Magazine article The CPA Journal

Assisting Individuals with Elder Care Planning

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Assisting Individuals with Elder Care Planning

Article excerpt

Individuals need personal attention to meet their financial planning needs. Older individuals and their relatives are among those who need specialized services. Anyone responsible for or concerned about the well-being of elders, but is unable or unwilling to perform these services, should be involved in the planning process. Many are unaware that specialized services for elders exist, so CPA financial planners must be proactive. This article explores the many benefits of specialized sendees that CPAs can provide.

There are two distinct types of elder care sendees: 1) the complete financial care and oversight of elderly clients, and 2) consulting on the financial planning and tax needs of elderly clients.

Why CPA Financial Planners?

Elder care services are usually introduced to a practice through the tax department, often because tax preparers have Ihe closest relationships with non-regular business clients. Many tax specialists have expanded their sendees to include financial planning and peripheral sendees, because knowledge of opportunities typically arises during tax consultation and planning meetings.

Clients tend to tell their accountants everything, feeling there might be a tax benefit lurking somewhere. Attentive CPA financial planners can develop a database of vast knowledge about their clients.

Most of the skills needed for elder care services are aligned with an accountant's regular duties, such as basic writeup services, maintaining tax and payment due date calendars, bill paying, and investment tracking. Consulting services include the full range of financial planning sendees.

Introducing Clients to Elder Care Services

To introduce clients to elder care services, simply ask them if they have considered having someone perform these services for themselves or their family members. Clients can be provided with a complete list of available services (described below) with an invitation for further discussion to review each sendee.

Many older clients get lazy, careless, or impatient with paperwork, bill paying, keeping track of due dates, and following up when bills are not received. Telltale signs of this behavior can be found in the way clients provide their tax information or how they deal with a preparer's requests for additional information. To connect with these kinds of clients, CPAs should follow up with them about specialized services as soon as their tax returns are complete.

If the person retaining the CPA financial planner is not the client, then the CPA should be provided with prop- er authorizations and contact information and should also have a clear understanding of what their direct interaction would be with the person needing the services.

While this article addresses elderly clients, it can also apply to any type of busy clients who prefer to not devote their time to basic administrative tasks. Corporate executives, single parents of minor children, people who travel extensively for business, and college-aged children of clients could all be potential clients.

Types of Services

The following is a list of some of the services CPA financial planners can offer (additional sendees may apply based upon a client's needs):

* Pay bills and perform bookkeeping sendees.

* Prepare a tax payments and a bills due calendar to track due dates.

* Collect all bills and ascertain their validity and accuracy; follow up on bills that appear incorrect.

* Write and mail checks for payments due in a timely manner-this should be done at least weekly or more often based upon circumstances. Note that it is recommended that payments be made without prior authorization for specified recurring expenses (e.g., mortgage payments, tax payments) and amounts under a predetermined value (e.g., $2,000).

* Arrange for payment to full, part-time, or household employees and review their time records.

* Arrange for payment to independent contractors (e. …

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