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Your Year-End Financial Checklist

2020 has been a year of changes. Stay on track with this year-end checklist.

A man is checking his calendar.

At the start of 2020, Americans expected geopolitical headwinds, increased volatility, and a presidential election. What we did not expect was a global pandemic that would impact the way we work, learn, and take care of our families.

This year more than ever, revisiting your wealth plan before the end of the year may help you uncover potential opportunities to help minimize your 2020 tax burden and to make sure your financial and estate plans align with your current situation. You may find that you need to adjust your plan based on recent legislation, such as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus package.

As you prepare for year end, review this checklist to identify potential opportunities to improve your income and estate tax liabilities now and in the future. Although December 31 is the deadline for most of the tactics, to implement them by year end may require taking action well in advance of that date, so connect with your advisors now.


  • PLAN for the possibility of the reduction of the current gift and estate tax exemptions sooner than the scheduled date of December 31, 2025 (as a result of the election or other government action).
  • REVIEW your investment portfolio, making sure your asset allocation aligns with your financial goals, life events, and potential impact from tax law changes.
  • DETERMINE for tax planning purposes whether the 0%, 15%, or 20% capital gains tax rate will apply to you and whether it makes sense to realize or defer any income from the sale of assets.
  • FILE 2019 federal income tax forms by October 15 if you previously filed for an extension (for corporate tax return, individual income tax return [Form 1040], trust/estate income tax return [Form 1041], or gift tax [Form 709]).
  • CONSIDER setting up a SIMPLE/safe harbor 401(k), if applicable.
  • THINK about establishing a new profit-sharing, non-safe-harbor 401(k), or defined benefit plan (calendar-year taxpayers).
  • REVIEW your Medicare Part D choices if you currently receive Medicare benefits. Enrollment window: October 15–December 7.


  • PLAN to complete individual gifts and charitable contributions, including opening donor-advised funds and depositing contributions, before December 31.
  • CONSULT the Social Security Administration to determine your Social Security benefits and how to apply (for those planning or considering retirement in the near future).
  • CHECK with the Social Security Administration to determine how and when to apply for Medicare (for those approaching age 65 or planning to retire in 2020).
  • CONFIRM your current flexible spending account (FSA) balance and verify your plan’s rules for rollovers of unused funds. If the rollover option is not available to you, or if your balance exceeds the permissible amount, plan to spend the balance on qualified health care expenses before the end of the year.
  • PLAN If you’re selling an asset for tax-loss harvesting purposes but want to maintain exposure to that asset, make sure your new position is in place by November 30 to avoid violating the wash-sale rule. Learn more about the wash-sale rule in the 2020 Year End Planning Guide from Wells Fargo Private Bank.
  • REVIEW your retirement account beneficiary designations to verify they are in alignment with your estate plan.


  • CONSIDER completing any tax-loss harvesting sales to offset capital gains in your portfolio.
  • CONSIDER converting eligible retirement accounts to a Roth IRA, if beneficial.
  • THINK about making a 529 plan contribution
  • COMPLETE any personal gifts and charitable contributions by December 31.
  • CONSIDER selling shares acquired through the 2019 exercise of incentive stock options in disqualifying disposition to limit alternative minimum tax (AMT) exposure

Contact your relationship manager at Wells Fargo Private Bank to learn more about strategies for year-end planning. We can help you create your plan, track your progress, and suggest course corrections.

What can Wells Fargo do for you?

Talk to us about tax-efficient strategies to consider.

Wells Fargo & Company and its affiliates do not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult your legal and/or tax advisors to determine how this information may apply to your own situation. Whether any planned tax result is realized by you depends on the specific facts of your own situation at the time your tax return is filed.

Trust services available through banking and trust affiliates in addition to non-affiliated companies of Wells Fargo Advisors. Any estate plan should be reviewed by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and is licensed to practice law in your state.


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