Getting older can be scary — some people prefer to live in denial and try and chase youth for as long as they can. However, it’s always best to be prepared for the future and to make sure that your assets and affairs are all taken care of way in advance. Over 60% of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 haven’t drafted wills yet. Many people don’t make plans for long term care until it’s too late and it can be difficult for a family member to decide what is best for the individual. Although no one likes to think about going into long term care, estate planning, or who might have power of attorney before it’s really time, these are are all practical things to consider as you age.
What Steps Should I Be Taking?
Looking into a living trust might not be a bad idea, especially if you’re fairly healthy, but still want to get your affairs in order. It can also be a first step towards making a will, although a living trust and a will are not the same thing.
A living trust is a legal document that puts all your assets into a trust and is managed while you’re still alive. After you pass, the trust passes to any beneficiaries you may have (usually a family member). Many choose to be what is called the “trustee” who runs the assets, so they still have access and direct control over whatever they’ve put in the trust while they’re still alive. Naturally, you can have a back up trustee, should you be incapacitated or not want to be bothered later in life.
Even though a living trust is a great first step, you also definitely want to have a will. Over 50% of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 don’t even have wills! It’s not even that hard — you can draft a will in about 10-15 minutes. An attorney can help you draw up a very basic will for under $100. Additionally, Business Insider has listed a will as one of the most important documents for an adult to possess — the other two were a living will and a power of attorney. Don’t be among the almost 60% of American adults who cite “not having gotten around to it” as the main reason for not having gotten a will!
It’s natural for health to decline somewhat as we get older. It may be minimal or it could be more serious. You’ll want to make choices about your long term care, should you need it, so you can dictate where you would be most comfortable and have control over that aspect of your future. If you wait too long, it could be too late. Medicaid planning is also another important thing to consider. You should sit down with your healthcare professional and attorney to discuss that aspect of your healthcare and how you’ll pay for it.
It’s never too early to start planning for your next stage in life. You can go about your day feeling reassured that things are settled for the days to come.