People are living longer than ever these days, and while that is a good thing, it definitely presents challenges. Regardless of you or your loved one’s stage in life, good planning requires that you ask good questions. And asking good questions can sometimes be uncomfortable, unpleasant or overwhelming. We have come up with 7 questions that need to be asked by the time someone turns 70. If you address these 7 things, it will make aging easier on you and your family.
A little discomfort now can make ALL the difference later. One of the keys to this exercise is not taking an emotional approach. We naturally think of ourselves as 15 years younger than we really are. That means when we turn 70, we actually still feel like we’re 55! That’s a big difference. One way to combat this is to look at the cold, hard facts about aging:
- People reaching the age of 65 will live, on average, 19.2 more years. That’s 84, if you don’t want to do the math.
- 36% of people aged 65+ reported some sort of disability in 2012. (That’s 1 out of every 3 people.) Limitations in daily living activities because of chronic conditions will only increase with age.
- Statistics vary, but it is generally thought that 70-80% of people who reach 65 will need some sort of care during the rest of their life!
- 1 in 3 older women are widows. And according to the Wall Street Journal, 86% of widows live in poverty. Almost half of women 75+ live alone.
- And according to David Laibson, who specializes in behavioral finance at Harvard University, about half the 80-year-old population is not in a position to make important financial decisions due to rates of dementia and other kinds of cognitive impairment. This means it’s important to make these decisions sooner rather than later.
So, what are the questions we want you to think about and ask yourself?
- Who’s in charge here? Every plan for aging needs a good helper. (Think Power of Attorney, executor or trustee.)
- Do you have the correct powers in place? If you have a Power of Attorney, does it have the correct provisions to allow the most flexible planning options as you age?
- Is your estate plan up to date? Lives constantly change, which means your estate plan needs to be tweaked to match the circumstances.
- What care will be needed… and when? This is a great question, without a concrete answer, but it’s important to be realistic and anticipate the possibilities.
- Have you explored ALL the asset protection options? Even before care is needed, there are some important steps that can be taken to help pay for care when it is eventually needed.
- Are you maximizing available benefits now? If care is needed now, are you sure that you are accessing all available help, like VA and Medicaid?
- The best way to answer Question #6 is by answering Question #7: Have you gotten the advice of an experienced elder law attorney? Experienced elder law attorneys deal with these issues everyday, which means they are always up on the latest laws, benefits and local care options.
One final encouragement from Dave on this topic, “It is far easier to have a plan pre-70 and tweak it here and there as the situation changes, rather than having to make all the big decisions during a crisis or once decision-making impairment has begun.” Addressing all 7 of these questions is something that all of our plans do. If answering these questions feels overwhelming, don’t stress! We guide our clients through the decision-making process everyday. And when the time comes to start implementing the plan, we work as a support for your family, making sure that things go as smoothly as possible. Give us a call at 217-726-9200 if you have questions, or check out one of our upcoming workshops.