Here is a financial to-do list from Marty Lefton, an Investment Advisor Representative from Horizon Investments that I found helpful and hope you will too.

With fall here, I feel this is a good time to send you some financial reminders.  Below you will find a few ideas to consider.   As always, if you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
1.  Max out your IRA contribution for 2010. You can contribute up to $5,000 if you are less than 50 years of age and up to $6,000 if you are over 50.
2.  Transfer or rollover an existing 401(k) account from a previous employer. By moving this account, you may benefit by using professional money managers and investment options that are not provided by existing plans.
3.  Refinance your mortgage. Interest rates are extremely low, so if you haven’t looked at refinancing, now might be a great time.  Make sure an analysis is done to ensure refinancing is in your best interest.
4.  Look at meeting with an individual who understands how to effectively use medical reimbursement plans and flexible spending plans. You may be able to reduce your after-tax dollars being spent on out-of-pocket health related expenses. Not everyone is eligible, but the potential savings are worth taking the time to get educated.
5.  Is your estate worth more than $1 million? Although there is no estate tax in 2010, you should know that in 2011 the Federal Estate Tax returns and will take up to 55% of your estate over $1 million. In 2011, even relatively modest Silicon Valley estates will once again become taxable under current IRS law. Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn how to possibly double your estate tax exemption to at least $2 million. For larger estates, you should consider lifetime gifting strategies to ensure that more of your wealth passes to your chosen beneficiaries and charities.
6.  Create or modify your will.  In addition, look into the creation of a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  The best time to prepare for life’s surprises is before they occur.
7.  Review your insurance policies and coverage.  Are you over-insured or under-insured? Do you have an umbrella policy? Have you already purchased Long-Term Care coverage? Insurance is there to mitigate your risk; and there are ways to efficiently utilize deductibles to maximize coverage.
8.  Review and update your beneficiaries for both your insurance policies and your investment accounts.  Marriage status changes and births often affect long-term wishes.   
9.  If you are over the age 59 ½, consider using your Special Distribution Option from your 401(k) plan. Many plans offer this option, and you should strongly consider it if the investment options in your plan are limited; or if you have a high concentration of company stock in your 401(k).  You will want to speak to a financial advisor, before doing so, to fully understand the benefits and disadvantages of this capability.
10.  Own a business?  Look at creating a long-term exit strategy to maximize the value of your business.  Many business owners are great at what they do, but often overlook how to efficiently sell their business at the appropriate time.
11.  Know someone at risk of Foreclosure?  Real estate professionals with the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) Designation have trained extensively to understand the options, solutions, and effective methods for dealing with homeowners facing hardships.  As with any challenge, it is best to get educated on the choices available.
12.  Consider making changes to your investments.  Do you have an investment strategy that can play both offense – make money in up markets – and defense – protect or even make money during down markets?  If you are worried about the direction of the economy and are concerned about another loss to your portfolio, now is the time to get educated on the alternatives.
 
Knowing what to do and when regarding all of the above can often be overwhelming.  I do not expect you to act on all of these items, but they are here to prompt you to consider areas that may require attention.  If you need to sit down to gain some clarity out of what feels like a chaotic situation, then feel free to give me a call and we can look at what makes the most sense for your individual circumstances.
Take care.
Marty Lefton, Investment Advisor Representative
Horizon Investments
1625 The Alameda, Suite 625, San Jose, CA 95126
Ph:     408-286-3507
Cell:  408-309-7033  Fax:   408-286-6149
marty@horizoninvests.com   www.horizoninvests.com

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