Money Matters: Solo Aging

Photo Courtesy Oregon Pacific Bank

Sponsored by Oregon Pacific Bank

By Kelli Warner and Paul Johnson

Approximately one in four people are solo agers, which means they have no spouse, partner or children who will be able to assist them with their needs as they grow older. The key to thriving as a solo ager in your later years is to start planning now.

As the owner of Senior Options in Ashland, Ellen Waldman is an Aging Life Care Specialist and for more than 20 years has been helping her clients plan for growing older and accessing needed services.

“In general, people put off planning because it seems daunting,” Ellen says. “There’s an overwhelming amount of information that they want to convey to someone, either legally or to their doctors, and they don’t know where to start.”

How to begin

Ellen suggests starting by building a team of professionals to help you plan for your future needs, including an estate planning attorney, a financial advisor, an insurance specialist, a care manager and a fiduciary. She often refers her clients to Oregon Pacific Bank’s Trust Services to start the conversation around building an estate plan.

Beth Knorr, Senior Vice President and Director of Trust Services at OPB, says professionals can help at every stage, from getting started on a plan to seeing that it’s carried through. The first steps are important.

“A trust officer can help them gather their thoughts, and then we can send them off with a recommendation to a few estate planning attorneys to start getting that put together,” Beth says.

Support when you need it

Solo agers who don’t have anyone else to depend on can feel secure that their needs will be met through their trust officer. Even as circumstances change over the years, a corporate fiduciary’s dedication never wavers.

“We will be there when the client needs us,” Beth says. “When they have put us in their estate plan, we’re there to serve them if they become incapacitated, or upon their death, we’ll carry out their wishes.”

Ellen says that’s the most important part of fiduciary services. “Particularly for solo agers who have no one that they can appoint to an important position—such as a successor trustee or a power of attorney—a corporate fiduciary is not going anywhere,” Ellen says. “You can count on them to always be there for you.”

A sense of comfort

Although creating an estate plan may be intimidating at first, having one in place can provide immense comfort, Ellen says.

“Even though people often feel overwhelmed putting all this in place, they do, they have such relief,” she says. “They feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders and they have peace of mind. And now they can go back to living their life.”

If you’d like to discuss your unique situation or review common questions about making an estate plan, learn more here.

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