We set goals in life and work to attain them. We plan for a bigger brighter future, climbing the career ladder, buying a bigger house, moving to a better neighborhood, getting kids through school and careers of their own, taking vacations, becoming more financially secure, and even retirement. We consider our path for each of these steps. We find higher paying jobs, save money, pay off mortgages, and dream of retirement goals.
However, we often fail to envision the other end. We want to ignore our shifting purpose in life, ceasing hobbies and activities, moving back into an apartment or townhouse, giving up our cars, or living in an assisted living facility and especially the final process of dying. We value our independence. We fear burdening our friends and family or losing control and self-determination. Of course, who wouldn't, but what does that REALLY mean to you? What do you really value about being independent? What do you really value about your home? When will it be acceptable to receive assistance? If you can't drive anymore, where would you want to live? Who will realistically help take care of you? Have you built and fostered your family relationships to the point that people will give up time, energy, money, and sometimes their own emotional health to care for you? Do you have funds to pay for in home care on a limited or full-time basis? What kind of care will you need and at what stage?
If you don't have help nearby, you may need to move to where help is available. You may be in great general health, but with aging still need help with housekeeping, yard work, and meals. Maybe you can downsize homes much earlier than you prefer, to allow yourself to remain more independent for longer. Also consider the longevity of your spouse and his or her needs currently and in the future once you have passed away.
All of these issues and decisions should be part of your estate and financial planning process, some addressed with your estate planning lawyer, some by your financial planner, and others just between family members. Complete "estate" planning should help guide you in these issues sometimes thought of as senior planning, retirement planning, elder planning, or other buzzwords. The appropriate helpers need to have their rights and duties lined out. Your wishes need to be in writing in a way that will make it easiest and most likely they will be carried out. Your instructions would be included in various documents including financial powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, health care directives, funeral/burial directives, wills, trusts, caretaking agreement with family members, and others.
For assistance with Washington state estate planning, call Megan Lewis Law, PLLC at (509) 557-7797 or complete our contact form. Our office provides local service for Spokane estate planning and can provide online virtual web and phone conferencing for estate planning in Seattle, Olympia, Bellingham and other areas of Washington state.
Megan M. Lewis