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.  

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.  

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. 

Key Professionals Who Help Make Important Choices About Your Future

By Roz Jones

Your estate and everything in it is yours to make decisions about. You can decide to do whatever you want with your assets while you are alive and after your death as long as you are of sound mind in doing so. 

Wanting to protect your assets is normal and wanting to make sure you make good decisions is wise. You may not have the background or working knowledge about how to protect yourself legally, financially, and medically but there are experts who do. Their job is to offer you information and services that organize and carry out your wishes, making it possible for you to protect yourself as you grow older. 

Here are some key professionals who help make important choices about your future.

Financial Planners: As early as possible in your work life, it’s great to work with a financial planner who can help you best understand how income, taxes, investments, and savings all work together. A financial planner knows the current laws, what products produce the best results, and how to invest and save your money for whatever long-term plans you have. 

Insurance Agents: Like financial planners, insurance agents can help you save and protect your assets for the future. From insuring your car, home, and personal property to helping with life insurance and other forms of insurance that generate death benefits, or other income. An agent can help increase your income after you retire or in the event of a catastrophic life event. 

Primary Care Physicians: Outside of being the go-to for your healthcare, your primary care physician can help you create and carry out your advance directive and DNR notifications. Having someone to talk to with a wide-range of medical knowledge can help you sort through the options and make decisions that will protect you if/when there is a medical need. 

Probate Attorneys: There are attorneys who specialize in writing wills, trusts, and helping people make important decisions about their estate. These attorneys have streamlined ways to help you organize your information and legally protect your estate before and after your death. 

You don’t have to know all there is to know about medicine, money, and the law to protect yourself. You can access professionals who specialize in each of these areas and make informed decisions you can trust and count on when you need them most.

Do You Have a Will or Trust to Protect Your Assets?

Most people know what a will is. It’s a written document that disperses your assets and provides a care plan for your dependents after you die. Not everyone knows what a trust is or how important both are for your family. 

Generally speaking, a will is a document that goes into effect after you die, while a trust is in effect while you are alive and includes directives about your assets and the guardianship of minor children. Having a will and/or trust makes your wishes clear and legally makes them binding. Without a will or trust, things get tricky. 

What happens if you have a will or trust? 

  • There are specific guidelines for the disbursement of your assets and the care of your minor children in the event of your death
  • An executor of your choice is designated to oversee your estate and carry out your wishes
  • The time frame for disbursement of your assets and action plan are swift
  • Your wishes are legally binding and generally can’t be overturned 
  • Accounts can be managed and paid even after you die 

What happens if you do not have a will or trust? 

  • Your assets are held while the courts sort out disbursement
  • Someone else may have to incur costs to settle your estate 
  • Your wishes may not be fully known or preserved 
  • You can lose assets that aren’t protected 
  • Your children will not be protected for their care and custody
  • Long periods of time may go by before your estate is settled

A will or trust can help make certain your wishes are carried out and that you don’t lose any assets that are part of your estate. 

Creating a will or trust 

There are a few ways to create a will or trust. A will can be created on your own. There are no-cost and low-cost ways to create a will. There are services that can walk you through the process of creating a will if your estate is modest and you don’t have a lot to manage. 

Note: Writing a will isn’t as simple as sitting down with a Word doc. Once you’ve completed your will, it will need to be accompanied by a Self Proving Affidavit that is notarized. This legally ensures you are the author of your will and makes it easier for your family to enforce after your death.  

The most secure way to create a will or trust is through an attorney. Probate and estate-planning attorneys can help you craft a will or trust that will be recognized by your state in the event of your death and make things easy on your family and beneficiaries. 

What is an Estate and How Do You Protect It?

By Roz Jones

An estate typically refers to your personal property which may include but isn’t limited to: your real estate, business assets, investments, bank accounts, and personal property such as art, antiques, and jewelry. These are important assets that you worked to acquire and are part of your legacy for your family. 

Every estate is unique because people are different. Your estate will look nothing like your neighbor’s because you have different assets. Regardless, it is important to protect your estate and make certain it is safe in the event of your death. 

Protecting your estate isn’t hard, it just takes some time and effort. Once you’ve secured your assets you can rest easier knowing you are protected in the event you are incapable of managing your assets or you die. Additionally, being organized and taking the time to legally protect your assets makes it easier for your estate to be managed during probate. 

Here are some ways to protect your estate:

Get an appraisal- Assets have value but the value must be validated and proven. Appraisals are a great way to make sure your assets are valued at their maximum potential. Real estate, antiques, and other personal property can be assigned a value by an appraiser. You can include the appraisals with your will or trust information.  

Provide proof of ownership- A clean record of ownership is important. Being able to prove you are the legal owner of an asset can reduce disputes and streamline your estate. Provide bills of sale, pink slips, deeds, and other proofs of ownership with your will and trust information.   

Get a will or living trust- The ultimate way to protect your estate is through a living trust or a will. This document will include a legal record of your assets in your estate and directives for disbursement and distribution in the event of your death. 

You’ve worked hard to create a life filled with the things you love and have invested in. It’s important to protect your estate and make sure it isn’t lost to taxes or worse after you die. Take the time to organize your estate and legally protect it for your beneficiaries. An attorney will have even more ideas on how to protect your estate and can help you organize and strengthen it to serve you while you are alive and after you are gone.