"Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, 'things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.'" — Ephesians 6:2-3 (NIV)
In today's day and age, honoring the older generation seems to be passé. But honoring the former generation is an incredible blessing to both the former and the future generations. God blesses those who honor their elders. So often we think of the older generation caring for the next generation, but it will likely be the younger generation that steps in to assist or protect the financial and personal well-being of their elders.
Although we would like to think well-laid plans are impenetrable, unfortunately, if we are not careful, we are all at risk of having our estate plans impacted negatively as we age.
Elder financial exploitation and abuse is fast becoming an epidemic in our country, with financial exploitation listed as the number one form of elder abuse. If it isn't scams by strangers or professionals, it could even be caretakers and loved ones who are abusing the elder population.
The elderly, who took care of everyone else are particularly vulnerable to financial exploitation and abuse. The younger generation needs to understand the importance of preserving the intentions and plans of the elder generation, but ultimately, a wise elder steward also needs to plan for potential problems in the future.
Contributing factors of health problems, decreased cognitive ability and financial problems arising from retirement plan management changes are just a few of the challenges that can greatly impact the ability of the elder generation to manage their estate well. So how can we plan for the future when we are not sure what our health or mental state will be?
While the Government has SEC and FINRA regulations in place to help stop elder financial exploitation, we have got to have a plan of our own with measures in place that prepare for the unexpected.
Having a Financial Advisor who can help you with a Comprehensive Wealth Management & an Estate Plan is critical to assuring protection. Working in conjunction with a legacy coach and an estate attorney, your advisory team ensures that your will is done. Also, considering the financial costs of home healthcare, assisted living or even nursing home, parents (and sometimes their children) should consider the potential benefits of Long Term Care Insurance. In recent years there have been some unique "asset-based" LTC policies that can help protect your assets (or your parent's assets) should they need long term care; while still providing access to your money if you need it and a death benefit for your children.
Everyone's estate plan will be unique, but there are common factors that help guarantee protection as we age.
- Create a written "ICE" plan (In Case of Emergency) detailing your wishes and giving instructions on who to call, contact info for your professional advisors, a summary of your accounts and details on what you want, or don't want, in terms of types of care. Then communicate this plan with appropriate family members or trusted friends.
- Consolidate accounts and simplify your plans so your intentions are clearly understood and for ease in carrying out your plans.
- Involve family members in the process throughout so there are no doubts to your intentions.
- Have more than one family member involved for accountability.
- Think through and anticipate problems and have them written into your plans.
- Depending on your circumstance, consider a revocable trust which offers a number of safeguards instead of solely a Power of Attorney.
- Review Jeff's Estate Design Consultation Questionnaire to ensure you have not forgotten any details.
Staying informed about the latest fraudulent tactics can keep us from falling prey to con artists, but the best protection will be a multi-pronged approach that is well thought out and communicated. Ultimately, caring for our loved ones and developing close familial bonds now will help to protect us in the future when we are no longer able to take care of others.
Yours for Wise Stewardship,