As we welcome in the New Year, I want to give you some food for thought. New Year’s resolutions come and go – some fulfilled, some forgotten. What if you can do one thing in 2019 that will benefit you and those you love? Would you take the time to consider it?
I want to share the recent experience of a close family member of mine. This woman is kind, loving, and if it were in her power, would do anything for anyone – especially those in her family.
Unexpectedly, this woman found herself in the role of primary caregiver to her single sister. Her sister had been financially self-reliant and remarkably independent throughout her life. She was diligent in putting money aside from her earnings to help supplement her income during retirement. What she didn’t plan on were unforeseen medical events that left her completely dependent on the help and support of others.
After many months of cancer treatments, she experienced a stroke, which severely limited her mobility and slowed her speech, leaving her dependent on others for her care. Luckily, she had an older sister who stepped up and took over. Unfortunately, there were no legal documents granting anyone access to medical information, financial information, or allowing them to make decisions on her behalf.
As you can imagine, this created many difficult hurdles. Not only were there medical treatments that needed to be coordinated, there was also the issue of what insurance was available to cover the numerous hospital visits and the ensuing stays in rehab and care facilities. Add to that the dilemma of what money was available to pay for coinsurance, deductibles, and prescriptions. And what about her ongoing bills at home, how would they be paid? It was an unbelievable challenge. It took time, patience, and a great emotional toll.
This situation is not uncommon. We see it all too often. We believe that if we plan financially for the future, everything will be okay. In some cases that is true. What most of us tend to overlook is the emotional impact on those who would so willingly step up to take care of us should the need be presented. Instead of planning for the unforeseen, we unwittingly tie their hands and create unnecessary emotional stress on those we love. Waiting until next week, next month, or next year may be too late. Do it now! Make it a priority for the new year. Take the time to meet with your financial advisor and an estate planning attorney. Create the documents that will minimize the burden on those you love.
Estate planning documents generally include: Will, Trust, Medical Power-of-Attorney, Medical Directive, and Durable Power-of-Attorney. Depending on the complexity of your situation and what you are trying to accomplish, other documents may be needed. An attorney can advise you on the right documents for your personal situation.
Wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year!