Just like building a house, your financial life should be built on a strong and secure foundation. The foundation supports everything else and needs to be in place before the rest of the structure can be constructed. Financial planning can help physicians construct their financial foundation. But what are the things that make up your financial foundation? Here are four items that financial planning should ensure is in every physician’s financial foundation:
1. Estate documents
No one goes to bed at night thinking that something bad will happen tomorrow. But, what if it does? What provisions have you made for your family to inherit your assets in case of your death? Who will help your surviving spouse and children? What happens if you need medical care and can’t make financial decisions for yourself?
Estate documents drafted by an estate planning attorney answer these questions. They name individuals to act on your behalf if you are unable. They identify a guardian for your minor children, which is important should you and your spouse die together, and help with the dividing of your possessions in the event of your passing. Financial planning is also important to ensure that a physician’s estate is treated properly. Some items that should be Included in an estate plan are:
- A last will and testament and perhaps a living trust.
- Durable power of attorney information.
- Health care proxy information.
- A living will.
2. Property & casualty insurance
Much like estate documents protect your hard-earned dollars if something happens to you, property & casualty insurance provides coverage on the property and also shields your dollars from someone else who may injure themselves on your property or because of your actions in a car or on a boat. This latter part is the important personal liability protection.
Work with your P&C agent about the coverage you need, but we recommend a minimum of $300,000 of liability protection, and $500,000 is preferred. You may also want to explore purchasing an umbrella insurance policy during your financial planning as well, since this can provide physicians with additional asset protection.
3. Life insurance
If you were to pass away, do you have enough saved now to take care of your spouse and children? If the answer is no, you most likely need to include life insurance in your financial plan. Life insurance serves three main purposes:
- To pay off debt.
- To replace lost income.
- To pay for estate taxes.
For the time being, many people do not have an estate tax issue. However, many medical professionals have debt like a mortgage, and their income is vital to the financial security of the family. Term life insurance is typically the most appropriate to serve these two purposes. It can also be purchased at a relatively low cost, especially compared to many permanent insurance policies like whole, universal or variable universal life insurance. These policies are often inappropriate and far costlier than term life insurance.
4. Disability insurance
According to the Social Security Administration, more than 1 in 4 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age. That is a very good reason for physicians to include disability insurance in their financial planning. Disability insurance protects you and your family if you cannot work because of a health issue. It pays you a tax-free monthly amount that is usually 50% to 60% of what you earned while you were working. Like life insurance, there are several types of disability insurance, all with different features.
The most important thing to research with your own disability insurance policy is the definition of how “disability” is defined in the policy. The two most common are “own occupation,” which means that you are disabled if you can’t perform the duties of your specific job, and “any occupation,” meaning that you cannot perform any job. All else equal in disability policies, “own occupation” policies are typically better for you but are more expensive as a result.
Physicians can find the financial planning help they need at ProVise
While the financial industry is known for many of the exciting parts like investing and growing your money, we believe that every financially successful person needs a financial plan that starts with building a solid foundation.
Are you a physician who needs help with financial planning? Contact ProVise today to schedule a complimentary consultation to talk with us about the financial planning and other services we offer for you.
Shane D. O’Hara, CFP®
Vice President & Senior Financial Planner
ProVise Management Group, LLC
611 Druid Road E, Suite 105
Clearwater, FL 33756
Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services may be offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS, or Provise Management Group, LLC. Kestra Financial’s Reg BI disclosure information and Form CRS can be obtained at https://www.kestrafinancial.com/disclosures. ProVise’s Form CRS can be obtained at https://www.provise.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/FormCRS_040121.pdf. The information herein is general and educational in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Tax laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change.