New Year Brings Financial Renewal

He was the youngest President at age 42 following McKinley’s assignation, led an uncanny regiment of cowboys and Ivy League polo players at San Juan Hill, and was a renowned reformer rooting out corruption, cronyism and slackers. He was called Theodore, Teddy, or TR. And I’ve gained a deeper respect for Theodore Roosevelt from reading David McCullough’s historical narrative “Mornings on Horseback.” I better understand the background and family that helped mold the gregarious, boisterous, and interesting TR.

During TR’s lifetime, the US had grown to the world’s greatest economic power largely due to innovation. At the time TR was born, a farmer needed about sixty hours to grow and harvest a single acre of wheat. Four decades later, in the late 1880’s, a farmer needed only five. The threshing machine had greatly improved agricultural productivity.

Technology, discovery and innovation are engines of economic growth and enhance our lives. Consider a handful of advancements or breakthroughs that happened this past year:

Bioengineering – Doctors implanted the first synthesized blood vessels into a patient potentially leading to development of bioengineered veins for heart disease, and whole organs or body parts. Controversial stem cell research continues to shorten paths to      cloning, organ generation, and new treatments for Parkinson’s and diabetes.

Medical technology – New technique in cardiac MRI (T1 MRI) advances the detection of early childhood heart diseases. Researchers are attempting to integrate MRI and PET imaging to improve organ evaluation without less radiation exposure. And others explore the benefits of using silver in antibiotics.

Technology – Scientists created the equivalent of a lithium-ion battery, a nano battery, thousands of times smaller than a human hair that could be used in tiny machines (e.g. cardiovascular study). German scientists harnessed brain signals via EEG to brake a moving car quicker. 3D printers are creating jet parts. Artificial intelligence is expanding with advanced voice and image recognition.

These and future advancements have significant impact in wealth and financial planning. They provide us more efficient tools. They offer potential business and investment opportunities. And we plan to save more so our retirement monies cover longer life expectancies, the costs associated with aging, and inflation protection.

And with the dawn of a New Year, it’s time to refresh your personal financial plan. Here are some things to review:

How much is enough – Make sure you’re on track with your saving and spending plans and that you’re well-funded for retirement.

When  should you tell your heirs – The best time to have that conversation varies. Some feel they should be well-prepared. Some think secrecy is best. And others are a bit too young.

Any issues – There’s a growing trend to keep assets in trust for your heir’s protection. This includes upping the age when assets are freely available to them. Factors may include broken relationships, their financial issues, and a litigious society.

How to split the Mars bar – Situations where all heirs might not be treated the same include equalizing prior wealth sharing (e.g. financial support, college costs, etc.), second marriages, or skipping to grandchildren.

Best person for the job – Designating successor executors and trustees are important decisions. Some issues include longevity, capability, and maintaining positive relationships.

May you be blessed with peace, the reality of hope, and the joys of health and opportunities in the New Year.

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