At U.S. Trust, we are committed to addressing the wealth management needs of our clients and their families — and even their extended families. We see our client relationships as family relationships, and this commitment to our clients and their families is epitomized by two programs that serve as bookends to our core wealth planning services — our Financial Empowerment program and our recently launched Eldercare Planning program.
Our Financial Empowerment program educates our clients' children and grandchildren — focusing on young adults in their 20s and 30s — about the responsible handling of wealth. The program is designed to be flexible, customizable, accessible, and geared to the specific needs and interests of the next generation. In most cases, the program takes place through face-to-face meetings between next-generation family members and family advisors, but many resources — including online resources — are available for the next gen's independent study as well.
Determining whether a loved one needs some form of assistance can be an emotional process for families.
Our Eldercare Planning program, on the other hand, offers comprehensive services for our clients, including those planning care for themselves as well as for those who will need to provide care for aging loved ones. As we learned in our most recent Insights on Wealth and Worth™ survey, this represents a significant area of unmet need for many wealthy Americans, as almost half of respondents do not have a financial plan that accounts for the cost of their own long-term-care/end-of-life expenses, and 83% do not have a plan to fund the care of their parents or aging relatives. Accordingly, our brand-new program focuses on the following four key areas.
Being prepared to deal with the unexpected becomes more important as our clients and their loved ones grow older. We assist clients in gathering and organizing critical financial, legal and medical information — insurance policies, account ownership and trust documents, and wills and health care proxies, among others. Determining whether a loved one needs some form of assistance can be an emotional process for families. Assembling documents and sharing them with appropriate family members as early as possible can reduce stress and facilitate their handling later.
To help clients with this process, we have created Your Personal Inventory Manager (YPIM). From documenting the location of family and financial records to compiling contact information for doctors and advisors (and much more), this comprehensive workbook can serve as a repository to help keep track of important data. Clients can use the YPIM to arrange their own matters and also to help elderly relatives identify and organize their personal information.
The YPIM is flexible and can be customized to fit each client's needs. It can include important due dates for recurring items, account numbers and passport expiration dates, for instance. While the YPIM is designed to be completed for an individual, spouses may wish to combine certain sections to avoid duplication. And for those acting as caregivers, the Caregiver Supplement, which documents information about the individual being cared for, can be a valuable resource.
The YPIM is actually an important tool for all of our clients. Not only does it capture critical information that will be indispensable in the future, but the process of compiling the data often helps to make clients and their families aware of important issues that they may not have considered before.
Care coordination services:
When aging relatives can no longer take care of their own needs, families are faced with decisions about what kind of assistance will be required and which facilities can best supply that help. Can a loved one continue to live at home with the help of family members and paid staff? Would that person be happier in an assisted living facility that provides the opportunity to socialize with other people? Or is 24-hour medical supervision offered by a nursing home required? Even once these broad decisions have been made, families must evaluate which facility is the best fit for their loved ones, taking into account services, location, and overall quality and atmosphere of the available options. All of this usually occurs during a period of great stress, when a loved one's health is deteriorating.
A CRITICAL FIRST STEP IN BEING PREPARED IS ORGANIZING PERSONAL, FINANCIAL, LEGAL AND MEDICAL INFORMATION.
One unique aspect of the Eldercare Planning program (click the link to see a video about the new eldercare program) is that the care coordination services can help clients and their families navigate these unfamiliar waters by offering access to a dedicated team of eldercare planning specialists through our partnership with an external organization.
Services center on coordinating and overseeing medical care — providing referrals for reliable geriatric assessments (a diagnostic tool designed to assess the medical capabilities of elderly patients) and assistance in creating a care plan; assessing long-term health facilities and their entry requirements; finding concierge health care services and eldercare specialists; and providing support for family caregivers, including training and recommendations regarding in-home monitoring technology.
Our partners have evaluated hundreds of living facilities all over the United States to identify leading providers. They can help clients assess their own or their loved ones' needs for eldercare and identify the most appropriate options. They can also guide clients through the sometimes complex application process. Even if assisted care or a nursing home is not yet necessary, our team can help evaluate other possible living situations — helping a client decide, perhaps, to sell a large family home and move to a smaller, more easily maintained residence. We can put clients and their families in touch with all the resources of our eldercare alliance partners who work with U.S. Trust clients on a preferred basis and at specially negotiated prices. Referrals are made to our external partners at no charge to clients, and U.S. Trust receives no compensation from these partners for providing these referrals.
Wealth planning, including long-term-care planning:
At U.S. Trust, we have long-standing expertise in developing a wide variety of financial plans for our clients, whether they are focused on specific tactics or broader wealth plans. Within the Eldercare Planning program, we focus our expertise on creating solutions to issues related to maintaining financial independence while addressing the costs associated with health and mobility; retirement asset planning; nursing homes, assisted living and home care; and overall financial well-being. In areas in which we don't provide on-the-ground resources — such as long-term-care planning — we have established partnerships with premier providers.
Estate planning services:
Estate planning is part of our corporate DNA, and our capabilities are comprehensive, ranging from multigenerational planning to agent for trustee, revocable and other trusts; gifting and philanthropy; coordination of beneficiary designations across generations; wills; durable powers of attorney; and estate settlement services. We do all of these things for our clients every day, but we've also made them part of the Eldercare Planning program for anyone who needs assistance. Health care proxies and living wills are a particular focus of the estate planning services in our eldercare program. While these documents are not related to one's financial wealth plans, having them in place can be essential to help ensure that the care provided better reflects an individual's wishes.
A Multigenerational Approach to Meeting Client Needs
Adding the organizational and care coordination services components to our financial and estate planning services provides our clients with a truly unique and comprehensive eldercare planning program. Considered together, our Eldercare Planning and Financial Empowerment programs are emblematic of our long-standing commitment to provide comprehensive — and multigenerational — wealth management services for our clients and their families.
Chris Heilmann also serves as chairman of the bank's fiduciary risk oversight committee. He is a well-known speaker at national conferences on trust, strategy, regulatory, management and marketing topics.
Any information presented about tax considerations affecting client financial transactions or arrangements is not intended as tax advice and should not be relied upon for the purpose of avoiding any tax penalties. Neither U.S. Trust, Merrill Lynch and its representatives nor its financial advisors provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Clients should review any planned financial transactions or arrangements that may have tax, accounting or legal implications with their personal professional advisors.
Always consult with your independent attorney, tax advisor, investment manager, and insurance agent for final recommendations and before changing or implementing any financial, tax or estate planning strategy.
The U.S. Trust 2012 Insights on Wealth and Worth™ survey is based on a nationwide survey of 642 high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth adults with at least $3 million in investable assets, not including the value of their primary residence. Among respondents, 37% have between $3 million and $5 million in investable assets, 31% have between $5 million and $10 million and 32% have $10 million or more. The survey was conducted online by the independent research firm Phoenix Marketing International in March 2012. Asset information was self-reported by the respondent. Verification for respondent qualification occurred at the panel company, using algorithms in place to ensure consistency of information provided, and was confirmed with questions from the survey itself. All data have been tested for statistical significance at the 95% confidence level.