A Better Understanding Makes for a Better Plan

Finding the Right Fit
A couple, married 50 years, was referred to us by their longstanding BerryDunn CPA. The couple was concerned that their current investment manager, whom they met with quarterly, wasn't connecting or communicating well with them. They said, “When we ask if we are going to be okay, he tells us that quarterly earnings were less than the analysts expected. He never answers our major concern: Will we be okay?”

The couple wanted to work with someone they could [trust and] feel comfortable with, who would understand their situation intimately. They wanted an advisor they could trust enough to help with financial management and decision making in the event of illness or even death. They wanted a guiding hand and a sounding board. An advisor who would prevent them from making an obvious mistake if, with age, the missteps become less obvious to them.

The husband, a retired executive and a planner at heart, worried that the time was approaching when he would be unable to handle the family finances with the energy and accuracy he now does. His wife, although smart as a whip, had never handled the finances and was not inclined to start. Although the couple believed they have enough money to live as they chose, they expected a change to their income in the next year and they wanted assurances that they had what they needed for a stable, enjoyable future.

Gaining Comfort
During one of their first conversations with us, both the husband and wife expressed concern about their health. They wondered how to pay the health-related expenses of one spouse while making sure the other had adequate resources to live comfortably and still provide a legacy to their children.

We took a number of steps to help this couple:

First, they needed help managing their day-to-day finances. We helped interview and select a personal bookkeeper to review their finances monthly, balance the checkbook, and track their spending.

Next, we developed financial projections to give them the comfort they were looking for. We demonstrated how, even with conservative assumptions and high health care expenses, they would likely have enough money for their needs with some left to pass to their children.

We made sure the couple had the right amount and kinds of insurance for their future. We were able to suggest some changes to incorporate a long-term care insurance policy that protects more of their assets for their children with no adverse impact on their monthly cash flow.

We reviewed their investments and ultimately consolidated a number of their accounts, making managing and understanding their finances easier for them and more efficient. We created a plan for utilizing assets to support the couple’s living expenses and charitable giving in a tax-efficient manner.

Finally, we helped the couple consider the type of legacy they wanted to leave to their children. As a result, they modified the estate planning documents drafted by their attorney.

A Happy Result
Both husband and wife remain healthy, and we meet on a quarterly basis, often with their CPA. And while we might occasionally talk about stock earnings surprises, we spend more time talking about the progress of their various accounts and other resources in meeting their financial needs, as well as hearing about their latest travels and the milestones of their children and grandchildren.

Actual performance and results will vary. These case studies do not constitute a recommendation as to the suitability of any investment for any person or persons having circumstances similar to those portrayed, and a financial advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation.