Prepare Your House for the Fall with This Maintenance Checklist

What better way to start the fall season than to have a home maintenance checklist to guide you through the preparations needed to avoid any casualties during the winter season or any unwelcome surprises in the spring? We are providing you with this checklist to show you that getting ready for fall goes far beyond just changing the wreath on your front door.

1. Take a tour of your home and check all of the window and door weather stripping. Any cracked or missing stripping will compromise your heating efficiency and can be remedied with new weather stripping rather inexpensively.

2. Replace your furnace filters as often as every 3-6 months. Air filters are rated and priced per air filtration effectiveness and estimated longevity.

3. Now is a good time to check your gutters and downspouts if you didn’t do so after last winter. Autumn leaves will soon be your gutter’s nemesis, so consider having some sort of leaf guards to save gutter-cleaning time and possible water damage from clogged drainage.

4. Check for concrete cracks that can get worse when water freezes and expands, causing the cracks to widen and the concrete to deteriorate. Patching compounds are an easy remedy and will help maintain the concrete’s integrity.

5. To avoid freezing pipes, drain your outdoor faucets. Stash your hoses out of the weather.

6. When springtime comes knocking, you will enjoy your yard more if your lawn turns green quickly after the cold weather. Be sure and fertilize your lawn prior to winter, and feed your evergreens at the same time.

7. Protect the investment in your outdoor furniture by storing everything or protecting it from the elements with furniture covers, readily available for a reasonable cost.

Please call us with any concerns that we may be able to give you additional guidance on.

Don’t Skip These Important Estate Planning Tasks

ou may not be subject to estate tax, which is applied to estates with values that exceed the exclusion limit set by law, but that does not mean you should avoid estate planning.

Here are five tasks for everyone to consider that fall under estate planning.

Check your beneficiaries. If you have filled out beneficiary designation forms for your financial accounts (such as your life insurance or 401(k) plan), they override any other estate planning documents, so review them and ensure they are up to date.

Create two wills. That is correct: two wills. You need a living will to indicate how you would like to be cared for if you become unable to express your wishes, and you need a last will and testament to explain how you’d like your assets distributed after your death.

Draft two powers of attorney. You also need two powers of attorney to indicate who will handle your affairs if you are incapacitated. One will specify who will handle healthcare decisions, and another will specify who will handle financial matters. You can designate one person to handle both.

Designate guardians if necessary. If you have children, you will want to name a guardian to look after them (day to day and financially) if you are unable to care for them.

Name an executor. When you die, your executor will make sure your assets are distributed in accordance with your will. You can specify a family member or a professional, such as a bank trust officer.

Just be sure to tell your executor that you have named him or her.