Wednesday, June 8, 2011


We had a meeting with Dad's financial planner this week. We first hired her five years ago when we were just starting to get him and his affairs in order. She was with us through moving all of his money from multiple and confusing accounts; through the move from the house to Assisted Living; and through all the family troubles. She knows my family and how we work pretty well. I meet with her every six months or so to check in on how the investments are going and for her to find out how Dad is. It had actually been more like nine months since I last saw her, and in that time a lot has changed, like moving and the engagement, and Dad's move.

We were getting together so she could meet my fiance, and so she could explain again to both of us where the money was, how things worked, and how it was all doing. When he left the room at one point, she said warmly how much she liked him, which, although not necessary, I appreciated hearing. Since she knows my family so well, it felt a little like an older member of my family was giving her approval. But then we turned to Dad's business.

We took a look at Dad's main retirement account and how everything was organized. She explained that the money was invested according to a fairly high risk strategy-investments are often made on a sliding scale of risk and what people are willing to lose. A younger person would probably invest more aggressively, while a retired person would be more conservative and safe. We had deemed it acceptable, however, because of certain safeguards, to invest aggressively, because with dementia, the sufferer can live for a very long time. Since Dad had always been healthy as a horse, we figured we had a good long time to win and lose. She turned to me and said that now was the time to think about changing that strategy, and asked me how Dad was. And I realized that the answer to that question had changed dramatically in a year.

If she had asked me a year ago, I would have said that Dad was still tough as nails and to keep it high risk. But he's become so frail, suffering from one little infection and illness after another, now I'm not so sure. Gravely, I explained this to her and we looked at each other for a moment, both a little shocked. I told her that Dad was so frail that I honestly couldn't say any more, couldn't call how long it would be before the question of risk was moot. And though I had known this before, of course, it just brought it home to me even more strongly. Dad may not last another year. He may be just too fragile. And though I have had a long time to become accustomed to this, it's still difficult.

Together we decided it was time to reduce the risk and change the investment. I know she was just as sad as I was at the necessity and at the news.

No comments:

Post a Comment