Ten Ways To Get Your House In Order

by Alan Osborne, Great Falls Insurance Group

1. Update Your Living Will – A living will is a document which lets you decide whether or not to be kept on artificial life support. These documents may also appoint someone to make health care decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so.

2. Review your insurance coverage – This includes house, renters or condo coverage, auto coverage, health and disability coverage and life insurance. Don’t be misled by your employer coverage seeming to be adequate. It often does not cover all your needs, and is seldom portable.

3. Consider refinancing – Not appropriate in every case, but sometimes refinancing, especially in the current low interest environment, can free up capital and increase cash flow.

4. List and photograph all your valuables – Particularly helpful if you have specifically branded assets, like a Cartier watch or Tiffany bracelet or a Bose sound system. Anything that you think is important enough to insure should be clearly identified.

5. Review Social Security benefits – If you are unsure of your benefits, check up on the status of your benefits to make sure.

6. Lower Interest expenses – Looking back to point number 3, if you are able to refinance under reasonable terms and free up some cash, make sure you payoff any high interest rate credit cards first.

7. Review sources of income – Sometimes things are not exactly guaranteed …like your current employment. The current unemployment statistics become more critical when you are the one to get the pink slip. Take steps today to insure that you have at least 3 months, and preferably 6 months, net income saved in a bank or money market account, where you can access them quickly if necessary.

8. Anticipate major expenses – Many people end up scrambling quarterly or annually to meettax obligations when they should anticipate these obligations far in advance. Any bill that is recurring and predictable should be planned in advance. Switching to electronic payment may help keep you on an even keel.

9. Establish durable power of attorney – Make sure you designate a trusted loved one to have durable power of attorney. This allows them to sign documents for you and attend to your affairs should you be out of the country or incapacitated. This need not be permanent, and is a privilege, so consider this move carefully.

10. Consider extended care coverage – Long term care coverage is an insurance that pays providers for your care in a nursing home and may also cover in- home care. Once offered by many carriers, the list is growing smaller as companies opt out of the business as care costs escalate. Choose a large stable company (A rated or higher) and select those care options that most closely meet your needs. The latest statistics indicate that only 7% of the population has insured for this, while more than 50% will need care in their lifetime. The younger you are, the less expensive it is.

And, finally, be sure that you work with a financial specialist who understands your needs and listens carefully to your concerns. If you’re not comfortable with a specialist, no matter how many credentials he or she might have, move on. Find someone who is right for you.


To learn more, contact Alan at 703.282.7468.