finance

No kids? Plan carefully for retirement

Whether you're a RINK (retired, independent, no kids) or a DINK (dual income, no kids), you may find that building a nest egg for the golden years isn't enough.

If you don't have children, you need to ensure that someone will look out for your best interests should there come a time when your body starts to give out or you just can't take care of yourself anymore.

You can pay for attorneys, accountants and financial planners to watch your assets. Health care professionals can monitor your health and people can be hired to cook and clean. But who's going to coordinate your care, observe the people who are assisting you and make sure that your voice is heard and your wishes are respected?

We all need to think about these issues whether or not we have children. Today's mobile society provides little guarantee that grown children will live nearby. Even when they live in close proximity, family and job demands may limit the amount of time they have to devote to an ailing parent. And, sadly, too often parents and children are either estranged or have a dysfunctional relationship.

If you don't outlive your spouse, siblings and friends, you can hope to rely on them, but it's a big plus to have someone physically and mentally strong to deal with the issues and hassles that may arise. The bottom line is you should begin assembling a team of professionals, friends and relatives. Let them know your wishes -- and put them in writing -- before you become dependent.

Living arrangements for people age 65 and older
Live alone
Live with spouse
Live with other relative
Live with nonrelative
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006

"People are afraid of doing this because they're afraid of losing control," says Chris Cooper, a Certified Financial Planner based in Toledo, Ohio. "They're not losing control; they're delegating control so that they stay in control. If you don't do it, control can be taken away from you either by your own poor health or by a court."

Cooper, who is also a nurse and holds a graduate degree in gerontology, founded ElderCare Advocates to assist clients who are dealing with long-term care planning and end-of-life issues.

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"I oversee the services that they're getting -- money managers, accountants, household employees, home health care and nursing home people and transportation. I help create the budgets to help pay for this," says Cooper.

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