How to Prepare Seniors for Someone Else to Handle Their Financial Affairs
One area that few seniors prepare for is arranging for someone else to handle their financial affairs when they can no longer fully care for themselves. This is easy to put off, for three primary reasons.
First, there are a lot of difficult emotions involved with the thought of losing our cognitive ability and the inherent freedom to financially care for ourselves. This is something we have done for ourselves all our lives, so it’s very hard to imagine not being able to do so.
Second, for many of us the loss of cognitive ability is slow and almost unrecognizable. There isn’t an urgency that suggests we need to do anything soon. Often by the time we do realize we need help, it’s too late for us to arrange for it.
Finally, while we're in good health we tend not to consider the possibility of a sudden catastrophic health event. Yet such a crisis can leave us without a plan and no way in which to have any say in what happens.
Fortunately, if you are reading this you have time to prepare. The following information is based on the work of Carolyn McClanahan, MD, CFP, particularly a presentation given to the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors in May of 2016. She suggests the major questions to answer are:
- Who will be in charge?
- Are the right documents in place?
- How will you monitor your decline?
- Do you have a written investment policy?
- How will the transition occur?
Who will be in charge? Choosing a trusted third party to take over bill paying, investment management, and financial caretaking is essential. Options include a spouse, a child or other relative, a friend, a professional bookkeeper, or a financial planner. For couples, the odds are that both partners won't lose their ability to handle financial affairs at the same time. If one spouse handles most of the money matters, it's important that the noninvolved spouse becomes involved in the bill paying routine and understands the basics of the couple’s finances. If you are the caretaking or surviving spouse, or if you are single, designating a financial caretaker is crucial.
Are the right documents in place? The most important document is your power of attorney that names the person or organization who will be in charge of your finances. If the bulk of your net worth is in retirement accounts, annuities, and jointly owned, another option is to create a living trust, place everything you own individually in it, and identify the successor trustee who is in charge when you can no longer make decisions.
How will you monitor your decline? It’s important to have some written agreement in place—even if for no one but yourself—that lists the triggering events which will indicate to you the time has come to transfer the control to someone else. It’s up to you to determine what these triggers are and to self-assess every few years.
Do you have a written investment policy? And is it current? This is a good time to review your investment policy, making sure it’s been updated to reflect your changing cash flow needs and asset allocation. You might also evaluate your ownership of any complicated and illiquid assets like real estate or closely held business interests. It may be wise to simplify and liquidate them while you're still capable of managing them, before it's time to pass responsibility to a surrogate.
Once you've answered these four questions, it's time to consider the last step that I'll address next week: how the transition should take place.
Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: April 17-21
Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on IRIS.xyz, April 17-21, 2017
Click the headline to read the full article. Enjoy!
Like so many others in the industry, I was wrong. For years, I was certain that the bull market was nearing its end. I thought the market was over-extended, and that, surely, the wild equities run was coming to an end. But everyone else was bullish, and perhaps rightfully so. And while I’ve watched equities continue on their spectacular rise, I do think now is the time (really!) to put a hedge in place. Here’s why. Here’s how. — Adam Patti
The realities for fixed income investors have changed. How is this being reflected in markets? Bond investing has become increasingly difficult over the past decade. Markets have been heavily distorted by ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing, as well as by extreme risk aversion in response to the global economic crisis and the eurozone debt crisis. — Nick Gartside
Is being a financial advisor worth it? I am an optimistic person and I encourage other people to keep a positive mental attitude (shout-out to Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone). However, by taking a good, hard look at the negatives in life, we can successfully pivot towards the positive aspects that will help us achieve our goals. — James Pollard
How do you treat one of your most valued, existing clients? Here’s a list of some things that come to mind. — Andrew Sobel
According to many advisors I speak with, the only clients that leave are those who have died. And while attrition may not be a big problem in this industry, I have to assume that at least a few clients change advisors without doing so via the funeral home. — Julie Littlechild
I was talking with an advisor last week about how to get into conversations about what he does. He was relaying the story of going jogging with a friend who could be a good client but is, more importantly, connected to a large network of people who fit this advisors ideal client description. — Stephen Wershing
Big picture thinkers are not unicorns - rare and mystical. And they were not born with the innate ability to think big. They do, however, pay attention to the broader landscape and take the time to think, analyze and evaluate. — Jill Houtman and Danny Domenighini
Your reputation is who you are and how you show up, Monday to Monday®. Many of us take our image and reputation for granted. Give careful thought to the kind of reputation that you would be proud of Monday to Monday® and that would resonate with your purpose and priorities. — Stacey Hanke
The generational changing of the guard is a fact of life as old as time. Young replaces old in responsibility, importance, control and culture. Outside of the family, the workplace is perhaps where this is seen most regularly by most people. — Shirley Engelmeier
Next time you hear your prospects give you price objections, it’s not because of the price. The give price objections because they don’t know the full value proposition that they’d be paying for. And it’s not based on their need, or your features and functions. It’s based on the buying criteria they want to meet internally. — Sofia Carter
Last week we wrote about the economic rationale behind going independent vs. moving to another major firm as an employee. As a follow-up topic, we thought it prudent to analyze transition packages attached to big firm moves and peel back the layers of the onion to show the components of these deals. — Louis Diamond
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