Losing a sibling through the lens of a financial planner

December 30, 2019

Just before Thanksgiving, my younger brother passed away after a long illness complicated by depression. Both made it hard for him to plan for his family's future and for him to receive advice from others. While he had been sick for a long time, at the end things accelerated quickly and his death surprised us all.

Although leaving a pile of unpaid medical bills and a complicated (and unprofitable) rental real estate portfolio for my sister in law to take over, he did several things right: he had a life insurance policy that was sufficient for ensuring his two teenagers could go to college and his widow to save for a modest retirement and he had a trust as well as financial and medical powers of attorney.

A lump sum payment can go fast, as lottery winners facing bankruptcy can attest. A financial plan for optimizing the insurance proceeds will help my sister in law ensure that her husband's financial legacy will be enough to keep his family comfortable and meet their goals.

Life offers many teaching moments and as a financial advisor I try to take them to heart. One of them is to mentor and coach clients on the importance of adequate life insurance, planning for long term care, selecting the right medical insurances (and Medicare plans), and estate planning, as well as letting family members know our final wishes.

This year, we will be making available an online tool of questionnaires/profiles called Whealthcare to help bring these important questions to the forefront in planning for the future. While finances play an important role in our futures, there are other important decisions we all will face as we age. Having a proactive aging plan can guide the process.

The New Year is a chance to bring 2020 vision to life's safety nets and planning.