No one wants to talk about what is going to happen as they get older. The realities of aging that we all face are not fun to imagine and can be awkward to broach with our loved ones. It is also easy to think, “I will get to that some day.”
The best time to have the conversations, though, is BEFORE it seems necessary.
It is best to think through different scenarios, choose trusted financial caretakers, and share the necessary information while everyone is thinking clearly, and there is no sense of urgency or peril.
Several folks in our own family have suffered health challenges as young as 50 years old, and have relied on family members to help them with decisions and daily management of affairs. We encourage our clients to begin thinking about the transitions of aging at age 50. We also work with our younger clients to encourage their parents to talk through these questions.
Once everyone is ready to have “the talk,” it can be hard to know what to cover.
We have begun to work with a new set of tools for this life stage that we think are very impressive and helpful. Whealthcare Plans, LLC was developed by Carolyn McClanahan, a physician who is also a Certified Financial Planner professional and Chris Heye, a scientist and researcher with experience developing technology companies (check out this recent Fintek news interview with him).
The Whealthcare process uses three questionnaires to take clients through the process of proactively planning for the aging process:
The Financial Caretaking Questionnaire creates a status inventory of who is currently responsible for what in the financial life of the family. Does more than one person review statements and confirm transactions? Does more than one person know how to access accounts online? Have you identified and asked someone to step in and help when it gets to be too much? This first tool helps clients understand the importance of simplifying accounts as you age. This will make it easier on yourself as well as the family members who will eventually step in to help you, or who will be sorting it out after you are gone.
Are the legal documents in place? Have assets been titled appropriately and beneficiaries updated? The questionnaire even asks you to think about what will happen to your pet if something happens to you. Do you have a plan?
The Whealthcare Risk Profile assesses a client’s ability to make sound financial decisions. Unfortunately, we are all vulnerable to financial threats, from identity theft to other scams, to being sold something we don’t need. As we age, we are less able to avoid those threats and defend ourselves. This risk profile can identify traits that put you at risk. We have our clients (or their parents, if needed) take it around age 60 to serve as a baseline. Then, every year or two we can do it again, and see if anything has changed.
The Proactive Aging Plan is the final step. It goes through current health status, preferences for medical care and quality of life, as well as plans for transitions and living situations. The tool even estimates costs for various levels of care, so that realistic decisions can be made in advance. The tool also helps families talk about when and how to evaluate whether a person should no longer drive a car. This document can be a helpful addendum to the Advance Healthcare Directive that your attorney can prepare for you along with your will.
While aging is a difficult process, it is also a gift. It means that we have lived a long life and hope to live even longer.
Planning for the inevitable can give you peace of mind. Our mission is to empower our clients with confidence about their financial future at every age. We hope that these tools will be helpful to you and your family. We will be introducing them to most clients at your annual review, but if you are ready to get started with us today, please don’t hesitate to call. We are ready to help.