As anyone who is aging can tell you, the old saying is true: The days may be long, but the years are short. Time may be speeding by so much that there’s a good chance you haven’t sat down to discuss with loved ones the different things you should consider as you get older.
Don’t let the years go by so quickly that your physical and financial wellbeing may be compromised due to poor planning.
Here are 9 questions you should ask yourself as you begin to plan for your golden years:
1. Does Your Family Know Your Plan for Aging?
Once you have your plan together, talk about it. Better yet, put your wishes down in legal documents so people are clear as to what you want.
2. Is Your Family Prepared?
If you were unable to help, would your family be prepared to handle things, whether it be financial issues or otherwise? If not, make doubly sure things are legally set up the right way so they get the assistance and guidance they need.
3. Are You Prepared for Disability?
We can never anticipate accidents or illnesses that may leave us disabled. However, you can plan for the scenario just the same. Make sure to financially plan for a disability with insurance (at work or individual), long-term care insurance, or by creating an emergency fund. When planning, it’s also time to consider your debt. Do you really want to be retired or facing a disability with credit card debt or a mortgage that isn’t paid off?
4. Who is Helping With Your Healthcare Decisions?
Who will encourage you to go to the doctor? Who will go to the appointments with you to make sure you stay as healthy as you can for as long as you can? Start thinking about who your “helper” in these decisions will be.
5. Are You Spending Too Much?
How does your income, savings, and spending line up if you look out a few years? Have you calculated how your savings will grow or shrink based on your current spending level? Or do you need to have a professional help you do that?
6. Are You Spending Too Little?
You have worked hard and saved your money. It’s okay to spend some and enjoy yourself by traveling or doing other things you enjoy. Or, if you truly have more income than you need, consider using those funds to increase what you leave at death.
For instance, if you have IRA distributions you have to take (after age 70.5 or 72 — the law changed in 2020), use those distributions to pay life insurance premiums. Then leave the life insurance to your loved ones or a charity you believe in.
When we run statistical projections for clients considering life insurance, they almost always show that a person leaves more money at death by purchasing life insurance. If you really don’t need the money, parlay it into a bigger chunk with life insurance.
7. Are You Making Things Too Difficult For Yourself?
Never say never. Transitions and change are difficult. Are you laying down a gauntlet by saying “I never will…”? Instead, make a plan so you can enjoy the most freedom and as full a life as possible, for as long as possible.
8. Are You Willing to Make a Transition Sooner Than Necessary So You Can Avoid Losing Control?
By getting “greedy” and holding on too long, sometimes people can end up losing their independence more quickly.
For example, a grandmother leaves the family home earlier than anyone thinks she needs to, and enters a retirement community. There she has less stress of home upkeep and more social opportunity that keeps her young.
Another grandmother waits too long, goes downhill at home by herself, gets hurt by falling, and declines by not eating right. Then when she is later forced to move to another living arrangement, she can’t enjoy the people or activities there because of declining health.
Remember, there are endless variations to the type of retirement community or assistance a person can choose. Make choices while you still have choices, instead of having those choices made for you in a crisis.
9. Can You Still Enjoy the Gifts You Give?
Make gifts while you are around to see people enjoy them. Whether this means gifts to your church or charity, or gifts to family (especially of heirlooms where you can share the story behind them). Giving gifts while you’re still healthy gives you the opportunity to experience the joy and benefits to those who received them.
While our entire firm focuses on estate planning, our Elder Care Advisors are especially helpful to families or people who are facing the challenges of aging. You can read more about that here, or feel free to give us a call at 217-726-9200.