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Tuesday March 28, 2023

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Helpful Tips on Designating an Estate Planner

I need to find someone honest and reliable to look after my estate, health and long-term care when I'm no longer able to do it myself. I am a 67-year-old widower with no children and no close family members. Any suggestions?

This is a big concern for millions of older Americans who don't have a spouse, children or other family they can depend on for their well-being. While there is no single solution to this issue, here are some tips and resources that can help you plan ahead.

Essential Documents

Before choosing a reliable decision maker, prepare a basic estate plan of at least four essential legal documents. This will protect you by making sure your wishes are carried out when you pass or in the event you become seriously ill.

These essential documents include: a "durable power of attorney" that allows you to designate someone to handle your financial matters if you become incapacitated; an "advanced health care directive" that includes a "living will" that tells your doctor what kind of care you want to receive if you become incapacitated; a "health care power of attorney," which names a person you authorize to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to; and a "will" that spells out how you would like your property and assets distributed after you die. It also requires you to designate an "executor" to ensure your wishes are carried out.

To prepare these documents your best option is to hire an attorney, which can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000.

Choosing Decision Makers & Helpers

Most people first think of naming a family member as their power of attorney for finances and health care, or executor of their will. If, however, you do not have someone to fill those roles, you may want to ask a trusted friend or associate. Be sure to choose someone that is organized and of younger age who will likely be around after you are gone.

Also be aware that if your choice of power of attorney or executor lives in another state, you will need to check your state's law to see if it imposes any special requirements.

If, however, you don't have a friend or relative you feel comfortable with, you will need to hire someone who has experience with such matters.

To find a qualified power of attorney or executor for your will, contact your bank, a local trust company or an estate planning attorney. If you need help locating a professional, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys is a great resource that provides online directory to help you find someone in your area.

Another resource that can help you manage and oversee your health and long-term care needs as they arise and act as your health care power of attorney, is an aging life care manager. These are trained professionals in the area of geriatric care who often have a background in nursing or social work.

If you need help with bill paying and other financial tasks, there are professional daily money managers that can help.

Aging life care managers typically charge anywhere from $75 to $200 per hour, while hourly rates for daily money managers range from $75 to $150 per hour.

It is also important to note that if you do not complete the aforementioned legal documents and you become incapacitated, a court judge may appoint a guardian to make decisions on your behalf. That means the care you receive may be totally different from what you would have chosen for yourself.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 1, 2022
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