Somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 baby boomers reach retirement age every day. This can be a scary and exciting time for older generations who are finally confident enough in their finances to leave the workforce. However, your clients likely have families and children that need to be taken into consideration as they exit the workforce.
Oftentimes, the decisions parents make in their own planning can affect how their children (your clients) must plan for their own finances. We talked about caring for parents in retirement, today we’ll show you how to help them plan for retirement so that your clients do not end up shouldering the majority of their parent’s out-of-pocket care costs.
Whether your clients are intimately involved with their parent’s planning process, or more on the sidelines, it’s important to make sure that all parties are taking into consideration the opportunities and risks that will come with retirement.
Considerations for Parent’s’ Retirement Planning
It’s important that your clients and their parents have a plan in place for major financial decisions and that their personal information, things such as Social Security and bank account numbers, are protected. Helping them navigate technology and making sure that they have a way to easily contact a trusted party (such as their clients) to ask for help might seem like a small thing, but it might save both of them a lot of money, and headache in the long-run.
Getting a grasp on monthly expenditures will be is critical in helping them figure out their best plan for retirement. Things like housing costs, caregiving and medical costs, and fixed expenses need to be planned and documented for parents and how it will affect their children.
Retiring parents might also not be aware of the benefits or opportunities that are available to them now that they are retired. Government programs and senior discounts can help ease the burden of fixed incomes and make their dollars stretch further. If your clients children are involved in any of the planning aspects for retirement, make sure that they are both on the lookout for these types of benefits.
Most importantly, you need to simply have a conversation with your clients about their plan and how it affects their children. You may or may not need to be involved with the process, but having another party there can help make sure that the parents can enjoy their retirement and that the children can have peace-of-mind that they will not need to bear the burden of their parent’s out-of-pocket care costs.
We’ve been discussing how to help clients plan for their own healthcare costs in retirement. But planning for their own out-of-pocket costs is not the only potential healthcare-related costs they could incur. Caregiving is a role that more and more adult children are playing for their aging parents, and the financial strain that can cause for their own plans is very real.
As your clients approach their own retirement, it’s critical that you understand their family dynamic as a whole so that you can plan for and ask questions regarding the potential that they will become a caregiver to their parents at some point.
Asking the Right Questions
When it comes to planning for costs associated with caregiving, one of the biggest challenges is understanding the probability that it will be a reality for your clients. This process starts by being able to ask the right questions when working with your clients on their own retirement plan.
Establishing their own family health history can be a great place to start understanding the conditions or chronic illnesses that run in the family. If they have a family health history of Alzheimer’s, for example, then it’s likely that at some point they will need to help care for a family member with the condition.
Starting with the HALO assessment can give you a basic understanding of their family health history and can give you the information you need to start asking the questions that will enable you to create the right plan for your client.
Some relevant questions you can ask to determine if you should start planning for caregiving costs with your clients:
- Are your parents already in retirement? If so, did they plan for out-of-pocket healthcare costs?
- What are your parents wishes for when they need assisted care? Do they want to stay at home, move in with you, or move into an assisted care facility?
- Do your parents or in-laws have any chronic conditions or require special care or medications?
- Do you have a plan in place for if you have to become a caregiver for your parents? Do you have siblings or other family members whom you’ve talked to about the plan? What is your expected contribution?
Starting with these questions, you can begin to paint the landscape of what additional costs, beyond their own out-of-pocket care costs that they may need to plan for in retirement. Though becoming a caregiver can be challenging both emotionally and financially, having a plan in place before it becomes a reality can help ease the potential burden of both.
How do I help my clients start a conversation about their family health history + finances?
Holiday season is the time of year when the Conversation Project encourages families to initiate discussions about their wishes for end of life care and wishes so that families can be prepared in advance of a life-threatening event or chronic disease. The holiday season provides an opportunity for your clients to have these difficult health conversations when families are together, face-to-face. Even when the subject is raised, most families tend to share very little about their health and wealth. Although it is common for families to avoid conversations about health and wealth—even positive ones—the result is that we do not have access to information that can help us to prepare for health and financial changes of our loved ones or to anticipate our potential needs in the future.
What if your clients know it’s something they should do but you don’t know where to start? The FACE approach can provide you a framework for your clients to get the discussion started with their families.
Clients should begin by identifying the best person in their family to talk to first—this may be the person who has the most relevant health and financial history for your own information (such as a parent). Whoever they choose, it is best if they feel somewhat comfortable raising the subject with them. They should then find an opportunity to be together, face-to-face, and the following script can guide your client through the rest of the conversation.
Here is what FACE stands for and how your clients can use it to simply and calmly start hard conversations about health and wealth.
F – Framing and Feedforward
When broaching a potentially sensitive topic such as health and wealth, the first step is the hardest. When you imagine that this conversation might seem to come out of the blue for the person you’re speaking with, sharing your reasons for wanting to talk will be key to the success of your conversation. Sharing your purpose for communicating before launching into the subject is called framing or feedforward (the reverse of feedback). Try to recall what started you thinking about your family’s health and wealth history, and begin your conversation by sharing that with your family member. Whatever the story is, sharing it with your family member will help them to orient themselves and prepare them for the conversation.
A – Asking the question
Timing and the willingness of your family member to talk about the topic are essential for success, so this step is when you invite them to participate in the conversation. You may choose to keep the focus of the discussion narrowly on the topic that got you started (like breast health, heart health, and retirement planning) or you can bridge to a larger discussion about family health. For a more focused conversation, follow up your framing/feedforward statement with something like this:
- “Is it OK if I ask you some questions about your experience with health exams?”
- “Can you tell me more about what your plans are for retirement?”
If you’re hoping to initiate a more comprehensive conversation about family health history, you could say, “I realized that Grandma’s hospitalization wasn’t the only health event in our family that I don’t know much about. Would you be willing to share what you know with me?” In any case, what you want is to give your family member the chance to consider your invitation and respond gladly, defer the conversation to another time, or turn you down if they don’t feel comfortable. If the first person you approach turns out to be unprepared or uncomfortable with the conversation, don’t give up.
C – Conversing (and Taking Notes)
Although you are seeking information from your family member, you do not want the experience to feel like an interrogation. Just as you want to the initial question to serve as an invitation, you want the interaction that follows to feel like a conversation. Two principles will help you here:
- Take the lead of the person you are speaking with. If they seem interested in telling you a story that seems to take you a little off the path of your original question, go with it. By the time the story is finished or even when you reflect on the story later, you may find tremendous relevance that may not be immediately apparent.
- Use the “statement-question” format to keep the conversation going. When your family member says something that requires more information or clarification, restate what you heard them say and then ask the question. For example, “I notice that you’ve mentioned grandma’s health a few times. Are you planning to have her live with you at some point?”
And when taking notes: If you’re lucky, you’ll find that the person you invited into this initial conversation is ready and willing to supply you with a lot of information—the kind of information that can be difficult to remember later. It’s appropriate to take notes, just make sure to let your family member know why you want to write down what they are telling you. You might say, “I want to remember what you are saying so I can share it with my advisor”. This also might be a good opportunity to transition to the fourth step.
E – Expanding the Circle
Inevitably, there will be gaps in the stories shared by the first people you speak with—missing facts and questions left unanswered—so it will be important to expand the circle of people included in the discussion. Rounding off this initial conversation with your family member should include three things:
- an expression of gratitude (for example, “This has been really helpful to me,” “You’ve helped to answer some questions that were troubling me; thank you.”)
- an indication that you hope the conversation will continue (like, “Please let me know if you remember anything else that may be relevant.”)
- and a request for suggestions of who else to include in the conversation (such as “Who else in the family should I talk to about this?”).
At some point, these family conversations may expand naturally so that others are drawn to them, and this is ideal in many ways because the family as a group becomes invested in thinking and talking about the health (both physical and financial) of its members. When this happens, it will be time to suggest ways that this information can help existing family members in addition to supporting the health and legacy of the next generation. And isn’t that a purpose we can all relate to, particularly at the holidays?
The holidays are a time focused on the holiday spirit. It involves consuming too much food, spending quality time with friends and family, or attempting to avoid family drama. For some families, family gatherings occur frequently. However, for other families, holidays are the only time where quality time is spent with their loved ones.
If family events are not common in your family, make sure to set aside time during the holiday season to discuss important topics. One that should be considered is the topic of retirement. Although financial planning is not the traditional topic discussed, families that avoid this topic are setting themselves up for a bigger problem in the future.
What to Ask
Begin by asking a simple question: What do you plan to do during your retirement?
In other words, why are they saving toward retirement? What goals are they trying to reach? It is important to ask what their dreams are so that adequate planning can be set up to reach these goals. Whether your mother wishes to travel to Paris or buy a luxury car, the idea is that they begin to set realistic steps to reach these goals in their retirement.
Can you maintain your current lifestyle in retirement?
Aside from their goals, do they have enough money to maintain a healthy lifestyle? According to a study by Financial Finesse, one in five employees in the workforce feel that they are on track to maintain a healthy lifestyle during retirement. On top of this, over half of American households are at risk for not maintaining their current lifestyle during retirement. With the expected limitations of Social Security and Medicare, it is important that financial planning for retirement is done adequately.
It is important that you do not discuss this topic after everyone has had a few drinks. Bring up this discussion the following day at a restaurant or a family get-away. Take these opportunities to at least bring awareness to retirement planning.
Remember that this conversation is not meant to be an easy topic. It is normal to feel uncomfortable discussing retirement. However, if done sooner than later, one will be better prepared for retirement.
Genivity is here to help. We place emphasis on helping advisors with goal-based financial planning that incorporates health wealth factors to provide personalized reporting. Genivity can assist you in determining the future costs of care, and provide you with more information needed to plan for retirement. To learn more, ask your financial advisor about Genivity’s HALO!
American individuals are known as one of the worst savers in the developing world with only saving approximately 6 percent of their income compared to the recommended 20 percent. Furthermore, when your clients have a desire to raise a child, saving becomes more challenging. When your clients are expecting a child, it is important that their financial plan is updated as well. With the expansion of your clients’ family, a new arrangement must be made so that several expenses can be put into consideration.
Updating The Budget
A crucial part of expanding the family involves incorporating new expenses into their budget. How much money do they expect to spend on baby formula, diapers, clothing, or childcare? On top of these factors, one-time purchases such as strollers and carriers should be considered, as well. As the child grows older, expenses like baby formulas and diapers can be replaced with other expenses like extracurricular activities.
Although college may seem far away, it is critical you discuss with your clients the significance of college savings at an early start. Too often parents set aside their retirement savings in order to pay for their child’s expenses. In fact, most American adults continue to pay for their child’s loans well into older age, which impacts their ability to plan for retirement. Providing options for future parents at an early start can prevent placing significance one over the other.
Along with these factors, advise your clients’ to add their children to their insurance policy. If their insurance policy does not cover all medical expenses for their child, consider updating their financial plan to include those costs. This will become another area that would require saving.
Once these factors have been considered, make sure that your clients are aware of applicable tax breaks. There are exemptions your clients’ can apply for simply because they have a child. Advise them to contact a tax professional before they file.
Updating your clients’ plans allow for appropriate planning for future expenses such as children’s college savings and retirement. It is important that these factors are considered in the early stages of planning to allow for adequate preparation for the future. These next-generation family members have the potential to become your next clients and you should plan for their arrival just as well as their parents’ retirement.
Genivity is here to help. We place emphasis on helping advisors with goal-based financial planning that incorporates health wealth factors to provide personalized reporting. Genivity can assist in helping your clients’ understand the health factors that should be considered in terms of financial planning. This service lays the information in an easy-to-read manner. Once your client determines what factors impact their retirement planning, they will place further emphasis on their children’s health. This can prevent future health expenses for future next-generation family members.
In the next three to four decades, approximately $30 trillion is expected to transfer from the Baby Boomer generation to their heirs in the United States. However, only 70 percent of wealth transfers are expected to be successful. A successful wealth transfer is when the benefactor’s wishes are kept. In other words, the wealth they leave behind to their loved ones are true to their will. The main cause of failure in wealth transfer are familial issues. On top of this, only 35 percent of heirs are prepared to inherit this wealth. It is crucial that inheritors are prepared for the transfer of this wealth. As a financial advisor, it is also crucial that you begin this conversation with your clients and their friends and family early.
How to Prepare Your Client’s Inheritors for the Transfer of Wealth
Taxes. Most heirs are not aware of the taxes that come along with wealth transferring. They should be aware that most wealth transfers are taxed. With individual recipients, the taxes are typically higher. Wealth transfers to charities, however, tend to not be taxed. It is crucial that heirs are made aware of these tax implications.
Educate your client’s family on their finances (with permission). Although your clients may be uncomfortable sharing their personal finances, it will help their heirs determine how to handle your client’s estates or assets once they are gone. If they are aware of how your clients want to run their estates, it avoids confusion down the line.
Incorporate heirs in the planning process. Incorporate your client’s heirs on the division of your estate. This will prevent conflict within the family. It also allows every individual’s voice to be heard. Use this time to plan your client’s family mission statement, as well.
Organize their financial documents. No one wants their family to be running to find your financial documents once you are gone. It is crucial that you advise your clients to have these documents kept in a secure location. Remind them to notify their heirs of this location, as well.
Create a relationship between yourself and your client’s family. Forming this relationship early on can provide family members a resource. If the transfer of wealth becomes too complicated, as a financial advisor you can assist with the process. You can also establish the responsibilities family members will assume once the wealth has been transferred.
Hire a family advisor. This is different from your role as a financial advisor. Rather, family advisors will assist heirs in organizing their wealth. Rather than allow heirs to spend extravagantly, they will advise inheritors to use their money wisely. They will encourage the use of the money to eliminate debt, add to their emergency funds, for higher education, or for home repairs. In other words, the family advisor will advise families to maintain their normal lifestyle. This can provide reassurance to your clients once you are gone.
Wealth transferring does not have to fail. If you have prepared a will and your heirs are aware of the process, the transfer of wealth will be successful. Remember, a strong family bond can ease this process.
Genivity is here to help. We place emphasis on helping advisors with goal-based financial planning that incorporates health wealth factors to provide personalized reporting. Genivity can assist in determining how health decisions impact one’s future and what to consider when financial planning.