Part of our job as financial advisors is to ensure that our clients have the resources they need as they reach retirement age. Taking care of all the little (and big) details before retirement are the best way to get the most enjoyment out of these years.
We are fortunate to help our customers plan for the financial aspects of their retirement and are sometimes called upon to help them determine the best long-term care insurance plan for their needs. As life expectancies increase, developing a long-term care plan will not only give you and your family peace-of-mind, it also can play a factor in your financial outlook.
We recently spoke with Mary Kay Minnis, President of Caring Transitions of Northeast Wisconsin. Caring Transitions is a support system for individuals who find themselves or a loved one in the position of making a transition from a more independent living situation into a transitional care facility.
Communication is Key
According to Minnis, the best place to start when creating a long-term care plan is with honest and open communication. “Talking about the difficult questions well ahead of time is important and can lead to a much smoother transition when the time comes.” Minnis suggests that parents ask their children to provide a wish list of items they might want to acquire when they start to “rightsize,” (a term that Minnis uses instead of the word “downsize.”) Creating a list is an excellent way to minimize family quarrels during the “rightsizing” process.
It is also important to consider how much it will cost to move your belongings – not only the cost of your new living arrangement, but also the process of moving or storing items that do not fit into your new space. Determine what you want to keep, what you want to donate and what will be passed on to heirs (based on input from your family prior to the moving process). Additionally, it is important to consider where you want to move. “Many senior living communities offer a transitional living experience, where the level of care progresses as a person’s needs change,” Minnis notes.
It is also important to be open about what type of situations might require long-term care. Minnes indicates that it is often brought on when a spouse passes away, leaving the other spouse alone. However, certain health concerns might also be cause to move to the next steps in your long-term care plan.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is someone you select to make specific decisions on your behalf as you age. Generally there are two different types, a financial and a medical power of attorney. A financial power of attorney (or general power of attorney) permits a designated person to oversee your finances. This person typically steps in to pay bills or handle other financial matters when you cannot physically or mentally handle your affairs.
A medical power of attorney (or health care proxy) is able to make medical decisions on your behalf when you no longer have the capacity to do so. This may be needed on a temporary basis or for a longer term health crisis. A health care proxy gives you control over the kind and degree of medical treatment you receive when you can’t speak for yourself. Generally it is recommended that this person lives in close proximity so they are able to have an understanding of daily medical concerns as well as bigger issues.
In the end, a long-term care plan allows you to transition into the next phases of your life as worry and hassle-free as possible. In addition, it ensures that your wishes are carried out and provides your family a road map to follow if you are unable to make decisions on your own.