We’ve been working on getting our paperwork in order, including wills, powers of attorney, life insurance, and long-term care insurance. This sounds simple, but for many of us it’s not (including me, a Certified Financial Planner!). We purchase policies when we are younger, change jobs, have different benefits at work, and the list goes on. Our lives get complicated, and our personal items often get pushed to the back burner.
Documents and policies that ultimately take care of the ones you love should be made priorities. Consider these:
The king and queen of legal documents, especially if you have a family, are the will and the power(s) of attorney. Once created, know where the documents are located in your house, and update them as needed. One milestone that should serve as a reminder to update is when your child turns 18. Next winter, our daughter will turn 18 and we will have powers of attorney drafted for her, giving us the power to make decisions on her behalf if she ends up incapacitated (one for health care, the other for bank accounts). Just because we are her parents doesn’t mean we will be able to make decisions for her. Doctors will not talk to parents without a power of attorney for health care if the child is 18 or older. We’ll use the occasion to update the rest of our legal documents next year, as well. We will also keep electronic copies of our POAs on our phones, so that we don’t have to dig through paperwork if there is an emergency.
When we started the process of getting life insurance at work, one of the questions was, how much life insurance do you have now? Sounds like such an easy question to answer.
Personal experience has shown me that a big adult task – getting life insurance for the first time – seems memorable enough when it happens. But then, for me, at least, life happened. Jobs changed, benefits changed, and remembering to take vitamins and walk the dog took up the space in my brain previously reserved for life insurance policies. I hope you can relate.
My takeaway is that procrastination isn’t wise. Eventually, I confirmed my hunch, that I had two policies, and was able to move forward with my employer.
Long Term Care Insurance:
Since being labeled “high risk” for breast cancer ten years ago, I have thought it important to have long term care coverage to protect my daughter’s financial situation in the future. I don’t want her to have to support me in my old age. And, once you have a serious illness, it’s hard to get covered. So, I found a policy and paid for it on my own. A while later, I began working for a company that had a group long term care benefit. I enrolled and was able to keep it after leaving the company a few years later.
We purchased a long term care policy for my husband as well, early on in our marriage. He is significantly older than I.
The takeaway: if you think you may need it, don’t wait to secure a policy.
The Big Takeaway
Get started! Put one thing at the top of your priority list each week or month, and chip away at your to do list. You will feel a sense of accomplishment when you are finished, and know that your family will be taken care of if something unexpected happens to you.
Laurie Marshall, MBA, CFP®
Principal, Senior Financial Advisor | LJPR Financial Advisors