Housing Options When You Can’t Live at Home

Everyone wants to live out their days in their own home. It’s painful to think about being placed in an assisted living or dying in a hospital. The thought of leaving behind the comforts of home and losing independence is overwhelming. Sometimes staying at home simply isn’t an option. 

The biggest reason for needing outside care is safety. 

As we age, we may lose mental capacity or simply become frail and unable to manage our independence. We become at risk for falling or other injuries, which makes it too risky to be a home. Sometimes a medical event requires therapies to bounce back and regain mobility or other skills. Isolation is also a concern. Being alone too much can affect social skills and mental health. Being in an environment with peers and activities can prolong and enrich life. 

If you or someone you love is showing the signs that they can no longer live at home, it might be time to consider options. Here are some common options for housing when you can’t live at home. 

Retirement communities- Some retirement communities are single-family homes in a condensed geographic area. Others are apartments or combined housing units with centralized services. These communities are geared towards an active lifestyle but rely on members being relatively independent. If you have been living in a large home with high-maintenance it might be a next step to downsize to a retirement community. 

Assisted living communities- An assisted living community offers more services than a retirement community. This may include providing meals in a central location as well as housekeeping and other services. Assisted living communities may assist in shopping, doctors’ appointments, or social activities off site. Generally, members of an assisted living community are ambulatory and able to make informed decisions about their care. They are able to come and go from the community of their own free will. 

Skilled nursing facilities- A skilled nursing facility is staffed by nurses and other staff members to assist residents with daily living activities. They are generally dependent on staff for assistance in multiple areas of self care including, but not limited to, medication management, access to health care and help with bathing, dressing, and accessing activities. Residents tend to live in community with one another inside one general space such as a room, shared room, or small studio-type apartment. 

Dementia care facilities- These facilities are designed with safety and compassion in mind. These types of facilities have a larger staff to resident ratio and most residents rely on staff for assistance with every area of life. From toileting to accessing food and medication, a dementia care facility is helpful for residents who need full care outside of their home. 

If the time comes that you can no longer be at home, there are multiple options to support you or someone you love. Research the types of communities in your area and make sure your finances and plans are geared towards funding the option that best suits your needs.  

Protecting Guardianship of Your Children in the Event of Your Death

No one wants to think about dying while their children are under the age of eighteen. The thought of not being there to care for them seems unfathomable. Better still, the thought of both parents being unavailable seems incomprehensible. 

Most parents are young and starting out their married lives. They feel invincible and focused on starting their career, building up their assets, and creating a home for their families. They may have thought about life insurance, but not about custody needs. 

If you die and your children are under age, someone will have to make the decision about where they will live. This can cause a lot of chaos and commotion between family members who may have a wide range of ideas about who will step in on your behalf. Additionally, the state or county you live in will have a say about the final decisions. 

Protecting your kids isn’t just about naming who you want to succeed you as guardian, it is also the legal track that allows for a guardian to make legal decisions about your child’s medical and educational needs. Without a formal decision, this can take a long time to finalize. 

Part of parenting is naming a legal guardian to care for your children in the event of your death or incapacity. Here are some tips to consider when making your choice: 

Tip: Who is the child familiar with? Children at any age do better transitioning to live with someone they already know and have a positive relationship with. This means your cousin across America may not be the best guardian if they don’t have a relationship with your child. 


Tip: Who is willing to step in? Be sure to ask someone if they are willing to step in as guardian for your child. Not everyone is able to make the adjustments necessary to expand their family and that’s ok. 


Tip: Evaluate your decision over time. Things change and so do your kids. If you named your parents when your children were very small, they may not be the ideal candidates if your kids are now tweens or teens. Evaluate your nominations from time to time and be sure they are still a good fit. 

Tip: Make sure you have provisions. You may want to consider naming your children successor beneficiaries on your insurance policies after your spouse in case you both perish. This will help insure there are proceeds that can be used for their well-being. Additionally, your children should be eligible for federal income through your social security benefits if you paid into the program. Make sure anyone you nominate knows to check into that funding stream as well.  

Protect your children by naming a guardian for legal and physical custody if you pass away. It will make all the difference in how they manage the loss of their parent.   

Beneficiaries – Who, What, and How to Protect the Proceeds of an Insurance Policy

By Roz Jones

The purpose of an insurance policy is to protect against loss. In the case of life insurance or other health-related policies, there is a beneficiary other than yourself who will receive proceeds from your policy. 

For most policies, you will determine who the beneficiary(s) are and what percentage they receive if there is more than one. Some policies, such as those protecting business interests, may require partners or other stakeholders to be named as beneficiary. 

Did you know? Millions of dollars go unclaimed annually due to the fact beneficiaries are unaware they are named recipients of policies? 

When you choose to protect your assets and your family, naming a beneficiary entitles them to tax-free dollars to offset costs and provide income during their time of grief, loss, and transition. That’s a noble and important thing, but there are important steps that need to be put into place to insure they receive their proceeds. 

Step #1. Name a beneficiary and a successor beneficiary. Times change and naming a beneficiary should change with the times. If you name a beneficiary and you outlive them, you must make sure to change the beneficiary or have a named successor in place. Sometimes an adult will be named in lieu of a minor to protect and manage proceeds until a minor comes of age. Your insurance agent can help you decide who to name and your estate-planning attorney can make sure all the documentation is in place. 


Step #2. Keep policies with your will and trust. It won’t help anyone if they don’t know where to find your policy information. Keep your policy and the contact information for the company, your agent, and your attorney together so your family members can take action in the event of your death. 

Step #3. Tell your beneficiaries they are named. Perhaps you don’t want to alert people to the fact there are specific people named as beneficiary of your policy. It can be highly personal and might cause some waves; however, your beneficiary should be made aware that they are named so they know to take action and proceeds are claimed. At the very minimum, be certain your attorney or the executor of your estate is aware of who the beneficiaries are and where to find them. 


Step #4. Keep up to date records. Things change. Names and contact info may change over time. Be sure to keep your records up to date. Consider reviewing your policies and beneficiary contacts annually and note any changes so there is no interruption should you pass away. 

Being named a beneficiary is an honor and a wonderful gesture on your part. Preserving your plan to benefit others and provide after your death is easier when you follow these simple steps.  

Fight Inflation and Save Your Family Heartache by Pre-planning Your Burial

Funeral planning can happen any time. Pre-need planning is common. Pre-need funeral planning is the act of making funeral arrangements and covering their costs ahead of time. The benefits include: 

  • Making decisions about what happens with your body after you die
  • Choosing if and where you will be buried 
  • Choosing what sort of service will be held in your honor
  • Pre-paying for your funeral to save costs for your family
  • And more

Let’s take a deeper dive, shall we? 

Pre-plan what will happen with your remains- When you die, your body must be cared for and handled in the way that aligns with your personal preferences and beliefs. If you pre-plan your burial you have complete control over the care and handling of your remains. You can determine:

  • Burial or cremation
  • If you are embalmed
  • If there is a viewing
  • What sort of casket or container you’re buried in
  • And more

Choosing if and where you will be buried- Pre-planning gives you the opportunity to pick if and where you will be buried or if you prefer an alternative such as cremation, water or other burial, or an unconventional option such as donating your remains to science. 

Choose the sort of service- Pre-need planning can include planning your service and covering the costs. From picking the music, flowers, and other details to securing the location and locking in rates, your planning can make the funeral arrangements less burdensome on your family. You may even design and commission your headstone or other memorial to mark your place of rest.  

Locking in rates and costs and avoiding inflation- Your actions can help reduce the costs of your funeral after time goes by. By pre-planning and paying for your expenses, you can avoid higher costs down the line. Also, you can rest easier knowing your family won’t have to cover the costs of your funeral and burial or cremation. 

If you are the sort of person who likes having their ducks in a row and pays attention to detail, planning your own burial through a pre-need plan is an excellent way to make sure your wishes are thoroughly met and things represent who you were in life, even in your death. You can simply add your pre-need contract with your will, trust, and other important documents for your attorney or executor of your estate to use when the time comes. 

Insurance – Planning Ahead for Optimal Choices

By Roz Jones

Depending on your career track and options, you may have a retirement plan in place that you have contributed to. This is an excellent way to save for the future and help guarantee income after retirement. Sometimes your retirement income is all you need to live life in the manner you are used to and sometimes… not so much. 

There are lots of ways to increase your savings and make investments that will add to your income down the line. Your financial planner will have lots of information about ways to save that help you avoid taxes and maximize income. Make an appointment and see what’s right for you. 

Another great way to save for the future and provide income in the case of an extended illness and/or death is through insurance products. Life insurance and other insurance products can provide income when you need it most and help safeguard your family in the event of your death. Here’s how: 

Life insurance- Life insurance can protect your assets and your family’s way of life in the event of your death. If you should die, you can provide enough money to pay off a mortgage and income for your widow to get back on their feet and move forward. 

Did you know? Life insurance isn’t just about insuring a working spouse. You can insure your children, which keeps them eligible for coverage when they become adults – regardless of their health history. This is a very big deal should your child suffer a childhood illness that might otherwise become a pre-existing condition. Consider purchasing a life-insurance policy for your child to guarantee they get coverage when they become an adult. 

Asset insurance- Insuring your assets, like your car, is mandatory. Generally, so is homeowners insurance. Did you know you can also insure big ticket items? Properly insuring your personal items can be very important against theft and loss. If you are a renter, you should also insure your contents and have coverage for liability in case something happens under your roof. Though asset insurance won’t generate retirement income, it is important to insure yourself against all forms of loss so you don’t face expenses unnecessarily later in life. 

Annuities- Annuities are an insurance product that offer tax-deferred income after you retire. While life insurance pays out after you die, annuities collect income and pay out before you die. This can create another income stream that is outside of your work-related retirement plans. 

Insurance riders- A rider is a policy extension that adds benefits or modifies an insurance policy to enhance or expand the benefit. Riders can provide excellent income for medical events or other unexpected needs that pop up as we grow older. They sometimes can make all the difference in the quality and quantity of care or income if there is an accident or illness. 

Insurance is often an excellent way to supplement retirement income and safeguard against unexpected illness, injury, or death. Being aware of what is available and investing wisely can be a great compliment to your investment portfolio.

Talking to Aging Parents About End-of-Life Matters

By Roz Jones

There comes a time when family roles switch. Traditionally, parents are the leaders of the family and make the decisions and set the tone for how things are done under their roof. As parents age, this can shift if there are medical or other issues at hand. 

Sometimes families have to switch up roles and adult children must step in to help parents make end of life decisions. This can be uncomfortable if there hasn’t been much discussion leading up to the role reversal. Still, talking to aging parents about end-of-life matters is always a good thing. 

Why? 

Talking about end-of-life matters preserves dignity- If your parents lived life well, they likely made the best choices they could under the circumstances and deserve to live out their lives in a dignified way. When adults become frail, they appear to be more like toddlers than thriving and vital adults. It’s easy to forget that they were once independent and able to care for their own needs. Talking about end-of-life expectations can help them preserve their dignity by respecting where they want to live, what boundaries they have on their medical care and day-to-day living, and their wishes about their death experience and how their remains and estate are managed. 

Talking about end-of-life matters eliminates confusion- The earlier you can speak with aging parents about the legal protections available for themselves and their estate, the easier things will be in their absence. Being open about advance directives, wills, trusts, and other important topics makes things easier for you if you are managing their care or estate. Don’t wait until your aging parent is too frail or ill to engage in a mature conversation to find out what they have taken care of and what vulnerabilities there may be. The sooner the better.  


Talking about end-of-life matters brings families together- There’s something about facing mortality that humbles people and helps them keep the main thing the main thing. Talking with your aging parents creates an opportunity to say things that you don’t wan to leave unsaid and to say thank you for all they have done to raise you, love you, and be there for you when you needed them so much. Many people hold onto life because they have regrets or fears. You can help your parents feel peace and love by having important conversations that bring healing and comfort. 

Talking to your parents about aging and end-of-life plans isn’t morbid. It’s a mature and necessary part of life. The sooner you can sort out what your parents expect, how they are going to manage their expectations, and what role you will play in the plan, the easier you can be prepared and ready when the time comes. 

Funeral Planning Doesn’t Have to be Creepy

By Roz Jones

In many cultures, funerals are a joyous occasion. Sure, it’s sad to lose someone you love and depending on the circumstances, it might be more intense, but funerals are a celebration of life as well as an opportunity to say goodbye. 

Funeral planning doesn’t have to be creepy. People don’t have to dress in black and cry the whole time. Funerals should be a reflection on the life of the person who has passed and an honorable yet celebratory, way to remember them. 

Here are some non-creepy ways to plan a funeral:

Create a slide show or video- Gather an assortment of pictures, video clips, and other images put to music for an entertaining and positive way to celebrate life. Life is all about making memories and those memories become more precious after someone dies. 

Share stories that are funny- There’s nothing wrong with laughing during a funeral. Encourage guests to share funny stories that everyone can enjoy during the service. Making things lighter in the room can offset the heaviness of the occasion. 

Create a theme for the funeral- Families have themes for all sorts of gatherings, why not for a funeral? If your loved one adored something specific, make it part of their funeral. Celebrating something a deceased person loved is another way of honoring how they lived. If your loved one loved boats, racecars, or the color purple – incorporate their love into the celebration of life. 

Give back in their honor- A funeral for a teacher included bringing backpacks filled with school supplies in lieu of flowers. A funeral for a child who dies of kidney disease included friends and family registering to be donors for other children in their honor. It’s always a good thing to do something to help ease grief and loss. Giving people something to focus on can make attending a funeral easier. 

Leave a message for those you love- Your funeral can be special by leaving a video, letter, or recording sharing how much you love and appreciate them. Not everyone knows when they are going to pass on but sometimes there is a general idea. Your messages can soften the blow and make the funeral an opportunity to share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams for the people attending in your honor. 

Funeral planning isn’t something people usually think about until it happens. When emotions are running high, it can make planning hard. There are no rules for a funeral but there certainly isn’t a rule that they must be heavy and burdensome. Funeral planning doesn’t have to be creepy. It can be free and easy like the life you are ready to celebrate.