Where Can I Go For Help?

Financial Advisors

“Financial Advisors: What You Need to Know”

By Rick L Law,
Lead attorney, Law ElderLaw, LLP
Serving seniors and those who love them
in the Chicago metropolitan area.

At my elder law firm, we get referrals from a number of financial advisors throughout the year. During 2008 I had the pleasure of working with an advisor named 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 those he works with, and at great expense of time, he worked with his clients (a couple in their 70's) and their adult children in helping them to change 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 parents. I decided to give Rocky a ring to ask him what was going on in the financial investment world from his perspective. This is what he had to say:

There are four central areas of investment management, all of which need to be addressed to have a healthy financial plan for the future:

Level of Risk. When someone asks Rocky about investment management, he asks them a question right back: How you are going to manage your money, not only in an up market, but in a down market… what about 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 biggest 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, hoping to win big. But for those who want guarantees, an annuity may be the best choice available to them.

Proper Insurance Planning. No matter what your level of risk is, investment management also includes the having proper insurance for any number of life's risks. This includes not just the obvious ones, like 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 an air-tight estate plan so that your inheritance goals will be properly structured in writing, not only for tax purposes, but also to determine who is in charge. Everyone, regardless of the size of his or her estate, needs 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 they leave behind.

Medicaid/Public Benefits Planning. Lastly, Rocky tells us that Medicaid/public benefits planning is essential! In today's world, even an individual or couple with $2 million net worth can have their life savings totally destroyed by a 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 - and downright common - to take an estate from $2 million or more down to absolute zero. To avoid this, you need more than basic planning - you need long-term care planning as well.

We know that a healthy body isn't achieved by fixing one aspect of your lifestyle, then sitting back and quitting; it includes giving attention to diet, exercise, mental and spiritual health, and environmental factors. Neither does a healthy financial plan stop after making a change in just one area. You must give attention to all the components of your body of investments to have a truly healthy financial portfolio.

** Rocky Greene can be reached at Greene Financial Services in Naperville, IL, e-mail rockyg@wideopenwest.com.

Make Life Better Today

Assess your, or your loved one's, financial situation. Do you need to make a change? To find a Certified Senior Advisor in your area, contact www.society-csa.com.

Make Life Better This Week

Print out this page and bring it into your financial advisor, so they will know you're concerned about all of the above areas of your finances.

Make Life Better This Month

Work on good communication with your financial advisor - they can't meet your needs if they don't know about them! Talk about how to exercise your body of investments and what you can do to improve it.