Whether you are specifically advising clients on estate planning, engaged in wealth management or not, would you know what to do if they lost a loved one?
Later in my financial services career, I heard a story from a friend who was also a former client and the final words of his last surviving parent were: “Son, I’m sorry about what you are about to go through.” He later learned his wealthy parents had paid almost no attention to their finances for years.
Taxes and penalties weren’t paid, dividend checks accumulated and matured bonds (then in paper form) were never redeemed. It took the son years to sort out as he served in his role as executor.
Older clients may be in good health, yet they know they won’t last forever. In a Forbes article, the investment firm UBS divided retirement into three phases: Transition, My Time and The Last Waltz. As their CPA, you may have clients who are in the third stage.
Why Me? How?
Should you have a conversation with your client? It’s possible their insurance agent or other financial advisor has already done it. If not, or if you sense your client is anxious, this is another way to show the value you bring to the relationship.
It’s an awkward conversation. You might present it in the third person: “I advise most of my clients in their 80’s…”
You might also position it as a cautionary tale. Let’s assume you are limiting your concerns to financial and certain physical assets. Let’s also assume their estate isn’t at the size where they will need extensive tax planning at this point.
Seven Sensible Points to Discuss