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Aging and maintaining your independence means thinking practically about your needs. If the stairs are no longer as easy as they once might have been, maybe it’s time to move to the first floor? Maybe it’s time to downsize? Maybe it’s time to move to an independent living facility so you can still have you own space but feel comfort in a support system? Knowing the answers to these questions requires contemplation, dialogue, and perhaps a discussion with a medical provider about the best steps to take. As you move forward in retirement, staying safe and comfortable in your own home is a priority. Here are three helpful steps you can take to seek more security in the event of a medical emergency.
Have an Emergency Preparedness Checklist
When you begin the dialogue with your family and medical practitioner, one step you can take is creating an emergency preparedness checklist. Once this document is created, keep one in your home and one on your person or saved in your cell phone at all times. Crucial information includes the following.
- Doctors’ names, their specialties, and phone numbers
- List of all medications being taken
- Your social security number
- The name and contact information of your power of attorney
- The name and contact information of your healthcare proxy
- Any specifications like a do not resuscitate request or DNR
- Emergency contacts
Have a Plan
Although part of having a plan involves having an emergency checklist, you also need to imagine what steps you might take in the case of a medical emergency. Consider putting your emergency contacts in your phone and listing them as ICE contacts or, In Case of Emergency. Keep your phone with you at all times, so you or a bystander can call the right people should a situation occur. Planning means thinking and doing in detail. Know what the side effects of any new medication are; ensure that slippery surfaces in your home are made safe or replaced; don’t take the stairs if it isn’t necessary, among many others.
Prepare Your Finances
The passing of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will benefit many people. Beginning in 2018, the new law exempts estates from federal estate taxes with $11 million for individuals and $22 million for couples. It is not known at this time what effect this may have on your client’s continued need for their Life Insurance.
One of the important benefits of the Tax Reform Bill that benefits everyone is that it simplifies the tax reporting by allowing the same tax treatment to individuals selling their life insurance policies as those who are surrendering them. The new rule allows your client to use their full premiums paid as their cost basis which nullifies the unfavorable revenue ruling 2009-13 that required sellers to remove the cost of insurance (COI) from their premiums when calculating the cost basis. Many seniors have setup irrevocable life insurance trusts and have placed life insurance policies in them. This could be a good time to review the need for these policies.
Case Study: Louise and James purchased a joint survivorship life insurance policy many years ago. James passed away and Louise is not sure why she has the policy. Her financial advisor explained the policy was purchased to provide liquidity for federal estate taxes. Today Louise does not have a federal tax liability so she sold her policy for $190k.
Download our resource, How to Plan for Healthcare Costs in Retirement, for more information on common age-related health issues, their costs, and how you can pay for the care you need.