“I don’t really need financial planning. I have enough saved up for retirement so I’ll be okay.”

A common misconception many people have is that financial planning is just about investing or planning for retirement. I admit, just a few years ago, I was one of those people.

It was only after taking the six classes that comprise the CFP® professional educational program and working for a fee-only financial management firm that I realized the breadth and depth of true financial planning. The coursework gave me an important basic introduction into what my colleagues at Modera do for our clients.

The comprehensive nature of financial planning.

Financial planning can touch every aspect of your life. I’ve found the essence of financial planning is helping people make decisions that will help them achieve their short-term goals and not derail their plans for the future.

Some ways to evaluate a financial life.

To help you closely examine different areas of your financial life, here are some questions you may want to address:

Estate Planning

  • When was the last time you reviewed or updated your estate plan?

  • Do you have an updated living will, health care proxy, and power of attorney?

  • Are you familiar and comfortable with your trustees and guardians?

  • If you are a trustee of a trust, do you understand your fiduciary obligations?

  • When was the last time you reviewed your beneficiary designations on your IRAs and retirement plan accounts? (While your will provides guidance on the division of your assets, it does not apply to your retirement accounts such as IRAs or 401(k)s.)

Retirement Planning

  • What asset base do you think you will need in retirement to maintain your standard of living?

  • How are you saving for retirement?

  • Do you understand the implications of timing when claiming Social Security benefits?

  • Have you considered the compounding effect of inflation on your retirement income plan?

  • What is your plan for health insurance coverage in retirement? Do you understand the differences and requirements for Medicare Parts A and B and supplemental coverage?

Risk Management

  • Do you have a plan in case of a financial emergency?

  • How many months of cash or cash equivalents do you maintain for unexpected expenses? In what type of account(s) do you keep your emergency funds?

  • When was the last time you reviewed your homeowners and automobile insurance? Do you have an umbrella liability policy?

  • Do you have a disability insurance policy, and, if so, do you understand the benefit provisions?

  • Have you considered whether you need life insurance and whether the insurance should be owned by a trust?

Tax Planning

  • Does your financial planner proactively work with your accountant to manage the tax implications of your wealth?

  • Do you have a plan to take advantage of your changing tax circumstances from year to year?

  • Did you know life insurance proceeds could be included as part of the estate subject to estate tax?

  • Have you considered the implications of estate taxes on your plans to leave wealth to your family or others?

Want to have a better handle on your financial health? What areas do you have covered and what areas do you think could use some direction?

Modera believes in a comprehensive approach to financial planning. Speaking with one of our wealth managers could help you identify areas for improvement within your own financial life that you may not have considered before.

Anna Lui is a Senior Marketing Manager at Modera.  She is responsible for managing external firm communications and supporting growth initiatives. 


Modera Wealth Management, LLC (“Modera”) is an SEC-registered investment advisor with places of business in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Modera may only transact business in those states in which it is registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. SEC registration does not imply any level of skill or training. For information pertaining to our registration status, fees and services, please contact us or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov) to obtain a copy of our disclosure statement set forth in Form ADV Part 2A. Please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money.

This article is limited to the dissemination of general information about Modera’s investment advisory and financial planning services that is not suitable for everyone. Nothing herein should be interpreted or construed as investment advice nor as legal, tax or accounting advice nor as personalized financial planning, tax planning or wealth management advice. For legal, tax and accounting-related matters, we recommend you seek the advice of a qualified attorney or accountant. This article is not a substitute for personalized investment or financial planning from Modera. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass, and the information herein should not be considered a solicitation to engage in a particular investment or financial planning strategy. The statements, information and opinions expressed in this article are subject to change without notice.

Investing in the markets involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors and should not be considered a solicitation to buy or sell any security or to engage in a particular investment or financial planning strategy. Individual client asset allocations and investment strategies differ based on varying degrees of diversification and other factors. Diversification does not guarantee a profit or guarantee against a loss.