Despite concerns about finances and health, most people look forward to retirement. The idea is that people will have more time for personal interests since they no longer have to work or care for small children.
Of course, things aren’t always ideal. A serious illness, dementia, or even death can mean that retirement won’t be so golden. While many health issues can’t be prevented, they can be planned for, especially since a stroke, complications from diabetes or osteoporosis can lead to long-term care situations, such as assisted living or nursing home placement.
How do you plan for a future that may include chronic health issues when you aren’t sure what the future may hold for you? These things can help:
1. Make a list of assets and investments
Assets include your home, stocks, bonds, pensions, IRA, mutual funds and bank accounts. Once you know what you are worth, you can start to plan for the future. This leads to…
2. Make a living will and financial power of attorney
There are times when a serious illness doesn’t automatically lead to death. Rather it leads to years of limitations, or even incapacity. During this time, you may not be in a position to make financial or health care decisions. So, take the time to spell things out while you are healthy and able. A living will and financial power of attorney are just the kind of documents you need to have on file in the event you become incapacitated.
A living will is an advance medical directive that specifies what types of medical treatments are desired when a person has a irreversible illness or condition and the attending physician determines that treatment would only prolong death. A financial power of attorney is a document that allows someone such as a spouse, sibling or adult child the authority to access financial accounts and make financial decisions in the event that you aren’t able to speak for yourself. Of course, remember to review your documents every few years and make adjustments as life situations change (i.e. death, divorce, re-marriage).
3. Have a last will and testament
Unfortunately, many people die without having a will in place. The most recent example of this was the singer Prince. If you want your estate to be distributed according to your wishes, you need to have a will drawn up by an experienced attorney. There is no substitute for this document and it is the best way to have your final wishes fulfilled after your death. Don’t leave it up to the courts. Make an appointment with an attorney and draw up a will. Do you already have a will? Make an appointment with an attorney to make sure that your will is current and up-to-date and accurately reflects any life changes that have occurred since it was first created.
This year’s theme for Older Americans Month was “Blaze a Trail” and the best way to do that is to have a plan. While a plan won’t prevent things like chronic illnesses or death from happening, it will make the journey through your retirement years less difficult.