Written By: Glen R. Cone
Most of the time people contact an advisor only when they feel they need to, and certain milestone events trigger that need, it is as simple as that. Some events we universally all will experience, and the significance they can have, often ripples across two or more generations. Late-in-life planning fits that definition.
Hopefully, we have control, plan, and make informed decisions. Then again, sometimes life-changing milestone decisions are (or are not) made; with unrealized impact. A survey done by Senior Market Advisor magazine found that 71% had set up an estate plan, and for those that have not, 83% said they have no intention of doing so. Might this be a good place to start a dialogue with a client? I think so.
According to an article published in Market Watch, the #1 fear about aging is not declining health, but running out of money. 6 out of 10 feared running out of money more than death itself. In fact, some 43% put this above both cognitive decline and finding ways to spend meaningful time as they age.
Sure, it does not have to be dealt with, and who can be 100% sure that things will turn out okay? But most people would agree, knowledgeable help can make a major difference. Taking a broader perspective often helps, opening the conversation to estate, legacy, and charitable conversations.
When a significant milestone is reached, changes are prudent. Clients and families understand what that means. Avoid having to say difficult things like “end-of-life planning.“ But why not ask someone at a late-in-life crossroads to seek unbiased advice from a trusted consultant? Quite possibly impacting a generation yet to come....it only makes good sense. Having direct and clear interaction with clients and their loved ones allows an understanding to make the best choices prior to recommending any investment, insurance, or alteration in plans. It is critical to ask and understand whose interest the recommendations are being made.
So, where to begin? It all starts with taking inventory (to a doctor, it is a physical) … and it is not all about money. It is about listening and hearing what is most important & helping to prioritize. This includes property, legal documents, life values and goals with a perspective on what is important to the individual(s).
Gaining a clear assessment of where you are is critical in determining not just where to go, but the best way to get there.
Ask your client this question, what are the consequences if you make these important milestone decisions yourself vs. with unbiased experienced input? And just listen to their answer; listen closely. The help you provide can potentially make an impact far into the future that both you and your client may never actually see firsthand. And that is 100% OK.