Valentine's Day: The Perfect Time to Talk ... Financial Planning

February is the month we traditionally celebrate our sweethearts. We send flowers, buy candy, massage feet, and serve breakfast in bed. We do all this in the name of making them feel extra special. Since our mind is on our honey right now, let's review a few things the Military Fool can do today that will go a lot further than a dozen roses to show you truly care, and that will ensure their long term financial security in the event they are left to manage the household finances on their own someday.

Don't be a silent partner. Communication is important in all relationships, but when it comes to finances, it's a crucial conversation. Sharing financial information and concerns with your sweetie could positively modify behavior, eliminate confusion, and even prepare them for the future. While one may be the family CFO, both have the need to know. Significant items include investments, life insurance, and savings. But don't overlook the seemingly small stuff like your lawyer's name and address, accounts numbers, and passwords, and whether bills are paid by check or on line.

Schedule a financial summit. Meet together with your financial planner, accountant, and lawyer to make introductions and ensure there's a comfort level. When a loved one is reeling from a broken heart, knowing and trusting the family's financial gurus can be comforting.

Get the name right. We've yet to hear of an unintended beneficiary, such as an ex, returning inherited funds to the rightful owner. It's important to note a beneficiary designation form supersedes a will! Make sure the beneficiary arrangements on your life insurance, annuities, and retirement plans reflect your wishes.

Make it legal. OK, we know you may already be married, but I'm talking about updating legal documents, such as your will, living will, powers of attorney, and other legal documents such as a living trust. If you're in a new or second marriage, the euphoria sometimes overshadows financial sense, and you could forget to take care of those seemingly mundane, yet critical items.

Not your first rodeo? If you've found yourself in a blended family situation, it compounds the importance of everything discussed here. And additional planning and discussion may be required. For example, often times a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust may be appropriate to ensure the current spouse is financially secure during their lifetime, but the remaining proceeds pass along to the beneficiaries of choice like the kids from the grantor's first marriage.

While this month we're happily reminded we have love in our lives, financial discussions should take place year-round. To add a little fun, consider a monthly or quarterly money date. Financial planning doesn't begin and end with a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day.

June Lantz Walbert is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner with USAA Financial Planning Services. She is also a lieu­tenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve with 20 years of service. Walbert's basic branch is Air Defense Artillery. She writes a weekly advice column, "Ask June" on military.com. Follow June @AskJune_usaa.

USAA or its affiliates do not provide tax advice. Taxpayers should seek advice based upon their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. This material is for informational purposes. Consider your own financial circumstances carefully before making a decision and consult with your tax, legal or estate planning professional.

USAA Financial Planning Services is a service mark of USAA that refers to the financial planning services and financial advice provided by USAA Financial Planning Services Insurance Agency, (known as USAA Financial Insurance Company in California, Lic. No. 0E36312), a registered investment advisor and insurance agency and its wholly owned subsidiary. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards,, owns the certification marks CFP ® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM in the U.S. which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.


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