49% of Americans Retiring Earlier Than Planned

The latest U.S. Census reports that there are 44.7 million over the age of 65 in the United States. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, seven out of ten of them will need three or more years of long-term care before they die. Unfortunately, most families are not prepared when they need to step in and help mom, dad in the face of a crisis or medical issue, and the consequences of being unprepared can be severe amongst families – causing chaos, confusion, and loss of money.

What’s more, a 2014 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 49 percent of retirees surveyed had retired earlier than they had planned. The survey found that many Americans find themselves retiring unexpectedly, and many retirees cited negative reasons for leaving the workforce, including 61 percent who cited health problems or disability.

Conversation Starters

The earlier you start talking about this the better. If you are having the discussion with a parent, always go in respecting the parent/child dynamic even through you may be 60. Consider this a conversation where you are trying to understand how a good friend, and someone you love is planning on spending the rest of their life. Some ways to do this include:

  • Ask mom and dad how they plan on spending their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Where do they want to live and how do they want to spend their time?
  • Request recommendations on how to approach estate planning. When did they do theirs and how did they decide who should be their advocate if one of them is unable to speak for the other?
  • Share a story of a friend or colleague who faced a difficult family health issue and talk about how your family might have handled the situation differently.

Unfortunately, you may have to wait for a pivotal event to happen before mom or dad are ready to have this discussion with you. Let me know if you have some additional suggestions on how to get this conversation started and I hope you will share which ideas helped your family.

For a free guide on how to organize your documents, accounts, and assets so that you can easily find them, or share them with a loved one should they ever need to help you, visit MemoryBanc.com/save.

Do you know how to protect your personal and financial information? Find out here.

Listen to the radio broadcast with Frank of Aging Boomers who interviewed Kay H. Bransford, best-selling author of MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Lifeto find out how you can protect your personal information and safely share it with loved ones.

They discuss the key issues that surprise many families and that has lead to more than $58 billion sitting with state and federal treasurers in an “unclaimed money” pool to include:

  • The rise of divide and conquer households
  • The increase in aging adults and their need for long-term care services
  • The number of online accounts, usernames, passcodes, and PINs that are managed by the average American.

Can the Law Keep Up With Our Modern LifeStyle?

After having to step in and use a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) to assist my parents, I quickly found so many gaps in its functionality, I devised many work arounds with my Dad so I could help them.

Not only were we surprised to find that a number of financial institutions declined to accept the DPOA, but there are many facets of our digital lives that it doesn’t cover.

moderntechoptionsFor those of us who use online services, email accounts and enjoy the online bill-pay services provided by our banks, what we don’t know can hurt us. If you haven’t stopped to read the “terms and conditions” you accepted, they typically state you can’t share the account and the provider basically dictates the rules. If you are incapacitated, the only way a loved one can get access is if you share your username and passcode.

The Uniform Law Commission helps standardize state laws and recently endorsed a plan that would give loved ones access to — but not control of — the deceased’s digital accounts, unless specified otherwise in a will. Given that at the age of 65, 7 out of 10 American’s will need 3 or more years of long-term care, we must recognize that most people will need someone to have access to these accounts while we are alive.

If you don’t have a list that documents this information for your own benefit and that can provide loved ones with needed information,click here to download a free chapter called “Taming the Internet” from the Amazon best-seller MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life. This free download includes worksheets and details to help you and provide loved ones with the information they may need to help you. Offered.

What the death of Robin Williams can teach us

photo credit: nbc.com

By all accounts, Robin Williams had his estate plan zipped-up. He had a will and trust and even named professional trustees, so why is the family at odds over things after his death?

Grief impacts everyone very differently. As a suicide, it’s not just sudden but the nature of the death can complicate the grieving process. As caregivers, we know that many of these family issues surface well before a death.

From the latest reports, there is disagreement about how items are defined. A colleague of mine who is a professional appraiser has shared how contentious items with personal meaning but little value can wreak on a family. She commented that it’s interesting that so many parents who raised kids that argued over the last cookie expect their adult children to behave any better when it comes to settling their estate.

It seems Robin Williams put immense thought into his plan, but it sounds like there is some ambiguity and now both his wife and children who are still grieving are arguing over his things.

What Robin Williams Can Teach Us: It’s not enough to create the perfect estate plan. You have to tell those people who are impacted about your plan. Make it a part of normal conversations and allow your loved ones to ask questions and understand your wishes. You might not be around to appreciate it, but they will. And for those of caring for loved ones with dementia, we know that someone may have to make many decisions for us and our assets well before a death.

Robin  was known for his improvisational skills. As caregivers, we are required to improvise–and approaching each interaction with humor is a handy tool on this journey. Reminded. 

7 out of 10 people will need long-term care support – Are you ready?

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services:

  • Someone turning age 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services and supports in their remaining years
  • Women need care longer (3.7 years) than men (2.2 years)
  • One-third of today’s 65 year-olds may never need long-term care support, but 20 percent will need it for longer than 5 years

Having a will and medical directives or even long-term care insurance won’t guarantee that the individual(s) who would step in to advocate for you will know about your medical history, your bills, your home improvements, your tax preparer or even your pets care needs. You want someone to be your advocate should you be facing a medical crisis or long-term care needs.

To get started, download a free check list of the documents you need or order a copy of the MemoryBanc Register that will guide you through the process of organizing your documents, accounts, and assets so that you can easily find them, and share them with a loved one when needed. Organized. 

How will I not become my mom?

wheelchairI vividly remember my husband once accusing me of being just like my Mom when we were in a disagreement. He knew quickly afterward that it was one of the meanest things he could say to me and has never repeated it in a derogatory manner. I think every daughter has some of this baggage. My Mom did a million wonderful things, but for some deep psychological reason, when used as a slight, there are some things about our Mom that we vowed we wouldn’t become I suppose.

I know my Mom never wanted to be in this place, in a wheelchair, with little memory, and an inability to do most things for herself. As a caregiver, I wonder how to avoid the fate of my parents.

I was encouraged by Dr. Oz when I appeared on the show, and have read many articles that equate dementia more to lifestyle than to heredity. One of the coolest things about the show was meeting Dr. Cynthia Greene who was the expert during my segment. She founded Total Brain Health that offers brain fitness toolkits for senior care, healthcare and fitness settings. She also is the author of Your Best Brain Ever that was named a “2013 Top Guide to Life After 50” by The Wall Street Journal. She, along with Dr. Oz encourage fish oil supplements, which I was doing before, but has now become a daily habit.

The major things I have done to help my loved ones if any illness or disability strikes is to complete my estate plans, written down my answers to The Conversation Project questionnaire, and continue to use MemoryBanc to organize our documents, accounts, and assets. Together, these will give my loved ones a treasure map on how to manage and follow my wishes should they need to step in and help me.

I’m excited to share that a new version MemoryBanc:Your Wookbook for Organizing Life is hitting bookstores this March for just $17.95. To pre-order at a discount, check out any of these popular retailers:







The documents you need when a crisis strikes

I was the adult child named on the Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) that needed to step in and use it. It was VERY difficult to use in several cases. For a more detailed look at my history, you can visit the blog I’ve been writing for three years on caring for two parents. One way to ensure that the individual you have named with this power can help you is to create a roadmap of the documents, accounts, and assets they may need to manage until you are back on your feet, or inevitably, to settle your estate.

My parents did everything that was recommended by their estate lawyer, financial planner and life insurance provider. However, they prepared most of the information to be delivered to me after they were gone. When they were too ill to manage on their own, I needed to know about their medical history, banking accounts, online services, household warranties … the list was daunting.

If you are named, or have named someone as your DPOA in your estate planning, you should sit down with them to review the location of important documents and instructions. After 40, nearly half of all American’s are expected to have a disability event lasting 90 days. It doesn’t need to be gloomy–as I reported on how I  shared my plans with the individual who I would expect to help me as well as with my children who are only 12 and 17 years old.

3DcoverFor an easy to use workbook that will guide you through the collection of your documents, accounts, and assets so that you can easily find the information when it’s needed, or could share it in a crisis, you can order MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life from any of these popular retailers at a pre-release discount today.





Sharing MY DPOA & Estate Plan Wishes

This past weekend, I sat down with my brother and my kids and walked them through the estate plan my husband and I recently had updated. It wasn’t doomy or gloomy since we are in good health. It just resulted in peace of mind for my kids to know our plans and we made sure that everyone knows where they can find our completed MemoryBanc Register, and the original copies of all of our important documents.

I wanted to share this as a follow-up to last weeks post discussing the importance of having a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA).

If you don’t already know this, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 7 out of 10 of us will need long-term care assistance for at least 3 years. The difficulty a loved one faces when you don’t have a DPOA can be expensive, undignified and lengthy.

I hope you will consider speaking with a lawyer dedicated to the practice of estate law in your area. You should be able to get one for just a few hundred dollars.

Life Preparedness 101

mbicons1.jpgWe all know that we should plan for future life-changing events, but it’s one of the first things we put on the back burner. We have a million excuses, and have learned that procrastination does not work, but there are some things we just never make time to complete.

When it comes to organizing your personal information, doing it later is often too late. The statistics are alarming—some 43 percent of all people age 40 now will have a long-term disability event prior to reaching age 65. And seven out of ten people who turn 65 today will need some type of long-term care services and support lasting three or more years. Could a loved one act as your medical advocate and provide your medical history or list of medications if you were unable to? Could someone else access your bill-paying account to cover basic expenses while you recovered?

Having a system that documents your passcodes, inventories your assets and provides a health biography will not only provide you with quick access to information when you need it, but also can provide a roadmap to the individual that would step in and help you—even if only temporarily—should you need it.

In 70 percent of all households, Consumer Reports found that both spouses were unaware of the major details about family finances and where to find account information. If your partner was suddenly incapacitated, would you be able to step in and manage what your partner was doing? And if you live on your own, it’s doubtful that friends or family would know the details of your life and your wishes if they wanted to help you.

For all these reasons, documenting your life details and putting them in a format that makes it easier for you to retrieve and that someone else can access is important. It matters the most to those people around you whom you love and would be negatively impacted by your failure to simply document basic details.

Click here for a checklist of all of the important documents and details you should have organized. 

Our digital life, estate planning and reality

crystalballWe only recognize our reliance on the “cloud” when we lose power or our Internet connection is lost — just imagine how difficult it would be to navigate your own life without the online access to your bill pay, social media and email accounts.

With that in mind, can you imagine how frustrating it might be to a family member who has stepped in to assist you without access to any of your online accounts?

The National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information reported that about 70% of Americans who live to age 65 will need long-term care at some time in their lives. However, this isn’t just a problem for seniors — we all have a story of someone in our lives that had a sudden (and hopefully recoverable) disability. If this were to happen to you, what have you done to ensure those around you have what they need to help?

Did you know that almost EVERY online account you use — from your online banking and email, to your pictures, music … will be shut down and the assets frozen upon your death? Now consider what might happen if you were incapacitated — know how many of these accounts will recognize a Durable Power of Attorney if a loved one requests access?  That number is zero.

Last month I wrote What’s in that Online User Agreement You Accepted? and a recent article in the Wicked Local Lexington discussed Navigating the Retirement Maze: Protecting your Digital Legacy — reinforcing the call to document and provide access to this information.

My difficulty in using the estate and financial plans my parents had set up fueled me to launch MemoryBanc to help caregivers collect and use this information to help their loved ones. What I found in my first year of business, is that this was problem was not a caregiver issue alone. Most of my clients are between 40 and 60 years old. We all know the term “no single point of failure” and that is what we are working to provide our clients with — backup solutions to help them easily find as well as share key information when it might be needed most.

When AARP Foundation recognized our solution last year, I was encouraged. I’m pleased to see that the estate and financial planning community is starting to recognize the pervasiveness of this issue — and we will only see it mushroom in the coming years as more and more adults hit this roadblock. Focused. 

I hope you will spend the next five minutes documenting your usernames and pass codes so a loved one could help you, should the information ever be needed. 


Seventy percent of American’s over 65 will need long-term care

70%Wow. Ignoring the facts won’t make them go away. They seem unbelievable.

The National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information reported that about 70% of Americans who live to age 65 will need long-term care at some time in their lives, over 40 percent in a nursing home. Learn more by visiting their website and to learn more about how you can plan.

The same report cited the averages: Those who are 65 today will need long-term care services for three years. Women need care for longer (on average 3.7 years) than do men (on average 2.2 years). While about one-third of today’s 65-year-olds may never need long-term care services, 20 percent of them will need care for more than five years.

The most important thing you can do today (at ANY age) is set up a Durable Power-of-Attorney. There may be situations in which even your spouse needs this document. Check with a local estate attorney.

Having your estate planning and financial plan in order is important, but more important is making sure your accounts, access codes and personal papers can be easily found by those who may need to step in and help you. Until our late 80s, we are more likely to suffer a temporary incapacity than we are to die. CNNMoney reported than more than $58 billion in unclaimed money and assets is sitting with state and federal treasurers — it’s the stuff that got lost in the shuffle of a move, personal crisis as well as death.

Here is a link to the full list of papers so you can do it yourself. If you want to be prompted through the process in a workbook format, you can order a MemoryBanc Register. Use the term “Reader” for a 10% discount on your order. Alerted.