Getting Advice with Chronic or End-of-Life Illnesses

The aging of America, combined with advances in medicine, is having the anomalous result of people who are living longer with chronic and sometimes terminal illnesses. People are living longer, but with diseases that might have killed them 40 years ago.  

Financial advisors can provide real assistance to clients in these circumstances. They can do so in at least two ways: 

1.) Provide guidance with respect to the financial needs that are the inevitable result of the transition from good health to chronic illness and, 

2.) Help families deal with the inevitable physical, mental, and emotional changes. 

While life situations can and do change dramatically, the counsel a client receives during these times may not be different from what has been provided in the past. Advisor(s) help establish a budget as part of the overall financial planning process. The onset of a serious illness may add new categories to the budget on both the expense and income side. New expenses may include hospitalization, new prescriptions and professional consultations, changes to environment due to mobility issues, and long-term therapy. New sources of income may include health insurance and long-term care reimbursement, short- and long-term disability payments, and social security disability income. If needed, a client may need to consider more non-traditional sources of cash to pay the costs of care, such as reverse mortgages and the cash value of whole life insurance policies.  

Both income and expense categories should be considered for when developing a new budget for client(s) while they are also trying to find what a “new normal” means to the client and their family.  A client should also consider what, if any, impacts will be for maintaining health insurance on family members who were covered under an employer group health plan. If a trust hasn’t already been established, this is the time to understand and consider setting up a trust. Trusts can provide a great deal of comfort to those that are seriously ill, helping to ensure that loved ones will be “okay” and life can go on the way the client hoped (wishes) it would when the journey here on earth has ended. 

As important as assisting one with financial planning due to life-changing illness is understanding the mental, emotional, and physical changes that will occur. Many people, when faced with a life-changing illness, prefer to focus on building memories and making sure that life will go on comfortably rather than receiving sympathy from others. So, advisors know that his/her effectiveness in supporting a client during difficult time(s) with financial plans and decisions is more important values he/she can add to the client.   

Advisors are not always just an advisor; for the trusted advisor, the advisor has become a close friend. If this is the case, the trusted advisor will know exactly what to do. The trusted advisor knows to keep the client at the helm of their ship for as long as possible.  True trusted advisors honor the client with patience, being a great listener, and extending the grace the client deserves. This is a special way of respecting both the business relationship and, in many cases, a personal friendship. 

This publication contains general information only, and National Advisors Trust is not, by this publication, rendering accounting, financial, investment, legal, tax or other professional advice or services.

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