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Live or Die - 3 Ways to Choose… or Lose

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by Kris Miller

Live or Die - 3 Ways to Choose… or Lose

I’ve probably asked hundreds of people for their thoughts about retirement. I’ve asked dozens of friends and family members, “When do you want to retire?”  Do you know what I got in response? Quizzical looks and half baked smiles – as if what I am asking is a very stupid question. But is it really stupid, to think about your retirement now? Even in the midst of a recession where so many of us are struggling with today?

That is how many of us react when it comes to retirement. We put it off, and put it off, with the excuse that today is all we can manage. No wonder the majority of us are caught by surprise when it’s time to retire.

We’re simply not ready. But how do we GET ready if we’re not even willing to hold space for the questions? Here’s one of my favorite quotes, from Napoleon Hill, “Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.”

The man was definitely right. Whether you are ready or not, you must make a plan and put your plan into action. When you wait for the “right” time, you could end up waiting for your whole life, and find that you come up way short in the end.

This is the truth: There is no other right time than now. Now is the right time. And the most important preparations have nothing to do with finances.

#1.  Immediately start by getting your powers of attorney in place! You’ll need a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney! A power of attorney is simply a form or instrument that gives one person the right to represent another as a signatory agent. This means that in legal or financial matters, the person you choose can represent you. This is absolutely vital if something goes wrong, and let’s face it, things DO go wrong, even if you simply break a leg, you need to have BOTH of these documents in place.

#2.  Another IMMEDIATE: Get a healthcare proxy. A healthcare proxy is what is called an “advanced directive.” This is a document that allows you to appoint someone and empower them to make healthcare decisions if you are incapable of doing this for yourself. The idea is that the patient's wishes are to be followed even if they are incapable of communicating them. This actually unburdens your loved ones in the most difficult of situations – and saves them from having to make difficult decisions around end-of-life care. A healthcare proxy means that your wishes get followed, even if you aren’t able to advocate for them, in the moment.

#3.  Have a Living Will. A living will describes certain life prolonging healthcare choices, like which treatments you do or do not want applied in the event of a terminal illness or a permanent vegetative state. A living will does not become effective unless a person is incapacitated. Keep in mind that a living will usually requires a certification by your doctor and another doctor that you are suffering from a terminal illness or are permanently unconscious before it can take effect.

Remember that none of these documents can support you and your loved ones if no one knows you have them. Speak with your loved ones, and especially the person you’ve chosen as your healthcare proxy in case of emergency. Make sure your doctor understands the medical treatments you want made in end-of-life situations. These are difficult conversations, but they insure that your wishes are followed and can spare your loved ones years of guilt and doubt.

Please take my advice, don’t wait until you get “old” to do this. Don’t wait until Alzheimer’s Disease attacks you, or until you’re in an unexpected accident – years before you ever dreamed your life could change. You can change your Living Will and other documents whenever you want. What matters is that you are ready no matter what happens. This is a big part of your retirement plan, getting ready for anything.

When will you be ready for retirement? If you still don’t know the answer to this question, you better start preparing now, while you’re thinking of it. Then, later on in the process, you will find out that you are more ready than you thought you were.

It’s hard to bear regrets when you are old, asking yourself an endless string of “what if’s”. What if I had planned earlier? What if I had gotten insurance? What if I had gotten a pension plan? What if I had signed a living will? To live without regrets on your retirement day, be prepared. Don’t be afraid to at least ask the questions and get started! Secure yourself and secure your family with the life you always wanted and you deserve.

Tags: health-care proxy napoleon hill power-of-attorney recession retirement

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