Financial planning is an ongoing process individuals and businesses should implement by organizing all aspects of their finances. This will assist in identifying financial goals, providing a comprehensive written Financial Plan, and implementing the plan in accordance with the objectives that are most important to you.
Comprehensive financial planning should involve these areas and these specific questions.
* How can you accumulate a sizable estate to pass on as a family legacy?
* How will your hard-earned assets be distributed after your death?
* How can you minimize federal estate taxes and state inheritance taxes?
* How can you best provide for your surviving spouse and children?
* Whom do you want to carry out your wishes?
* How can you accumulate enough in retirement savings and pension benefits to enjoy a comfortable retirement free of financial worry and not be a burden to your family?
* How much (or little) can you expect to receive from Social Security?
* How can you coordinate your IRA, 401k, pension, Social Security, and other retirement benefits for maximum effectiveness?
* At what age can you really afford to retire, especially if you have children to send to college?
* Are you taking full advantage of the tax laws so that you are not paying more than necessary?
* Are there changes you could make in your business structure that would reduce your income taxes?
* Do you have access to changes in tax law that affect you?
* How are you protected against the unpleasant and potentially catastrophic losses associated with natural disasters, illness or accident, disability, property loss, personal liability, and premature death?
* Is your business protected against these potential losses?
* How would your business be affected if your key people were no longer able to function?
* Do you really have a structured investment strategy or do you just invest haphazardly in the latest investment fad?
* Do you know how to increase your investment returns and lower your investment risk through the use of the principles of the Modern Portfolio Theory of Asset Allocation?
* Is your asset mix appropriate for your short-term needs as well as your long-term goals?
* Do you adjust your investment strategy as your investment objectives change?
* Are your investments effectively overcoming the ravages of inflation and taxation?
* Do your investments accurately reflect your risk/reward profile?
Answers to these questions should be incorporated into a customized personal financial plan tailor made just for you.
A Financial Plan is specific to your unique needs and will include the following:
* Current and projected financial statements
* “What if” scenarios with different assumptions “Cash flow objectives”
* Retirement goals and tax-efficient ways to achieve them
* Funding children’s education
* Protecting against the financial impact of premature death or disability
* Implementation schedule with a time frame to follow.
Expect this process to be an eye-opening experience. You should be able to see all the disparate areas of your financial life come together into a comprehensive, meaningful, integrated whole.
All parts will work together like a well-oiled machine. You will see exactly where you are now, where you want to go, and most importantly, how to get there. Any obstacles you face will be
Your personal financial plan is a living document that should be reviewed on a regular schedule and altered to meet your changing circumstances.
Developing your financial plan is only the first step in a life-long process of wealth accumulation and financial security.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: C.C. Collins is a Wealth Strategist and Author of “Your Virtual Financial Advisor”