Who Do You Talk To?


Children are often encouraged to be self-reliant, but there are so many times when the advice of someone who understands a specific situation can be a beneficial sounding board.

When the decisions are financial, finding someone who has dealt with similar issues is vital. Talking to someone with expertise in a particular area of personal finance, is a choice, as is talking to a valued friend or family member who can provide guidance in what may be a new area for you.
One life event every human subconsciously hopes to experience is preparing for their own end-of-life (as opposed to having one’s life end suddenly and unexpectedly). As a person approaches the end of their life, there are dozens of decisions to be made about settling accounts, both personal and financial. It is easier to make the necessary decisions when that person has someone with whom they can discuss the details.
Spectrem’s new study Down to the Last Detail examines the financial preparations affluent individuals can make to transfer wealth when the eventual occurs. The report looks at investors who are arranging their own financial plans as well as investors who work with family members to make determinations about end-of-life finances, as well as those who worked with a family member who has passed away.
Just as it is true that everybody dies, it is also true that everybody knows someone who has passed away. The issues surrounding end-of-life finances get dealt with by almost everyone eventually. As a result, investors have many voices they can listen to regarding the financial arrangements and medical decisions that need to be made regarding the end of life.
But do most investors depend on family or friends who may have experience in the area but are not financial experts, per se? Or do they go to a financial advisor they work with, or whom family members have worked with, to get answers that have some professional foundation?
In the study, investors were asked “who are you working with for your own end-of-life decisions?”, and the answers were surprisingly widespread. Here are some of the details:
• Thirty-four percent of all investors discuss end-of-life decisions with family and/or friends. Perhaps that percentage seems a bit low, although many people consider their end-of-life matters to be among the most private decisions they are required to make. That may be why…
• Twenty-seven percent of investors work with their private attorney regarding final decisions. That may be especially true in situations where a person requires a legal or medical power of attorney and wants to make certain the specifics of the situation are properly dealt with.
• Twenty-two percent of investors are working or have worked with an estate attorney who is not their private attorney. Again, this may seem like a low percentage, although research shows that the wealthier the investor, the more likely they are to work with an estate attorney.
• And 22 percent of investors are working or have worked with their financial advisor. A financial advisor can provide guidance in many of the specific areas people need to deal with in the end-of-life situation, but can also provide referrals to other professionals who may be more knowledgeable about some of those specifics.
There is no right or wrong answer to who you should consult when making decisions that will determine how your personal wealth will be distributed when you are gone. There may be some personal issues which determine exactly who you talk to when you need advice on a particular subject.
However, many wealth transfers and estate distributions face unforeseen legal hurdles for your surviving family, and you can avoid those problems for spouses, children and grandchildren by speaking to a professional attorney or advisor who has seen both successful transfers as well as problematic ones.