Aging in Uncertain Times: Do You Have a Plan?

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a scary, uncertain and confusing time. Given the new COVID world we live in, there is no time like the present to make a plan for issues that might arise in the event of unexpected illness, incapacity or death. Proper planning can protect your family and minimize the uncertainty and stress that comes with unexpected disability or death, not to mention, help prepare for old age.

The current average lifespan for an American male is 84.3, and for a female, life expectancy is 86.6. These numbers will probably continue to increase over time. They’re also just averages; today, one out of four people aged 65 will live past 90, and one in ten will live past 95.

In other words, pandemic notwithstanding, there is a good chance you’re going to live a very long time! That’s good news, but the bad news is that a longer lifespan means a greater chance of encountering some type of disability or incapacity in those later years.

In our present world it is more important than ever to create a plan for life’s unexpected events. It is not enough to simply plan for what happens as we age. Here are some points to consider:
How will you pay for everything? You might need in-home nursing care, or specialized care in a facility. Do you have long term care insurance? Can you purchase it now cost effectively? If not, will you need to think about Medi-Cal planning?

How much responsibility will be placed on your loved ones? Many middle-aged and older people find themselves caring for an aging parent, and the financial and emotional costs can be considerable. How can you alleviate some of this burden? Do you need a third party to manage financial decisions to avoid conflict between children or other family members?

What are your wishes in the event of your incapacity? When you can’t make your own medical decisions, what do you want and who should make the final call? Have you evidenced your intent in an Advance Health Care Directive or Living Will? Do you need a third party to manage health care decisions to avoid conflict between children or other family members?

Who should manage your finances? Should it be the same person who handles your medical decisions, or someone else? As above, do you need a third party to manage financial decisions to avoid conflict between children or other family members?

How do you want your assets distributed after your death? Are there any special items that you want certain people to inherit?

What are the tax implications of your passing? How will this affect your heirs? Is there cash to pay any taxes, or will other assets need to be sold?

What are your burial and funeral wishes? Keep in mind that telling someone isn’t good enough; they could forget, become incapacitated, or struggle to make clear decisions while grieving.

These are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself and discuss with your family as you put together a plan. If you’re over age 50, or have children of any age, you should start to consider these points as soon as possible, and meet with an estate planning attorney for expert advice. Even if you are younger or without children, it is never too early to make good decisions and have a plan in place.

Call us to schedule an appointment, and reap the benefits of having an experienced estate planning attorney on your side. No matter what the rest of 2020 or beyond brings, putting together a cohesive plan for your family should be on the top of your to-do list.

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