Do You Need to Strengthen Your Financial Plan?
by Rick Law, Aurora, Illinois Estate, Asset and Retirement Tax Attorney. Rick Is Founder of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law and presents multiple complementary workshops every month on how you can plan and protect your future. Back in 2008 I had the pleasure of working with Rocky Greene as he held the hand of one of his clients who was beginning to slip into the early stages of dementia. Because of his proactive concern for his clients, he worked with his clients (a husband and wife in their 70’s) and their adult children in helping them to modify their existing estate plan into a long-term care plan with asset preservation for the healthy spouse and appropriate distributions for the children at the time of the death of both of the spouses. I decided to give Rocky a call to ask him what was going on in the financial investment world from his perspective. There are four crucial areas of investment management, all of which need to be addressed to have a truly healthy financial plan for the future:
- Level of Risk. When someone asks Rocky about investment management, he counters by asking them a question right back: How you are going to manage your money, not only in an up market, but also in a down market, or in a sideways market? The key to getting the most out of your investments is not by blindly following your financial advisor, but by doing what is right for you. The key to good investment management is communication. Individuals need to be able to share with their financial manager what level of risk they are willing to tolerate. Some will be comfortable playing the market and hoping they’ll win big. But for those who insist upon guarantees, an annuity may be the best choice available to them.
- Proper Insurance Planning. No matter what your level of risk, investment management also includes the having proper insurance for any of life’s risks. This includes not only the obvious, life insurance, but also the less obvious: long-term care insurance, and appropriate liability insurance in the event that you are sued.
- Estate Planning. It is absolutely critical that you put together a proper estate plan so that your inheritance goals will be properly structured in writing, not only from a tax standpoint but also to determine who is in charge. Every person, regardless of the size of his or her estate, needs to take the time to put together a plan with directions to loved ones, detailing not only what should be done, but what should not be done with the worldly assets that are left behind.
- Medicaid/Public Benefits Planning. Lastly, Rocky believes that Medicaid/public benefits planning is essential! In today’s environment, even a $2 million net worth individual or couple can have their life savings completely destroyed by failure to properly plan for long-term care. These days, when you have the very real possibility of one or both individuals needing long-term care for 8 to 12 years, it is easy to take an estate from $2 million or more to absolute zero in that period of time. To avoid this, you need more than basic planning—you need long-term care planning as well.