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Financial Planning for Your Final Years: 5 Key Considerations

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Maybe your senior loved one is in good health, lives independently and shows no signs of slowing down, making end of life planning seem less pertinent. Perhaps you’re in your 60s or 70s and end of life planning still seems like a distant consideration or maybe you’ve spoken with family members casually about your final years but haven’t put a formal plan in place. Or, quite possibly, you haven’t started conversations about financial planning for the end of life because you simply don’t know where to begin.

No matter what your situation, ensuring yours or a senior loved one’s financial affairs are in order can go a long way in making the final years more comfortable and the end of life transition that much smoother.

"It sounds contradictory, but end of life planning is something that can start far in advance of the final years,” said Brian Burlacoff, Financial Advisor at Sun Life Financial Canada. “Having conversations early on and putting a plan in place will relieve stress on both the individual and their family when the final years do arrive."

In order to help you or your senior loved one with the end of life financial planning process, Burlacoff and the Home Instead® network have compiled some key considerations to keep in mind. Continuing to reassess your life situation and priorities may help determine how yours or a senior loved one’s life song plays out.

  1. Speaking with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can act as a quarterback in planning for the final years and can ask the right questions to help identify the information that an individual will need as they plan for the end of life." What I say to my clients, is pretend that today is the day or week before you pass away. What would you want to happen to your monetary items? Your sentimental items? What about final wishes for a funeral or celebration of life?" said Burlacoff. "A good financial advisor will ask these questions and once answered, they can help identify the varying technical issues that must be considered for each individual as they age and ensure that an appropriate end of life plan is established."A financial advisor cannot only help assemble the right financial plan, but also refer you or a senior loved one to the appropriate specialists, such as an accountant to assist with tax planning or lawyer to help with the development of a will.
  2. Taking a holistic approach. Often individuals and their families will focus on one or two elements of end of life preparation but may not consider multiple important factors of the planning process. "If you ask a hundred people, you’re going to get a hundred opinions on what the most important aspect of end of life financial planning is," said Burlacoff."That’s why speaking with a financial advisor who can walk you through the entire process and get you thinking about all the aspects you may not be considering is so important as you plan for your final years." For example, they can help educate you or a senior loved one on the various documents you will need to have in order as you plan for the end of life.
  3. How do you want to live your final years? Think of the final years in broader terms than just retirement or end of life planning. Perhaps you’d like to take up downhill skiing or hang gliding during those early years. Maybe a trip to Europe is on your bucket list or volunteering at your favourite charity.Do you have a plan in place that will help you support this type of lifestyle? And, as you age, how do you see your life unfolding? Is your goal to remain independent to the end? And where do you want to be at the end – at home or in a care community? Working with a financial advisor and having a financial plan in place will allow you and your senior loved one to better meet their end of life financial goals.
  4. Is your plan flexible? Circumstances sometimes change plans sooner rather than later. "Events may be the trigger to look at your financial plan," Burlacoff said. "Unexpected health concerns can be a factor, as can family moving away. Life events are much more of a line of demarcation to reassess the plans you’ve made. If you’ve planned adequately, it may not be necessary to make frequent changes. In fact, that’s one of the benefits of putting a plan in place."
  5. Does your family know about your plans? It’s important that family members know about your plans and that you share specifics about estate planning with them. "Sharing details about how your estate will be divided upon your passing can significantly reduce the likelihood of conflicts occurring down the road," said Burlacoff. "Having a will and power of attorney in place to ensure your wishes are carried out can prevent disputes between your beneficiaries that can sometimes take years to resolve."

Additional Resources

Last revised: March 21, 2018

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