If the answer to is “no” to most of the questions above, you will need to look a little further out. Do you have friends that are at least 15 years younger than you? Have you known any of them for a time period long enough to know that your values are similar and that they are trustworthy? If so, the right person may be in this group.
You might also want to consider the children of some of your close personal friends. I am naming the son of a woman I have known for almost my entire life. I know how she raised her kids, and I know her values are their values and they resonate with my values. This is the right solution for me. He is, of course, secondary to my husband, but in the event I pre-decease my husband or he becomes incapacitated in some way, I know I have a younger person as back up in my plan.
Once you have selected the people you want to name in your documents, sit down with them and tell them what you are doing and ask them if they are okay with it. Most people will be uncomfortable with the subject, but also flattered that you trust them with this kind of responsibility. Who knows…they may turn around and ask you to do the same for them. And speaking of reciprocal agreements, there is no harm in naming a friend your own age in your advance directive, just as long as you have a successor (younger) named in your line-up as well. My attorney advised naming four people in succession.
Consider a Professional Fiduciary
With regard to your will and your trust (if you create one), a good option, especially for single solo agers, is a registered and/or licensed fiduciary. In most states, they are bound by law to maintain only your interests with regard to your estate. When they are named as trustee in your estate, they go into action upon your death to execute the wishes you have stated in your will and trust. They are a viable option for the role of trustee and for your power-of-attorney over financial matters. Most estate attorneys have fiduciaries they trust to whom they make referrals. You can also find one through the professional fiduciary associations and online. I would interview several and learn more about how they operate before making a selection.
What to do With the Documents
Once you have created these documents, you must then store them somewhere. Do not neglect this part of the task because your advance directives are only effective if they can be located quickly. They should be stored both on paper and electronically. Your attorney should keep a copy, you should keep a copy, and I believe you should give a copy to anyone named in your documents. I also suggest you give a copy to your closest living relative, even if s/he is not named in the document. The closest living relative may be calling the shots if none of your documents can be located. At the very least, tell your relative(s) what is in the documents and where they can be located in your home. I will be giving a copy of my documents to my brother, even though he lives far away, is in poor health, and is only named in my will. You just never know.
These things are not a lot of fun to think about, let alone take action on. But once you have done them, you can relax and enjoy your life. That doesn’t mean you should totally forget about the documents you have made; they may need to be updated from time to time. But my advice to the people I coach and those that attend my workshops is to approach this wonderful stage of life in two ways: 1) plan for it, and 2) be flexible. What that means to me is do the best job you can to plan for a time when you may not have the physical, mental, and social capabilities you do today, then put it behind you and go enjoy some of the best years of life.
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