Asset Preservation and Distribution Consultant
Integrity is the driving force behind the business conducted by Tom Eaglehouse, one of today’s leading consultants in the area of retirement planning. He is the founder of the Estate and Retirement Planning Center in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and is a member of the National Ethics Association. Eaglehouse began working with the senior population because of a desire to assist them in creating better outcomes related to their retirement years. His ultimate goal when working with his clients is to be able to provide a solution that will result in peace of mind for retirees and their families in an economic environment where many view successful retirement as an uncertainty and almost frightening financial event.
The journey to the formation of the Estate and Retirement Planning Center has been a very personal one for Eaglehouse. A graduate of St. Vincent College with a degree in business and finance, he began his professional career working in personal finance, sales, and management and eventually became a business owner. In 2003 he began working with seniors because he observed family members and friends that experienced debilitating illnesses and the eventual consequences they and their families suffered as a result. One of his grandfathers was diagnosed with colon cancer and his grandmother and parents helped care for him at home. His grandmother lost her sight and she was cared for at home by family members with outside assistance. His other grandfather passed away unexpectedly, leaving his grandmother in financial difficulty. After living with different children through the years and in subsidized housing she eventually ended up in a nursing home where she did not receive the best of care. Eaglehouse’s Aunt developed Alzheimer’s and spent a number of years in a care facility which resulted in her spending the assets in her entire estate on care. A good friend had Lou Gehrig's disease and died in his late forties, leaving behind a wife and three children. Tom’s father had Parkinson’s disease for many years and his family took care of him at home, an experience that was very physically and emotionally draining especially on his mother. These real life experiences were eye opening realities that enlightened Eaglehouse to the fact that this kind of thing can happen to anyone without warning.
Determined to make a difference for people that may face similar circumstances, Eaglehouse formed The Estate and Retirement Planning Center to help families better prepare for life’s unexpected situations. The concept of reaching out to help someone in need is not foreign to him by any means. Eaglehouse recounts countless examples of his parents helping people in need, talking someone through a difficult time, or even feeding and caring for family, neighbors, and even strangers over the course of their lifetime. According to Eaglehouse, “My parents taught me by example how to help other people that are in need and it became part of who I am.” He even spent a period of time working with a non-profit organization in Pittsburgh training young people that came from disadvantaged homes and circumstances. He continues, “I want my life to be an example to my children just as my parents were an example to me. To that end, my goal is to assist seniors and their families in preparing solid comprehensive plans that cover the ‘what ifs’ of life while the loved one is living and carry out the loved one’s wishes after they are gone. I want to provide families with a solution and peace of mind.”
The Estate and Retirement Planning Center was created to provide retirees and those facing retirement with an opportunity to receive quality information focused on the protection of their assets. Individual situations are evaluated and appropriate recommendations are made which often includes joint meetings with an elder law and tax attorney. The firm is committed to using their experience and expertise to lighten the burdens for their clients related to retirement planning. They offer a helping hand at every step and guide clients through the incredible complexities of retirement planning, showing each client how to get the benefits they deserve and how to avoid the many inherent traps and pitfalls often associated with such preparation. They are able to answer questions and give guidance related to Medicare and Medicaid rules, Veterans Administration qualifying criteria and financial and care planning strategies. Additionally, they place great importance on giving their clients direction on proper asset placement and gifting under the new governmental laws. Eaglehouse states, “We are dedicated to protecting senior citizens and those who love them. We have found that with the changes in the law, there is one law for the informed and another law for the uninformed. We’ve committed ourselves to giving our clients the power to be informed individuals and to achieve all of the benefits that the law guarantees.” Eaglehouse and his firm serve as a mentor, counselor, navigator, advisor and friend throughout the entire process, developing life-long relationships.
Eaglehouse conducts ninety minute educational workshops at various locations for retirees and those that are contemplating retirement in the near future. In the workshops, attendees are given carefully outlined information related to the vital components of retirement planning. Participants find the information to be important and useful for their stage in life. A follow-up personal consultation at no cost is also offered of which most of the seminar participants take advantage. Prior to the free personal consultation, a telephone interview is conducted with the prospective client, followed by an in-person meeting in the office. After specific information is gathered, Eaglehouse discusses with the individual or couple how their current plan matches with their desired goals. If their plan does not match their goals and there are strategies available that will, the individual or couple can request a follow up meeting to go over the details. Eaglehouse works very closely with an elder law attorney as part of the planning process for his clients. The plan discussion meeting includes Eaglehouse and the elder law attorney meeting with the clients. It has been proven that by combining asset preservation and distribution strategies with the proper legal estate and tax planning documents the family receives a superior outcome over traditional planning. Once the plan is developed and agreed upon by the family, it is executed. The end result is peace of mind for the family because they know the best possible outcome will be achieved regardless of what life offers in the future.
Another concern Eaglehouse discusses with his clients in the planning process is in the area of life insurance. According to Eaglehouse, insurance policy holders may be paying as much as seventy percent too much for their life insurance. The life insurance industry has a pricing system that was not updated for nearly twenty years. As a result of the most recent update, insurance pricing fell dramatically which favorably affected consumers. Eaglehouse states, “Bottom line, there are a lot of policies that are priced better in the market. The best way to ensure against over paying or getting less than you’ve paid for is to get a life insurance policy review completed by a knowledgeable advisor.”
As to his success, Eaglehouse attributes it to placing the best interest of his clients first and foremost in the planning process. He elaborates, “I am able to analyze the overall picture and put the pieces together for my clients to provide the desired outcome. I believe working with integrity is key. Working with clients cannot be motivated by what products will get me the highest commission. It has to be motivated by what products and strategies are going to best meet the needs of my client.” He continues, “I have the ability to look at a family’s estate, understand their goals, utilize what they have and end up with an achievable outcome that includes everything they ask for. Many agents will simply sell specific insurance products. Many financial advisors will only focus on investing for the purpose of accumulation. I take a much broader planning approach and use certain blocks of my client’s assets for specific purposes to accomplish their stated objectives. Because I work solely with the retiree and pre-retiree market, I use all guaranteed solutions so their plan will guarantee their estate will accumulate, be protected and distributed in the most tax reduced manner. The fear of another stock market crash consuming fifty percent of the families’ hard earned assets is eliminated.”
Eaglehouse is putting his retirement knowledge and experience on the written page as the author of an upcoming book in which he will discuss his successful retirement planning strategies and the importance of integrity in the estate planning business. He has also been a featured guest on the program “Leading Experts.” The outreach to his clients is expanding geographically and Eaglehouse is in the process of creating additional educational material that he will soon be sharing with his clients as well as other professionals within his field of expertise. According to Eaglehouse, “I have seen families go through so much tragedy when dealing with aging loved ones. I feel it is my mission to make a difference for as many families as possible. That’s why I do what I do. To see a family experience the best possible outcome because I helped them prepare for the unknown is a very rewarding experience.”