5 Estate Planning Tips for Solo Seniors

Nearly 7 million older adults live alone, according to a recent federal study. Half of all women over the age of 75 live by themselves. A large percentage of seniors who are living alone have no living siblings or children. Seniors who are alone without any family members to provide them care are often called “solo seniors,” “solo agers,” or “elder orphans.” Solo seniors face many challenges and hurdles when it comes to estate planning.  We recommend that solo seniors take time to protect themselves and their interests by estate planning. If you are a solo senior, consider taking the following steps to protect your future.

1. Create a Safety Plan

If you are living alone without the support of family members, you will benefit from taking the time to plan for your safety. The goal of a safety plan is to make sure that if you fall or suffer a medical emergency, you can receive help. Those who are comfortable using smartphones can benefit from several different apps that require them to check in periodically. If you don’t respond within a certain amount of time, the app will send an alert to an emergency contact. 

In some cases, you can set up the app to contact your local police department to alert an emergency contact to request a wellness check. Solo seniors who do not use apps or smartphones can use traditional lifeline systems, which can include wearing a necklace, or a monitor. This technology can detect a fall and send a notification to emergency services when a fall happens. You may benefit from asking a neighbor or friend to check in on you everyday or every other day. 

2. Consider Living in Community Housing

Giving up our independence can be extremely difficult. Many people who have lived in their homes for decades can’t imagine moving into a community living option. There are many different community living options for solo seniors to consider besides traditional nursing homes. There are several different Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in Massachusetts. 

CCRCs allow people to enjoy living in their apartment without having to worry about maintenance. As you need more care, CCRCs can provide it while still offering you as much independence as possible. Those who cannot afford CCRC living might consider finding another senior with whom to share housing. We recommend running a background check on any potential new roommates for your safety. 

3. Create Your Aging Team

If you are a solo senior, consider creating an aging team who will help you if you need more care. Your aging team can act as your safety net and help you prevent becoming isolated, which can be dangerous for solo seniors. An aging team often includes your accountant, financial advisor, friend, an elder law attorney, and staff at your senior living community. The more people you trust who look out for you, the lower the chance of you suffering elder abuse. Try to keep in regular contact with members of your aging team.

4. Meet with a Certified Elder Law Attorney

At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, two of our lawyers are Certified Elder Law attorneys. We have extensive experience and keep up-to-date on elder law issues. We can help you develop a thorough estate plan that includes a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy, and a Trust in some cases. 

A Massachusetts power of attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint a family member or friend to act as your agent when it comes to financial and business decisions. A health care proxy will allow you to select a trusted person to make health care decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated. 

Knowing that you have appointed a trusted person to make your financial and health decisions on your behalf will bring you peace of mind. Solo seniors who have a thorough estate plan can rest easy knowing that their assets are protected as they age. If you are a solo senior, we are here to help. Contact Surprenant & Beneski, PC, to speak to our experienced Southeastern Massachusetts elder law attorneys today.