The influential Baby Boomer generation is aging, which means more and more of them are taking on the responsibility of caring for their elderly parents, and the Boomers are beginning to face up to the fact that they will need caregiving themselves in the not-so-distant future.
Large banks are not immune to this trend—and the potential to increase their client base by offering financial elder-care services. The question is, how effective can a bank be at helping you care for your elderly relatives?
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal banks can be helpful with certain financial issues such as helping to “sort out medical bills, hire in-home care or even manage the sale of a home.” Some of the larger banks are even beginning to offer more in-depth services such as “estate planning and setting up powers of attorney… crisis management (triggered, say, by a broken hip or a car accident); health and home assessments; Medicare-coverage selection and claims management; and evaluating retirement communities and long-term-care facilities.”
All of this sounds great, but before you get too excited our firm would like to caution you to be as careful about hiring a bank to do your estate or elder care planning as you would be with any other attorney or professional advisor. After all, as the WSJ article says, “banks and trust companies aren’t doing this solely out of the goodness of their hearts. Providing extra services targeted at the elderly and their family caregivers can bump up the asset-management fees that clients pay each year. . . [or] persuade a few clients to move assets to an institution to meet its minimum deposit requirements.”
So we urge you, before you jump into anything—whether it be with a bank, an attorney, a CPA or other important advisor—do the research and ask all the questions you need to ask in order to find out whether this advisor truly knows their stuff; knows the ins and outs of the law and the care-giving industry; and most important of all, make sure the person or institution you hire will be working for you, will be your advocate and your ally during difficult and confusing times.