Budgeting · March 25, 2021

4 Steps to a Successful Financial Wellness Checkup

Performing an annual financial checkup is critical to protecting your assets and ensuring your family's financial well-being. Just as you'd go to a trained doctor for your yearly physical checkup, it's a good idea to conduct your financial review with a trusted financial advisor.

Review your goals with your advisor, and let them know if anything has changed with you or your family that could impact your financial plan. You'll then want to review the basics of your budget, savings and assets.

Based on your goals, your advisor can also help you with strategies designed to preserve and grow your wealth, develop your financial legacy and address any sensitive topics such as end-of-life care.

As you work with an advisor on your financial checkup, be sure to include these four key steps so you can get a holistic view of your financial health.

1 Review your estate planning documents

If you haven't already, now is a good time to establish a will that provides clarity for your loved ones in the event of your death, explaining how you want your assets distributed. It's also wise to discuss whether you'd like to establish trusts for your family, as well as choose a healthcare proxy and power of attorney.

You may also want to verify that your life insurance beneficiary information is up to date and evaluate whether you need to increase your coverage level. If you've had more children or another change in family circumstances, it might be time to make some adjustments.

2 Identify your proxies

Proxies are people you choose to legally handle key decisions on your behalf when needed. For example, a healthcare proxy can make health-related decisions if you’re unable to do so yourself.

It’s also a good idea to have a power of attorney, or POA, in place. A POA authorizes someone to handle your finances for you, including paying your bills and managing your assets.

Before designating a proxy, make sure they understand your wishes and philosophy toward these important matters so you can trust that they'll act based on your guidance.

3 Consider charitable giving

If you'd like to develop a philanthropic legacy, start thinking about causes that align with your values and that you may want to contribute to. Your financial advisor can review different giving strategies and their associated tax advantages with you, depending on your goals.

For instance, you may want to receive an annual income stream, use income tax deductions to offset your income, reduce or eliminate capital gains or develop a long-term donation strategy.

4 Include the entire family

When it comes to maintaining strong financial health, it's important to consider the whole family's needs. Make sure to check in with your dependents and aging parents before starting your financial checkup.

In addition to assigning a guardian for any minor children, review your parents' or other dependent relatives' finances. Discuss their wishes regarding nursing facilities, end-of-life care and medical treatments. Now may be a good time to verify that they have a will and POA in place for themselves.

These conversations aren't always easy to have, but it's important to have them while everyone can assert their wishes clearly. A financial wellness checkup once a year can provide reassurance to you and your loved ones, both now and in the future.


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