Solo Agers: Planning is critical to protect your future.
Many seniors today are aging without the support of family to rely on. For these seniors, it is critical that they plan now in order to preserve their dignity as they age.
Without planning, solo seniors may find themselves involved in a Guardianship or Conservatorship. When a person can no longer handle their own affairs or make decisions for themselves the court will appoint someone, often a stranger, to make important decisions about where they should live, what medical treatment they should receive, and end of life care. The Conservator will take control of your finances, and may even sell your home.
By planning in advance you can avoid Guardianship and Conservatorship, and ensure that you choose the people that you want to be there for you when you need help and that you provide instructions for your wishes. What steps should you take now?
1. Build a team you can trust: There are many people who don't have friends or family that they can count on. Hiring professionals and establishing relationships with them while you are still able gives you the best chance of ensuring that your wishes will be protected and to prevent being taken advantage of. If you don't know where to start, at our firm we offer an Aging Allies program to form the support that solo seniors need. Who should be on your team?
A financial advisor or professional
Your primary care doctor
A friend, neighbor, social worker, or someone who sees you frequently
2. Execute Legal Documents to Implement Your Plan: At a minimum, you need to make sure that you have a will, health care proxy, and durable power of attorney. Often a trust can be helpful, as well. Sometimes seniors who are aging alone don't have anyone they can count on to serve in the role as fiduciary or surrogate decision maker. The attorneys in our office often serve in these roles, if requested.
3. Set up checks and balances to protect yourself from abuse: In order to protect yourself, it is best to have a system of checks and balances. For example, if you name your friend to act under your power of attorney, you may also want to authorize your attorney or another friend or family member to request an accounting.
4. Stay in regular contact with the Captain of your team. You should stay in regular contact (at least every six months) with the person that you appoint as your power of attorney and health care proxy. If there is an emergency, make sure that your doctor, a neighbor, or friend notifies your agent.
For seniors aging alone, estate planning needs to involve more than just signing documents and putting them in a file cabinet. Planning in advance is the best way to ensure that your wishes will be honored as you age.
Senior Solutions, Attorneys at Law, is an Elder Law and Estate Planning law firm, serving the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area since 2001. Our Aging Allies and Safety Net programs are designed to help solo seniors plan for their future. We are ready to help. Take the first step and contact us in any of the following ways: Phone: 617-489-5900 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or use this link to set up a free consultation: https://seniorsolutions.as.me/FreeConsult.