How to plan your estate as a Solo Ager

According to Forbes Magazine, it is estimated that there are 12 million adults over age of 65 and are living alone, or 27% of the overall population. That is a staggering number. Of that population, most are women. Ironically, although they are now alone, most were at one time or another, caretakers to either their parents, a now since deceased spouse or even a sibling. They may consider themselves a “Solo Ager”, a single adult aged 55+. They may be navigating the prospect of aging alone. Solo Agers need to consider estate planning just as much, if not more, than their married counterparts.

The unfortunate part of aging is that almost all of us will need some type of care in the future. So, what is a solo ager to do?  As we tell everyone that walks in our doors, good planning is key!  First, by creating a great team of professionals who only have your best interests at heart: your elder law attorney, your financial planner, your doctor a social worker or a geriatric care manager.

From a legal standpoint we advise that the following documents will help you stay as independent as possible:

  • Health Care Proxy – do you have a friend or a neighbor that you would entrust your medical decisions to during a time of incapacitation?  If you do, you will need this document. Otherwise, a court will decide.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – Should you become incapacitated, a trusted advisor would be able to make financial changes like pay a credit card company or your rent or facilitate RMDs from your IRA.
  • HIPAA release – Is an important document because it allows the health care community to communicate with your designated agent about your medical records and situation. This will come in handy if your agent needs to talk to the insurance company or pharmacy on your behalf.
  • Advance Directive – This document, although not legally binding in Massachusetts, provides a framework for doctors, hospice workers, friends or caregivers about how you wish to receive your medical care during an incapacitation or end of life.
  • Trusts – Do you have a pet that you want taken care of after you pass? Since pets cannot directly inherit anything, we can also help you create trusts to make sure your beloved pet is provided for, should anything happen to you.
  • Last Will and Testament – if you don’t have family, you may want to leave any valuable possessions or monies to a charities or organizations of your choice.

Our best advice for a solo ager is not to assume there aren’t any estate planning strategies that could benefit you. Although, you may face your own unique set of challenges, it is important that you pilot your future care and finances in the direction that you want. We will gladly help you achieve your estate planning goals.

©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street,   Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton MA 02375.  This article is for illustration purposes only.  This handout does not constitute legal advice.  There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article.  DO NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout.  Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney.  Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.