• Jenni Perkins

New Year Resolutions

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

Put things in order sooner rather than later!

With many baby boomers having parents live well into their 90’s, we have been largely buffered from feeling our age - after all, isn’t 60 the new 40??

Yet a growing number of us are now the senior generation. It seems that almost overnight, for this baby boomer at least, conversations have become more like ones that I had previously associated with my parents. Pictures of the latest grandchild are interspersed with stories of knee and hip replacements; referrals for heart stress tests; research on the latest hearing aids; plans to downsize - in between discussions about which camper trailer is the best and the latest cruise as everyone seeks to pack in as much as possible while still (relatively) fit and able.

Increasingly it is news, not of our parents’, but those of our own generation who have passed away. Last year started off with a phone call early in the morning from a hospital doctor to tell me that my 72 year-old brother (who was in the middle of plans for a three month holiday in Europe) had suffered a massive stroke. This was the beginning of a nightmare four months for my brother and myself, until he died, as I stayed by his side to help navigate the health and aged care systems to deal with the devastating impact of his stroke.

I learnt first-hand the importance of having in place an enduring power of attorney and guardianship (which my brother didn’t have), an up to date will (which thankfully he did have) and a filing system with key financial information such as bank accounts, superannuation, house titles etc – which my brother didn’t have, and which we only found after extensive super-sleuthing.

Fast forward just six months later, and I was by the side of my 63 year old cousin when she was informed the unbelievably shocking news following an endoscopy that the reason why she had lost her appetite over the last few months was not due to a stomach ulcer – but an aggressive form of stomach cancer. My cousin died just four weeks later.

Fortuitously, she had only just made a will for the first time (at the time of writing it she was planning on retiring when she was 65 years old, and looking forward to post retirement dreams). My cousin’s filing system however was almost non-existent, and it has been a difficult and profoundly sad process sorting through papers scattered throughout her home in different drawers and boxes to find important financial information, her health insurance, house and car insurance – all the details that the executor of her will needed.

There are many lessons for me from this past year – not the least being the importance of living each day the best we can; and telling those we are close to we love them. However, on a more practical level, it is never too soon to make sure that you have an up to date will; you have in place provisions such as an enduring power of attorney and guardianship; and you have put some order around your key financial and business details to help make the task of those that are left behind easier.

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