While the title may sound a bit ominous, the subject is a lot less complicated and emotional than you may think. Alan Lakein once said, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” So, you may ask, “What do I do and how do I do it?”
I recently attended a seminar on this topic and I learned a great deal. I thought that the information was worth sharing. This may seem overwhelming for those who are disorganized or who are procrastinators but it can be done.
Getting one’s affairs in order was often considered a person’s last duty. This is no longer the case. We want to be sure our lives are always under control until the end. It is best to get the job done when we are most able. During my years at the Farrar Home, I have seen, first hand, the benefits of planning and achievement of this task. Successful accomplishment of the plan can actually be rewarding and rejuvenating if it is approached with a positive attitude.
We are all different; so, too, our plans for the future will vary. You will need to review what is important to you. Then, you will need to take steps to ensure everything is completed in the manner which you intended.
The following suggestions may help you to get started:
1. Get organized – Locate and file any of the following items you may have and will need in the future. If you do not have the necessary documents contact the appropriate professional in order to learn how you may obtain a new document.
Identification Documents – Birth Certificate, Adoption Papers, passport, Immigration documents, Driver’s License, Social Security Card, Family Tree.
Insurance Documents – Health Insurance Cards, Medicare or Medicaid Cards, Medigap Care, Drug Coverage Cards, Long Term Care Coverage Documents, Health Savings Account Document, Organ Donor Card, etc.
–List of Emergency contacts and Professional Contacts, Religious Contacts
–Burial, Funeral and Other End of Life Information
-Marriage License, Divorce Decree, Prenuptial Agreements, etc.
-Employment status and History with Current Benefits and Assistance
-Pets’ Information and History, along with your plan for them
-Passwords, Keys to House, Car, Safety Deposit Box, etc.
-Obituary, if you have specific wishes on how it should be written
-Legal Documents including Financial Inventory, Insurance Coverage, Health Information
- 2. Medical Advance Directives – Get them done. Recently, the medical field began a movement to educate patients and complete the appropriate paperwork. Consequently, we are seeing fewer older adults without advance directives.
- 3. List and Track Healthcare Information – Keeping track of important health information and treatment history can prove to be a life saver.
- 4. Review Health, Other Insurance and Social Security Benefits – We are living in a time when all insurances are changing on a regular basis. We need to educate ourselves or seek out professional advice regarding Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans and other insurance benefits.
5. Complete and Review Your Financial Inventory – This is the time when you need to understand the relationship between your finances, projected longevity, personal and family obligations and your lifestyle. This is when it may be worthwhile to work with a financial advisor.
- 6. Review and Update your estate plan – Have a will written or update your current will, if necessary, to accurately outline all of your wishes.
- 7. Stay Connected to Your Friends, Family and Community – This will avoid isolation which may contribute to depression and other medical challenges.
- 8. Safety and Common Sense – It is as important at this stage of your life as in any to avoid dangerous and harmful situations. Don’t gamble with your health. Do not become a victim.
- 9. Burial Arrangements – Making end of life arrangements will ensure your wishes are known. Families shouldn’t have to make such a difficult decision, which requires time, effort and money as they grieve over your passing.
- 10. Identification and Selection of Professionals – This is always an important time to use professional for advice. Your attorney, healthcare professionals, financial planner, insurance broker, accountant and tax advisor can become members of the team on whom you need to rely on for guidance.
Many of us tend to postpone or avoid dealing with issues we consider difficult, confusing or nerve wracking. At age 62, I realize that I need to get serious about this issue. I have completed a number of the above items. However, I know that it is time for me to continuing working on getting my plans for the future in order. Change seems difficult and it does take some work. Nevertheless, taking charge of your future will provide you with great rewards and peace of mind. It will help you make life the best it can be.