I cannot tell you how many clients have expressed concern to me about aging. Specifically, they have had emotional, physical, and financial challenges in caring for their 80-something year old parents and do not want to put that burden on their own children.

Yet even before old age becomes an issue, many people do not consider that something tragic could happen long before nursing home care is relevant. Preparing for worst-case scenarios brings peace of mind during the best of times. Here's why:

Tom was a healthy 43-year-old approaching the height of his earning power and living the happiest days of his life. He had a great job that fulfilled him, a loving wife, and he was a scratch golfer to boot. Life was good.

One day, as Tom was walking through an airport in Denver, his coworker noticed Tom was weaving as he walked and slurring as he spoke. They were on their way to a business meeting when Tom collapsed and had a massive stroke that no one - including Tom or his doctors - ever saw coming.

Did you know that nearly 41% of long-term care services provided in the United States go to people under the age of 65?*

Everyone needs to plan ahead for such a risk of becoming incapacitated. And if you have a spouse or partner, you need to plan together. We all anticipate mental and physical decline when we're much older, but anything can happen in the blink of an eye long before we reach old age. No one wants to think about it, but the smartest of us know preparation beats denial every time.

Here are four essential documents you should have in place today and that you and your spouse or partner should review at least annually:

Durable power of attorney
A durable power of attorney gives the person that you designate the authority to handle your financial affairs. It's valid immediately after you sign it and will continue to be effective if you become incapacitated. It can provide some, but not all, of the benefits of a revocable living trust.

Healthcare power of attorney
A healthcare power of attorney designates a trusted relative or friend to make decisions regarding your medical care if you are incapacitated and unable to make such decisions yourself.

Living will
A living will provides direction to your physician regarding your wishes as to whether or not you want to be kept artificially alive with medical treatment if there is no reasonable chance that you will recover.

A will
In the event of your death, a will provides the security of knowing that you have left behind a plan for the distribution of your assets. It's also often used to nominate an individual to serve as guardian of surviving minor children.

While we do not provide legal advice we often work with our clients and their estate attorneys
to review holistic estate planning strategies and outline ways we can help make sure your assets end up where and with whom you want them.

*Georgetown University Long-Term Care Financing Project, 2013

Out firm does not provide legal advice. However, we would be happy to work with your chosen legal counsel to create a strategy that's right for you.

Caroline Hill, Financial Advisor


(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).