Be Prepared for Life’s Hurricanes

I was attending a conference in Orlando recently when Hurricane Matthew was heading up the coast of Florida. To say that I was completely unprepared would be an understatement. I was so busy leading up to the conference that I was only vaguely aware of the weather/hurricane status. I packed so lightly for the conference that I brought only what I needed for the days that I would be in Orlando – so that I could bring a carry-on bag only, of course!  I even, for the first time ever, pre-paid my airport parking since I knew exactly when I was arriving and when I would return, so that I could be easy in and easy out.  Why am I telling you all of this in the context of a blog about planning, you might ask?

Well, to me, it fits perfectly.  I see many clients that encounter “Hurricane” situations in their lives that they are completely unprepared for, especially when it comes to assisting older adult parents. Like the weather leading up to a hurricane, things can seem perfectly calm and sunny; moments later the storm hits and you are left completely unprepared for the chaos that comes next. For example, a simple unexpected fall and a broken hip for mom can bring months of “hurricane” aftermath if your family is unprepared.

What can you do to plan ahead so that any unexpected storms don’t find you unprepared?

  • Have a family meeting with your older adult parent (facilitated by your financial planner or other professional, if that is helpful). During this meeting, discuss current and future challenges that your parent(s) may face, what alternatives they would consider as solutions to these challenges, and what resources they have to solve these challenges.
  • As a result of the family meeting(s), have a written plan of action that includes all of the above, and, if needed, also includes what professional team members would need to be called upon (financial planner, elder law attorney, geriatric care manager, etc.).
  • Make sure all estate planning documents are up-to-date and reflect your parents’ current wishes and situation. 
  • Put a Family Care Plan in place so that everyone knows their role in advance (and family conflicts are avoided, as much as possible).
  • Help your parent(s) complete the Personal Record Keeping Document and Letter of Last Instruction (and keep it up-to-date) so that all important information is in one place and handy and a moment’s notice in a crisis.

Going back to my recent hurricane situation, I happened to luck out. I was at a very secure hotel property during the oncoming storm, and while I got delayed an extra day due to the airport being shut down, the worst thing I had to endure was wearing some dirty clothes and dealing with some restless children at the hotel because Disney was also closed for the day. If you don’t help your aging parents plan, I can assure you the results won’t be as kind. The key is to start the conversation – it is not an easy one, but it is one of the most important conversations you may have in your lifetime!  Please contact me if I can be of help.

Sandra Adams, CFP® , CeFT™ is a Partner and Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Sandy Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.