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How Long Will You Live?

It might seem odd, but a good financial planner needs to ask questions about your health. 

For those of you who are clients with us at Family Financial Partners, you may or may not remember our first few meetings where we asked all sorts of seemingly random questions. We don’t do this to pry – we’re trying to get a good feel for the various financial puzzle pieces you have in your life, and these might be things you haven’t even thought about – at least in terms of how they affect your finances. 

One area we ask about that frequently garners some odd looks is the question of your health. It’s one thing to ask a client their date of birth, but it’s another to ask: 

  • How is your health on a scale of 1-10?
  • Are you on any maintenance drugs?
  • Do you take any major medications?
  • Have you had major surgery, or ongoing health issues?
  • What’s your family’s medical history?
  • Have you been diagnosed with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc?

At this point, you may understand where we’re going with this line of questioning, but then we start asking if your parents are alive, and if not, how old were they when they passed, and what happened? We ask about your grandparents and their health, and any siblings who have medical issues – and this is the point where you probably said, okay wait – why are you asking these things? The reality is, we’re trying to figure out how long you’re going to live. 

What we know is that examining your family tree will help us arrive at an average number that’s simply the age at which you tell us you want to bounce that final check. We ask these questions prior to asking you what you want to do with your assets and investments, what your life and financial goals are, and before we even know how much money you have. The reason is simple: your current and projected future health is paramount to your ongoing financial plan. 

Without good health, your medical costs, especially in today’s medical cost wasteland, could skyrocket out of control, making any investment plan useless. That’s why we typically follow this line of questioning with questions about your insurance coverage, including:

  • Health
  • Disability
  • Life
  • Long-term care
  • Property & casualty
  • Other professional or catastrophic coverage

The reason we ask about insurance is that these typically are the things that help you and your family maintain your lifestyle standard should any life-changing medical events happen. While many of you think your investment guy shouldn’t be asking insurance questions, as financial planners, we not only need to know how long you’ll live and potential medical expenses, we need to know how you’re protected. If you’re not covered for any reason, we then have to do calculations on your assets to make up for your lack of insurance – and determine whether those assets are enough. 

Maybe a bell just sounded in your head and you’re thinking, “ah ha!” Now you get it. But, before we say you’re good to go, we also ask about debts – mortgages, car loans, and any other consumer debts you might have – as we need to make sure you can continue to pay those as well. 

From there, we add in things like life goals, how long you want to work, your definition of retirement, how many kids you have to educate, whether you have parents to care for, what vacation experiences you’re saving for, etc. Our goal is to help you do everything you want to do. At the same time, if we see a hole in what you’ve hired us for, we’re also committed to being 100 percent transparent about that and telling you, so you’re not blindsided. And we will do just that, as we update you on a regularly scheduled basis about where you are. 

In the meantime, for those of you who are clients, this is just a friendly reminder of what we do every day, and why we do it. If you’re not currently working with us, ask yourself – is the person you’re working with doing all these things for you? If not, maybe it’s time to consider working with a team of pros who can help you organize your entire financial life. 

Depending on how long you’re going to live, you might have another solid 30-70 years in front of you that could benefit from working with our team. And as you think it over, here’s a Ted Talk about what people are doing to live to 100 and beyond. I hope you enjoy it, and we’d love to hear from you soon. 

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