Life is filled with unexpected twists and turns. If there were no surprises, we could set one plan in place and there would never be any changes. But changes occur without notice, and the question is then how we will respond to the unanticipated.
We all make excuses as to why we put off planning for the time when we’re not able to make our own financial decisions anymore. People don’t like to face their own mortality or burden their loved ones by bringing them into conversations that they don’t normally have. But one of the best ways to take care of loved ones is to have those conversations and prepare now so that the future is more certain for everyone involved.
The best way to prepare for the unexpected is to have a plan in place that will continue even when you’re not able to make the decisions anymore. Just as life insurance is for those left behind after someone passes away, a good financial plan will help those who are left behind. Sometimes the plan involves bringing your spouse in on financial discussions so that they can keep abreast of your financial situation. At other times, it’s preparing for the eventuality of death or the possibility of serious illness.
Spouses with Different Investment Expertise
A 2016 survey found that as household total wealth increased, the husband increasingly was designated as the most knowledgeable about the family’s finances, and presumably the one making the financial decisions. While it doesn’t matter which spouse is making the financial decisions, it is often the case that the other spouse is unaware of the couple’s investments.
For most people, the majority of their wealth is in the value of their house or automobile. But as you move up the wealth scale, more assets are invested in businesses, real estate, and stocks and bonds. Not all those investments are as easily understood, so it is often the case that one spouse is the “expert” on such investments.
A financial adviser can work with both spouses so that there is a better understanding of the investment strategy. In addition, in cases where the spouse who was “knowledgeable” about the investments passes away, the investments can continue to be managed by a professional. It’s too often the case that when one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse is unprepared to immediately jump into the role of managing the finances. Working with a financial adviser can ease this transition.
Age and Health Concerns
It’s a fact of life that we all get older, and with age comes additional health concerns. For individuals who are managing their investments on their own, there is an increased chance that a serious health issue could affect their ability to effectively maintain their investment strategy. In cases of unexpected death, the continuity that exists by working with a financial adviser can help ensure that your wishes are carried out.
As modern medicine has progressed and life expectancy has increased, we face much different challenges now than we did years ago. While our bodies may hold up well (after all, we can replace joints now), with extended life spans come increased cognitive challenges. What was once termed “old age” or “forgetfulness” is now given more technical names, and even with scientific advances we haven’t been able to reverse the aging process of the brain.
Our thinking ability is reported to peak around age 30 and, on average, very subtly decline with age. The ability to learn new information and retrieve information that’s already in storage usually doesn’t function as well when a person is 80 as it did when they were 30. In addition, health issues can also have an impact on cognitive functioning.
Nobody likes to think about what will happen when they’re no longer able to make investment or financial decisions. Two of the most stressful life events are a major illness and death of a loved one. When those occurrences happen, someone thrust into the role of having to make major financial decisions can often find themselves overwhelmed and hence more likely to make poor decisions. Working with a financial adviser can help to ease the burden during those times.
How to Get Started
No matter what your stage of life, it’s always a good idea to have someone to advise you on your finances. A professional financial adviser can give you clear, objective advice and put a plan in place to ensure that your financial goals are met. Find someone that you’re comfortable with and let them help you on your financial journey.
About Chase Investment Counsel
Chase Investment Counsel is a family and employee-owned boutique wealth management firm that offers personalized investment services. Our clients include career professionals, those nearing or in retirement, and families experiencing financial transitions such as generational wealth transfer, widowhood, divorce, or sale of a business. Chase’s active, disciplined investment management team is focused on selecting individual stocks and bonds targeted to each investor’s specific financial goals and risk tolerance. Established in 1957 in Charlottesville, VA, Chase Investment Counsel manages more than $300 million in assets.