Boot Camp For Senior Citizens

September 9, 2015

When I think of boot camp, I think of soldiers doing 500 push ups and 700 sit ups in thirty minutes and then running 300 miles in the sweltering heat with 1,000 pounds of equipment strapped to their backs.

Although many senior citizens are physically fit and just as strong as when they were young, I tend to think of boot camp for them as being more emotionally demanding than the physical boot camp for soldiers.

The emotional boot camp for seniors is more in line with their preparations for death and dying, which isn’t to say that the boot camp for soldiers differs in that respect. However, many senior citizens say they are prepared for those final days but I find that few of them really are, as opposed to soldiers who know that this is a distinct possibility.

I used to think that when you are young and have a family, you would have a will in place to protect your spouse and children. However, I’ve met too many parents who haven’t made adequate preparations for what would happen to their children if both of their parents were to die in an accident.

I have only met a handful of parents who have made arrangements with family members or friends to be the guardian of their children in the event of a mutual disaster, and almost none of them have made financial arrangements for their medical care or education.

Senior citizens are even less prepared for emergencies than their adult children. I would have thought that when you are old, you would have made a last will and testament so that your final wishes would be carried out. But, that isn’t what I’ve been finding.

Instead, I’ve heard things like, “When I’m gone, let them fight it out among themselves. I won’t be here to care what they do with my possessions.”

You might not care if Aunt Sophie claims your dining room set when your daughter had always thought it was going to be hers one day. But what about your insurance policies? Will there be enough to cover your funeral expenses and do you have any preferences about what kind of funeral you would like to have?

If you truly don’t care about what is done with your possessions after you are gone, does that include letting your estate goes into probate or letting your assets go to the state instead of to your children or other beneficiaries?

None of us will live forever. From the time we’re born, we’re terminal and it’s better to deal with that reality than burying our heads in the sand.

Most of us have some legal issues that need to be seen to while we are of sound mind, if not of sound body. Do you have a living will that directs treatment in the event of certain medical conditions, as well as a last will and testament that addresses the distribution of your property and assets after your death?

Most people would not mind being the executor of a last will and testament but many of those same people do not want the responsibility of carrying out the wishes of a living will if it involves refusing life support aids in your behalf. It doesn’t matter how often you assure them that they will not be making this decision since your decision is clearly spelled out in your living will and all you want is for them to execute it.

Whatever real properties you own, as well as your retirement accounts, pension funds, or other assets, will probably be covered in your last will and testament. But do you own any shares in the stock market or have CDs, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, or precious metals that no one knows about? Would you like them to go to your beneficiaries or are you content to let them go to the state?

It’s a no-brainer that if there is a lot of money at stake, your last will and testament will probably be contested unless it is so airtight that no attorney will touch it. On the other hand, if most of your assets have been a secret and you want it to stay that way, then maybe a simple will that lists just the assets that everyone knows about should be listed.

There are any number of reasons a person may not want his assets revealed, even after he dies. If he truly wants his secrets to be interred with him, then it makes sense for him to list the assets that are common knowledge, e.g., pension funds, retirement accounts, the house he lives in, etc.

I think this kind of emotional boot camp is harder on senior citizens than the physical boot camp that is required for soldiers. But both kinds involve having to face the unknown and make the necessary preparations for it.

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