While it is important for everyone to have a plan for aging, those embarking on the journey alone—sojourners—arguably need to be the most proactive about putting plans in place. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of doing so is acting decisively before declines, emergencies or unplanned events make having help an absolute necessity.
Although we all hope to thrive well into our later years, and might succeed in doing so, a healthy, independent journey through the eighties, into the nineties, and beyond is just not in the cards for all of us. Playing “wait and see” is dangerous, especially since it is quite likely that our closest friends and loved ones—those whom we count on, are aging too and are likely to experience their own twists and turns. As Forbes reminds us:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau Nearly one-third of all seniors live by themselves. That’s close to 14 million seniors aging alone. Some of them do not have children, nor any particular person to take care of them, should they need help at some point. Publications about solo aging appear in various media, always with the idea that the solo ager is just fine and can manage well, because they have friends whom they can count on if needed. But that can turn out to be unrealistic and dangerous. A solo ager whose best friends are about the same age may not be able to do what the solo ager imagines they could do when a serious problem arises.
Fortunately, there are many estate planning tools and techniques that can help us plan not just for our assets but for our own care as we age. As Parks & Jones explain:
“Contrary to popular belief, estate planning has applications both before and after death.” For example, an estate plan should include a medical advance directive, arrangements for long-term care and the appointment of a fiduciary who can step in as needed to handle finances. Though a fiduciary can be a friend or family member, solo agers might especially benefit from the services of a professional fiduciary. Carolyn Rosenblatt, an expert on healthy aging offers this advice to solo agers:
Think about naming a professional, licensed person, called a fiduciary in some states, to handle finances in your estate plan, (Name a Power of Attorney with credentials or experience). If you become unable to manage your money for any reason, the fiduciary will be authorized to step in and protect what assets you have.
Healthcare can be a minefield for anyone who is cognitively or physically impaired for making decisions. Consider also naming a professional in your estate planning as your healthcare agent. Choose someone who knows our healthcare system and can advocate for you….Make your wishes and preferences clear in your estate documents so that even someone who does not know you well can follow your instructions. Give up the idea that you are going to be perfectly fine until you breathe your last breath. Most people are not….Be realistic and choose younger people to be in charge should you need it.
Smart Asset explains “a fiduciary is an individual responsible for safeguarding the interest of another party. Fiduciaries may include trustees, guardians, financial professionals or another party with control over someone’s assets or property. Typically, a fiduciary will take control of someone’s assets when they are no longer able to manage them independently.” It’s reassuring to know that the law holds fiduciaries to high standards, given the gravity of their responsibilities.To further guarantee the faithful performance of fiduciaries, a type of bond, referred to as a fiduciary bond can be helpful and is sometimes even required. Essentially, a fiduciary bond serves as a guarantee that the fiduciary will act in the best interest of those relying on them, and in accordance with all applicable laws. Depending on circumstances and region, fiduciary bonds can also be referred to as estate, conservator or guardianship bonds.
As a leading national direct provider of all types of fiduciary bonds, Colonial Surety makes it easy for fiduciaries in every state to obtain their bonds. At Colonial, the steps to obtaining these bonds are easy—get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Then, simply print or download and e-file the bond.
These estate planning basics will help you move into further action. When you have the luxury of time on your side, it’s best to take the appointment of the fiduciaries who will ultimately see to your affairs seriously. Remember, on the journey to older age, making the right choice is not about whose feelings get hurt or what’s convenient. Instead, the right choice involves practical considerations. For example, it’s important to consider who has time—and the ability to commit it. Your designated fiduciary, whether a professional, relation or friend, needs to gear up way before you require their action. For example, it’s never to soon to prepare fiduciaries with an understanding of your intentions, legal documents, accounts and financials.
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In addition to providing bonds directly to the general public, Colonial offers The Partnership Account® for Attorneys. This free business service provides user-friendly client management dashboards, enabling attorneys to easily obtain, coordinate, and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. See for yourself today: The Partnership Account® for Attorneys.
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