Will your clients have enough money if they live to 100? If you are a wealth advisor who is not modeling that possibility, then you aren’t planning conservatively enough. The number of Americans aged 100 or older has risen 44 percent since 2000, and these centenarians are also living longer, according to federal health officials.

In fact, the percentage of Americans living past 90 has grown dramatically over the last four decades, and children born today will live longer than any previous generation.   

When I’m building financial plans, I assume my clients will live to be 95-100. Some chuckle at that optimistic estimate, others remark that they don’t think they’ll live that long. But it’s my job to plan conservatively.  

Here are four steps you should be taking to plan for your clients’ longevity.

1. Determine your clients’ goals for their wealth. Financial planning means different things to different people. Those at the beginning of their careers are focused on things like their children’s education or buying a home. They’re beginning to save for retirement and want to make sure they can maintain their lifestyle when they retire.

At the other end of the wealth spectrum are those who are no longer concerned about funding their lifestyle. They’re more focused on the legacy they’ll leave to family or philanthropic gifts.  

Financial planners should help their clients identify and prioritize goals for their wealth. With those priorities in mind, I design a customized strategy to put the client in the best possible position to achieve his or her goals. I gather information about their assets and spending and marry these knowns with the unknowns.

Among the unknowns are how long the person will live and market performance. Nobody knows exactly what the market will do in the near or long term, but technology can simulate how very good, bad and average markets will play out over 30, 40, 50 years. I always start by identifying a way to achieve the client’s “must-haves” at a 90 percent-plus level of confidence, giving them the comfort of knowing they’ll be just fine, even if they experience bad markets.

2. Plan for health care and long-term-care expenses. The chances that a client will need long-term nursing care grow as they age, and health-care costs are rising faster than inflation. But it’s difficult to plan for these expenses. You don’t know when, or whether, a client will need them, nor how long they’ll need them.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that someone turning age 65 today has an almost 70 percent chance of needing some type of long-term care in their remaining years.

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