In short order I – the writer of this column – will turn 60. Which is odd because I recall just recently being in high school. (Accordingly, I prefer to call this event the fourth anniversary of my 15th birthday.) Then college. Then law school. And then a legal career and a family. And now today.
I have no morose sense about the speed at which the seasons of life have proceeded, and how ‘it all’ seems to be accelerating. Rather, if one has been reading this column for the past years, they will glean the underlying approach to the matters addressed points to a proactive risk management focus. That is, it is far more effective, efficient, and economical to learn from experience, to use the lessons from that evolving ‘learning curve’ to work in stable and changing environments, and to develop and implement regular and routinized checklists which allow one to focus on the substantive matter at-hand rather than the avoidance of risk. The same is true here with the change of a decade of life.
This overall topic of personal aging, alongside the proactive risk management approach described above, leads to several practical matters to be addressed at this time.
Here are some of those matters:
- Attention must be given now to changing health needs. It becomes more important to visit one’s doctor, dentist, and optician, and to actually heed their advice. And in the real world, to ensure one has appropriate health insurance to help cover the costs of medical services.
- As time proceeds a bit further, it further becomes significant to consider the time when Medicare takes effect. Research should be done in advance as to Medicare supplement programs which can be helpful. And to remove the burden of medical costs as time marches on, to evaluate the need for long term care insurance to allocate the costs of care away from one’s family.
- Attention must also be given to planning for the financial and other material resources one will need to maintain a reasonable quality of life when one retires, or at least slows down their career activities. Of course, Social Security benefits should be considered, along with the various age-points at which those benefits can be drawn.
- Similarly, private retirement resources such as 401k plans, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Keogh plans, annuities, and other investments should be structured to support later life financial needs. The investments inside those vehicles should be regularly revisited and rebalanced to ensure they will endure and be sufficient for their intended purposes.
- As much as we may all wish, there is a mortality factor. Short of finding Ponce de Leon’s apocryphal ‘Fountain of Youth’, there is an unknown date at which we all will pass. To make the process of attending to our ‘final wishes’ efficient for our survivors, it will be timely to investigate whether there are suitable ‘pre-needs’ plans relevant to our personal faith traditions.
- And further to ensure that our estate plans, whether they be trusts, wills, or a combination of both and other legal tools, clearly reflect our asset disposition goals (considering tax outcomes, as well), can be administered amicably among those concerned, and are technically proper.
Those matters, and others which can be added to that list, are not subjects to be avoided or dreaded. In line with the proactive risk management approach of this series, instead they should be attended to sooner rather than later, while one still has all functionalities available to make and implement rational decisions in concert with their families, preferred charities, clergy, estate planning attorneys, accountants, and investment advisors.
(Accordingly, I prefer to call this event the fourth anniversary of my 15th birthday.)
And what can happen by actually doing these things? Being able to check-off the items one wants to accomplish from their ‘bucket list’. I can assure you, I have a ‘bucket list’ (I did, after all, just order a third electric bass guitar), and I plan (both literally and figuratively) to go through it and more. Given my distant Spanish background, then, I say Salud!
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– For more information, call Philip N. Kabler of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns at 352.332.7688, where he practices in the areas of business, banking, real estate, and equine law. He has taught business and real estate law courses at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration and Levin College of Law and is the President-Elect of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.
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