Do you feel like you have zoned out or are on autopilot at least until the pandemic is over, especially when it comes to your financial house? Perhaps you are starting to peak your head out and wanting to decide your next steps, but how do you do that?

Zoned Out or Stagnant?

Let’s first explore how this happened – feeling zoned out or stagnant. Recognizing how we got here might help us avoid this consequence in the future. Keep in mind I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™, not a Behavioral Health Professional so this article is offered as a thought-provoking essay resulting with action items.

I think it is important first to realize that the zoned out feeling or feeling of stagnation probably started way before COVID-19. In fact, one variable could actually be that of a learned response or way of thinking. And it may have started as early as your childhood. A simple example is are you the person who sees it as “the glass is half full” or the person who sees it as “the glass is half empty”. What’s great about anything we learn, we can unlearn it or at least improve our awareness to our responses and take actions that will ensure a more productive effect.

But even if one variable is our own learned response to information, could it also be the result from institutional messaging? When I say ‘institutional messaging’ I mean messaging like commercials, news programs or professional social media posts. Another factor working against us is that the human brain has a negative bias which is actually our link to survival. But, because we are inundated with negative messaging, unless there is an immediate threat, we ignore it or feel helpless and become numb to it.

Consumers have been the target of a constant stream of negative and fear-based messaging as a result of increased competition. And this barrage of this type of information has turned off many consumers. More contemporary marketers believe positive marketing messages are the way forward. Today’s consumers are very clear about their values and the level of social/environmental awareness they want from the companies they invest in, whether that be by time, money or emotion.

Take Control

The good news is you have control over your feelings and can take forward moving action to shake the zoned out feeling while strengthening your financial house. The following is a brief list of tasks to help you start this process – some easy and some more difficult.

  • Review your financial goals/strategies and measure your progress
  • Check your credit for any errors or possible fraud
  • Ensure your emergency fund is properly funded
  • Pay down your debt
  • Create or review your estate planning documents – Trust, Will, Durable Financial Power of Attorney (POA), Medical POA, Living Will
  • Create asset/debt lists – Real property, Personal property, Investments/Banks, Insurance
  • Consolidate accounts – 401(k)s, IRAs, ROTHs

It may also be helpful to meet with your financial adviser as they can help with most of these tasks and provide you a quarterly/year-end financial plan review.

Need help? I would love to speak with you about your personal financial plan. Please request a consultation!

7 Tips to Successfully Get Your Affairs in Order

We all know the day is coming when our time will be up and we will leave our loved ones behind. It’s a harsh reality that no one wants to accept, and no one thinks they need to worry about until later on in their life. However, the time is now, not later, to get your affairs in order.

This might seem overwhelming at first, however, your loved ones will thank you if you prepare your estate now, thus allowing a smoother transition for them (with all things considered) upon your death.

To get you started on the right track, here are my top ten tips on how you can successfully prepare your estate for your loved ones when your last day on earth arrives.

1. Make/Update Your Will

Do you have a Will at all? This is step one. If you don’t have a Will, now is the time to make one, especially if you have loved ones you would like to leave money or property to, or if you have children. Making a Will can ensure everything is how you want it to be after you are no longer here. Not having a Will can put your family through more stress and heartache should you fail to do so, as there are a lot more hoops they will have to jump through, on top of the emotional turmoil they will already be dealing with regarding your departure.

If you already have a Will, then that’s great! However, when was the last time you updated it? Making sure your Will is updated can keep you on the right track to successfully preparing your estate.

2. Create Durable General Power of Attorney

If you become incapacitated or incompetent, you will not be able to handle your own financial transactions and affairs. Therefore, designating a durable power of attorney, someone who handles your financial world on your behalf, can be highly beneficial for you to do.  Otherwise, your family or loved ones will end up in court for a guardianship proceeding. This can be a very long, difficult process. 

3.  Review Your IRA/ 401K/Other Retirement Plans

You worked hard to save for your retirement all of those years–so hard, that you will still have plenty of funds left that will probably exceed your lifespan. Bravo! Not a lot of people can achieve that. Make sure every penny that you saved and earned goes to the people you want to benefit from your leftover hard work–whether it’s your family members, a charity, or whomever, review your retirement and investment plans to double check who your beneficiary is. 

4. Create A List of Financial Accounts

This is great especially if you have many financial accounts. If something happens to you, does your spouse know about all of the financial accounts you both shared together over the years if you were the one who paid the bills? Would he/she know all of the passwords to be able to gain access to your financial assets together should something happen to you? Don’t leave your family in the dark trying to piece things together with the limited information they may be able to find.  

5.  Make Arrangements for Access to Your Safety Deposit Box

This is one that a lot of people accidentally forget. You have collected valuable items over the years and have kept them safe in your bank’s safety deposit box; however, if you don’t tell anyone valuable items are in there, give someone access or knowledge of where the key is, or forget to add someone as being allowed to access your box, then once something happens to you, your valuable items will not get left behind to those you love most.

6.  Verify Account Ownership and Beneficiary Designations for All Accounts

Making sure you have added the correct and current information for your beneficiaries and have allocated the percentage you wish to leave behind for them is also imperative to ensure your monies are going where you want them to go after you are gone. This is important for any monetary asset, like bank accounts, and life insurance policies, not just those retirement accounts! Comb through all of your accounts to make sure the beneficiary designations are up to date and how you want them set up.  Beneficiary designations trump whatever is stated in your Will or Trust. 

7.  Provide A Trusted Family Member or Friend with the Location of Confidential or Valuable Items, Spare Keys and Security Codes

In life, we all try to be careful with whom we trust sensitive information to, such as what our passwords are, where our spare keys are located, and more; however, when successfully setting up your estate, it is vital to pick at least one person you entrust this information to so at least one person has access to your assets and valuable items once you are gone.

By following these seven tips, you will be better prepared to hand off your estate and assets to the loved ones and charities of your choice to ensure your legacy gets left behind in the way you want it to.

About the Author, Nicole Pavlik: Estate Planning, Business Planning, and Probate Attorney

Nicole Pavlik Law Firms helps residents of Phoenix, Arizona with their estate planning, business planning, and probate needs. To see what Nicole Pavlik can do for your estate or business, give her office a call at (602) 635-6176.