I truly understand the financial challenges facing aging adults. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the housing bubble burst and the whole economy went down with it. I remember watching friends and family losing their houses, their portfolios and their hopes for retirement. I even remember friends coming out of retirement and getting back into the workforce because they had no choice. For these reasons among many others, today I want to talk about a few effective ways you can help manage an aging loved ones investments so that they might feel secure.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make when managing investments is assuming that the stock market will always go up. Now traditionally, this is correct and a good thing to remember if you never, ever plan on touching your investments. You can accumulate all you want as the market rises, because everyone is a genius in a bull market. The challenge is the massive losses you can have during a crash and the many years it can take to rebuild. If this crash happens as your are about to retire or have been retired for only a few years and you have not properly secured your finances, you can be looking at big trouble.
The best rule of thumb is to have multiple buckets of money in investments that will all be able to generate income in retirement. Some should be conservative in nature and can generate a protected, defined amount of income that you can never outlive. Some money should be in property that can always produce predictable income in retirement. Some investments can be set for growth and then shifted into more protected places as you move into retirement. The bottom line is, that it’s important to not just think about growth, but also and more importantly, be thinking about guaranteed income.
Do you know how to access your investments without large surrender fees? This question is vital for two reasons, emergencies and quality of life. First, you never want your loved one to get caught in a situation where he or she needs cash and are forced to take a massive hit on a retirement account, because money needs to be accessed before it was designed to be withdrawn. There could be massive surrender charges or maybe the investment is down, but he or she is desperate for money. This is why a percentage of money should always be liquid, so that investments don’t need to be prematurely tapped.
INFLATION AND RISK
Of course risk is always and forever a challenge to manage when it comes to investments. As I mentioned in the previous sections, the closer someone gets to retirement, the more risk must be taken into account. Again the last thing you want is to have your aging loved one’s retirement plan heavily weighted in risky investments.
On the other hand, you must be aware of the rate of inflation. For those investments that are not part of a guaranteed stream of income, you must be sure that the growth out-ways the rate of inflation by at least 4%. Not an easy task when you average in potential losses.
TAXES AND EXPENSES
The golden rule is to choose investments with low fees and low to no taxes during distribution. This is, of course, not always possible, but something to be aware of as you’re formulating a plan for your aging loved one.
If you are to become a trustee or are granted power of attorney for an aging adult you must understand that you will have a fiduciary responsibility to act in his or her best interest. You will also be bound to act in the best interest of his or her heirs. Now you may be one of many heirs, so fairness is the key. Legal battles are not worth the money you will lose to lawyers so work in good faith towards everyone’s benefit. This goes for all investments including property…boy could I tell you some stories.
HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
Finally, I can’t stress this enough, get some professional help. This stuff is complicated from a financial, legal and yes emotional level so protect everyone involved. Work with professionals who understand the intricacies of your family’s situation. They much approach every decision with compassion and a true knowledge of the challenges your aging loved one will face.
Now, if you are a Real Estate professional in this space or you’d just like to work with the above 50 market in any capacity, I’ve got great news. I will be teaching a Senior Real Estate Specialist designation course coming in January 2018 so save the date and reach out to me at [email protected] for updates.