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“Getting My Life Organized”

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Written by Lead Senior Living Counselor, Donna Riedl

With the month of February also comes thoughts of love. I love my three children so much that I want to leave my affairs as organized and well thought out as possible. This possibly will someday be looked at as our last act of love for our family.

My husband and I have been working on getting our lives organized and in order for “What If”. For us, that meant updating our will, looking at our financial future, what legacy we will leave for our children, and minimizing the papers and possessions those kids will have to sort through when we are gone. I encounter lovely people every day that are stressed, worried, and concerned because they have not planned and or prepared for the future which has suddenly become today’s reality. This situation leaves family members facing, attempting to understand, and dealing with their parent’s unpreparedness.

These family members are faced with stacks of papers to go through, files and important papers strewn throughout the house and parents who either didn’t or were unable to plan for their retirement and health concerns.

Our Will- My husband Tom and I hired an attorney we trusted and felt comfortable with. Leroy really seemed to understand our needs and our story, putting our wishes on paper. He helped us decide what kind of document was best for our situation and best fit our needs. The cost was well worth the peace of mind and with just a few meetings Tom and I left with a solid plan. We also took this opportunity to assign our Power of Attorney and Living Will wishes.
There are many different options with which to put your wishes in writing. Meeting with a good lawyer to help you better understand what is right for your situation is a great place to start. There are many excellent Elder Law Attorneys and legal counsel which can help you through this process.

Our financial Future- For Tom and I, that meant getting the Long Term Care Insurance I talk with folks about every day. I would ask future residents if they have Long Term Care Insurance when I didn’t have it myself. This seemed like the perfect time for us to take this simple step to help with possible future medical and housing cost as we age.

Long Term Care policies and insurance is ever changing. With many new options available this too will take some investigating, as policies will vary. With a little research you may just find the one that is right for you. Consider anticipated health concerns, life expectancy, and cost of future care, for us this was a needed safety net and most importantly peace of mind.

The thought of living with one of our kids would not be our preferred option, for many this is their plan. Talking with your kids and having a real understanding of your thoughts verses what the kids believed were your plans may be the first step. I know our conversation with your children telling them we are working on our future plans came as a relief for them. I remember an audible exhale of relief from our eldest daughter when I said we have Long Term Care Insurance.

We have also hired a financial advisor as a second pair of eyes to look at our investments and help us better understand what we have, what it looks like we may have it the future, and what we may need. There are no guarantees with investments but I feel comforted having a better understanding and knowing we are truly working on a plan.

The legacy we will leave for our children and family- Wow, this is one subject we know will be ever changing. We may never have the opportunity to touch our retirement or we may live long lives and have health care needs that cause us to spend every penny we saved. The truth is, in many ways, this is out of our control. I hope minimally our legacy will be who we are/were, how we chose to live our lives and the love we gave. It may not be a financial legacy at all.

Organizing and minimizing our lives- My husband is way better at looking at a treasure or a piece of paper and determining its purpose and need, Tom is a tosser. I, on the other hand, am a saver. I see value in just about everything. If there is a stack of papers or magazines in our house it belongs to me. I have a love hate relationship with “stuff”.

I am trying to make my life simpler by facing the stuff that clutters not just my house but my life. I don’t want to leave my kids with a mess of papers they are forced to take care of when I am no longer able to do it myself. We are working to explain valuable items verses fillers. 

Determining our wishes for certain possessions now, with hopes of avoiding misunderstandings and hurt feelings for my kids when we are gone. Assembling important paperwork into one file and telling our kids where to locate that file will be key. Keeping the system to date and organized will be an ongoing process.

I see our next step will most likely be planning our funeral and choosing our future possible care community- A Heritage Community to be sure. Preplanning will not only assure our wishes will be understood and allow us to be part of the decision making, but will take that burden off of our kids. That is one legacy I prefer not to leave.