by Ira Brower~In all likelihood most seniors will be single seniors for some period of time, and statistics show that most of these singles will be women. Financial planning for singles, as you can well imagine, is quite different than planning required for couples. Most obvious, of course, is that with the assets of a single individual there is no need to plan for a surviving husband or wife. Taxes are higher for singles, and in case of an emergent financial situation they have no partner to rely upon.
For single seniors these differences become more sensitive because they only have themselves to make important financial management decisions. In our experience, when the single senior is a widow, the deceased spouse was usually the financial manager. Now, the widow is faced with making difficult financial decisions she never had to in the past coupled with the emotions of the current situation.
For the newly singled senior it is imperative to get your financial house in order. Meaning, that you need to take inventory of your assets and income resources to determine how you are going to meet your financial needs currently, and for the remainder of your retirement. Tax planning and investment strategies will need to be reviewed and monitored.
Reducing paperwork will make your time more manageable. Oftentimes you can accomplish this by consolidating your financial accounts. Less accounts means less paperwork!
You should create a net worth statement listing all of your assets and all your liabilities such as mortgage, personal loans, credit card debt, etc. A net worth statement can help you to determine where you stand and help to create an organizational plan for your financial management. Oftentimes, it is recommended that you have an emergency fund that is sufficient to cover nine to 12 months of your expenses.
Over the past few months, I have mentioned when planning one’s estate the most critical aspect of the plan is protecting your estate during incapacity whether temporary by illness or permanent through aging. You need to ask yourself if I become incapacitated-
• Who will pay my bills?
• Who will manage my investments?
• Who will make general decisions about by financial wellbeing?
The easiest solution for these questions is the durable power of attorney. This document allows another person to step into your shoes, financially speaking, and make binding decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney may be as broad or as limited in scope as needed to make you comfortable. This may be the easiest solution to answer those questions but it may not be the best solution. Remember with the durable power of attorney you are allowing an individual to take over your entire financial wellbeing without any specific directions from you. The better solution is a standby living trust. Why? Because this trust can provide financial protection in the event of disability or incapacity, as a durable power of attorney does. However, a living trust offers the additional advantage of your being able to provide direction to the trustee as to how you want the trust assets managed and distributed.
My suggestion is that you meet with an attorney skilled in the practice of elder law to draft your estate planning documents.