Making plans for your family’s financial future can be an uncomfortable process – one of many reasons these plans often are delayed until it’s too late.
But there are many more reasons not to wait. Just one example: An estimated 6.2 million Americans age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s dementia, per a 2021 report, and the percentage of those dealing with dementia more than double as the age range rises – 5.3% ages 65-74, 13.8% ages 75-84, and 34.6% of those age 85 and older.
There are actions people can take to reduce risk for dementia – the World Health Organization recommends staying active, not smoking, and eating a healthy diet among suggested preventative measures. There are also actions we can do to prepare our finances as we age.
One of the best things we can do for ourselves, and our loved ones, is to gather and store our important financial papers – including account information, insurance policies, and other documents – in a safe yet accessible location.
The MOAA Personal Affairs Guide (available to Premium and Life members) is the perfect way to gather all of this information in one place. You can also create an emergency binder of your own or save the data on the hard drive of your computer.
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However you organize your materials, be sure a trusted loved one has a copy or knows where they are located.
Get Others Involved
It’s not a bad idea to give a spouse or other trusted person a periodic walk-through of your finances. You can give them a general overview even if you don’t want to share all the details. Consider having the same person join you on a visit to your financial planner or tax professional.
You also can ask your brokerage firm add a “trusted contact person” to your account. This does not give the person the authority to act on your behalf or execute transactions. Rather, it authorizes the firm to contact that person if they have trouble reaching you or believe your account may have been exposed to financial exploitation or fraud.
Another option is to set up Social Security Advance Designation. This allows you to set up as many as three people to serve as a “representative payee” – someone who the Social Security Administration appoints to manage your Social Security benefits if you are unable to do so. You will be sent a notice each year to review your designated representatives, and you can change them at any time.
Have the Right Documents
If you become incapacitated, the only way a trusted person can act on your behalf is if they have a durable financial power of attorney legally authorizing them to make financial decisions for you.
It’s critical that you only appoint someone you trust implicitly, but even after you sign a power of attorney, you still have the right to manage your finances as long as you are capable of doing so, and you can change your authorized person, or agent, at any time.
Depending on availability, retirees may have access to their local installation’s legal services to help create this type of document.
With some advance preparation and the right paperwork, you can create peace of mind both for yourself and your loved ones.
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