The ‘aging checklist’: What is it and why every retiree needs one
Several times a year, a client who is caring for an aging parent will confide in me, “I told my kids if I’m ever in that state, they should just shoot me.” The comments are made in jest (usually), but there is a strong element of truth to it. Dealing with an aging family member can be very difficult. It’s hard on the person who is losing control and, oftentimes, even more difficult on their family. While many folks want a quick fix to deal with aging, practically, the best approach is to plan ahead.
According to AARP, 30 million households are providing care for an adult over the age of 50. That number is expected to double over the next 25 years as people continue to live longer. Given these realities, one important consideration I recommend to all my clients approaching retirement is to craft an “Aging Checklist” to complement their retirement and estate plan. This comprehensive checklist can save a tremendous amount of time and headache when caring for a loved one.
The best time to start crafting an “Aging Checklist” is several years before retirement. This type of coordination can be overwhelming and emotionally taxing on the family. Taking small steps over the course of the last few years of one’s career allows for prudent decision making without the pressure of a time crunch.
Below is a list of points to work through with your financial advisor, accountant, attorney and family members to help with the transition process.
Estate Planning Documents:
Planning Tip: Set up a time to meet with your attorney, trustees, and any relevant family members to get the above items clarified and updated.
Planning Tip: Set up a time to meet with your financial advisor several years before retirement. Speak with him/her regularly for the next few years to make sure your finances are organized and you are in a position to fund your lifestyle as you age. If you are not on track, be sure to discuss the appropriate financial planning and lifestyle modifications that are required.
Planning Tip: Is there any insurance that you no longer need once retired or change living arrangements (e.g. Term insurance, homeowners, etc.)? Is there other insurance that you now need to get or increase as you approach retirement (e.g. long-term care)?
Planning Tip: Is relocating a consideration? Be sure to carefully consider this decision from both a social and financial planning perspective.
Planning Tip: From a mental health perspective, make sure that you are retiring to something and not from something. Retirees are advised to pursue activities that involve daily structure, relationship building, and working towards a goal to keep mentally sharp and motivated. Unfortunately, hobbies don’t always fit those requirements.
Planning Tip: Begin streamlining/consolidating what services you use. It can be cumbersome for family members to keep track of multiple account login credentials and storage services that serve similar functions.
Planning Tip: It’s best to start the succession planning process early by grooming a successor, getting the appropriate legal documents and insurance in place, and setting expectations for all those who are involved in the business.
Planning Tip: Dispose of personal knickknacks by throwing them out or gifting them to friends/family through the course of your early retirement. Remember, it’s your stuff and you should deal with it. There is no need to burden your family with cleaning up your things once you pass away.
It’s important to note that the above list is just a sample of some issues that many retirees face. Not every issue on this list is applicable to every individual, and, conversely, there are always unique issues facing each family. The key is to work through a checklist with all of your respective advisors and family members, have a conversation about it, and put a written plan in place. At the end of the day, when a loved one prepares their wishes well before they become physically or mentally impaired, it makes aging a much more manageable experience for everyone involved.
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The contents in this article are being provided for educational and informational purposes only. The information and comments are not the views or opinions of Union Bank, its subsidiaries or affiliates.