Gifts + Estate Planning

Trusts: Getting Advice with Chronic or End-of-Life Illnesses

BY Spectrum Wealth Management | Feb 13, 2023

The aging of America, combined with advances in medicine, is having the anomalous result of people who are living longer with chronic and sometimes terminal illnesses. People live longer but with diseases that might have killed them 40 years ago.

Financial advisors can provide real assistance to those of you in these circumstances. They can do so in at least two ways:

  1. Provide guidance with respect to the financial needs that are the inevitable result of the transition from good health to chronic illness and,
  2. Help you and your families deal with the inevitable physical, mental, and emotional changes.

While life situations can and do change dramatically, the counsel you receive during these times may not be different from what you have been provided in the past, albeit how others approach you will be more obvious to you. Your advisor(s) has most likely helped you establish a budget as part of their overall financial planning process. The onset of a serious illness may add new categories to the budget on both the expense and income side. New expenses may include hospitalization, new prescriptions, professional consultations, changes to your environment due to mobility issues, and long-term therapy. New sources of income may include health insurance and long-term care reimbursement, the short-and-long term disability payments, and social security disability income. If needed, you may need to consider more non-traditional sources of cash to pay the costs of care, such as reverse mortgages and the cash value of whole life insurance policies.

Both income and expense categories should be considered when developing your new budget while also trying to find what your “new normal” means to you and your family. You should also consider what, if any, impacts will be for maintaining health insurance on family members who were covered under your employer group health plan. If you do not already have a trust, this is the time to understand and consider setting up a trust. Trusts can provide a great deal of comfort if you are seriously ill, helping to ensure that your loved ones will be “okay” and life can go on the way you hoped (your wishes) it would when your journey here on earth has ended.

As important as assisting you with financial planning due to a life-changing illness is understanding the mental, emotional, and physical changes that will occur. Many people, when faced with a life-changing illness, prefer to focus on building memories and making sure that life will go on comfortably rather than receiving sympathy from others. This is why it is essential to make sure your advisor knows that his/her effectiveness in making necessary changes in the financial plan is more important to you than feeling sorry for you.

In many cases, your advisor is not always just and advisor — for the trusted advisor, they have become a close friend. If this is the case, your trusted advisor will know exactly what to do. They will know how to keep you at the helm of your ship for as long as possible. There will honor you with patience, being a great listener, and extending the grace you deserve. This is a special way of respecting both your business relationship, and in many cases, your friendship.

Spectrum Wealth Counsel, doing business as Spectrum Wealth Management, LLC, is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about Spectrum’s investment advisory services is found in Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request. The information presented is for educational and illustrative purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice. Tax and legal counsel should be engaged before taking any action. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for purchasing or selling any security.