Planning for aging can be a tough subject. Most older adults worry about health care and long-term care costs. And they totally stick their head in the sand about losing the ability to manage finances, drive, or make their own health care decisions. If you help them plan for these events, you will not only do your clients a great service, but also be seen as a valuable partner in their life.
How do you bring this up with clients? The best approach is to make it a standard part of your practice. Basically, you have to “normalize” the topic and become comfortable talking about planning for aging. It is easy to do with a little practice.
For your current clients, announce aging planning as a firm wide initiative. We have marketing materials on our platform to help you do this, for example, introductory letters and email samples that make it easy to get started.
Share your focus on preparing them for the “big four” transitions of aging 1) when to turn over financial decision-making authority to trusted family members or friends, 2) where and how to live safely which helps control long term care costs, 3) when to get help with health care decision-making, which can mitigate health care costs, and 4) when to quit driving, which is always a sticky subject in families.
It is best to start with clients who are at the most risk of having issues – so your older clients or clients with significant health problems. Then work your way down through the rest of your client list. In our firm, we generate Financial Caretaking Plans for all of our clients, Whealthcare Risk Profiles for clients over the age of 50, and Proactive Aging Plans for clients over the age of 60 or with significant health problems. When I started, I set a goal of completing plans for one to two clients per week.
For new clients, I make it a part of our financial planning process from the beginning of the relationship. In our initial meeting, I discuss their estate planning and how we will eventually have them complete the aging planning process. By “planting seeds” throughout the engagement, they will not be surprised when you reach out to begin the aging planning process.
The key to comfort is practice. Begin with clients you know well, share that this is new, and that you are working to become comfortable with the process. Clients love to help you get better, especially if they see value in what you are doing. After you do a few plans, it will continue to get easier, and your clients will be grateful to you for addressing these significant worries about their future.