Saturday, June 11, 2016
Planning for an Uncertain Future
I remind myself frequently that we are still early in this journey. I read other blogs, and realize that others have many more challenges than Jim and I do. It helps me to appreciate what we have now, knowing that greater challenges are sure to follow.
Shortly after I retired, I arranged for us to meet with an attorney so that we could do our wills and get our health care proxies and living wills written. We also did power of attorney for each other. POA is a very powerful thing to do, not to be taken lightly. We both agreed that we wanted this set in place so that we could act on the other's behalf, should the need arise. Of course when we did the POA, I was thinking ahead to the day when I might need it because of Jim's further cognitive decline. It's funny, but the other day Jim said to me "shouldn't we do a will or something?" I reminded him that we had already done it, including the POA and health care proxy. His comment back was "well, as long as you know where it is." I assured him I did!
We decided against long term care insurance quite a few years ago. Working in the health care field, I saw patients who were put through the wringer when the time came that help was needed. Fighting the insurance company for the financial benefits promised is a stressor that older folks don't need. Long term care insurance companies are able to raise the premiums at will. If they raise them to the point where it is cost prohibitive, you are out of luck, and there is no return on the money you have already spent for this insurance. Some long term care insurance companies simply get out of the business, leaving the people who paid all of these premiums high and dry. I'm sure there are reputable companies out there, but we decided to self-insure. In other words, money that we would have paid in premiums we put into our investments. Another option for funding elder care is the reverse mortgage. This is not without pitfalls as well. No perfect solution, and I think it also depends on individual circumstances.
We've always managed our household so well together. I know that finances can be a strain for many couples. Not so for us. It was an area that we loved planning and talking about. We shared financial goals and it was always easy for us to agree on how we saved and how we budgeted our money. It still is, except that now it is me, alone, who is following the investments, rebalancing our portfolio, doing the spreadsheets, and paying the bills. We used to love to do this together, but now it is painfully frustrating for him to be a part of it. So I just do it, and he is happy he doesn't have to be involved. We both have investments from employer based savings plans. The POA will allow me to access the funds that are in his name alone when the time comes that I need to do this. By having the POA in place now, it saves a lot of hassles and headaches that would occur at some future date when the funds are needed.
As far as housing, for the last few years I've gone back and forth on whether we should downsize further. Should we give up home ownership and just rent? Or should we sell this home and buy something smaller? For now, the answer seems to be just to wait and see. I love our home, our neighborhood. And I love it when we can say goodbye to winter and head south to FL.
Jim is still able to do a lot of the outside maintenance. He is very fussy about the lawn, and it always looks impeccable. We hire for the big jobs, such as painting the house, tree removal. Our house is new enough so that mechanically and structurally it is pretty sound. But I can look into the future and see a time where we will want to live more simply. Just not yet.
Well, when I started this post I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. But when I started typing, the words just seemed to flow. As always, it feels good to be able to share my thoughts with all of you. Thanks for listening!