How Do You Advise Clients Who Plan To Self-Insure For Long Term Care?

By Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, AgingInvestor.com

Of course, your clients think they will never need long term care and they likely resist talking with you about it. Retirement planning is much more fun when you’re discussing cash flow, travel and leisure, and being free from the responsibility of work. And then there’s this thing called reality: retirement is not all fun.

Here at AgingInvestor.com, we offer you the benefit of our experience in dealing with countless families with aging folks among them. The adult children are our most frequent clients in our companion endeavor, AgingParents.com, and the stories they tell us are a jarring wake-up call for anyone. No one expects to need to be taken care of so no one wants to look at how frighteningly expensive it is.

For the moment, let’s leave aside the issue of long term care insurance. (My husband and I bought it if that’s an indication of what I think about the subject). Knowing that so few people bite the bullet and shell out those premium dollars, we are looking at the vast majority of clients who choose to self-insure against the risk of needing to pay for long term care. What are you telling them about this prospect? What do you say about their risks?

Here is one thing every advisor with a retirement-age client who chooses to self-insure should know: health status at retirement matters. A lot. Maybe you think that your client’s health is not your business, as you’re in the money management field. Maybe you see the health questions as being outside your area of expertise and you want nothing to do with the subject. It’s personal after all. And so is running out of money and needing care.

Measuring risk in investment products is at the heart of your job. If you want to add true value to your client’s engagement with you, an elementary look at the client’s health status at retirement is also part of your job. There is a direct correlation between chronic health issues and the likely need for long term care. I do not suggest that you need to be an expert or have any health background. You need your two eyes, your ears, and your common sense to ask a few essential questions. Those questions and the answers will give you some solid ground to stand on when you talk with a client about planning for this potential expense and how likely it is that the client will need this care. They may or may not listen to you, but if you fail to give them the facts, you are not serving them well.

Here are some of the essential questions you need to bring up when you talk with them about retirement, the long view, living past 80, and how long their assets can be expected to last.

  1. How is your health, generally speaking? Do you have any chronic conditions like heart problems or diabetes?
  2. Do you smoke?
  3. Has any doctor ever given you any warnings about your health or what you should do differently now?

With your client’s answers, you then can progress to the discussion about why he or she probably has a higher risk than someone else without that problem/ condition/smoking history of needing long term care. At least a third of our population will need to pay for it at some point in their lives. Those with chronic illness may have to pay for long term care for years and years. It would also be helpful for you to do some calculations for your client. This is the “just in case, let’s imagine you have to pay for a helper at home” conversation.

If you feel awkward about how to bring this up, what questions to ask and how to talk about the dollars involved in long term care we can help you. Our newest book, Hidden Truths About Retirement & Long Term Care: The Guide For Financial Professionals is loaded with tips, sample scripts and all the costs of different kinds of long term care spelled out for you. Get your copy here today so you can put your mind at ease!

 

Dr. Mikol Davis and Carolyn Rosenblatt, co-founders of AgingInvestor.com

Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder Law Attorney offers a wealth of experience with aging to help you create tools so you can skillfully manage your aging clients. You will understand your rights and theirs so you can stay safe and keep them safe too. Dr. Mikol Davis, Psychologist, Gerontologist offers in depth of knowledge about diminished financial capacity in older adults to help you strategize best practices so you can protect your vulnerable aging clients. They are the authors of "Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisors Guide To Best Practice," and "Hidden Truths About Retirement And Long Term Care," available at AgingInvestor.com offers accredited cutting edge on-line continuing education courses for financial professionals wanting to expand their expertise in best practices for their aging clients. To learn more about our courses click HERE
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