New (and old) resolutions for 2021
Baby boomers can’t ignore that we are now the senior generation. Increasingly conversations are interspersed with pictures of the latest grandchild; tales of knee and hip replacements; referrals for heart stress tests; research on the latest hearing aids; and plans to downsize – along with discussions about the best off-road caravans and (pre-Covid!) the latest cruise as everyone seeks to pack in as much as possible while still (relatively) fit and able.
Concerningly, it is now news, not of our parents’, but those of our own generation who have passed away. This time just two years ago I received a phone call early in the morning 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. He died just four months later. As I stayed by his side to help navigate the health and aged care systems, I learnt first-hand the importance of having 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.
Just six months later, I was with my 63 year-old cousin when she received the diagnosis that the reason why she had lost her appetite over the last few months was not due to a stomach ulcer – but an aggressive stomach cancer. One week she was teaching in the classroom – the next week she was in palliative care in hospital. My cousin died just four weeks later.
Fortuitously, she had just made a will for the first time (at the time of writing her will she was planning to retire 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 was a difficult and profoundly sad process sorting through papers scattered throughout her home to find important financial information, her health insurance, house and car insurance – all the details that the executor of her will needed.
These are not unique stories – they are recurring for other families somewhere every day. I learnt the importance of living each day the best we can; and telling those we are close to we love them. I also learnt how imperative it is to have an up to date will; that you have in place provisions such as an enduring power of attorney and guardianship; and that you have put some order around your financial and business details to help make the task of those that are left behind easier.
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