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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


To locate a Financial Planner that works for you:

  • Consider the person's experience and education, the method by which the planner charges for his or her services, and the amount of the charge.
  • Check references.
  • If you're considering giving a planner control over your money, in addition to checking on the person, ask for proof that he or she is bonded and has errors and omissions insurance.
  • Meet the planner in free introductory meeting. Prepare for the meeting.

Beware any planner who uses high-pressure tactics to sell you a product or to get you to sign an agreement. Also be wary of any planner who promises unusually high returns on your investments.

For information, see:

TIP: Just as you don't surrender all control over your health to your medical care team, it is advisable to keep oversight over a financial planner reather than entirely hand the reins to your finances over to a financial planner.If you are not comfortable overseeing the planner, ask a trusted family member or friend to do it for you. 

How Can I Find A Financial Planner?

There are a variety of ways to find a financial planner whose skills and resouces mesh with you and your situation.
  • Word of mouth: One of the best ways to find a financial planner is through the recommendations of friends, relatives, or colleagues. If you are in a support group, other members of the group may be able to recommend someone experienced with people with a serious health condition.
  • Professionals: Lawyers, accountants, social workers, and other professionals you work with might know of planners who can help you.
  • Professional Organizations: The two leading financial planner organizations can help you find a local professional. Check out:
  • Online portals such as 
  • Local Disease Specific Nonprofit Organization: People at your local disease specific nonprofit organization might be able to recommend a planner - or even provide one free of charge. If not, call organizations which work with other serious health conditions. They're likely to be willing to share information.

Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Financial Planner

Most planners will provide a free half-hour consultation. Use this half-hour to find out if the planner might be right for you. Consider asking the following questions:

Education and Experience

Ask about the planner's educational background and experience by covering the following questions during the interview:

  • What is your educational background? Everything else being equal, the more education the better. Ideally, a planner will have at least a bachelor's degree, preferably in a field such as business, finance, or economics. Some planners may also have law degrees.
  • What professional credentials do you hold? Planners with the CFP designation tend to be the most well-rounded. (CFP stands for Certified Financial Planner, a designation from the Certified Financial Planner Board Of Standards, Inc. ( offsite link). Other designations which are good indications of a planner's knowledge base and experience are:
  • What licenses do you hold? A license is needed to sell life and other insurance as well as investment products.
  • How long have you been offering financial planning services? Generally, the longer the better. It's possible that less seasoned planners could be more open and flexible in their thinking.
  • How do you keep up? How does the planner stay up-to-date on new developments, including changes in tax and employment laws and insurance products?
  • Have you ever been disciplined by a regulatory group? Get the details, including outcome of the disciplinary action. If the planner refuses to provide these answers in writing - cross that planner off your list. Also see Checking Up on Your Planner, below.
  • Can you provide me with references? A good planner should be willing to provide written letters of recommendation as well as the names and phone numbers of people you can call to confirm the planner's performance.

Areas of Specialty

Once you have an idea of the planner's general background, it's time to find out more specifically if he or she has any expertise addressing the issues of a person diagnosed with a serious health condition and the concerns of people whose assets are similar to yours.

  • Who is your typical client? Generally, a planner who has experience helping clients with assets on a level similar to yours will be a better fit. If you have $50,000 in assets, someone accustomed to managing million-dollar portfolios isn't likely to be your best match.
  • Have you ever worked with a client who has a serious health condition? With my health history? While it may not be easy to find a planner who does have this experience, such experience is invaluable. Financial planning for a person with a serious health condition presents a unique set of issues and concerns.
  • Will you be comfortable working with someone with my health condition? While it's unlikely that a planner will answer this question with a "no," it does give the planner an out if, for whatever reason, he or she prefers not to work with a person with your condition.
  • In general, how would your advice differ from what you would give a person who did not have a health condition? Ideally, look for a response that reflects a planner's adherence to traditional, proven financial planning methodology with an emphasis on the many different challenges that a diagnosis such as yours presents. In particular, your insurance, investing, disability, and estate planning needs may differ from those of a client who is not living with a serious illness. Still, the way the planner goes about identifying and prioritising those needs should be the same.
  • Are you familiar with health insurance, disability benefits, and life insurance including ways to access money from life insurance policies? This question will allow you to learn more detail about the planner's experience in these critical issues.
  • Are you familiar with work-related issues affecting people with…. including the Americans With Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and the continuation and conversion of work-related benefits? Many planners are not experienced in work-related issues.
  • What is your investment style or philosophy? If you are a conservative investor, a planner who rides the market with conviction probably won't best suit you. On the other hand, a planner who talks a lot about using bonds while knowing you're most interested in the growth of your assets over the next ten years, might also not be a good match.

Method Of Working

  • Can you show me a sample plan? Ask the planner for a sample plan so you get an idea of the depth of the plan and the type of detail you will receive. You'll also be able to quickly see if it's written intelligibly. If the planner doesn't black out the name of the person for whom it was created, you have to wonder how many people will see your confidential information
  • If you travel a lot: Ask you planner how he or she will handle your account if you are travelling or incapacitated. Will the planner be comfortable working with the holder of a Durable Power of Attorney?. (To learn about how to travel well with your condition, seeTravel 101.)

About The Planner's Business

Learn about the planner's practice and methods of compensation.

  • How many companies do you represent, if any? If a planner represents only one or two investment or insurance companies, you can almost bet that the person's main goal will be to sell those companies' products to you.
  • How are you paid? Planners get paid either of three ways: fees, fees plus commission on the products they sell, or commission only. A planner whose compensation is based solely on fees might be the most objective. However, a planner who works only on a commission basis will not necessarily be against your best interests. See Financial Planners for more information about planners' compensation.
  • How many clients do you currently have? A planner with a small practice may be able to give you more personalized attention. On the other hand, a planner with a large practice may have more experience.
  • Will I work with you, or another associate? Some planners may delegate your account to associates in their practice. If that is the case, ask the planner with whom you to address the same questions regarding the associate.
  • Do you prepare detailed, written plans? The answer you are looking for here is a definite "yes." Before making any recommendations or selling any products, a planner should be able to give you a detailed, written plan.
  • What will you need me to do? Ask this question to assess both the comprehensiveness of the service the planner provides and the planner's openness to your input. Remember, your planner works for you.

If you're considering giving the planner control over your money, check to see that the planner has insurance.

Ask for proof that the planner:

  • Has a Bond. A bond is basically insurance which protects you against malfeasance with respect to your money. For instance, a bond covers in the event of theft or embezzlement.
  • Has Professional Liability - Errors and Omissions Insurance ("E & O" Insurance). Errors and Omissions Insurance protects against errors or the failure to perform work as promised.

Check References and Background

Finally, before signing an agreement with a planner, do a background check on the planner by:

  • Verify references. While speaking to other clients can be helpful, bear in mind that the planner most likely provided you with the names of the people who were most satisfied with his or her services. Still, its always worth calling references (if for no other reason, to be sure they are real.) Consider asking the reference about his or her own situation. If it's similar to yours in some ways, there might be a greater chance that the planner will also meet your needs well.
  • Do a background check:
    • BrightScope has data on the backgrounds of nearly 450,000 financial professionals. Go to offsite link. Enter your advisor's name.
    • If your planner is a CFP, call the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. at 800.487.1497 ( 9 - 5 ET, Mon-Fri), press "0". The operator has access to the database.
    • If your planner is licensed to sell securities, check her out at the SEC's web site: offsite link
    • Check the Better Business Bureau at offsite link to see if any complaints have been filed about the planner you are considering.

How To Prepare For The Initial Meeting With A Financial Planner

Preparation will help make your initial meeting more productive and will probably reduce the amount of time (and, if your planner is getting paid by the hour, money) you spend with the planner.

Before meeting with a planner, it will help to:

If you don't feel like doing this before meeting with a planner, that's OK. Most planners are trained to collect the information they need to best assist you.