Growing old, while a reality, is something few, if any, of us enjoy and thinking about the end of life is something most of us want to avoid thinking about. ?While I agree and understand that the aging process isn?t exactly pleasant, the peccadillos associated with aging should not be confused with the realities associated with failing to prepare for our final years.? Proactive long term planning preserves one?s control over one?s self to the extent practicable in nearly every way imaginable. Taking the time, in advance, enables individuals to determine how their affairs will be managed and by whom and under what circumstances.? Being unprepared often results in significant chaos for all involved and thrusts the responsibility of our care onto our friends and families who are forced to carry the weight, and often financial burden, of providing late life care.? It is never too soon to plan for your final wishes and prepare yourself and those around you to help ensure peace of mind for all.
Build a Team
Start by identifying those around you whom you believe will act in your best interest when perhaps you might not be able to participate in the discussion or be in a position to actively influence the outcome.? People often consider caregivers, family members, attorneys, financial or religious advisors or a combination of these individuals.? Having a team of advocates is essential in making decisions related to healthcare, arranging for services and coordinating care, acting with your entrusted financial power of attorney and spiritual and funeral preparations according to your wishes.
Some important areas to consider when contemplating your final years include addressing Health Care, Family and Estate issues, and Finances.
When thinking about Health Care, consider who you want to entrust to make your health care choices should you become unable to do so.? By setting up a living will or medical directive, you can avoid having others make decisions for you that are contrary to your wishes.? A medical directive specifies what types of treatment and care you want administered or withheld, whether you would like to be resuscitated and if so, under what circumstances, and whether you want artificial life sustaining measures administered, and if so, for how long and under what circumstances.? You can also direct that care be administered at home or in a facility and if in a facility, it could be one of your choosing.? Another consideration is whether to purchase long-term care insurance that provides financing for care when you can no longer care for yourself.
It is also important to plan for the passing of your Estate.? Planning for how your estate will pass to your family and/or friends is critical, even if you believe you have effectively communicated your wishes, everyone should have a written will, at a minimum, to ensure the estate reaches the intended beneficiaries.? Consider working with an estate planner or attorney to ensure that you have the tools and documents necessary or to simply have a third party review the understanding or agreements reached between your family in an effort to further protect your estate and your family.? As difficult as discussing death can be, you should discuss with your family your final wishes for funeral planning, or even establish your own funeral plan and fund it while your are alive.
Finances is often one of the most worrisome factors as we age and how we will pay bills and make financial choices when we are no longer able to perform those functions.? It is always a good time to update list of assets and debts, known creditors and anticipated expenses. Consider executing a power of attorney giving a trusted advocate access to your bank and investment accounts.? Now is the time to review accounts, such as life insurance, retirement accounts, Social Security and other pension, bank and investment, and others to ensure that you have the proper beneficiaries designated.
SMART TIP:? Proactive End-of-Life Planning can provide peace of mind in your final years.? To ensure that you and your family are properly prepared and protected, we encourage you to consult with an attorney, estate planner, financial planner, health care providers and other professionals to ensure your final days are lived out according to your wishes.