My father-in-law famously told me once that he was going to go out with a bang. No time in a nursing home (“death houses”) and no health issues. I think he envisioned a kind of Thelma & Louise exit from this world—having a lot of fun, no worries and then just dropping dead. Unfortunately, the reality is that we go out of this world very differently than what most people expect. This week I’m discussing ways to “exit” life in the best, most comfortable ways possible.
I have yet to meet any person or client that wants to go to a nursing home. Most Baby Boomers envision an active, busy life in their golden years. However, reality paints a different picture. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a person in their 50s has a 53-59% chance of entering a nursing home during their lifetime. And, as you get older, that likelihood increases.
So, what can you do?
Get your affairs in order
Having the proper documents and plans in place well in advance is one of the best ways to avoid big problems at a time when your family will likely be emotionally stressed about your declining health. An estate planning attorney can assist with identifying your needs and then crafting the appropriate documents to protect you and your family. Basic documents include a will, durable powers of attorney, and health care proxy. At a minimum you need these (one set each for couples) if not additional documents such as a revocable (living) trust or irrevocable trust.
But getting your affairs goes well beyond creating or updating your estate planning documents.
During our working years we are juggling a lot of balls—managing growing kids and their activities, maintaining a big home and possibly a second home, and a wide range of other activities. This all works well while we have the mental and physical stamina—things we take for granted during our younger years. (Remember during your college years when you stayed up until the sun came up and then had to go to class the next morning at 9 AM? Somehow you did it and your body was able to take it. When you reach age 60, our bodies slow down and can’t handle the all nighers the same way.)
Simplifying involves looking at your work, activities and commitments and envisioning how those will change in your golden years. For some people that means downsizing their large home to a smaller one that is closer to the things they care about the most, e.g., family members, interesting places, college campuses, medical services, etc.
For me that means spending more time with friends and family, at our lakeside camp, and with environmental and spiritual causes. For you, the list will be different. But in the process of forming that list, you should consider how to step down and simplify your life. For example, when you are 95 years old, will you still want (or be able) to mow a big lawn and maintain a large home or second home? If you decide that you want keep doing those things, you’ll need a plan to continue with them especially if you are physically less able to perform those tasks.
Make a plan for long-term care
Often when discussing this topic with clients they assume it means that they should be buying a long-term care insurance policy. That depends. Some people will be able to self-insure, e.g., pay out of pocket. Others will become eligible for Medicaid coverage because, effectively, they are poor. The point is to evaluate how you want care provided to you in the situation where you can longer take care of yourself or your partner. For couples, you have to ask yourself the serious question of: “When I am 95 years old, do I want my 95 year old spouse to be responsible for taking care of me?” The answer to this question is very helpful to understanding how to plan for your long-term care.
Who is going to pay your bills if you cannot?
Choosing the right person you can trust who knows and understands you is critical. While you are alive that person may be appointed as your financial power of attorney and, after you pass on, your executor. If you do not designate these persons while you still have your wits about you, it will fall to the state court system. Most families do not want the courts making financial decisions for them. Plus, it can be even more time consuming and expensive.
Losing your mind
Unfortunately, dementia and Alzheimer's are increasingly common among seniors and can be causes for additional care. While you may have dreams of being healthy and sharp as a whip until the day you die, the statistics indicate a different pattern. And, if you require additional care, who’s going to do it? Your adult kids? A friend? Recently I read that the most stressful job in America is being a caregiver for an ill family member. I don’t want to do that to my kids, especially when they are in the thick of raising their family and enjoying life.
Make a plan now
We work with a lot of clients that closing in on retirement or have just retired. This should be one of the top topics for discussion for anyone in these situations. And, the time to plan for it is now while you still are relatively healthy and aware.
‘Still have questions about planning for your golden years, give me a call. I’m here to help. You can also schedule a quick call with me by clicking HERE.
Lyman H. Jackson
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Check out more blogs from on vacations at www.PlanWithFPS.com/blog · 5 things you should do to be ready for your golden years https://planwithfps.com/blog/5-things-you-should-do-to-be-ready-for-your-golden-years · What, exactly, is retirement today? https://planwithfps.com/blog/what-exactly-is-retirement-today · 7 must have estate planning steps https://planwithfps.com/blog/7-must-have-estate-planning-steps
Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. FPS provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client after entering into an advisory relationship. Information herein includes opinions and forward-looking statements that may not come to pass. Information is derived from sources believed to be reliable. Information is at a point in time and subject to change without notice. Such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.