unable to complete. It’s not too late to close the loop on open items.

What items were you planning to work on but didn’t? It could be that your long-standing estate plan hasn’t been reviewed in many years. This is a good time, then, to make sure you understand what provisions are in your documents and decide if they still reflect your wishes.

If your advisor hasn’t already reviewed your cash-flow plan, the new year presents a good opportunity to find out where you are on the road to making work optional. If you’ve already achieved that goal, it’s good to make sure your plan for creating cash flow to support your legacy and lifestyle is similarly on track.

Of course, some clients expect a deep dive review of how their financial assets have performed lately even as they take some time to think about any changes they want to make to investments or allocations for the year ahead.

One of our strategies involves tracking our clients’ long-term advanced-planning goals. That way, we can revisit the items that have yet to be accomplished. You may want to consider your gifting plan, not only to heirs but also to philanthropy. Topping-up gifts or starting new pledges are actions that should be monitored so that you don’t lose out on annual gift opportunities.

If your advisor hasn’t already reviewed your cash-flow plan, the new year presents a good opportunity to find out where you are on the road to making work optional.

There is also an opportunity here to get some quick wins on short-term goals, as well. A review of property and casualty insurance, options for long-term care and any nagging issues can be done fairly quickly and provide comfort that you have the right plan in place.

Consider a quick call to your CPA to update on any changes in your income or capital gains and losses. That move may well help you avoid any unpleasant surprises when tax deadlines roll around in the spring.

The last thing to think about is how your financial professional has performed over the last year. While investment performance is obviously a key metric, there are other issues to consider. An equally important metric is how your advisor has handled items like those mentioned here throughout the year. I believe that advisors should help keep their clients on track, with regular checkups on investment performance and on cashflow plans, and risk assessments, as well as accounting and wealth-transfer strategies. That way you can have a truly holistic approach to the New Year.

Andrew B. Shantz and Thomas Mantione are Financial Advisors with UBS Financial Services Inc., at 750 Washington Blvd., Stamford, CT 06901. UBS Financial Services Inc. Financial Advisors engage Worth to feature this article. In providing wealth management services to clients, we offer both investment advisory and brokerage services, which are separate and distinct and differ in material ways. For information, including the different laws and contracts that govern us, visit ubs.com/workingwithus. The strategies and/or investments referenced may not be suitable for all investors. UBS Financial Services Inc., its affiliates and its employees are not in the business of providing tax or legal advice. Clients should seek advice based on their particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and may not necessarily reflect the views of UBS Financial Services Inc. UBS Financial Services Inc. is a subsidiary of UBS AG.Member, FINRA/SIPC.

This article was originally published in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Worth.

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