Should You Encourage Your Client to Use a Professional Fiduciary?

Should You Encourage Your Client to Use a Professional Fiduciary?

Some of your older clients do not have family or they have no family they trust. Some know that their adult kids don’t get along and if both are on the estate documents, fights will be inevitable. You worry that as they age, some clients are going to need help with finances and their trust management and they shouldn’t count on family. When a client names one’s best friend to serve in the role of successor trustee may sound fine when they’re 50 years old but it’s not so fine when they’re 90.

The successor trustee of your client’s estate can do a lot of good or harm when he or she takes on that role. The person appointed to be the agent of a durable power of attorney is also in a position of tremendous power. Who should serve in that capacity? Should it be family or a professional outside the family?

Most often, your client appoints adult children or trusted people in their lives for this job. The danger arises when the adult child appears to be motivated to steal money or manipulate the elder into giving or loaning it to him. If it is a best friend, and both are aging, there is no assurance that the friend will survive long enough to help when needed or be competent to do so.

I once had a widowed client, living alone, no family in the U.S. who had appointed her best friend to be her successor trustee. I asked my 89-year-old client about the friend. “She lives right down the street”, my client told me. When I asked how old the friend was, she told me “88. She’s really sharp though, even though her vision is going”. I suggested she find a licensed fiduciary to take her friend’s place.

This could be your client. Time to step in and get the client to change that original, now unrealistic plan.

Related: Advisors: Will You Get Fired By Your Clients’ Adult Kids?

When you, the financial advisor see situations with clients in your book who are aging, and you know they will need someone trustworthy to help them with managing their estate and finances, you need to act. Here are some basics every advisor should know and do.

1. Get to know your client’s estate planning attorney, with written permission to communicate with her from your client. That is simple. Ask whether the estate plan is updated. Find out if the successor trustee is reliable, or in financial difficulty with potential motivation to steal. Team up and work together. If there is no estate planning attorney, give your clients some names of reliable lawyers you know and encourage making an appointment right away.

2. Ask your client about their appointed agents on both the family trust and any power of attorney document. Invite them to a meeting. Discuss the future for your client with the agent(s), particularly long-term care issues, budget and resources the successor might have to manage over your client’s lifespan.

3. Know reputable professional fiduciaries in your area and keep their contact information handy so you can refer your client to a list of them. Fiduciaries are not all created equal. Some are very helpful and can protect a vulnerable client from financial harm. Others are just not competent to do the job and shouldn’t be in it. Choose and vet your list carefully.

To understand more about best ways to manage aging clients and keep them financially safer, check out our book, Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Best Practices.  It’s a great start. And you can get up to 10 hours of CE credit for reading it! Get yours here.

Dr. Mikol Davis. Ed.D
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Dr. Mikol Davis, Ed.D, is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in geriatrics and the emotional challenges of aging. He has been a mental health provider for 40 years, ... Click for full bio

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: March 19-23

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on, March 19-23, 2018

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  — Chris Shuba

2. The Lies Spread by Bankers About Cryptocurrencies

I had a chat with The Financial Times the other day, and provided lots of background as to why I don’t think cryptocurrencies are the choice of criminals. The comment that was reported was the following ... — Chris Skinner

3. Alternative Investments? You May Need New Shock Absorbers!

During the tumultuous red and green gyrations of the capital markets this year have your clients anxiously called to ask: “What’s going on with my portfolio?” What do you do when the usually smooth ride in your luxury automobile becomes as bumpy as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in the Happiest Place on Earth? What does the average investor do? — Ted Parker

4. Why Fear of Inflation Is Rattling Investors

Inflation is a bad thing, right? It make things more expensive, right? For those of us of, let’s say, a certain vintage, we recall the runaway inflation of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. So why does the Federal Reserve – in charge of managing the country’s currency and value thereof – actually try to create inflation? It’s called the inflation targeting and it matters to your money. — Bill Acheson

5. The Best Retirement Investments for a Steady Stream of Income

As you near your 60’s, your prime earning and saving years will transition into a period of time where you get to enjoy the “fruits of your labor,” a.k.a retirement. We call this segueing from accumulation to decumulation, the period when you will be drawing from your accumulated nest egg. Dana Anspach

6. An Emerging Theme In Thematic Investing

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular vehicles for market participants looking to engage in thematic investing. Thematic investing looks to take advantage of future growth trends, including disruptive technologies. Given that forward-looking approach, stock-picking in the thematic universe is equally as hard, if not harder, than in traditional market segments. — Tom Lydon

7. 8 Winning Questions You Should Be Asking Every Prospect

It’s not enough for your salespeople to be product experts, they also need to be capable of having the kind of conversations that position them as business experts and even strategic resources. — Lisa Rose

8. 10 Steps to Successful Strategic Alliances

Business growth doesn’t come from wishful thinking. As you know, it takes a lot of hard work. The growth of your business is not an option – it is a necessity. Coordinating the right mix of strategies to gain market share and improve client acquisition rates is essential to advance your firm in today’s economy. — Michelle Mosher​​​​​​​

9. Keep It Light: Harnessing Humor for Financial Marketing Success

It’s undoubtedly true that investors’ financial security is no laughing matter, and this is reflected in the stolid, dour, reliable imagery and branding that is, by and large, the industry standard. This is hardly surprising—investors need to believe they’re placing their hard-earned money in the hands of experienced, trustworthy professionals. — Alexandra Levis​​​​​​​

10. Do the Economics of a Move to Independence Really Add Up?

The number one question advisors ask when exploring a move to independence is how the economics compare to accepting a recruiting package from a major firm. It’s certainly a valid concern, because while the recruiting deals being offered by the wirehouses are down, it is still very possible for a top advisor to get a really attractive hard-to-pass-up offer. — Mindy Diamond

11. Four Big Reasons Why Short-Term Muni Bonds Should Excite You

Municipal bonds might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sexy investment. They don’t typically command news headlines like the stock market or bitcoin. — Frank Holmes

Douglas Heikkinen
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IRIS Co-Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues ... Click for full bio