In her final post, Maya, a 66-year-old woman grieving the death of her parents within six months of each other, and her cousin Rita review Maya’s End-of-Life plan, including identifying financial resources to make her plan real.
I knew I had come a long way in just a few weeks. I’d started out with brave intent but little real understanding of how to create an End-of-Life plan that would bring my family the peace-of-mind I didn’t have when my parents passed away.
With Rita’s guidance and my family’s input, I made decisions and completed the necessary forms for my final care and services. I chose my trusted advisors. And I decided how I wanted my personal assets managed and disbursed in my Will.
Still, there was an important final piece to address, and it was a big one: how will I pay for my final wishes? This topic seems as scary as talking with my family about my passing away. I knew that final care and services were expensive and I was now retired. Once again, I felt overwhelmed.
Rita reminded me that a major benefit to planning for End-of-Life was to ease the financial burden on my family as I near End-of-Life and pass away. An End-of-Life financial plan will also help protect my assets from probate court and provide for my children and grandchildren after I pass away. Of course! This was the reason I had started End-of-Life planning. I felt my motivation returning and my purpose restored.
Rita explained that most people use some combination of three sources to finance End-of-Life matters: personal funds, insurance policies and government programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Though End-of-Life costs could be expensive, no need to panic. There were several resources to help.
I had a life insurance policy in place, so that would help my children and grandchildren. I also had some savings. But what about government funds? Would government programs like Medicare or Medicaid help pay if I couldn’t?
Rita explained that Medicare and Medicaid help those with limited financial resources. Since I was now over age 65, Medicare coverage would help cover basic care expenses like doctor visits and medications after I meet certain income limits, though they likely won’t cover any long-term care I may need.
In order to qualify for broader Medicaid coverage I’d need to first ‘Spend Down’ most of my private assets including life insurance policies unless I transferred those to an irrevocable funeral trust to make them exempt from Medicaid consideration. Rita suggested consulting a financial planner since funeral trusts can be complicated. She also suggested I consider prepaying my final services to freeze costs and ensure that I could fund the Celebration of Life service I wanted.
Since I was already tapping my Social Security benefits, I knew they could help pay for my final healthcare and provide death and survivor benefits to my family.
Among the many resources available to pay for my End-of-Life costs were those offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). My husband was a retired US Army Colonel, after all. He’d earned the many End-of-Life benefits and services for US Veterans and their families provided by the VA. These included long-term, in-home and facility care, life insurance, burial benefits and even bereavement services for my family. These benefits helped me close the final financing loop that had me so concerned.
With all of my combined resources, I now knew I could manage the costs associated with my End-of-Life plan. It was a tangible testimony to my success that I knew would bring my family and me peace-of-mind both now and later.
As Rita and I toasted our success we celebrated some surprising opportunities that End-of-Life planning had presented us. It strengthened our family bond as we hoped it would. It helped me talk to my own family and establish a new legacy of communication about End-of-Life matters without the taboo and fear that often surrounds the topic.
I had established a powerful support network I knew I could count on when I most needed it. I even felt better about my retirement. Who says there are no benefits to growing older? I’d found many resources that even made financing my End-of-Life plan possible! I realized that End-of-Life planning actually helped me live better today, and that’s more than worth the effort to ensure peace of mind for me and my family.