April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day. Why should you care about this as a financial professional? Because your knowledge of healthcare documents and your encouragement to complete them illustrates your comprehensive care for your clients as people, not just numbers in a portfolio. It’s the type of above-and-beyond service that distinguishes between competent and exceptional advisors.
The way you can position this to your clients:
“If you were in an accident and lay unconscious in the emergency room, someone will be making your medical decisions for you. Do you want that to be the overworked ER doctor who has never met you? Or the hospital ethics board? Do you want your family arguing over your care, with the ultimate decisions going to your most vocal and stubborn family member? OR do you want to maintain as much control as possible? We can make that happen. Let’s get started.”
Focus first on helping families have the conversations. Don’t limit it to those members who are elderly or already ill. Everyone from the age of 18 needs to make these decisions, because life happens in ways we least expect. Young people don’t have some kind of cosmic immunity from accidents, surgeries, comas, serious concussions, and more.
One fabulous resource for initiating these conversations is The Conversation Project. They have insightful “starter kits” with pertinent questions and useful guides. They also have a communications toolkit for you to use, filled with messages and graphics geared to each of three types of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) so you can most effectively get the message out to your clients.
The Family Caregiver Alliance is another non-profit organization that provides a wealth of resources, links, and information you can provide to clients. So does the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. There are many others as well, but these three offer plenty of resources for you to choose. (You can also bring me in for a client event to explain all the options. Email me if you're interested :)
Once clients have the information, keep checking in with them until they have, at minimum, a living will form that lists their written wishes and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare naming the persons they choose to have the final say. Get the entire family on board, since no parent wants to be forced into making decisions for adult children without knowing what they want.
When you provide this information and encouragement, you’re doing the right thing for your client, promoting their well-being, and building deeper trust and loyalty. Make your plans now.