Editor’s note: This is part three of a six-part series on the great reevaluation business owners and executives are experiencing this year.
Believe it or not, thinking about death can be a good thing.
According to psychologists, “death awareness” can lead to healthier decisions, a clearer sense of goals and values, and a more enjoyable life.
So, thanks, COVID-19.
The global pandemic pushed health and death into the center of daily life and conversations. And with that powerful motivator, more people began to contemplate how they would take care of themselves – and their families – if a worst-case scenario came to be.
While many aspects of health and death lie outside our control, you can enact a solid financial plan to care for yourself and others. If you’re thinking about protecting your life – or livelihood – differently after the pandemic, start here:
First, reevaluate what’s important
For many people, the pandemic promoted a reevaluation of their current circumstances: what they need, what they want and what makes them happy. What are things you’re hopeful about or looking forward to?
Understanding personal goals and motivations is foundational. You need that information to drive a financial plan during your lifetime and estate planning for your legacy.
Share your vision with the people around you, especially your business and tax advisors. They need this input to create an effective financial life road map that includes investments, savings and tax strategies. Family and business partners should be on the same page too, so an unexpected health event or death is handled according to your wishes.
Then, protect what you have
For high-income earners, a health crisis or sudden death can create complex financial consequences for family members and business partners who are left behind. Luckily, many of the issues can be mitigated through insurance coverage.
An insurance professional can work with your financial and tax advisors to determine appropriate types and levels of coverage. Depending on your current age, health and ambition, they could recommend a combination of:
- Health insurance: Health insurance policies can reduce your out-of-pocket costs for healthcare expenses – and protect your financial health. Some high-deductible plans allow you to invest in a health savings account, which could make you eligible for tax-deductible contributions, tax-deferred growth and tax-free distributions.
- Disability insurance: Short- and long-term disability plans can offset earnings loss, should you become unable to work before reaching retirement age. The importance of disability insurance is severely under-estimated: 1 in 4 20-year-olds can expect to be out of work for at least a year because of a disabling condition. However, employer-sponsored plans may not be adequate for high earners. In addition, as pandemic-related support tapers, some employers make start to cut paid leave. An advisor can help you figure out how much coverage you need and how premiums will be paid, since that could affect your taxable income. An insurance consultant can also help you evaluate the impacts of inflation, waiting periods and different definitions of disability so you find a policy that suits your profession and your scenario.
- Long-term care insurance: Aging Americans are enjoying longer lifetimes, but at great (and increasing) expense. Long-term care policies can help offset the costs of caregiving services delivered at home or through a residential facility. These plans are designed to cover care costs while protecting other assets you have earmarked for beneficiaries. In addition, long-term care insurance isn’t just for the elderly. It’s also applies to youth that may lose their ability to function independently through an accident or terminal illness, for example.
- Life insurance: Life insurance policies can ensure that living expenses, college tuition, mortgages and other debt payments can be fulfilled if a death also means a loss of income. Life insurance policies can also benefit policyholders during their lifetime. Depending on the type and terms of a policy, life insurance can be used to grow wealth tax efficiently. With proper planning, life insurance policies can also mitigate estate taxes.
It’s hard to plan for insurance protection with the same fervor that you’d plan a vacation or retirement. But appropriate coverage can protect your loved ones and your hard-earned assets through a health crisis.
Imagine different possibilities
Your business plan accounts for scenarios. So should your personal financial plan.
Based on your family situation, you may want to explore survivorship insurance for your children, especially if they have special needs. Or, you may decide to pre-plan your funeral services to take the burden off your loved ones (and ensure its handled how you want). Thinking through a range of possibilities ahead of time is an important part of financial planning.
A professional team of advisors can help create options that are uniquely tailored to your situation, risk tolerance and the financial rewards you’re seeking. A team-based approach ensures that investment plans and policy decisions are aligned timing-wise. And, that potential tax liabilities are considered and mitigated to the extent that’s legally possible.
A change in one part of your life, like an early retirement, the sale of a business, or a big health expense, could have ripple effects on your overall financial health. A team of trusted advisors can work with you to mitigate that risk and protect your future.
How we can help
Wipfli can bridge the gaps between your financial, business and personal priorities.
Our expertise in business and personal wealth management helps you manage your whole financial life. We make sure tax, estate, business transition, retirement and wealth management plans are aligned with your personal and professional goals. Find out how on our private client services web page.
About our series
Have you been thinking changing your life? You are not alone. Millions of other Americans are also weighing whether or not to change their future in what has been called “the great reevaluation.” From careers to finances and to families, our team provides guidance to help you make that decision. Learn more on and see other parts of our series on our Great Reevaluation series web page.