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Disconnect! Financial Advice and Aging in Place

by Louis on April 24, 2014

Let’s get this straight.

Your home is your biggest asset. asset: noun  1. a useful and desirable thing or quality” So…….preparing your home to remain useful if mobility is reduced or as a safe place to get care is a good strategy for preserving this significant asset for anyone getting older. Right. Keeps you from costly (and undesirable) assisted living or nursing home. Right. Reduces health care costs since the chance of injury is reduced, you can return from rehab more quickly and it will be safer for caregivers. Right. So, financial planners commonly advise older clients to prepare their homes…..WRONG. Uh OH! Disconnect!

Sure, you want your home to gain and maintain value, but your home is a tool…not just a financial asset, but a critical tool you use for living every day! Financial planners talk about your assets – growing, preserving, using wisely but as far as I know, never advise how to maintain use of your most important tool/asset…other than preserving the financial value. But so what if you have the money and no place you want to live?

Preparing your home reduces the risk of injury to you or caregivers and maintains operational utility with reduced mobility. Making sure you can get in the door, bathe and get care safely- avoid the indignity and loss of control from being forced to move -seems like the smartest asset protection I can imagine.

This planning strategy, essentially leveraging your existing home asset for more and extra value in case of injury, illness or the need for care (okay…just call it normal aging) is a good one. Everyone has to live somewhere, and the place you already own and love is a best bet, IF it is prepared.

And Get THIS! Think of preparing your home as an insurance policy because it means you won’t lose use of your home if you suffer an accident or illness. But better than most insurance, like home, health or auto policies, where all you get is a thick file to store (or a small card for the glove box or your wallet) unless you suffer a loss and file a claim, accessible home improvements preserve and increase home value. In addition they are attractive— so you get the benefit of an updated, comfortable and spirit lifting home — whether you suffer a loss/file a claim or not.

Financial advisers need to make the connection so they can more completely advise their clients.  They must learn how to advise clients to (1) preserve the usefulness of their most valuable asset and (2) reduce health and care costs so other assets last longer. This is the best client service/ differentiator I can imagine. Who will jump on this opportunity?

Bonus: Insurers and health providers who help clients prepare their homes with know how and financial incentives will not just be stars, but save big money too!

Similar line of thinking- This winter’s cold helps us see that an an energy efficient home is a great hedge against rising energy costs. Which financial adviser will partner with the folks who plug the leaks, increasing comfort, reducing current living costs and insuring against rising fuel costs? Critical for those on fixed incomes. Are those the folks you are advising? Step up to the plate folks.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennifer April 18, 2015 at 12:12 am

I love this advice from the article…”Think of preparing your home as an insurance policy because it means you won’t lose use of your home if you suffer an accident or illness.” Right on. I have a financial contact that talks about using reverse mortgages to help in the “prepare” part. He “gets” it like Louis is talking about. You can check him out here


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