It has been recently reported that one third of all Americans have no retirement savings. Almost 25% report they have savings of less than $10,000. One consequence of this is that many seniors ignore any effort to do even the most basic things to protect themselves as they age.
Many of the most important things are free. Consider these five:
FIRST OF THE FIVE ESSENTIALS: SOME LEGAL DOCS
A Will is a good idea but it is only applicable once you are dead. It takes care of the assets and possessions you were not clever enough to take care of before you died. What you need right now is to prepare for the likelihood that you get sick and need help while you are “alive and kicking”. Get an Advanced Health Care Directive so someone you trust (and an alternate) can watch your back if you are too ill to care for yourself. If you don’t have this document, your family may have to go to court to be appointed as a conservator or guardian to get authority. That’s expensive. Consider A Living Will, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) and POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). Different states may have different terms and names but check out the forms. Get a Durable Power of Attorney form. (DPOA) The DPOA provides a simple way to appoint an agent or agents you want to manage any part or all of your affairs: financial, personal, or both. You can customize, include instructions, guidelines, or limitations as you wish. You can make it limited or general. It can be effective immediately or only when you are incapacitated. Financial institutions can be fussy, make sure your form meets their requirements. You can get free forms on the internet. Be very careful who you appoint to be your agent. You can only revoke this form if you still have legal competency
SECOND: SHARE YOUR HEALTH ESSENTIALS WITH YOUR FAMILY.
What are your health essentials?
- Your Insurance ID cards. Visit the Xerox machine and make a copy of your private health insurance card or if you have Medicare and GAP insurance cards copy those, and any prescription drug program you have like Part D.
- Prepare a Vial of Life. Check out their website. Essentially this means locate your most important health information in a spot where an emergency responder can quickly find it: Your Blood Type, serious allergies, anything they would need to know if you were in a condition to report to them.
- Make a list of all your prescription drugs and your pharmacy location and phone number.
- The name and number of your primary physician. If you have your medical information online the location or web address where the information is stored and the relevant password.
- The name of your dentist and eye doctor and any other medical help you rely on. Do you have a hearing aid from Costco that is under warranty?
- Prepare a HIPAA release form to make sure your medical records are available to whomever you select.
THIRD: GIVE YOUR FAMILY A PEEK AT YOU FINANCES…THEY’LL FIND OUT EVENTUALLY.
Even if you are heavily in debt, financial information must be shared, if your family or friends are to help you when you need it most. Some of the essentials:
- Your life insurance company and agent if you have one
- Your last five years of tax returns and accountant’s name if you have one
- Where your bank is located and account #’s
- Your SS #
- Your main debts like your mortgage
- Copies of all your credit cards
- All auto and homeowner insurance information
- Auto title. Driver license #, Auto Plate #
- Any retirement account information or brokerage accounts.
- If you have a securities broker name him
- Essential Passwords we need to know
- Your attorney if you have one
- If you are a Vet your discharge info.
- Passport, birth certificate
- Property taxes, utility bills, automatic withdrawal or deposits.
FOURTH: LET YOUR FAMILY KNOW YOUR FINAL WISHES NOW.
This sounds pretty basic but many families find out too late that their loved ones already made or even paid for funeral arrangements.
Do you still belong to the same church or have your religious affiliations changed altogether?
Do your children know if you want to be buried or cremated? Have you donated your body parts to science?
Do you want a special ceremony when you die or a particular kind of service?
FIFTH: SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
Life will be easier for those who ultimately help you if they know who to call to get more answers about your “day to day.”
- Your address book and numbers and email addresses of friends.
- Your email address and password.
- You social clubs, and/or condo or neighborhood association.
- Anyone who regularly makes deliveries to the house.
- Most often frequented restaurants or stores.
- Neighbors names and numbers.
For more information check out www.ElderPlanning101.com