U.S. News and World Report presented an article in their November 16, 2015 issue entitled “10 Essential Tech Tools for Older Adults.” The subtitle further elaborated: “From medication monitors to GPS insoles, these devices make life easier and healthier for seniors.”
Each of the 10 Tech Tools held its own as a great idea for those of us in the “Older Adult” category, but it quickly occurred to this reader that there was need for at least one more help item beyond Smart Watches, Fitness Trackers, and e-Readers in the lives of most seniors. While it is important to keep track of our blood pressure and to be able to Skype our grandchildren after they have gotten their baths, technology also gives us the ability to monitor our financial situations on a much more efficient basis than what our parents and grandparents could have ever hoped for.
Every person whose working days have ended, or even simply shortened or slowed, should interview his or her financial advisor about adding access to monitor the financial instruments that are supporting time away from the workplace. Jim Gilmore, CFP, of Integrated Capital Management, explains that his clients use “eMoney,” a third party program from eMoney Advisor, LLC. designed to “allow clients and advisors to engage and collaborate” on an ongoing basis.
“Any time a client has a question about her finances,” Jim explains, “she can either look at the report on her own, or she can call me and we can review the information together. Most of my clients learn how to monitor their investments and other assets a great deal more efficiently with this program than they could ever do in the past. It helps them to constantly know where they are, financially speaking.”
Conversations with a number of financial advisors and planners led to information about multiple programs, including MoneyGuidePro, SpreadSheet, Profiles and Money Tree among others. And while eMoney appears to be the most widely used program by financial professionals, what the programs all appear to have in common is that they give better information access to the person who wants to be able to track of how his or her finances are keeping pace with the goals which that person has set for his or her retirement years. In fact, some of the programs include comparison screens to match the client’s current financial status with the client’s stated long- and short-term financial goals.
Any senior who is considering looking for a computer money management software program is advised that a number of advisors interviewed indicated that they often make the programs available to their clients at no charge to heighten the benefits their firms can provide to their customers. This is important to remember, because just like the many other “tech tools” considered by US News and World Report, these programs, while essential, can cost considerably more than a trip to the cinema.
Seniors should also remember that their life insurance policies should be included in the mix of assets under regular review. Unfortunately, one of the most common errors seniors make in their ongoing financial maintenance is failing to include life insurance policies in the asset monitoring when going over their portfolios, or worse yet, outright cancelling their life insurance policies. The result of this oversight becomes apparent later when their estates come before their attorney for administration: without an ongoing insurance presence, otherwise healthy asset portfolios often end up “ill liquid” at the time of death.
The consequence? Trustees and executors end up having to sell off assets at times when such liquidation often leads to either lower profits, unnecessary taxes, or even outright losses.
Television financial gurus often lambast life insurance, but attorneys or accountants who administer estates and trusts after their clients have died know that no widow has ever cursed the insurance agent when he or she delivers a death benefit under a life insurance policy. Likewise, we should remember that even the best “Tech Tools” for ongoing financial management cannot help our heirs if we forget that part of our portfolio planning needs to be not just “growth,” but also “liquidity.” If we forget to factor that variable into our long-term planning, we just may be forcing our families to end up selling assets at discounts after we die which will erase much of the benefits of our otherwise prudent planning.