During the month of November, Mr. Grumby and I took some time to consider a few worst case scenarios and how to best prepare for them. Our top three were loss of physical health, loss of life, and mental incapacity. And our measures of preparation included open enrollment, HSA contributions, and a review of our wills and advanced directives. You are never too young to take care of this very important business!
Final Open Enrollment, and Then What?
In mid-November we submitted our final (you know, last time!) open enrollment forms through our employers. We both signed up for high deductible health plans with HSAs. Even though we will likely not be employed for the full year, we will both fully fund our HSAs in January.
After that, despite the best efforts of some of our elected officials, it appears that we will still have access to affordable health insurance for the remainder of 2018.
As far as healthcare spending goes, our worst case scenario for 2018 is that our expenses will reach our family out-of-pocket maximum of $14,000. If that happens, we have the option of using the HSA funds that we’ve been building over the past 4 years. We hope, though, that our expenses will be low enough that we can cover any health care expense with our 2-year cash reserve.
What About Grave Injury and Terminal Illness?
The most important document to have in place for end-of-life decisions in the state of Oregon is the Advanced Directive. By preparing this document when you are young and healthy, you decide for yourself whether you want life support and/or feeding tubes in case you suffer from sudden severed head syndrome or some other similar misfortune. The form also allows you to appoint a health care representative who you trust to honor your wishes.
When you make these choices for yourself, you remove the burden of difficult and emotionally-charged decisions from your loved ones. Remember, your loved ones may not agree with you or with each other on these matters. Maybe your Aunt Mary wants to keep you alive regardless of any excruciating pain you may be experiencing while the doctors squabble over how they might re-attach your head.
And Mental Incapacity?
If either Mr. Grumby or I lose our marbles for whatever reason, we’ve both signed a General Durable Power of Attorney that assigns each other as primary agents for all fiduciary matters. Now we will revise these forms so that we also have secondary agents. This addresses the very unlikely event in which we are both struck by a large truck on our bicycles, one of us dies, and the other survives with a brain injury.
Sheesh! Are You Preparing for Death, Too?
You betcha! We are all going to die some day. Hopefully a long, long, time from now. When that happens, we need to have a will in place. Maybe a living trust, too. Both Mr. Grumby and I have had experiences with family members behaving badly when someone dies. It’s not pretty. This is why we have a well-assembled will which clearly spells out who will inherit each of Mr. Grumby’s beloved bobble heads.
Aside from clearly defining who gets which parts of your estate, these important documents also appoint a trusted and respected personal representative who takes responsibility for dispersing said bobble heads. This person should also have skills like counting and talking with people.
Don’t Forget About Communication!
One of the most important things you can do to be prepared for the worst is to maintain regular communication with your appointees. Here are some questions and topics of discussion:
- Have you or your appointees had any major life changes that would change how they feel about their responsibilities as your representatives?
- If you’ve chosen to appoint someone outside of your family, does your family know who you’ve chosen?
- Has your estate become more or less complicated?
- If the volume of your bobble head (or other) collection will require your estate to go through probate, is that something your Personal Representative wants to deal with? Would setting up a trust make the process less cumbersome for your PR?
- Does your backup Power of Attorney have all of the information they need to access your accounts?
- For couples, do appointees from each family have each other’s contact information?
Final Words (I hope not!!)
Thanks to our friend L.L. and to Mr. Groovy for helping us get the ball rolling on this. Check out Mr. Groovy’s post Are You Tending to the Nooks and Crannies of Your Financial House?
Also, did I miss anything here with being prepared for the worst?