Sometimes I think we (financial journalists) spend so much time discussing the fine points of investing we miss the basics. Recent events indicate many investors – even those with great wealth – need a reminder to get their financial lives in order.
Get a will
We are all going to die. Few want to confront this reality.
This outcome is not in doubt. When it will occur is unknown.
Both Prince and Aretha Franklin died without wills. They had huge estates. Uncle Sam is grinning ear to ear.
Much has been written about the consequences of dying without a will. None of these consequences are good.
Your estate may be subjected to state and federal taxes that could have been avoided. There will be costs for administrating your estate, legal fees and, worst of all, your beneficiaries will be determined by a Court pursuant to the laws of the state where you resided. The state will even appoint the executor of your estate.
It is irresponsible not to have a will.
In my view, it’s professional malpractice for investment advisors and brokers not to remind you of the importance of executing a will.
Get life and disability insurance
If others depend on your income, you need life insurance. For younger people, low-cost term insurance is the right choice.
If you depend on your income to pay your expenses, you also need disability insurance.
This article provides excellent advice on buying life and disability insurance.
Have this uncomfortable discussion
If you or a loved one gets a devastating diagnosis, with no cure, under what circumstances would you decline or stop treatment?
The time to confront this issue is not after you’re traumatized by this diagnosis. Do it now when you can have a calm and unhurried discussion.
Don’t overcomplicate investing
Here’s a sound investing plan, in a couple of sentences, for those starting out in life. It’s not right for everyone, but it will work for the majority of young investors.
- Save a minimum of 15% of your net income every month.
- Invest in the Vanguard Target Retirement Fund with the date closest to your project retirement date.
- Continue this plan from the first day of work until you retire.
- Ignore all financial news. Make no changes to your investments. Never use a broker.
You’ll be fine.
Resource of the week
This sobering and depressing article in The Atlantic found nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. Don’t be one of them.