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Caring For Generations

Two Options for Seniors Who Need the Oxygen Mask for Themselves

by | Apr 3, 2024 | elder care, Elder law, Estate Planning, estate planning documents, resources for seniors

In a survey, 42% of respondents without wills blamed simple procrastination; 35% said they didn’t have enough assets to bother writing one; 15% said they didn’t know how to proceed; and 14% said the process was too expensive, a article informs us.

For some Americans, the authors concede, “having no will is no big deal”. For traditional families (comprised of a married couple (with no prior marriages) and their children, state probate laws are straightforward, although most state probate laws provide for the spouse to get half and the children to get the other half, which may not be what is intended. Those who have retirement accounts or insurance policies can name beneficiaries.

At Geyer Law, however, we know that estate planning is not all about assets and heirs at death; it also includes incapacity planning. When it comes to financial matters, the operative document is a Power of Attorney, giving another person the right to make financial decisions in your name, while an Indiana Advance Directive for Health Care allows you to designate someone to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself.

Sometimes, however, it’s not fear of illness or death that makes seniors shy away from the estate planning process, as Jeff D Opdyke acknowledges in the Wall Street Journal Complete Personal Finance Guidebook. “People often get to a point in retirement where their income doesn’t meet their financial means.”

When that happens, Opdyke points out, there are two potential assets that retirees often overlook – a home and a life insurance policy. “Both can provide a substantial income,” he points out, and with the home, at least, you don’t have to sell it to turn it into a pile of cash,”alluding to reverse mortgages and life settlements. Both allow retirees to raise money for retirement expenses they might otherwise have a hard time covering or might have to ask their children to help them pay for.”

While having proper documents in place is important in estate planning, at Geyer Law we understand that a “legacy” can consist of more than financial assets.. A legacy might consist of a tradition passed down, a hobby or skill taught to the younger generation, a treasured item, or simply a life lesson.

In the meantime, seniors affected by rising costs of living might well need to “put the oxygen masks on their own faces first.”

 – by Ronnie of the Rebecca W. Geyer blog team