Advisers need to be able to respond to their clients’ emotional state when accessing aged care as well as understanding the technical and financial aged care issues if they are to truly help them, said Geoff Rimmer, executive general manager Trustee & Wealth Services at Equity Trustees.
“Even families who have planned ahead and selected the approach that they believe will best suit their circumstances or those of the family member they are acting for, can find it very difficult and emotionally challenging when the time comes to go into care.
“For families who haven’t made plans, it is almost certainly going to be even more confronting for the people concerned as they may not be able to get into the aged care facility of their choice, work out how they are going to pay for it or appreciate the many other issues involved.”
Mr Rimmer said that it is important advisers understand the scope of the emotional impact so they can help clients navigate their way through the issues and reach the best possible outcome for them and their family.
“It is too easy for families to allow their emotions to get the better of them and end up not making the best long-term decision about aged care.
“Advisers are ideally placed to help manage this and give impartial advice to make sure clients take all the various considerations into account and reach the best possible decision.
“It is an area that can create irreparable rifts in a family, causing pain and distress for the elderly in their last few years of life.
“Some of the challenges that advisers will face include families where not everyone approves of the decision being made or who can’t agree on how to pay for the care required,” he said.
Mr Rimmer used the example of families who may be dealing with guilt that they are placing their parent into an aged care home rather than taking them in themselves, frustration that other family members aren’t helping more either financially or physically along with concern that the approach chosen isn’t the best available.
“If the person who needs to go into aged care resists the move even though there is no alternative because of the level of care needed, the family’s level of concern and stress can significantly increase.
“Such difficulties can be avoided with the right planning and continuing dialogue.”
Mr Rimmer said that advisers need to keep in mind who their client is and how they can act in their best interests in these situations as well as the many others that can arise.
“It can also be that the adviser is acting for both parents and children and faces a conflict of interest.
“Advisers may also find themselves in a position where the client’s situation has deteriorated rapidly and they need advice yesterday, expecting their adviser to provide an immediate response.
“In order to respond as quickly as clients need, financial planning businesses need to have processes in place to help them meet client demands.
“This means making sure they are always up-to-date with the legislative requirements so they are able to act quickly on behalf of clients, having a good knowledge of the availability of aged care places and what exactly is being offered or forming strategic alliances with specialists such as Equity Trustees who can offer this type of support.
“Staying abreast of the relevant rules and regulations is time-consuming and alliances might well be the best approach for many planning firms and their clients.
“Advisers are being forced to look at their business model because of the effect on their business of the changes to the system forced on them by new rules and regulations.
“They should use this to work on their approach and develop strategies that enable them to access different levels of specialist knowledge relevant to their particular business model.”
Trusted since 1888, Equity Trustees Limited helps with the financial and emotional challenges of preserving, growing and transitioning wealth between generations. It provides a range of financial services to corporate and private clients including Wealth and Asset Management, Estate Planning and Administration, Philanthropy, Superannuation, Aged Care Advice and Placement.
Equity Trustees is a publicly-listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX: EQT) with offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
For further information, please contact:
Executive General Manager-Trustee & Wealth Services
Equity Trustees Limited
Phone: 02 9458 5501