My father is a man of exceedingly few words and simple needs. He has little use for modern conveniences: he doesn’t drive, own a working television, or a computer. He likes to ponder over things, even when people around him are impatient for a decision. He mistrusts doctors, even though he loves science, and is slow to accept medical advice and the evidence of his own aging. At times he loses his only working phone in the couch cushions for months at a time. Even under the best of circumstances, he is a challenge for a financial planner.
In the past six months, he has had two strokes—we needed to change his living situation and put together a plan with some urgency. I thought I was prepared, having helped many families transition from their single-family homes to retirement communities or condos. Nothing, though, is so humbling as trying to help your own parent. I realized that I had counted on my clients to come to me with most of the pieces in place, having a plan that was well thought out and a supportive network, just needing me to measure what they could afford and help with logistics. My father and I had not reached that point yet, and it made me wonder just how many of my clients were in similar situations.
My experience and subsequent journey with my father made me realize how much we were missing as financial planners. We rely too much on our clients being able to figure out most of the puzzle themselves. If I, given all of my planning experience, needed help, then surely my clients might need more help.
Fortunately, a colleague introduced me to Colleen Duewel and her company, LionHeart Eldercare & Consulting. Her advice and expertise filled in the gaps my planning hadn’t addressed. She and her team helped my family with:
- Evaluating and selecting the right retirement community, based on culture and cost
- Putting in place temporary help around the house and home-based, interim medical care
- Finding professional organizers and packers to deal with the stuff that got in the way of downsizing
This isn’t just about my father, of course. I have many clients who are held hostage by their possessions, accumulated over a lifetime, or who know they want or need something different but don’t know where to start. At ReFrame Wealth, we have decided to integrate some of these services into the planning we offer.
Advance planning meeting
It’s easier to have these conversations before a crisis arises. We encourage all of our clients to work with us in a separate, dedicated engagement to think through what their plans would look like it they needed to get help or move to a different living situation. We also extend this invitation to any of our clients who would like to have a facilitated and mediated conversation with their parents about what comes next.
Some of the issues we want to address are:
- Do your legal documents name the right person(s) to help if something happens to you? If not, are there options you may not have considered?
- If you have long-term care Insurance, do you understand what it covers? We will provide a plain English summary of its terms and be prepared to counsel you on its use.
- If your health were to decline or your living situation necessitated a change, what would you want that to look like?
- How will different scenarios impact your financial plan and your other goals?
- What can we do now to build the network you may need later?
Our goal is to engage in deep and meaningful planning—to think through all of these issues before the need is immediate.
Support at the time of need
Planning has its limits. We don’t know what we don’t know, so we want to be prepared to support our clients regardless of their needs. We have a deep bench of resources to help when the time comes to make a transition. As a reminder, we are all fiduciaries, serving solely in our clients’ best interests. There are some crucial services we are committed to connecting our clients to, such as:
- Retirement community consultation – If you are considering moving to a retirement community, ReFrame Wealth will pay for and facilitate a session with Colleen Duewel and her team (Northern Virginia only) to evaluate your needs. We can either help you stay in your home by providing the support you need there or help you make the best decision possible about your next home.
- Care management – Whether you need someone to help with household tasks a couple of times a week or need extensive medical help, we can connect you with high-quality agencies that offer those services.
- Daily money management – We work hand in hand with professionals who can help with bills, medical payments, and maintenance of all of your service relationships so you don’t have to.
- Professional organizers – They can help you decide what to keep and what to discard, sell, or donate. They can assess the space you will have in your new living situation and set priorities, keeping you moving forward with care and compassion.
We view this partnership as part of what makes ReFrame Wealth different. We came together as a company, dedicated to changing what you expect from your financial planner. We will be clear about what services are included as part of the fee you pay to ReFrame Wealth and what services and costs are your separate responsibility. As your life changes we are here to discuss how we can help.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by ReFrame Wealth, LLC. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.