Longevity Planning: Covering All The Bases

Posted: Updated:
(Image courtesy of Bedel Financial Consulting Inc.) (Image courtesy of Bedel Financial Consulting Inc.)

You've executed a last will and testament and created a plan for divvying up your assets when you pass. You're covered, right? Not completely! What happens if calamity strikes and your final years aren't so vibrant? Do you have a plan for that?

Longevity planning considers your financial security as well your physical and mental well-being as you age. Saving for a comfortable retirement is very important, but don’t overlook the need to plan for a change in your health.

It’s difficult to think about aging and the potential deterioration of your mind, body, and spirit - much less talk about it. But planning for these conditions while you’re healthy is the ideal time. Both you and your family may go into denial if you wait until medical-related issues creep up on you. At that point, the plan may never be completed.

The Consequences of Inaction

If you haven’t legally executed a power of attorney or health care representative document, the courts will appoint a guardian for you. This appointed guardian would have the ability to make financial and non-financial decisions on your behalf. In Indiana the statutory preference is to appoint a family member. If you are married and/or have children, your spouse or adult child would be appointed to act. If you aren’t married and don’t have children, the courts will likely look to another family member, qualified individual, or an institution.

You may have a great relationship with your nephew, but the courts could appoint your niece who doesn’t know - or care - what's important to you. And what happens if you're unmarried, but have a "significant other?" The courts will likely bypass him or her in favor of a family member.

No one knows what the future holds. Acting now is key.

What Legal Documents Will You Need?

  • Incapacity documents allow others to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. They include:
  • Power of attorney: Indicates the individual you authorize to conduct legal or financial matters on your behalf. Several types of POAs exist - durable, limited, springing, and general. Each provides different guidelines for your POA. Investigate each to see which works best for your situation.
  • Health care representative: (aka healthcare power of attorney, agent, proxy or surrogate) Names the individual who will make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Living will: Indicates your wishes regarding health care, including life support systems, if you become terminally ill.

Only 20 percent of Americans have executed these documents. Consider this: 84 percent of Medicare patients prefer not to take life-prolonging drugs if their quality of life would be compromised. Without a directive, it’s likely they would be given these drugs, causing them to live longer, with potentially a lower quality of life, and incurring unnecessary medical expenses.

"The Five Wishes"

This advanced directive was created by the non-profit organization, Aging with Dignity. It’s legal in 42 states, but Indiana isn’t one of them. It’s still beneficial to create this document (or something similar) to complement your incapacity documents. These additional steps will provide a guideline for your loved ones regarding your more personal preferences. The five wishes encompass:

  • Who do I want to make decisions regarding my care if I can’t? (equivalent to health care representative)
  • What kind of medical treatment do I prefer if I am unable to communicate it to others? (aka living will)
  • How comfortable do I want to be? (living arrangements, personal grooming, pain management)
  • How do I want people to treat me? (talk with me daily, play my favorite music, pray at my bedside)
  • What do I want my loved ones to know? (passing on a family legacy, extending forgiveness, how you wish to be remembered, preferred funeral/burial arrangements)

Conduct a Meeting

It’s beneficial to share your end-of-life wishes with your family and others who are included in your plan by inviting them to a group meeting. It would be appropriate to also include your estate attorney and financial advisor.

The conversation could be difficult as well as emotional, but it allows everyone involved to learn their role in your plan, including an understanding of your wishes. It also gives your loved ones the opportunity to meet your advisors prior to an incapacitating health issue, making communication more comfortable down the road.

Summary

It’s important to have a plan for crossing “home plate.” But make sure you also have a strategy in place for dealing with obstacles along the way. Execute your incapacity documents, write down additional wishes regarding your care and end-of life-needs, and share these wishes and appointed responsibilities with those involved. Then enjoy the days ahead knowing you’ve covered all your bases!

Kathy Hower, CFP, is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Bedel Financial Consulting, Inc., a wealth management firm located in Indianapolis. For more information, visit their website at BedelFinancial.com or email Kathy.

  • Perspectives

    • Can You Fulfill Your Quest?

      All of us have dragons to slay. At work or at home, in personal or professional relationships, each of us is on a Quest to find the treasure or save the prince/princess. Or perhaps, our goal is more prosaic: getting that promotion, standing up to that bully, or finishing that big project. In his book The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker lists seven story forms which story tellers employ over and over. Each is plot is linked to a fundamental metaphysical Question that we...

    More

Subscribe

Name:
Company Name:
Email:
Confirm Email:
HTML
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections
INPower
Subscribe
Unsubscribe

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • High Schools Launch Manufacturing Businesses

      Two student-run manufacturing businesses have launched in southern Indiana. The companies, Eagle Manufacturing at Brown County High School in Nashville and Lion Manufacturing at Loogootee High School in Martin County, are designed to give students hands-on, real world experience. The businesses were funded with grants from Bloomington-based nonprofit Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, ROI Chief Executive Officer...

    • Books & Brews Acquires Flat12 Bierwerks

      Indianapolis-based Books & Brews has announced its acquisition of Flat12 Bierwerks, also based in Indy. Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed, however Books & Brews says it will continue to operate Flat12 under the same brand name. The acquisition is a continuation of an existing partnership between the two entities. Books & Brews says Flat12 has been a brewery partner for the past two years, brewing all of B&B's flagship and seasonal beers.

    • Fair Oaks Farms to Open New Hotel

      After more than a year of construction, Fair Oaks Farms will Thursday open its new $15 million hotel. The Fairfield Inn by Marriott, Fair Oaks Farms features 99 rooms, including 31 suites, some of which are located within two silos on the property.

    • Haan Crafts Closing in Benton County

      Haan Crafts LLC says it will close its facility in Benton County, resulting in 27 layoffs. The more than 40-year-old company says a growing number of schools cutting sewing classes has made it impossible to sustain "a profitable, stand-alone business."

    • Can You Fulfill Your Quest?

      All of us have dragons to slay. At work or at home, in personal or professional relationships, each of us is on a Quest to find the treasure or save the prince/princess. Or perhaps, our goal is more prosaic: getting that promotion, standing up to that bully, or finishing that big project. In his book The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker lists seven story forms which story tellers employ over and over. Each is plot is linked to a fundamental metaphysical Question that we...