Monthly Retirement Tips

solo ager

Are you a “Solo Ager”? Here Are Some Things to Consider

A “solo ager” is a person who, upon retirement, has no family or close friends in their immediate vicinity. Growing numbers of Americans, whether single, widowed, or divorced, live alone, making solo agers more prevalent. Furthermore, many are childless or have adult children who live far away, leaving them on their own. If this applies to you, there are a few money things to think about. Solo retirees who are well-prepared for retirement tend to be the happiest. This includes being prepared in regard to upcoming financial and legal issues. You face some difficulties specific to you if you don’t have close friends or family in your immediate vicinity.

Who to Appoint to Make Financial Decisions

Without family nearby, settling some financial issues can be more challenging. This is because you have to find reliable people to assist you. If you are unable to make decisions, who will make them on your behalf? Although it’s a difficult question, it needs to be discussed. It might not be the best idea to assign family and friends to the positions of executor and proxy. Nevertheless, they’re frequently* the go-to option.

Before asking someone to carry out one of these significant responsibilities, make sure they will be accountable. Make it apparent to them what you need from them. The proper skills and knowledge may also be necessary to fill these positions. If you need a friend to act as your executor or health care proxy, you need to ask yourself some questions. Do they have the time? Is it safe to assume that they will outlive you? Are they financially literate? And, can you afford to compensate them?

Have a Checklist and Other Legal Directives

At a minimum, solo agers will need a living will to enumerate their wishes regarding how they want to be treated in different situations. Basically, a living will is your written instructions concerning how you want to be treated in medical situations where you are unable to make decisions yourself. This could involve your wish to withhold steps to prolong life. For example, treatments such as CPR, a mechanical respirator, intravenous or tube feeding, dialysis, et cetera. All 50* states allow you to: “express your wishes regarding medical treatment in terminal illness or injury situations, and to appoint someone to communicate for you in the event you cannot communicate for yourself.”

A healthcare proxy, meanwhile, is a durable power of attorney that specifically names the person you choose to carry out your wishes and make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to. Your lawyer can help prepare these documents, and you should also make sure your family has been made aware of them. It’s also a good idea to provide copies to your doctor and/or take them with you in the event you are admitted to a hospital.

What Local Professional Resources Can You Use?

The positions that are usually filled by family members may instead be filled by qualified financial professionals. For example, an elder law attorney could be part of your team of professionals to address legal concerns. A geriatric care manager or patient advocate may also be involved to supervise the making of healthcare decisions. Additionally, you should have a financial professional to handle your finances. And, you should try to find local friends or neighbors who can support you in times of need.

Have a Financial Power of Attorney or Revocable Living Trust

You have to start planning ahead for a time in the future when, once you reach a certain age, you might be more vulnerable. Even if you currently feel relatively safe and independent as a solo ager, things could change in the future. Though there are safeguards in place if you didn’t prepare ahead for these situations, in general, you should definitely try to keep strangers who aren’t financial experts away from managing your finances.

It is possible that you were advised to designate a financial power of attorney to manage your finances. However, if you’re a single person, you might be better off* with a strong, revocable living trust that provides greater privacy and flexibility. To find out which financial options might be ideal for you, speak with an elder law attorney.

*Sources: Right at Home, Kiplinger 

solo ager
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