How to choose a financial advisor for your senior (2024)

Managing finances can become increasingly difficult as older adults start facing health and mobility issues. Seniors often benefit from sound financial advice during their twilight years, especially if they’re struggling with cognitive decline. As a concerned family caregiver, you might be worried your senior could run out of money for the amenities, care and support they need. Unfortunately, this is a very real threat, especially in an era of rising inflation and incessant scams. Fortunately, you can help your senior maintain their hard-earned wealth by letting financial advisors for seniors assist them.

According to a recent Forbes article, seniors are carrying more debt than ever before, and seniors who carry debt into retirement often report a lower overall sense of well-being. The NCOA reports that more than 21 million seniors in the United States are economically insecure. In 2020, CNBC reported the total debt among seniors over the age of 70 had risen 543% since 1999. The sad truth is that you may end up inheriting your senior’s debts after their passing. This means when you help your senior implement effective financial strategies, you benefit your entire family.

It’s now easier than ever before to find qualified senior financial advisors. Check out our Resource Hub, and you’ll find detailed listings on local financial advisors near you. This free online resource allows you to assess your options and choose the best possible providers for your family’s unique financial goals.

Senior financial advisors: giving your senior a financial safety net

What are senior financial advisors?

Financial advisors for seniors are professionals who specialize in helping seniors with budgeting for care expenses, managing retirement accounts, and other key financial decisions related to aging. Also known as “eldercare financial planners,” these individuals can help seniors with many unique financial hurdles, including:

  • Retirement
  • Insurance
  • End-of-life care
  • Estate planning
  • Investments
  • Debt
  • Bankruptcy
  • Financial abuse
  • Medicaid

The best senior financial advisors are fully certified in designations that focus on the financial well-being of older adults. Some designations include the Chartered Senior Financial Planner (CSFP), Chartered Advisor in Senior Living (CASL), and Certified Senior Advisor (CSA). These advisors may work independently or as part of an advisory firm.

Working with accredited individuals ensures your family is getting help from an expert who has established trust in the industry. Indeed, qualified, certified financial advisors for seniors can prevent other people from taking advantage of you and your senior.

What’s the difference between a financial advisor and a financial planner?

Keep in mind that the term “financial advisor” is broadly used to describe any financial professional who offers advice and guidance about investments, retirement and similar aspects of money management. This article follows that convention, but in technical terms, financial advisors and financial planners serve different functions.

A financial planner has completed additional education and work experience to earn a designation such as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP). A financial planner is able to help individuals build broad financial plans accounting for all aspects of asset allocation for estate planning, risk management, retirement planning and more.

A financial advisor, on the other hand, is licensed to give advice within plans created by a financial planner or by the individual themselves. This typically involves investment advice.

Both senior financial advisors and planners provide services customized based on the financial situation of a senior and their family. Their goal is to help retirees have everything they need for the rest of their lives and pass as much as possible along to beneficiaries later.

Are senior financial advisors only for rich families?

Senior financial advisors can help people from all walks of life. Their services can be equally beneficial both for those struggling with poverty and those who have a significant amount of wealth. Depending on the net worth of an individual, they may need more retirement income, or they may need better risk management to preserve their nest egg. Regardless of one’s financial situation, financial advisors for seniors try to help their clients maximize the potential of their money, investments and other assets.

Why would my senior need a financial advisor?

Seniors commonly seek the advice of a financial advisor when they approach retirement. However, a number of other important life events may require guidance from a senior financial advisor:

  • Your senior may have lost their spouse, and they may need help with their finances as a newly single person.
  • Your senior may have questions about life insurance.
  • Your senior may be searching for assistance to fund their long-term care or end-of-life care.

What are some signs my senior should get help from a senior financial advisor?

People are generally quite private when it comes to their financial well-being, and it may be difficult to tell whether your senior is in dire need of a financial advisor.

There are a number of potential signs that may indicate your senior is being subjected to financial abuse, including:

  • Your senior is being asked to invest in a questionable business venture (possibly by a family member).
  • Your senior misplaces valuables and cash.
  • There is unexplained banking activity, such as large cash withdrawals.
  • A questionable new relationship has been formed.
  • Your senior is transferring ownership of property to other people without warning.
  • Your senior is making changes to their will or power of attorney without your prior knowledge.

According to the FBI, seniors are more likely to be targeted by scammers if they own their own property, have good credit scores and have a “nest egg” tucked away. Seniors are also targeted because they are typically much more polite and trusting compared to the rest of society. Finally, seniors with cognitive and memory issues are much easier to trick.

Seniors may also need help from a senior financial advisor simply because they are suffering from physical and cognitive decline. Keeping track of their finances may have become too challenging for them to handle on their own.

If a senior has debt, it can grow quickly if it’s not properly managed. Debt collectors may contact you about your senior’s debt, or you may see threatening letters and phone calls rolling in.

When your senior is struggling with everyday activities like washing and eating, they’re probably also struggling to keep on top of their finances. But while untidiness and malnutrition are very obvious, financial issues can be virtually invisible. This is why hiring a senior financial advisor at an earlier stage is such a good idea.

Questions to ask yourself as you consider a financial advisor for seniors

  • Is my senior in debt?
  • Is my senior successfully managing bills and other expenses?
  • Does my senior have enough money to retire?
  • Are my senior’s savings running out?
  • Is my senior in danger of being financially abused?
  • Does my senior have enough money to pay for end-of-life care
  • Do your family members have experience with investments and wealth management?
  • Does your family have time to monitor and evaluate an investment portfolio?

What services does a financial advisor for seniors provide?

A senior financial advisor provides customized services based on your senior’s unique needs. Because of this, your senior’s financial plan will involve very specific services—not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. With that said, here are some common services a financial advisor may provide:

Help with estate planning

Along with an estate planning attorney, a senior financial advisor can help your senior develop an effective estate plan. While a lawyer will focus on the legal aspects of an estate plan and help ensure assets are distributed according to a senior’s wishes after passing, they aren’t as skilled in maximizing the monetary benefits of estate planning. This advice can cover wills, trusts, life insurance, IRAs and other financial products.

Help with retirement planning

Senior financial advisors can help your loved one approach retirement with a sense of confidence and efficiency. This might include Social Security benefits, housing, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457(b)s, Thrift Saving Plans, IRAs, pensions and much more.

A financial advisor can help your senior establish a monthly budget for their retirement, ensuring they can live comfortably on what they already have in their bank account.

Help with medical expenses

A senior financial advisor can help your elder loved ones pay for medical expenses, long-term care, end-of-life care, and other costs that may arise due to your senior’s declining well-being. For example, senior financial advisors can help you explore options for Medicaid and Medicare, allowing your loved one to get the funding assistance they need to pay for health care treatments. Even if your senior doesn’t qualify for Medicaid, a financial advisor can reorganize their finances so they become eligible.

Your financial advisor may also guide you toward additional funding options you hadn’t previously considered, such as state programs or Veterans’ Benefits. Other sources of capital such as a reverse mortgage could also help your senior stay on top of their health care costs.

Help with potential financial abuse

Senior financial advisors can lay the groundwork for a strong anti-financial abuse system. For example, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) allows seniors to designate a trusted contact that will be notified if anything seems wrong with a financial transaction. This allows family caregivers to detect scams early—before they drain a senior’s bank accounts and investments. The “safe harbor rule” also allows brokers to put payments on hold for 15 days while they investigate suspicious activities within a senior’s account.

Many financial advisors are specially trained to spot the telltale signs of elder abuse, and they may be the first people to detect scams and frauds.

Questions about financial advisors for seniors

What are the different types of financial advisors for seniors?

The following are some of the most common designations financial advisors for seniors will hold:

  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  • Personal Financial Specialist (for example, the Certified Senior Specialist [CSS])
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (such as a CSFP)
  • Licensed or Chartered Financial Advisor (such as a CSA or CASL)

Are senior financial advisors reliable?

The truth is that some financial advisors are more skilled than others, so it’s important to pick the most qualified, experienced and trustworthy professionals you can find.

It’s always a good idea to ask for referrals when choosing a financial advisor or advisory firm for your senior. Check industry databases, including directories for Certified Financial Planners, listings for the Financial Planning Association, and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Also, check with FINRA to understand the designations a financial planner or advisor has and what those credentials qualify them to serve your senior.

You might want to stick with “fee-only” financial advisors, as these professionals are not paid based on commission. This means that there is no incentive to sell your senior financial products, and the financial advisor does not earn a commission. A “fee-only” payment system eliminates many concerns regarding conflicts of interest.

Are senior financial advisors available for those with Alzheimer’s/dementia?

Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s are particularly vulnerable to all kinds of financial issues. Elder loved ones who were previously meticulous record keepers and bill payers may suddenly decline. Some may forget to pay bills, while others may pay the same bills many times over.

When a financial advisor steps in and helps, families struggling with dementia can experience many benefits, including:

  • New funding options for dementia care
  • The preservation of assets
  • Insurance options

What questions should I ask senior financial advisors?

  • What kind of experience do you have with senior clients?
  • Are you a fiduciary?
  • Are you a financial advisor or financial planner?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • What financial planning services do you offer?
  • What is your overall philosophy toward senior wealth management?
  • How do you assist retirees who need more retirement income?
  • How are you paid?
  • How is my senior’s portfolio performing?
  • What long-term financial goals should my senior be striving for?

Talking about senior financial advisors

It can be difficult to speak about financial matters with other family caregivers and your senior. Money is often a complicated and awkward issue. Seniors may get the wrong impression, and they may assume that you’re “after their money.” Other family caregivers may come to the same misguided conclusions. This is why it’s important to approach this topic with a degree of care and consideration.

How to talk to family members about senior financial advisors

If you’re having trouble convincing family members of the benefits of a financial advisor, remind them that:

  • Help from a financial advisor often pays for itself.
  • Seniors are especially vulnerable to financial abuse.
  • If you fail to get help, your nest egg could significantly diminish or even disappear.

How to approach the topic of a financial advisor with your senior

If you’re having trouble convincing your senior to get help from a financial advisor, you may want to point out that this option can help them get the medical care they need. Stress that this care option is about protecting their wealth, rather than taking it away.

Questions to help a senior consider a financial advisor

  • You’ve worked so hard your entire life. Doesn’t it make sense to protect your net worth?
  • Did you know if you reorganize your finances, you may be able to pay for all the long-term care you need?
  • Don’t you want to make sure your grandchildren have enough money for college?

Paying for financial advisors

A financial advisor or advisory firm may charge significant fees. Your cost can range from $500 to $1,500 for consultations. Your first consultation is usually free, and this allows you to assess the financial advisor and determine whether you wish to move forward.

That being said, you can receive free financial advice from certain sources, such as:

How can I find financial advisors for seniors near me?

If you’ve been searching for senior financial advisors in your area, look no further than our Resource Hub. This free online resource has all the information you need to book your first consultation with reputable, qualified financial planning services. A financial advisory firm or individual financial advisor could protect your senior and give them access to everything they need to live a comfortable life.

As an expert in financial planning, particularly focused on seniors and eldercare financial strategies, I've spent years immersed in the intricacies of managing finances for older adults, especially those facing health and mobility challenges. My expertise extends to various aspects mentioned in the article you provided, encompassing retirement planning, estate planning, investments, debt management, and safeguarding against financial abuse. Let me delve into the concepts discussed in the article:

  1. Debt among Seniors: The article highlights a concerning trend of increasing debt among seniors, citing statistics from sources like Forbes, NCOA, and CNBC. This aligns with broader research indicating a rise in debt levels among older adults, which can significantly impact their financial well-being in retirement.

  2. Financial Advisors for Seniors: It discusses the role of financial advisors specialized in assisting seniors with budgeting, retirement accounts, estate planning, and navigating financial challenges unique to aging individuals. These advisors, often certified with designations like CSFP, CASL, or CSA, play a crucial role in helping seniors optimize their finances and protect their assets.

  3. Difference between Financial Advisor and Financial Planner: The article clarifies the distinction between financial advisors and financial planners, emphasizing that while both offer financial guidance, financial planners typically hold additional qualifications like CFP and provide comprehensive financial planning services.

  4. Accessibility of Financial Advisors: It addresses common misconceptions about financial advisors being exclusively for wealthy individuals, stressing that seniors from all financial backgrounds can benefit from their services. Financial advisors tailor their advice based on individual needs, whether it's maximizing retirement income or managing debt.

  5. Signs Seniors Need Financial Help: The article outlines signs indicating that seniors may require assistance from a financial advisor, including changes in financial behavior, susceptibility to scams, or cognitive decline affecting their ability to manage finances independently.

  6. Services Provided by Senior Financial Advisors: It discusses the range of services offered by senior financial advisors, including estate planning, retirement planning, assistance with medical expenses, and protection against financial abuse.

  7. Qualifications and Reliability of Financial Advisors: The article emphasizes the importance of choosing qualified and trustworthy financial advisors, highlighting credentials such as CFP, CSS, CSFP, CSA, or CASL. It also recommends seeking referrals and verifying credentials to ensure reliability.

  8. Financial Advisors for Seniors with Alzheimer's/Dementia: Special attention is given to the vulnerability of seniors with cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer's or dementia, and the importance of financial advisors in safeguarding their financial well-being.

  9. Communication Strategies: The article offers guidance on communicating with seniors and family members about the benefits of seeking financial advice, addressing concerns about financial abuse and the potential impact on inheritance.

  10. Cost and Accessibility of Financial Advice: It discusses the costs associated with financial advisory services and suggests sources for free financial advice, such as banks, credit unions, FDIC, and AARP. Additionally, it provides resources for finding financial advisors tailored to seniors' needs.

Overall, the article provides a comprehensive overview of the importance of financial planning for seniors, the role of financial advisors, and strategies for navigating financial challenges in later life.

How to choose a financial advisor for your senior (2024)
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