Solo agers. It’s the new term being passed around to describe baby boomers who do not have children. This strong and independent genre faces a number of unique challenges in aging, chiefly who to designate as guardian and decision-maker if they become unable to do so themselves. In her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, author Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. outlines several choices to consider in creating an effective aging plan:
- Dig through your support system. Typically, a solo ager’s spouse is the natural choice for guardianship and to make critical decisions pertaining to health care; however, it’s beneficial to have at least one and preferably two younger alternate options. Give some thought to siblings and their children, good friends, and neighbors, considering whether or not each person holds comparable values and is somebody it is possible to fully trust to help make decisions based on your wishes.
- Hire a qualified professional guardian. Professional guardians, also referred to as private guardians or professional fiduciaries, are becoming popular for solo agers. If interested in this option, it is necessary to interview several candidates to ensure they possess the required knowledge and experience, and don’t hesitate to inquire about references. Check with your attorney for recommendations, or the National Guardianship Association or Professional Fiduciary Association in your state.
- Accept a court-appointed guardian. If a solo ager hasn’t already designated a guardian and is suddenly not able to make care-related and/or financial decisions, a probate court will appoint a guardian to handle his / her affairs.
When you are checking out potential guardians, collect answers to questions such as:
- How much time have you been in practice?
- Have you been certified by the National Guardian Association?
- Are you bonded and insured?
- What may be the succession plan if you predecease me?
- Are criminal background checks performed on all of your current employees?
- What is your understanding of the particular health conditions I’m facing?
- What are your fees, and just how often will I be billed?
After your guardian option is determined, make fully sure your attorney updates your existing (or creates a new) durable power of attorney or advance health care directive, will, and durable power of attorney for finances.
To get more help and support in planning for long-term care needs, get in touch with the elder care professionals at JFS Care, the top providers of the in home care Santa Monica seniors need. We are able to partner with seniors to create an aging plan to ensure needs are fully met now and will carry on being met effectively as needs change in the years to come, always in accordance with each individual’s wishes. Contact us at (213) 383-2273 for more information.