What if Something Happens to Me? Contingency planning during COVID-19
As if COVID-19 isn’t scary enough, family caregivers are now, more than ever, worrying about who would take care of their spouse or partner if something were to happen to them. If this is you, below are some questions for you to think about and specific professionals who can be part of your “What if” planning:
Your legal paperwork: now is the time to make sure your legal paperwork is in order. Have you completed your estate planning documents (power of attorney, will, and advanced directives)? If so, have you reviewed them lately to make sure they still reflect your wishes? Pay particular attention to who you named to be your decision makers if either of you are not able to serve in this role for your spouse.
- If you need to find an attorney, visit: www.naela.org
Your finances: make sure you understand your financial situation. What is your monthly income? Do you have long-term care insurance? If so, do you understand what it covers? When does it kicks in? How much money would you receive? If you don’t have long-term care insurance, how much do you have saved to pay for long-term care costs? How many years of care would this savings cover?
- This is the right time to meet with your financial planner to review your overall financial picture. If you need a financial planner, you can find one at: www.cfp.net
Your spouse’s or partner’s care needs: if you are the primary caregiver for your spouse, who will assume these duties in your absence? How much care would they need? Would it be practical for your partner to remain at home if you were no longer there? Who would make meals? Who would do the meal planning and grocery shopping? Would he/she be open to a paid professional caregiver? If so, how many hours would be needed? Where would your family find a caregiver? How much would this care cost and can you afford it? Or would it be better for your spouse to move out? Could he/she live with family? Would a retirement community be a better match? Would memory care or assisted living be the best fit?
If you need help thinking through these questions and developing a contingency plan, an Aging Life Care Professional can be an invaluable resource to help you understand your options, the costs, and what might make the most sense given your spouses’ needs, preferences, and your financial situation.
Together you can create a contingency plan that will help you sleep at night, knowing there is a plan to ensure your spouse is well cared for in your absence.
- You can find an Aging Life Care professional at: www.aginglifecare.org
Your spouse’s medical needs: if you weren’t around, who would take your spouse to medical appointments and coordinate with his/her doctors? An Aging Life Care Professional (ALCP) can help you make a plan. An ALCP can also step in to be this person on your behalf: coordinating medical care, accompanying your spouse to medical appointments to ensure his/her medical needs are being met and that the doctor’s recommendations are being implemented.
Daily money management: in your absence, who would pay the bills? Who would balance your checkbook? Who would ensure your taxes are paid? Who would coordinate with your financial planner and accountant? Who would oversee home maintenance tasks? A professional fiduciary can help with all of these tasks and can be an invaluable part of your contingency plan.
- You can find a professional fiduciary at: www.aadmm.com
This new era of COVID-19 has forced all of us to think about our own mortality. End of life planning is a “to do” list task that is commonly avoided. Now this planning is essential. Now is the time.
An Aging Life Care Professional can help you map out a contingency plan and connect you with all the professionals you need to ensure your plan can be implemented at a moment’s notice. Having your “just in case” plan will help you sleep better at night.
Your Aging Life Care Professional will also ensure you are making yourself a priority during this stressful time. You don’t have to do this alone.
Lisa Mayfield is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA and is the Past President of the Aging Life Care Association. Learn more at