Fire Life

The Things You Need To Discuss With Your Spouse

By Diana Palmieri
 
We don’t want to think about our spouses becoming old and to the point where we can no longer take care of them. We also don’t want to think about them being injured to the point where they are on life support or they die. I know I don’t, but it’s a reality, and it’s important to sit down and go over the “what ifs” should something happen to you or your spouse.
 
Health Care Proxy
I am sure the name Terry Schiavo means something to most of you. Terry was a woman who lived in Florida who did not have a health care proxy in place. Her husband, against her parent’s wishes, was able to turn off Terry’s feeding tube by a court order. If Terry would have had her health care proxy in place, this might not have happened. It was a long, emotional, drawn-out case that became a media circus. So, you need to discuss with your spouse if something happens to you, the reality of being kept alive or not. If your wishes are not to be kept alive and you know your spouse will not have the will to give the order, give that responsibility to someone else.
 
Long Term Care
Long term care means skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and nursing home care in a nutshell. In New York State alone, the cost of long term health care outside of an insurance policy can run upward of $75,000 annually. Long term health care works like an insurance policy. You are rated by the company, and an annual premium is paid. You need to get a medical exam and are asked health questions and family history. The benefits of the policy begin when your health care provider indicates that some of your activities of daily living (ADLs) become impaired. ADLs include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, continence, and transferring. This is super simplified; long term care comes in many shapes and sizes. A knowledgeable insurance agent can assist you in this. It can save you a lot of money in the future to look into this now.
 
Wills
A will is designed to let everyone know who you want your assets to go to on your demise. The number of active and retired firefighters who do not have wills is staggering. I would say 1 out of 5 who come into my office do not have wills. New York City firefighters have attorneys who will give them discounts on drawing up wills if they are active. Ask around your firehouse, and find out if there are attorneys who will help you. You don’t want your family to have yet another burden of deciding what happens to your assets. I’ve seen a lot of family fighting, and it’s not pleasant. Also important if you have younger children is a minor’s trust. You want to select who you want to take care of your children should something happen to both of you. 
 
This is pretty heavy stuff, I know. But, I’ve seen a lot of folks who do not have these documents in order and the havoc it causes. Most people don’t want to talk about it because that would mean facing their mortality. I get it, but facing it now could save your family a lot of grief in the future. 
 

Diana Palmieri is dually registered with Vanderbilt Securities LLC and H Beck Inc., which are unaffiliated. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities LLC, member SIPC/FINRA/MSRB.