Now is an ideal time for advisers to work with their clients to shore up the financial picture of their elderly parents. In this week’s blog Chris Ridd talks openly about how he has recently helped map his own fathers’ estate using myprosperity as a safeguard in these uncertain times and amid the biggest health crisis in a century. To support this, myprosperity has just announced the release of a Covid-19 kit for advisors which includes a wealth check digital form, once-off bank feeds, wills and executor kit on Starter accounts.
Do your clients have their parents’ estate sorted?
With the world of business going into hibernation and everyone now forced to work from home, just about every aspect of our professional life has been thrown into turmoil. You hear stories and experiences from different people about how they are coping in this new remote world where “social distancing” is now a strangely familiar term in our vernacular.
As Covid-19 threatens the lives of our elderly citizens, you have to face the reality that as advisers, your clients more than ever need to know the state of their parents’ financial affairs. In the tragic event that your client loses a mother or father during this terrible pandemic, the last thing they will want to have to deal with is understanding the state of their financial affairs and trying to piece together all the details. This may seem obvious but it is surprising how loose the financial picture of our parents can be and there just never seems to be the right time to get it sorted. Well now is clearly the right time.
To put this into a personal context, I have recently addressed this very issue with my own father who lives alone and is aged 85. My father is very astute and, for his age, is as sharp as a tack. We regularly have conversations about the state of the tech industry, the share market, economics and various other business topics. He is mentally very active. Having said that, and like many elderly men, one visit to his garage and you will quickly realise he is a hoarder. Trying to find stuff in that crazy mess would take months to sift through and sort out. Recently I became aware that his financial records share similar attributes.
That’s not to say he is not financially literate. As a former accountant and compliance auditor in the financial advice industry, he is certainly among the more financially informed. The issue is more around the fact that if anything happened to him, trying to locate the finer details of his estate would be nearly impossible. He knows where everything is, but that’s the problem. Only he does. His home office resembles a paper version of his garage. Imagine trying to locate the will, power of attorney, property trusts, not to mention logins to share portfolios and other undisclosed investments or collectables that make up the estate. It would be like trying to locate the missing petrol cap off the old lawn mower that sits in the back of the garage under a pile of boxes full of obscure tools and photo albums. Yep, needle in a haystack kind of stuff.
So, as a self-proclaimed superuser of myprosperity, I set out to map my father’s entire estate. Now, admittedly, we commenced that process back in late 2018, but like many well intended projects, we just never quite got around to finishing the task. However, when a global pandemic was announced by the WHO on 13th March, I received a calm but pointed call from my dad who suggested that we should probably get on and complete the exercise. So we did. And I’m proud to say we did it remotely (observing social distancing) over Zoom using screen sharing. Coupled with the ease of using myprosperity, and I am the first to say that in the past 12 months the user experience has gone to a whole new level, we mapped his entire financial position in just under 30 minutes. That included cataloguing all assets and liabilities, bank accounts, shareholdings, property, insurances, his motor vehicle… everything, all wired up in real time so it will always be up to date. He also added over 30 documents that he deemed important for us (4 children) to have access to in the event that we had to wrap up his estate.
If there is one thing I observed through the process, and you will find this when you start getting your clients into this exercise, it’s that it becomes addictive. My dad, as much as I love him, is a procrastinator. In fact most of us are. We put things off. And that is what happened last year and we never got to complete the task of mapping his estate. But once I got him going in myprosperity he jumped in boots and all. He enjoyed getting everything mapped and gained satisfaction from knowing it was all there. I was even getting text messages from him through the week as he thought of new things to add and was proudly putting them into the platform.
As proof of the pudding, my brother, formerly a successful financial adviser himself who exited the industry in 2018, and also the executor to my father’s will, reviewed the wealth portal: he was blown away with how comprehensive the system was. In his words “ hopefully dad will be fine and get through this Covid-19 crisis, but if anything happens, this has literally saved us weeks of pain in knowing where the entire estate is at”. That’s peace of mind… and you owe it to your clients to get them to do the same for their parents.
To make this even easier for advisers to get proactive on this, myprosperity has now launched the Covid-19 Kit which allows advisers to get the elderly parents of clients setup in the portal with a simple digital form, free document storage, once-off bank feeds and a will and executor kit as part of the free Starter account.
Written by Chris Ridd, Director of myprosperity