All About Estates

Hot Topics with Gentlemen in their 80s

Recently, I returned for my fourth annual presentation to a group of older gentlemen about planning for the last decade of life. With more than fifty in the audience each year, the participants are a good cross-section of men in their 80s. They are a lively, well-informed group of retired and semi-retired men who share insights and advice on what they want and need for smart ageing. As one person explained, he had spent 30 years as a Rotarian, providing service to others. He joined this club to focus on fellowship and camaraderie within his community.

The hot topics they requested revealed that ageing is about so much more than just healthcare for them. They wanted to discuss planning on their own terms, not their children’s. They wanted to know about the spiraling cost of care in the home. Many had questions about how and when to deal with inheritances for children and grandchildren. There were questions about why an up-to-date will is needed. Downsizing their homes was also a hot topic. Finally, we discussed “a good death,” and related, difficult questions arose.

As advisors, objective third parties, and managers, we play a pivotal role in helping our clients navigate the complexities of ageing. This article serves as a touchpoint. It’s important to actively listen to our clients. Each decade has different views and different needs. We need to find out what is going on “at the coalface,” an Australian and British idiom, meaning learn about what’s happening at home and in their lives rather than just talking or speculating about it.

Knowing the top-of-mind topics for these men in their 80s will help you identify and discuss the concerns and priorities of your clients as they age, enabling you to provide them with the best possible information and recommendations.

Practical Financial Preparedness Conversations

We discussed the importance of getting expert advice on financial planning and preparedness, as well as the importance of tax planning. I shared that a very knowledgeable accountant specializing in estates and trusts suggested to me that we should have two tax plans – a plan for your last decades and a tax plan for the day you die. Many emphasize reducing personal income tax each year, but planning for and implementing strategies to minimize tax payments on your death is equally important.

It’s always a surprise to me that retired professional businesspeople with their own professional advisors do not seem to be familiar with the various tax credits and programs that may apply to them. For example, the Disability Tax Credit may apply to a spouse requiring care at home or in a retirement home.

Another hot topic was the desire to age in place in their homes, but they had valid concerns about spiraling care costs. Some of the audience members have recently experienced the cost of twenty-four-hour care from a Personal Support Worker. In one case, the care was supplied by a private home care company, and the monthly cost was $25,000 or more. There were questions about the cost threshold for care in the home and when the costs outweigh the benefits of staying at home.

Many of the people in the audience live in large single-family dwellings. They have substantial equity tied up in their homes and are looking at potentially downsizing. However, they recognize the enormous complexity of doing so and want to discuss options and strategies.

Choose Attorneys for Personal Care and Property Wisely & Document Your Wishes

We discussed elements of a daily care plan and who would ensure their care would happen as they wish if they could not speak for themselves. We discussed the importance of documenting advance care planning wishes and then discussing them with the appropriate attorneys to be sure they were willing to carry out your wishes. Many participants had started to think about their wishes, but few had actually documented them, and even fewer had discussed advance care planning or their wishes with their attorneys.

In every one of these sessions, there have been people who do not understand the role and responsibilities of attorneys for personal care and property. Some have attorneys for property but no attorney for personal care and do not understand that the scope of personal care includes medical decision-making and other elements such as accommodation, clothing, nutrition, safety, and hygiene.

Planning for End of Life, Including Funeral Pre-Planning

While families may find planning for the end of life a difficult topic for discussion, it always seems to find its way onto our annual agenda. This year, participants shared their views on the benefits of pre-planning a funeral to ensure their wishes were followed.

We also discussed the importance of planning for interment rights, which I wrote about in my last All About Estates article. Many of the participants have family members who wish to be buried in rural communities, and some have family members who want to be buried in other provinces or countries.

Conversation Starters for Your Clients

Need some conversation starters for your clients? We started the session with a quote by Richard Gere, the well-known American actor:

None of us is getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself as an afterthought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.

This quote is a great way to open a wide-ranging discussion. Then, you can cover topics in various sensitive areas outlined in the blog using scenarios and storytelling. It’s never too late to start a conversation with your clients.

About Susan J. Hyatt
Susan J Hyatt is the Chair & CEO of Silver Sherpa Inc. A leader and author in the ‘smart aging’ movement, she is a member of the Canadian College of Health Leaders and the International Federation on Ageing. She holds a post-graduate certification in Negotiations from Harvard Law School/MIT and an MBA from Griffith University in Australia. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy specializing in critical care/trauma from the University of Toronto.


  1. Jodi Weber

    April 8, 2024 - 2:45 pm

    Hi Susan
    I appreciated your article although I am unsure of why it is titled Hot Topics For “Gentlemen “ in their 80’s?
    It’s seems to me that women in their 80’s would be equally interested – especially given that age 85 there are approximately 178 women alive in North America compared to 100 men.

    • Susan J. Hyatt

      April 21, 2024 - 11:25 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Jodi. It is titled Hot Topics for Gentlemen as it reflects the conversations that took place at an event for a men’s club.

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