There’s a famous saying that I have come to appreciate: “Old age isn’t for sissies.” There are lots of things that begin to bother us as we age that never did when we were young. Aches and pains are the most obvious of them. A lot of us become much too familiar with our doctor’s waiting room.
After a lifetime of storing memories we find that too many things have gotten lost in the pile of “stuff” that we keep in mind. No one really wants to admit that we’re not as strong or “sharp” as we once were. So instead of taking care of our own yard or doing our taxes, we hire someone else to do it.
Aging is a sensitive topic. It can be awkward to tell people that they may want to look for help doing things they have always done on their own. But it is something that has to be done because it’s just the right thing to do.
I have had this conversation with a number of clients as they age. Sometimes they even bring up the subject. One of my best clients, let’s call him Bill, was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. He went through a series of treatments, but he finally came to the realization that the end was probably near. I met with Bill and his wife and we had a long, heartfelt conversation. He and I had worked together for years to manage his portfolio and he made me promise to take care of the family finances after he was gone. I had already given them a copy of my book “Before I Go” and the workbook that goes along with it. As a result, after he passed away we did not have to wonder about the family’s assets or what his wife’s income was going to be.
But for many people, the end doesn’t give us as much time as Bill had. It may be an accident, a sudden heart attack or a stroke. That’s why it is best to prepare while both husband and wife are still healthy and able to make informed decisions. What should those preparations include?
- Make sure your will is up to date. Check with an estate planning attorney to make sure it is current with your current family situation and the tax laws.
- Prepare an Advance Medical Directive that will tell your family and physicians what you want done if you become incapacitated.
- Find someone who can provide quality financial guidance to the surviving widow or children if that is not something that they have the knowledge, time or interest in taking on.
The last one is often over looked, but it is critically important to those you love and would leave behind. You need to find a person or team who puts your survivors’ interests first. Someone who knows how to generate the income that retirees need. Someone who is experienced in retirement planning and estate management. Someone who you can trust to manage your assets now, and do the same for those you leave behind.
It’s a challenge, and one that you should take care of now because you never know when it will be needed.
Arie Korving is the author of the book “Before I Go” and the “Before I Go Workbook” and Chairman of Korving & Company, a Registered Investment Advisor in Suffolk, VA. For help with this and other subjects on estate planning, he can be contacted at 757-638-5490. To get a copy of his book and workbook, visit Amazon.com or call Korving & Company, 757-638-5490.