Now's the Time to Plan Your 2016 Financial Calendar

January 11, 2016
Bill Schu

As we ease into 2016, it's a good time to mark your calendar for periodic check-ups and financial milestones.

Every year, you know there are financial matters you need to take care of throughout the year, but you may not know when the best time to do them. For dentists who run their own practice or participate in a partnership, annual financial calendars should include business reviews as well as personal review. This brief, handy guide will help you figure out when to do what.

Review 2015 portfolio performance and make necessary 2016 adjustments: Now. It’s not written in stone that the end of one year and the beginning of the next is the best time to review past performance and make adjustments. But, since any time is fine, how about now? Why now? Because re-balancing and reviewing can seem like a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have,” and may, for that reason, get pushed to the back burner. But it really shouldn’t. This is an important step to make sure you are on track to meeting your financial goals.

It’s important to review this annually, because priorities change, and financial goals are not set in stone. Use this time to check your progress, verify the performance of any advisor you may be working with, and look at any needs for immediate liquidity.

Gather tax information: End of January. By Jan. 31, with a few minor exceptions, employers, financial institutions, and others who have documents related to your tax liability are required to send them to you. That’s a good time to gather all your documents for your tax professional, or, if you do your taxes yourself through an online program, to get a sense for your liability or refund. If you owe, you can wait until April to submit your taxes and payments. If you’re expecting a refund, you’ll want to submit your tax returns sooner.

Review wills and beneficiaries: Early spring. Consider this task a part of spring cleaning. As we covered in greater detail here, each year, you should look over your retirement plan documents, and discuss beneficiaries with your advisor and your family to make sure nothing has changed and the money will go where it’s supposed to in the event of your untimely passing.

Insurance review: Now. Why now? For the same reason you should review your portfolio performance now--because otherwise this may get pushed to the back burner, where it decidedly doesn’t belong. Life insurance is an obvious need, but depending on your age and overall health, you may also consider long-term care insurance, disability insurance, updating your malpractice coverage, and any other needs you should address.

When it comes to insuring your practice, there is a long list of variables, including new services you’re now offering, changes to Federal and State Laws regarding dental malpractice, and recent court decisions that could prompt a change in your malpractice coverage. Talk to your malpractice insurance provider to make sure you’re up to date.

Asset protection: Fall. It’s not as if this step is any less important than any of the tasks above, but the simplest way to become overwhelmed is to over-schedule the beginning of the year.

If you run your own practice, or if you simply have significant assets you’ve built up over time, it’s a good idea to consult an asset protection attorney to make sure you’ve minimized your personal and business liability. Make sure your dental malpractice insurance is sufficient and up-to-date. Is your risk management plan as robust as it needs to be? An annual review can help make sure that it is.

Of course, there are many other steps you’ll need to take during 2016 to make sure you stay on track. Having a basic calendar in your head or on paper will help you navigate the new year.