Having reached a certain age and having taken considerable stock of my health and habits, I have some advice 4 u folks who think that u r too young to think about such things. Remember that every possible day u live could be your last. Keep in mind war-torn Ukraine, and despots who r crazed to even ignite World War III, before u dismiss the possibility. Also, keep in mind weather catastrophic events, even those that have hit near u, or your area, causing loss of life, devastation. Or the lunatic near u who is homeless and has a knife or a gun, or just doesn’t like how u look at him…all of these situations present danger. And even today, endemic COVID-19 1813 deaths on March 9, in the USA alone…take stock and be aware. U need to prepare if u have anyone who really counts on u. To not do so is to abdicate caring about someone, as u can leave and leave a bad legacy 4 your spouse and minor children, if u do nothing. So here is my heart thoughts and having witnessed plenty of devastation in my life already, in these almost 58 years now….
- If u r living with someone and r not married, but in a committed relationship, consider whether your joint home is yours, if u don’t have joint deed ownership of the property, or if u rent it. Will u be able to continue occupancy if your partner dies? In fact, in my lifetime, aunt Rae was living w uncle David, and because they were unmarried, the landlord took it upon himself to say that when David died (he had a brain tumor, inoperable), Rae was going to have no leg to stand on in order to continue renting the rent stabilized apartment they shared in Manhattan. So Rae had to get a clergyperson quickly to marry them in order to continue occupancy. Never mind that David was incoherent and unable to give consent to the marriage, it happened anyway, w great embarrassment to those assembled in their apartment, myself among them. Rae continued to live in such apartment until her own death in 1997.
- Execute a health care proxy and get consent from whom u intend to designate as your agent to make health care decisions. In the absence of a spouse, or parent, or adult child, u need to designate someone, and think about what u want done or not done, in order to preserve life, or what things r unacceptable 2 u. And write it down, also, w a witness, and preferably by a lawyer, or a/k/a a “living will.” U have to face that u may become incapacitated suddenly, or over time, due to dementia. If u r becoming forgetful as u age, that is your clue that u r approaching the time when u may need such documents and advanced directives. Best to have 2 agents, just in case one is unable to do it 4 u also.
- U may also need a general Power of Attorney (POA) to execute in case u cannot pay your bills, due to death, in which case your will and last testament comes into play, or if incapacitated, then your general POA is applicable. U don’t want to have your home in foreclosure or credit rating damaged in case something unexpected happens. U need someone u can trust financially, so cultivate close friends, or scope out trustworthy relatives…hopefully, u won’t need to pay a lawyer in order to do these things at hundreds of dollars per hour…
- If u r very isolated, w neither close friends nor family that is trustworthy, then u may need to pay someone in order to assume such duties 4 u. And when that is the case, u may be at risk of losing any assets u may have, as the person will get custodianship over u, and may decimate your hard fought for fortune. So it’s important to be a good person, recognize that no man is an island, and cultivate these caring, committed relationships that r worthy, who will look out 4 your best interests, and not become grifters, thieves, or worse. When that day comes that u realize that no one is committed 2 u, and u have no one to look after u or your best interests, then u recognize that your life has been an utter failure. I only cite karma in my daily teachings.
I know of both friends and family who r in jeopardy currently, and have no one who will look out for their best interests. The person who lives w you, who won’t marry u, is effectively saying that they do not care what happens 2 u after they r gone…even unto homelessness. U have no claim to their apartment or house, and by that date, u may not have any parents to take u in…and u may not have a job, or may have become disabled, living on savings…and your children may be estranged…or u may never have had any. There r a million permutations to personal chaos. I have reminded u today just in case u r living on such a precipice, not confronting same. Get people into your life who buttress your existence, or else u r lost.
One last happy note: my dear friend M. did finally sign up 4 life insurance, because she has a minor child and also a disabled husband. Bravo, M! U took the steed by the horns this time. Next stop is that custody arrangement 4 her child, who is presently 13 yrs old. A last will and testament is necessary. Just to show love and concern. No one knows the day or the hour of their death, so pray, and make preparations, in order to establish control. U can only do that while u still have your wits! And also, have an actuary estimate your life expectancy while u r at it…if u r heavy, smoke, take narcotics, drink to excess, etc…your lifetime is apt to be less than u think. Also, evaluate your stress level as well. Altogether, u can self-estimate given your own parents’ lifetimes and age at death…and extrapolate your own remaining time. And an extra caveat is that COVID is not the last pandemic we shall ever see…and it took many people way before their time would have been, in its absence. Keep that in mind too. And long COVID also caused both cerebral and coronary damages as well as pulmonary, of which we shall see many co-morbidities arise in the intervening years after 2020…and psychiatric is only one of them. It’s way later than most people think.
PREP NOW or else u abdicate control and caring!