Wrapping Up 2013: Tips to Completing Your Year End Planning
Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Hello everyone! We hope you are all enjoying a safe and fun holiday season. Here at M&L Special Needs Planning, we are really enjoying the extra time we get to spend with our family and friends during this time of year.
As 2013 draws to a close, it is certainly a time to reflect on the changes and goals we have made and accomplished during the past 12 months. It is also a time to look ahead, set new goals, and plan for the challenges that will face us in 2014. With that in mind, for today’s blog we have decided to focus our attention on some helpful tips for wrapping up your year-end planning. We have included some year-end tax tips, some legal details that should be revisited every year, and some general tips that can help you prepare for the busy year ahead.
Year End Planning Tips: Tax
As much as we hate to remind you, (and ourselves) there is no doubt that 2014 will bring another tax season. If you have a few unoccupied hours to yourself over the holidays, it may be beneficial to begin your tax preparation now, rather than wait until tax season when school and work will be in full swing. Here are some handy year-end tips that may help you navigate the 2014 tax season with relative ease, and save you money in the process.
Begin your Tax File Now
Gather together medical receipts, moving expenses, charitable contribution records, childcare receipts, etc. in a file. You may wish to print off a tax preparation checklist to help you ensure that you have everything you need to file your return in a few months – a great guide can be found here. Take the time to make jot notes regarding missing records, or questions that you will have for your accountant when it comes time to file your return. If you don’t already have an accountant who is familiar with filing returns for families with special needs, you may wish to begin researching accountants in your area, and make notes regarding contact information and pricing policies of each.
Make that Year End Charitable Contribution
This may also be a good time to make that yearly (or year-end) contribution(s) to any charitable organizations that you support. In addition to spreading a little more holiday joy, it can be a useful way to lower your income – as long as the organization is IRS qualified, the contribution is deductible. As with everything, there are regulations governing how much you can contribute (in regards to deductions) and the ways in which claiming these deductions can be of the utmost benefit to you, so be sire to research before making any large donations. A helpful guide to charitable donations and tax deductions can be found here.
Contribute to your Retirement Plan
Making a year end contribution to your retirement plan is a quick and relatively easy way to ensure that you can save on your 2014 tax return – with the added benefit of building your nest egg. The IRS sets the limit for 401K contributions for each person every year – you can find that information on your tax return for 2012. Visit www.about.com’s article 401(k) Contribution Limits or visit the IRS website for more information.
Legal Year End Tips
Review & Update your Letter of Intent
The end of the year is a great time to review and update your Letter of Intent. The Letter of Intent generally contains information on your child’s daily schedule, challenges, and goals for the future, as well as pertinent information about the child’s medical professionals, therapists, teachers, etc. It can also contain your hopes and wishes for your child’s future. Once you have reviewed and updated this letter, you may wish hand out the revised copy to your child’s guardian(s), as well as any legal and medical professionals that work with your child.
Special Needs Trust
The holiday season is a time when your child with special needs may receive large financial gifts from relatives and friends – it is important to remember that if a child with special needs has assets in his or her name that total more than $2000, it may jeopardize his or her eligibility for government benefits. You may wish to let friends and family know about the Special Needs Trust (SNT), a legal way for your child to receive monetary gifts without sacrificing valuable state and federal benefits. For more information on the special needs trust, please visit our SNT information page. If you don’t have a SNT established for your child, you may wish to create one in the New Year. For any questions on the SNT, please contact us.
General Planning Tips
As you and your family reflect on the last year, you may also wish to look ahead and begin planning for 2014. Are you expecting any major changes this year? Are any of your children leaving for college, turning 18, or experiencing any other milestones? Are you or your spouse contemplating a career change, a move, or retirement? The end of the year is a great time to evaluate your current financial situation and lifestyle, and plan for any changes you may wish to make in 2014. Set financial and life goals, and create a plan that will allow to you reach those goals. Write a list for things to accomplish in 2014 – that may include beginning a college savings account for your child, or putting away a little extra every month for your retirement. Those goals may be as simple as vowing to spend more quality time with your family, or planning a vacation with friends. At M&L Special Needs Planning, we firmly believe that just about anything can be accomplished with adequate planning and preparation – and we are here to help you every step of the way.
Thank you so much for taking the time to drop by our blog today – we hope that we have provided you with some ideas as to how to complete your year end planning for 2013. If you have any questions about financial planning, legal issues, or tax concerns for individuals with special needs please do not hesitate to contact us. We are experts in financial and life planning for families with special needs, and we work with professionals in all areas of financial, legal, and life planning. You may also wish to check out our Workshop Series, which we deliver free of charge to interested groups, or subscribe to our Independent Living Program and Housing Project member directory.
Thanks again, everyone – we hope to see you next week. Have a great holiday!
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