While it’s true that if you have your health, you have everything, it’s still a good idea to venture a peek around your home, including attic and cellar, and do an inventory of your assets.
“People usually think of a house, car or land as defining the word ‘assets,'” said Roberta Macko, director of volunteer services at Eastern Agency on Aging.
“But there may be items of value that are unaccounted for, such as Aunt Millie’s pearls, Grandma’s antique teapot or first edition books. It is important to take stock every now and then. But it can be a daunting job, especially for seniors,” she said.
But Dick Hewitt comes to the rescue. He called EAA a few years ago looking for a volunteer opportunity that would suit his unique background, and has been helping seniors get organized ever since.
“I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to help people,” said Hewitt, a retired financial consultant. “I really enjoyed what I did for a living, and there are people out there who need to know what I know. I want to reach them.”
With Hewitt’s help, EAA implemented a service that utilizes his talents.
Seniors can call Eastern Agency to make an appointment with Hewitt who will assist them with estate planning, pulling their financial affairs together, or planning for the future. During the visit, they also will receive a bright yellow folder specially made for holding all their financial information.
“When people come and see me they don’t need to bring a thing, just themselves. I can guide them through the process,” he said. “I will talk to them first and ask general questions about what they have and don’t have. The first question I’ll ask is, ‘Do you have a will?’ It is the most important thing to have. Then we can talk about insurance and assets. Sometimes just the questions can spark a person’s memory. They often have more than they think they do.”
Hewitt is quick to clarify that he does not dispense specific financial advice or appraise items. His goal is to explain the options available and discuss the pros and cons of each to enable people to make informed decisions.
The seniors can fill out a “Net Worth Statement” and a “Cash Flow Statement,” which will show them where they really stand financially.
“It’s important to know what your worth is and to have a monthly budget,” said Hewitt. “If there is money left over at the end of the month that they want to save or invest, I can help. If they are not making ends meet, I can help them figure out where to trim.”
He also will explain the differences between stocks, government bonds, and certificates of deposit.
“It depends on age, assets and income when you think about where to put your money,” Hewitt said. Whether the person is thinking about retirement and the future or just trying to make ends meet now determines the best course of action, if indeed action is warranted, he added.
“Women frequently become widows without knowing anything about the family finances and end up confused and don’t know how to handle it all,” said Hewitt. “This is something we can help them figure out.”
Apparently spending 20 years in the financial business wasn’t enough for Hewitt.
“My wife was after me for years to retire but I kept saying, ‘What for?'” he said. “No one should retire without a plan.”
Now he has one of his own.
For information on this free service, call Eastern Agency on Aging at 941-2865. All matters are held in the strictest confidence.
Carol Higgins is director of communications at Eastern Agency on Aging. For information on EAA, call 941-2865, TTY 992-0150, e-mail email@example.com or log on to www.eaaa.org.