Failing to plan for the expected events of senior years, both pleasant and unpleasant, puts individuals and their loved ones at a disadvantage. Scrambling to get documents in place and make arrangements when time is short or you are operating in crisis mode can be avoided with advance planning.
Here are seven things from The Tulsa World's article, entitled "Aging Oklahoma: Seven things baby boomers should know about dying," that we all need to know about preparing for the inevitable end.
- Talk about death when you are healthy. We all want to shy away from these discussions, and recent retirees avoid thinking about what to do when their health fails. Think about your golden years with these questions: How do I want to live my senior years, what's important to me, and what do I want to accomplish? Next think about your final years: What happens if you become incapacitated? Where will you live?
- Understand All Options. One end-of-life option is hospice. A person is eligible for hospice care under Medicare if a physician has diagnosed a terminal illness and the person has fewer than six months to live (in an illness' natural course). Hospice care can be provided on an in-patient basis or at home. Medicare doesn't provide 24-hour care for those in hospice, so a caregiver (usually a family member) must provide care for home-based plans.
- Make your wishes clear. While there are several documents you may need—a will, trusts, advanced directives (also called a living will) and durable powers of attorney for health care—documents themselves will not take care of you and your family in the event of your death or incapacitation. At Family Estate Planning Law Group, we strongly advocate a family care meeting where you can convey your wishes and outline your estate plan to your trusted family members and fiduciaries—those who will need to execute your plan. Letting those closest to you know and understand your wishes while you are alive and without the pressure of a crisis will help your loved ones and minimize future stress.
- Get finances organized with an option for access by others. Gather your financial information and establish a plan for someone else to take over. Make sure he or she can find the savings, investments, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and stocks and bonds. Who will pay bills in an emergency and who can access bank accounts? As part of our ongoing maintenance of our clients’ estate plans, we assist you in ensuring your assets are aligned with your plan, verify it with your financial institutions, and track any changes in the type or value of your assets. Doing this can save your loved ones huge financial headaches should you become incapacitated or in the event of your death.
- Make a list of key people. Talk to your family and those who will execute your estate plan about your financial, legal, health, and insurance plans and records. Make a list of the involved individuals and their contact information. Your loved ones and fiduciaries should know where these documents are kept and have easy access.
- Let others know what to do with your body. It's important to let family members know about your wishes for a funeral, cremation, burial, or entombment. You can also pre-plan and pre-pay for those services to save time, money, and stress.
- Keep talking. This discussion shouldn't be a one-time event. The issue should be periodically revisited and discussed in detail as plans are put into place. In fact, at Family Estate Planning Law Group, we work with all our clients on an ongoing basis to maintain their estate plan, ensuring that changing laws and family situations are addressed and assets are consistently aligned, verified, and tracked over time. This saves your loved ones and heirs a lot of headaches down the road.
You'll have a far better chance of having your wishes respected and carried out if you make these plans and have these conversations well in advance.
For more information about our unique process, explore our website and contact us to schedule a consultation today!
Reference: The Tulsa World (December 6, 2015) "Aging Oklahoma: Seven things baby boomers should know about dying"