Estate planning tops list of financial advising needs

Florida has long been a retirement haven full of elderly individuals, a group often in need of financial advising. A study showed that estate planning, including living wills and power of attorney, was one of the most important topics on which seniors and their families recognize that they needed advice. In the study, the National Endowment for Financial Education noted recognition by older people of signs pointing to a decrease in their ability to make effective financial decisions.

Nearly 47 percent of people experiencing a cognitive decline in themselves or in family members reported paying bills late or not paying them at all. Difficulty in solving simple math problems was reported in 36 percent of that group, and 21 percent said that they had completely emptied their savings accounts.

The rich weren't doing much better at end-of-life financial planning in the face of reduced cognitive capabilities. A survey of millionaires showed that 44 percent of them were worried about who might take care of them in their dotage, and over half were worried that their final years would be spent in a nursing home or other care facility. In the face of such concerns, 34 percent said that they most needed help from a financial advisor in estate planning. That was almost twice as many people as the 19 percent who said they were most in need of advice dealing with Social Security benefits.

As the population in Florida and around the country continues to trend grayer, seniors and their families may find the help of an attorney experienced in working with wills, guardianships and other end-of-life financial matters useful. The attorney could help define and document a client's preferences for power of attorney or assist with documents such as special needs trusts.

Source: Spectrem's Millionaire Corner, ""Major Barriers" Preventing Families from Estate Planning: Survey", Donald Liebenson, August 14, 2013

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