The economy’s recent downturn makes it more important than ever for Americans to reconsider their financial futures.
The AARP says preparation is the single most important factor in securing your financial future. From a simple pen and paper list to a detailed session with a financial adviser, fiscal plans can be modified to meet your individual needs.
What follows are some financial considerations that seniors ought to consider:
Creating a personal financial plan / This is an important first step. Various resources are available to help begin your financial planning, from published guides to local workshops:
- The AARP offers two guidebooks: “Money Matters: Your Guide to Financial Security,” and “Future Focus: Your Guide to Financial Planning for Retirement.” For copies, call the Austin office at 512-480-9797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and include publication title and your complete address.
- The U.S. Department of Labor also provides a sourcebook, “Savings Fitness: A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future,” available electronically at www.dol.gov/PWBA/PDF/SavingsFitness/pdf, or call 800-998-7542.
Enlisting the help of a professional / While initial planning can be done at home with a little time and consideration, individuals with various income sources and more complex situations may decide to seek the help of a financial professional.
Several organizations can aid in selecting a financial adviser.
- Local financial advisers can be located at the Total Life Planning Resource Center, www.deni.net.
- AARP offers investment advisers through the AARP Investment Program; call 800-322-2282.
- The Senior Source, Senior Citizens of Greater Dallas, offers The Money Management Program for lower income elderly who have difficulty managing finances; call 214-823-5700 or visit www.theseniorsource.org/pages/managing-money.html. The Senior Source’s Women’s Financial Clinic also provides financial resources and referrals for women; call Ann Moy, 214-823-5700, Ext. 213.
Be sure to investigate the credentials of any financial professional you hire. Visit www.cfp.net, click on “Check the Status of a CFP Certificant,” or call 888-237-6275.
Tackling everyday financial obligations / The Senior Source offers more short-term financial assistance for seniors needing help with daily activities such as budgeting or bill paying. The bill-payers program is available on a temporary or permanent basis, and matches a volunteer with a senior citizen who would like assistance with paying bills, balancing a checkbook or planning a budget.
- For information, call The Senior Source at 214-823-5700.
Estate planning, living wills, powers of attorney / Of course, after planning for your own financial future it becomes necessary to consider how your finances will be handled after you pass away. Estate planning involves preparing wills with both financial and medical instructions for your survivors, thus insuring that your wishes are honored.
Michael Condon offers estate-planning services for the Dallas area. He says, “I’ve seen many situations where a husband may have multiple investments but only he knows where they are. How is his wife to find them? I recommend that your document what you have, where it’s located, and list appropriate telephone numbers. After you figure out what you’ve got, an attorney can work with you from there.”
Medical decisions should also be planned and legally documented. Living wills and durable powers of attorney allow you to decide what type of life-saving or life-sustaining measures you would like performed in case of serious illness.
For assistance with will preparation or power of attorney:
- Information about medical powers of attorney is available in the Nob Press publication, “Healthcare Directives FAQ,” at www.nolo.com/lawcenter/ency/index.ctm.
- Find a Dallas elder law attorney at www.naela.org. According to ElderLifePlanning.com, provided by Informed Decisions Inc., seniors should consider locating an elder law attorney instead of or in addition to an estate planning attorney: “While traditional estate planning is tax-focused and primarily concerned with asset preservation, elder law attorneys share this focus, but have the specialized expertise needed that goes well beyond traditional estate planning.