I recently read a book that I think is helpful for all of us as we plan for the next half of our own life or are helping our parents, in-laws or others plan for their lives. It’s helpful for individuals and also particularly helpful for couples since they discuss many of the issues in relation to couples. It’s called Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life–Trusted Advice on How to Secure Your Future and Avoid Costly Mistakes, by Jan Warner & Jan Collins. It’s based on their nationally syndicated cloumn “Next Steps.”
There are all sorts of reasons why many of us avoid discussing these issues. But, given my philosophy of trying to control the parts of life we can control,it’s important for all of us to think ahead and plan for ourselves, our partner, our children (if we have them), our parents (if they’re still alive) and even our pets. It’s actually a form of “insurance” to protect ourselves and our loved ones–to consciously and intentionally plan for the next stage of our lives. Our up-coming book, The Couples Retirement Puzzle: The 10 Must-Have Conversations for Transitioning to the Second Half of Life focuses on many of the conversations that are important to have. This book, Next Steps, provides some legal and practical “nuts and bolts” regarding how to prepare for this next half of life.
Bottom line, in Next Steps, the authors discuss the importance of putting our wishes and directions in writing so there will be an “orderly transfer of authority” so we know that our partner, children, parents, and even our pets will be cared for. They cover issues such a putting together a team of people that is right for you, ways to understand and prepare the documents we need, and a lot of the “what ifs” in life–such as if you or your partner become chronically ill or incapacited. They also focus on issues such as health care planning, long term care issues, and understanding basic medicare and medicaid issues as well as basic patient’s rights in assisted living and nursing home facilities. They also focus on issues such as divorce, 2nd or 3rd marriages when we’re older, cohabitation and domestic partnerships. The final section of the book focuses on end of life issues such as funerals, burials, organ donations, planning for pets, etc. It’s important to understand the issues and risks and choose professionals who can help us maximize our options. We’re including this book as a resource in our book. I’m a believer that we can breathe more easily once we know that we’ve taken the time to prepare for some of the possible contigencies in life. My husband and I have already done many of the things they’ve mentioned in the book, and i found it helpful to become aware of some additional things. It’s helpful reading for ourselves and also if we’re in a caretaking role with any older relatives or friends. If you check the book out, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Take care. Dori