According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 15% of the U.S. population was 65 or older in 2015 (http://bit.ly/2oEqoBk). The Federal Reserve reports that 20% of households headed by individuals 65 or older have around $700,000 of wealth; 10% have $1.5 million or more (http://bit.ly/2oid3O9). Although this makes the 65-and-older age group the wealthiest age demographic in the U.S., a 2015 study by A Place for Mom and the Mutual Fund Store reveals that 28% of Americans whose parents are living expect to have to support their aging parents financially (http://bit.ly/2oPoqAy).
Given the apparent need for elder financial planning services, the number of CPAs specializing in “financial gerontology” is surprisingly small. This column reviews three websites with excellent resources on financial planning for seniors: AgingCare.com, Paying for Senior Care, and A Place for Mom. CPAs getting started with providing services to senior citizens and their families may find it helpful to skim through the more general (or nonfinancial) materials on these web-sites as background information, as well as refer them to clients.
AgingCare.com is a community of family caregivers with a mission of not only connecting caregivers to resources, but also to each other. Materials available on the website include not only information on living arrangements and physical and mental health issues, but also a financial matters section and a financial planning webpage. Experts contributing to the site include certified financial planners, an identity theft and fraud consultant, and attorneys specializing in elder issues.
AgingCare.com offers three free e-books, one of which, “The Caregiver’s Survival Guide: Family Caring for Family,” comprises 61 pages of advice on many difficult issues, including keeping good family relationships, managing healthcare, and exploring housing options (http://bit.ly/2nVmF5q). CPAs might be particularly interested in “Chapter 2: Getting Organized Before Needs Escalate,” which includes not only legal and other preparation on the elder’s side, but also financial planning tips for caregivers to protect their own financial futures. In addition, a handy directory of financial planning articles is found at http://bit.ly/2pqJYUL. Advisors may wish to note that the first of the “4 Financial Mistakes Retirees Regularly Make” is “replacing financial advisors with family members.”
The Financial Matters section (http://bit.ly/2oEcf7t) presents articles written by AgingCare.com contributors under the broad categories of government assistance, financial awareness, and managing finances. Articles include “10 Things You Should Know About Your Parent’s Finances” (http://bit.ly/2omWYWP), which lists important questions regarding such matters as durable power of attorney, location of financial records, and the identity of a financial planner, if any. “Are Caregivers Responsible for Parents’ Debt?” addresses how to help parents pay off their debts without putting the caregiver’s finances at risk (http://bit.ly/2oPstfS). The practical “How to Put an Elderly Loved One on a Budget” includes tips on how to comfortably reduce or spread out home expenses, having all bills sent to an accessible post office box, and setting up online bill paying from a checking account (http://bit.ly/2oPw6CA).
Paying for Senior Care
PayingforSeniorCare.com is an outreach of the American Elder Care Research Organization, which helps individuals plan for long-term senior care. The website is focused on the practical financial management issues to be faced in the golden years and provides detailed information on a large number of care options, including general cost estimations and how to find providers. Calculators are available to help. For example, assisted living in the Outer New York City area ranges from $1,234 to $9,000 per month, with an average of $4,653.
The Long Term Care/Eldercare Financial Planning: Public and Private Assistance page (http://bit.ly/2oigNiL) includes a comparison table of service providers, their costs, pros and cons of using the provider, and links to more information. Service provider categories include elder care resource planners and financial planners, both of which could include accounting professionals.
Another handy resource is FAQs and Helpful Guides (http://bit.ly/2pJXUW6), which has more than 50 articles and links, such as the must-read “Common Misperceptions about Paying for Long-Term Care” (http://bit.ly/2pJCUim).
The Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator is another excellent resource (http://bit.ly/2oEvJc6). It is an online tool to identify a variety of assistance options, including assisted living, home accessibility modifications, and help with existing medical bills and prescription drugs. Users answer a series of background questions and select the specific types of assistance needed. The results are provided immediately in both web and e-mail format, and include links to program descriptions on the Paying for Senior Care website.
A Place for Mom
Readers are probably familiar with A Place for Mom (www.aplaceformom.com) from former Good Morning America news anchor Joan Lunden’s association with the program. A Place for Mom is a free, assisted-living referral service paid for by the senior living communities that partner with the organization. While the majority of the website focuses on housing, caregiving, and medical issues, there are some great financial management resources.
The Senior Care Resources webpage at http://bit.ly/2oPnyMf is a good place to start. Key links include the caregiver toolkit, several checklists and calculators, and information on financing senior care. “Senior Living: Planner & Guide” is a downloadable 22-page overview of senior life issues (http://bit.ly/2oPIfrb). It includes a description of housing options and a checklist of observations and questions for touring facilities. The “Caregiver Toolkit” is both a webpage (http://bit.ly/2oPsCjD) and a downloadable 70-page PDF booklet that offers tools for planning, organizing, and budgeting (http://bit.ly/2oPxdSM).
The senior care calculator (http://bit.ly/2nVv1dq) compares the cost of assisted living versus home care for specific locations; users can enter amounts or use computer-generated averages. The senior living cost index (http://bit.ly/2oEjwE9) presents tabular computations of average costs for independent living, assisted living, and memory care by city, state, and region. The data tables can be downloaded. The essential document locator checklist is a very handy listing of essential documents to photocopy and keep in one location, documents that may be stored in various places, and suggestions for important contact information (http://bit.ly/2on67OU). Finally, the financial tracker is a one-page PDF used to identify the user’s insurance policies, bank accounts, and financial professionals (http://bit.ly/2oGclNl).
FINANCIAL CALCULATORS FOR SENIOR PLANNING
AARP Health Care Costs Calculator
AARP Retirement Calculator
Department of Labor Lifetime Income Calculator
Life Insurance Calculator
Net Worth Calculator
Social Security Quick Calculator
Social Security Life Expectancy Calculator