New Year Resolutions - Getting Your Ducks in Order

As we reflect on 2018 and look ahead to 2019, I believe each New Year brings another opportunity to start resolve to change and improve something in our lives. Most of us make some form of New Year’s resolution. Most of the time we think about resolutions that are health related: to quit smoking, to exercise more, to lose weight, to eat healthy. But maybe it is time to think about resolutions in a different light: is it time to get your finances in order, time to get those powers of attorney that you keep meaning to do, or talk to a care coordinator about emergency care for your parents?

We have all heard the term “getting your ducks in order” or “line up your ducks”. Ducks? What are ducks? Ducks are slang terms for things like, legal needs, financial needs, insurance whether it be life insurance, health insurance or other insurance, healthcare needs and family matters.

Legal needs. Not being an attorney, I can sometimes talk about the needs without the legal terms – plain language. Part of planning is having a discussion of what may be needed in a medical crisis so that when you seek legal counsel you are equipped with the right questions to ask and list of what is important for your attorney to know. Attorneys should counsel you on your options and not hand you a “form”. With the right information and questions, the attorney is in a better position to customize a legal plan for you.

Even if you do have Powers of Attorney, how current are they? Do you know how Powers of Attorney are like bread? They can both get stale. More and more financial institutions are rejecting Durable Power of Attorney that is not current or not have the right language to do what needs to be done. It is a good practice to keep your documents up to date.

Financial needs. Folks need to know what they have! Who owns them? How liquid are the products? Are there penalties if liquidated? Are they tax qualified accounts? What banks do you use? Do you have investments with different companies?

Insurance. There are so many types of insurance: life, medical, prescription, home owners, auto, umbrella policies and long term care insurance. Do you really know what you have and how it would impact a long term care crisis? Questions like, who owns the policy, what is the surrender value, what is the death value and what happens if you transfer the ownership are all important to know.

Healthcare. It is important to give some thought to what healthcare means to you now and in the future. One needs to know the “ins and outs” of how our health system works so it can be accessed efficiently should there be need for medical assistance down the road. People’s ideas about end of life decisions change as they age. I always smile when somebody in their 20’s or 30’s will tell me that life is no longer worth living. I have met so many people well into their 90’s and beyond that describe quality of life as something so different and so meaningful that they would never have believed earlier in life.

Family. At the end of the day, it often comes down to family. People want peace and harmony. What sort of discussions are important to you that need to occur for this to happen? No one really likes to talk about this, but by doing so; you can pave the way for many things at end of life when you have little control of anything else.

Care Plan. Get your care-giver plan in order. If you are a caregiver or care manager, do you have a back-up plan? Who would care for your loved one if you slipped on the ice and broke a bone? Caregivers need to also have their care-giving affairs in order – including an emergency plan and a longer term back-up plan.

Here is the good news. The fact that you are reading this article means that you have the opportunity to evaluate your plan now. Each of us has a different life story with unique needs based on our pattern of living. I urge you to start 2019 on the right footing and get your ducks lined up before it is too late.

Please consider joining us at our January Senior Empowerment Series, Getting Your Ducks in Order. This is a practical discussion of what you need as you grow older to get your “stuff” in order: Legal documents, finances, insurance and family – and why it’s all important. Beginning in 2019, we will be offering our presentations on both the Illinois and Iowa side of the Quad Cities. Both discussions start at 10 am and are free and open to the public.

  • January 2 - GolderCare Office, 1900 State Street, Bettendorf, IA

  • January 16 - Moline Public Library, 3210 41st Street, Moline, IL

Kathy Nitz is the Lead Benefits Advocate for GolderCare Solutions. She uses her wealth of knowledge and experience in benefits planning to advocate for seniors and those who are disabled. You can reach Kathy at GolderCare Solutions Unlimited, LLC (309) 764-2273.