Can you feel it? Change is in the air (along with red tide and pollen). Temperatures are rising; Snowbirds are leaving; and The Masters start next week. Spring is here. Hopefully this note finds you well and making plans for travel and gathering with friends and family.
For our managed account clients, your Quarterly Report and Billing Statement is attached. Stay tuned for more information regarding the TD Ameritrade/Schwab merger – the Labor Day conversion date is not that far away. We will provide updates very soon.
April is National Healthcare Decision Month
We have written many times about the importance of discussing your healthcare wishes and desires with those closest to you. A recent death by one of our closest friends brought this topic to the fore once again. So, we are – AGAIN - emphasizing the importance of proper estate planning.
If you have an hour to watch a scintillating, informative and educational webinar regarding this topic, we did a presentation two years ago regarding “Estate Planning in the COVID Era” with one of our friends, Linda Lee. Linda gave a heart-felt discussion of developing and writing a “Legacy Letter”; John and I were our usual thespian selves as we imparted wisdom on the subject. You can find the webinar on our website or by clicking THIS LINK.
National Healthcare Decisions Month was designated to encourage advance care planning discussions among patients, families, and medical providers. The discussions help you consider your healthcare wishes, healthcare goals and the possibility of getting sick. They also help when you are unable to talk comfortably with your family about your goals and wishes.
National Healthcare Decision Day is April 16. The date was chosen intentionally to be next to Tax Day — you know the saying, ‘Nothing is certain except death and taxes’ — to make discussions about healthcare goals just as certain.
What Is Advance Care Planning?
Advance care planning is not just thinking about old age and is a subset of Estate Planning. At any age, a medical crisis could leave you too ill to make your own healthcare decisions. Even if you are not sick now, planning for healthcare is an important step toward making sure you get the medical care you would want if doctors and family members are making the decisions for you.
Why Is Advance Care Planning Important?
It is important you have these discussions with your family and those closest to you. People worry that it can be hard talking about getting sick or dying, but these conversations make sure your family knows what to do if they ever need to make medical decisions for you.
Ask any medical professionals and they can tell stories of having seen families in such distress in times of emergencies when they are asked, “What would your mom or dad want in this situation?” and the families say they have never talked about those moments before.
How Do I Get Started?
Tools are available for families to help have these conversations. One such tool is provided by an organization called Aging with Dignity (www.agingwithdignity.org). For twenty-five years, their Five Wishes brochure has “helped improve end-of-life care planning for literally millions of individuals and families across the nation”.
Whether you use that tool or any other, communication of your wishes is critical. And this is not necessarily an “end-of-life” event. Estate planning is as much for the living as any other financial planning activity.
How Do I Make My Wishes Known?
At a minimum, it is important to document your wishes after you talk about them. You can do this by filling out an advance directive for healthcare, a legal document that goes into effect only if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself.
An advance directive has two parts — a healthcare representative (or surrogate) form and a living will. The healthcare representative form allows you to designate a specific person who would speak for you if you were unable to speak for yourself. A living will allows you to document specific wishes, around choices involving CPR, intensive care, dialysis and other advanced therapies.
The form does not need to be notarized or completed by a lawyer. Make sure your doctor and family have a copy. The form can be updated and changed at any time, which makes sense, since our lives change and our health changes over the years, and that might affect these choices.
Bottom line, while it may not be as fun as gossiping about the crazy uncle at a family picnic, please be sure that the talks are had with those you love.
The market closed out a tumultuous quarter on a high note. Despite a month of worries about banks potentially failing and whether the industry would crack under the pressure of higher interest rates caused by inflationary pressures, the market rose.
Forceful action by regulators helped to calm the fears that banks would collapse. It also helped allay fears that the Federal Reserve would need to raise interest rates even higher to halt the impact on the economy that higher inflation could cause.
Reports issued Friday indicated that inflation is abating. One could argue that given time, the Federal Reserves policies have worked to stem the tide of inflation. While wages and employment rates are still higher than the Fed would like (not a bad thing, though, in our opinion), the latest reports on core prices were cooler than expected and the inflation rate has, indeed, declined.
All of this bodes well for Mr. Market. While we may still be below the all-time highs, we are finally seeing signs of moderation from the unprecedented run up from the depths of March 2020 to the peak in January 2022, and subsequent drop. That euphoric, post-COVID rise fueled inflationary pressures that are finally starting to ameliorate.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to be of service to you. Please do not hesitate to reach out whenever you have questions or concerns. Take care, be well, and enjoy.
Joe Downs, CFP® & John Cunningham, CFP®