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Planning for Real Life, Asking the Awkward Questions – Jim Sumpter

July 8, 2021

“Which one of your children would be the best at bathing you?” asks Jim Sumpter, certified financial planner and wealth manager with RFG Advisory in Birmingham, Alabama.

 It’s a somewhat shocking question, but Sumpter has learned that posing provocative questions helps clients face the realities of potential future scenarios.

 In the above case, he wants clients to understand what could happen if they fail to plan for their own eldercare and let the responsibility fall on their adult children.

 “As a neutral professional, I can facilitate asking those difficult and emotional questions. I can translate abstract questions into real-life scenarios,” Sumpter said.

 Here are some other tough subjects he tackles:

  •         Taxation and philanthropy issues: “I ask clients, ‘Who would you rather get your money when you pass away – your children or the government?’ People don’t realize that after they pass, their children may be hit with huge tax bills on inherited income or assets.”
  •         Delicate estate planning questions. “People have been asking me recently, ‘How do I protect my assets from going to my son-in-law or daughter-in-law?”
  •         Reality checks for new grads. Sumpter counsels clients’ adult children, advising high school grads about credit and college budgeting, and college grads about benefits and taxes related to their first jobs. “They won’t listen to their parents, but they’ll listen to me. They take it seriously – they get dressed up, come in for a meeting,” he said.

 Sumpter has experienced his share of life’s ups and downs, including a divorce and the loss of an adult child. Over the years, he has guided clients in thinking about uncomfortable but necessary topics.

 “It’s important to live life and enjoy it,” he said. “We don’t want to overspend, but we need to plan – including for the unexpected. It’s difficult, because it’s so emotional.”

 He added, “And it can be even more impactful for women clients, because, as men are statistically more prone to die sooner, widows often have to make these planning decisions on their own. I want them to know that I’m here to help them.”