Helping your client plan for the unplanned

For Your Clients

Helping your client plan for the unplanned

No one plans on getting sick or becoming disabled, but ironically, planning for these potential life-altering events is exactly what your clients should be doing.

When a family member or close friend experiences an unexpected death or debilitating illness, important planning questions may immediately come to mind: Who is the first person to contact? Who has the authority to make medical decisions or funeral arrangements? Did this person oversee their family finances? If so, who now has the authority to make these decisions? Is there an inventory of all financial accounts and legal documents?

Making decisions, delegating responsibilities and documenting information can be incredibly challenging in the height of a difficult emotional event. Without adequate planning, the grief of an unforeseen tragedy combined with anxiety around quickly getting a loved one's affairs in order can result in hasty and panicked decision-making. The outcome in this case may be very different from what would have been decided given more time and a clear mind. Fortunately, there are several steps your clients can take to better prepare themselves for such unforeseen situations.

Identify the Right Person

The first step in planning for the unplanned is establishing a primary contact – the person you will turn to should there be questions or concerns about your client’s health status or cognitive ability to manage financial affairs. This can be an immediate family member, close friend, attorney, accountant or clergy member.

Ask the Right Questions

Difficult as it may be, your clients should ask themselves questions about their future in the event of illness or incapacitation, and discuss their answers with the appropriate planning professionals. These questions may include things like:

  • How will you maintain your current home in the future?
  • How will you ensure your ability to come and go as you please?
  • Will you live in a community near family and friends?

Many times, these questions lead to deeper discussions about future concerns that they may not have considered before.

Have the Right Documents

It's important to maintain updated versions of financial, legal, healthcare and insurance documents. They should keep track of these items by using a checklist, such as the Documenting the Essentials checklist below, which lists these essential documents, explains each one's importance and captures its current status.

Unexpected illness and death cannot be controlled or predicted; however, talking to your clients about these important planning steps can provide them with a greater sense of preparation and control over how important matters will be handled in light of an unplanned event. 

Documenting the Essentials Checklist

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