I have been a single woman for many years. I am now 92 years old with a home that’s paid off and no debt. I have a few health problems, but nothing major, and I truly enjoy my family and friends.
My finances include $140,000 in cash and $109,000 in a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds. I’ll probably live to be 100.
Your opinion, please?
Longevity can be a beautiful thing when you’re surrounded by loved ones and in good health — but as you know, you still need to plan for what comes next.
No one really knows how long they will live, nor can they truly be sure what their quality of life will be like in that time. Aiming to live to 100 is often a safe bet, especially for someone who is 92 and healthy. You might live even longer than that.
I’ll give it my best shot and try to help you with the information you’ve given me. You could live frugally on $1,500 a month — or $18,000 a year — which would likely preserve your assets for the next eight or so years. You didn’t mention if you have other retirement income — Social Security or a private pension — or if you need to draw down your cash or portfolio.
Here are some thoughts for your consideration.
As you are no doubt aware, medical care can be very, very expensive. It is great to hear you have no major health problems — and I hope it stays that way! — but you should still have a financial plan, in addition to an emergency fund, in the event that changes.
Plan to review your healthcare coverage every year to make sure you’re maximizing the care you do need and not paying more than necessary.
Medicare’s annual enrollment period has already begun, and it ends on Dec. 7. Now is a great time to look ahead to next year and think about what you may need, and then find an insurance plan that is most cost-effective. Think of the doctors you’ll visit, the medicines you might be prescribed and the procedures you could potentially have.
And be sure to have a plan, as well as a back-up plan, for long-term care.
Planning for long-term-care needs can be complex and draining. Do you intend to keep living at home? Or do you think you will move to an assisted-living facility or a nursing home — and if so, have you researched facilities? Caring.com and A Place for Mom are two websites that can help you search for local facilities.
Calculate how much your facility of choice will cost and how you intend to pay for it — can you access any benefits that will help, or will you be spending down your assets and going on Medicaid? Or are you expecting any of your relatives to care for you as you age? If so, have you discussed that with them? These can be tough decisions and conversations, but the sooner you have them, the more comfortable you’ll be later on in life.
Review your day-to-day finances to ensure your spending is within your means. You say you’re not in debt, so this exercise will help ensure that your dollars are going toward the right things — and if they’re not, it will give you a chance to make changes.
What about your important estate documents, such as a will and healthcare proxy? If you haven’t reviewed them in a while — or ever — do it now. You have accumulated assets, including your portfolio and your home, and you — not the probate court — should choose who should inherit them. Appoint a medical power of attorney in case you become incapacitated at any point; you will be able to include instructions like a “do not resuscitate” clause, if that is your wish. And it’s wise for everyone, young or old, to set money aside and leave instructions for funeral plans.
People often think about what they want to do during their lifetimes, but it’s also important to think about how they wish to be cared for when they’re sick and remembered after they’re gone.
In the meantime, keep enjoying your family and friends. Community is one thing that will help keep you healthy and happy, and it’s a wonderful thing that you can enjoy that.
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Have a question about your own retirement savings? Email us at HelpMeRetire@marketwatch.com