"Long-term care begins when you can't do for yourself what you used to do for yourself. If you used to mow the lawn and now you can't, that's long-term care. If you used to balance your checkbook and now you can't, that's long-term care. People want to think of long-term care as the day you go to a nursing home. If you get services sooner rather than later you'll reduce the potential of ever going in a nursing home."
Cooper is a rare breed. Most financial planners aren't set up to handle everything that he does; but they can play a pivotal role.
Building the team
Raymond Mignone, a Certified Financial Planner in Little Neck, N.Y., and author of "RINKs -- Retired, Independent, No Kids," says a good certified financial planner will have contacts with reputable estate and elder-law attorneys, long-term care insurance representatives and accountants. As a result, they can often coordinate what he calls the "money team."
"The financial adviser can be the coordinator. He's the one who has contact on a more regular basis because he's helping them manage their investments.
But there's a second team, the emotional team. If you have brothers and sisters, then you have people who can help you, otherwise close friends," Mignone says. "They're the people who will be there when you need them."
Timing can be everything because we never know when we might become disabled or even incapable of expressing our wishes. Once you begin acquiring assets, consider assembling your financial team. Among other things, someone should be given power of attorney for financial matters. You decide whether their power will be broad-based or limited.
Key members of your emotional team should also be asked early on if they would mind handling certain duties should you become incapacitated, as someone should be named to make health care decisions.
Recruiting team members
Some team members may not need to be recruited as early as others. As you age it's important to think about the various areas where you may want assistance and then bring them into the plan, says Erika Safran, principal at Financial Asset Management Corp., in New York.
"When you're in your mid 60s and early 70s and you're well, tell people what you'd like to do. I need someone to accompany me on doctor visits. Is there a service, an outlet, a social worker who is available for this? There are companies that do that. It's the equivalent of renting an adult child. They will check on people who live alone and they will take them to the doctor. It's these small quality of life issues. Who's going to interpret what the doctor says?"
Geriatric care managers can provide many needed services, including accompanying a client to the doctor. The profession has been around for quite some time, but the huge upswing in demand, as the baby boomer generation ages, is showing the need for certification standards.