November 27, 2019

Getting Your Ducks in Order

By Kathy Nitz
GolderCare Solutions

Getting Your Ducks in Order

The year sure has flown by! I can’t believe we are already preparing for the holidays and soon the New Year! The good news is that the New Year brings another opportunity to start fresh…to resolve to change and improve something in our lives. In January, most of us make some form of New Year’s resolution. Of course it is wise to strive for a healthier lifestyle and have goals to learn new things. But a resolution to get your life planning in order can be even more important.

We have all heard the term “getting your ducks in order.” Ducks? What are ducks? Ducks are slang terms for things like, legal needs, financial needs, insurance whether it be life insurance, health insurance or other insurance, healthcare needs and family matters.

Legal needs. Most important is making sure your legal planning is in order. Being sure that you have the proper documents in the event of a medical crisis is essential. When it comes to estate planning, your attorney should council you on your options and not just hand you a “form”. With the right information and questions, the attorney is in a better position to customize a legal plan for you. Even if you do have Powers of Attorney, how current are they? Do you know what powers your agent has? Powers of Attorney are not “One Size Fits All” and you may need different powers at different stages of life. The worse scenario is a Durable Power of Attorney that is not current or does not have the right language to do what needs to be done. Do you know how Powers of Attorney are like bread? They can both get stale!

Financial needs. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your family is having a clear understanding of your assets and accounts. Have accounts written down should your family have to access them if you become unable to care for yourself. Everyone needs to know what they have! Who owns what? How liquid are the products? Are there penalties if liquidated? Are they tax-qualified accounts? What banks do you use? Do you have investments with different companies?

Insurance. There are so many types of insurance: life, medical, prescription, homeowners, auto, umbrella policies, and long term care insurance. Do you really know what you have and how it would impact a long term care crisis? Questions like, who owns the policy? What is the surrender value? What is the death value? What happens if you transfer the ownership? These are all important to know. In the event that you have to apply for Medicaid or Veterans Benefits, you or your advocates will need to have this information readily available.

Healthcare. It is important to give some thought to what healthcare means to you now and what it may mean in the future. Do your research and become familiar with how the health system works so it can be accessed efficiently should there be need for medical assistance down the road. As you age, your ideas for end of life decisions may change. As a society, we are living longer, and are continuing active lifestyles much longer than we thought possible. Making sure your wishes and needs are being met can make a huge difference in your quality of life when you begin to need help.

Family. At the end of the day, it often comes down to family. People want peace and harmony. What sorts of discussions need to happen? No one really likes to talk about aging, but by doing so; you can pave the way for many things at end of life when you have little control of anything else. If your family knows your wishes, it is much easier for them to make sure they are honored.

Care Plan. Get your caregiver plan in order. If you are a caregiver or care manager, do you have a back-up plan? Who would care for your loved one if you slipped on the ice and broke a bone? Caregivers need to also have their caregiving affairs in order – including an emergency plan and a longer-term back-up plan. If others rely on you, you have more responsibility for your own planning.

Here is the good news. The fact that you are reading this article means that you have the opportunity to evaluate your plan now. Each of us has a different life story with unique needs based on our pattern of living. I encourage you to start 2020 on the right footing and get your ducks lined up proactively, rather than reactively or before it’s too late.

Please consider joining us at our January Aging Empowerment Series, Getting Your Ducks in Order. This is a practical discussion of what you need as you grow older to get your “stuff” in order: Legal documents, finances, insurance and family – and why it’s all-important. In 2020, we will be offering our presentations on both the Illinois and Iowa side of the Quad Cities. Both discussions start at 10 am and are free and open to the public.

January Aging Empowerment Series

Getting Your Ducks in Order

  • January 8 – Moline Public Library, 3210 41st Street, Moline, IL
  • January 15 – GolderCare Office, 1900 State Street, Bettendorf, IA

Kathy Nitz is the Lead Benefits Advocate for GolderCare Solutions. She uses her wealth of knowledge and experience in benefits planning to advocate for seniors and those who are disabled. You can reach GolderCare at (309) 764-2273 and learn more at www.goldercare.com.

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