Many of us in this society have a very negative image about aging in general. We don’t want to be “old”. It is fueled by advertising on TV, movies, print media and other outlets with a consistent message: aging is bad, being younger and turning back the clock is good. We are a work ethic driven culture. When we are older and no longer “productive” we are generally seen as less valuable.
Then there is the fear and denial about dying and death. Our culture has been called the only one in the world that thinks of death as something optional. Note how we talk about it to family–“in case anything ever happens to me… Besides it being a fantasy that maybe something” won’t happen to us, it keeps us from planning, from preparing our loved ones and from being responsible about our older years, possible declining health and the burden ignoring these things can put on our families. Reaching retirement age is a time to do planning about more than money.
Financial advisors are in the planning business. You look ahead, analyze, budget and calculate. But your clients may not be on the same page in your view of the future. They are busy being in denial that they may ever get ill and die. You can help them. In doing so, it may also make your job of talking about such issues as long term care, budgeting and spending easier.
Most people do not want to burden their loved ones. Most of them do not want to trouble adult children unnecessarily as they age. That is your best selling point for bringing up the personal matters. These include how every senior and every retiree needs to plan for things in their own lives that go beyond how much money they’ve saved and how it will be spent having a great retirement.
Here at AgingInvestor.com we see the messes people leave behind when they nurture the Great American Fantasy that losing independence won’t happen to them and that they will live happily to age 100 and die peacefully in their sleep. Family members can spend years cleaning up the disaster their older loved ones leave because of failure to plan and take care of business. It is truly not fair to anyone. It leads to anger, resentment, family conflicts and sometimes to loss of wealth through ignorance. We’ve heard it and seen it countless times. We put a checklist together to help people avoid these disasters created by the fantasy.
What Can You Do About It?
You can give your clients this checklist next time you sit with them and review the portfolio. You can gently urge them to do what the list says is needed. We’ve broken down the essentials into 10 points, a “to do” list if you will. You can encourage them to take care of the items on the list, if they haven’t already. In general, the to do list includes updating the estate plan, having critical documents in the right hands, providing necessary financial, computer and account information to trusted family and having a family meeting to educate one’s heirs about the older person’s affairs. This is how your client gets a family ready. This is how they avoid unduly burdening anyone. This is how they free their loved ones from distress and unnecessary work when they have to take action as an aging parent declines and passes away.
Some of your clients will brush off your suggestion. They love that Great American Fantasy and aren’t about to give it up. Others will thank you as they have thanked us and will go forward. Their families will be forever grateful. You’ll look like the caring, smart and responsible planner that you are.
Get your free 10 point checklist, Don’t Wait Until You’re Old, click HERE.
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