It is becoming more common that many people who were once married or in a committed relationship are faced with managing finances alone at some point in their lives. While it's not something we want to think about, unfortunately, the first time these individuals experience handling complicated financial matters is during a personal crisis following the death or divorce of a spouse or partner.

I've prepared a list of thought-provoking questions pertaining to financial preparedness that can help ensure you are thoroughly ready for any changes that may occur. These topics/questions are a starting point. Begin by reviewing the questions, determine what you've already done, and check those items off the list. For the questions you need to address or take action on, seek the advice of professional advisors and trusted family members.

Asset management
o Do I have a clear picture of where my assets are located?
o Will my retirement assets provide a comfortable and secure retirement for my life expectancy? And are my investments appropriate in today's economy?
o Are my assets titled properly?
o Do I have an emergency fund?
o Am I taking advantage of techniques to reduce my taxes?

Estate planning
o Do I have a will? If so, is my will current?
o Have I determined what I will owe in estate taxes? If so, have I funded my estate-tax liability?
o Have I explored and taken advantage of wealth-transfer techniques?
o Do I wish to provide for charitable giving?
o Are my power of attorney and my living will up to date?

Debt management
o Do I know my credit rating?
o Could I get a loan if I applied?

Insurance coverage
o Do I have enough insurance coverage to cover medical expenses?
o To provide for disability/long-term care, members' security, and to fund estate-tax liability?

In addition ...
o Have I coordinated my advisors (attorney, CPA, banker) activities?
o What changes in my life are likely to occur within the next three years?
o Do I know the status of my parents'/childrens' financial situation and the implications for my financial well-being?
o Would I be prepared for a family emergency if it happened tomorrow?

Be sure to consult with your own tax and legal advisors before taking any action that could have tax consequences. Any estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state.

Caroline Hill, Financial Advisor


(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).