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Planning is even more important if you have no family

A woman who celebrated turning 100 had this to say when asked how she felt about the achievement. "It's nothing to strive for." Not everyone feels that way, of course, but many do. And one of the certainties of the world today is that many of us are living longer. What is less certain is that our faculties and our ability to care for ourselves will remain unchanged as we age.

Those of the baby boom generation who have cared for aging parents in their final days know this well. If they have children, they may feel confident that they have the support system around them that will see to their needs. But what about those boomers who are looking at being "elder orphans." The outlook does not have to be bleak, but optimizing resources to cover possibilities requires solid estate planning. And now is the time to do it.

Perhaps the most significant issues we all face as we age is where will we live, and how will we pay for it. In answer to the first, many who have led single lives are proving inventive as they gracefully age. Like the characters in the old TV show "The Golden Girls," many are finding friends or like-minded other singles to share accommodations. Others are finding security in various forms of intentional community, such as senior living facilities.

Covering the cost of living can be a bigger challenge because it's impossible to know exactly what those costs might be and when. Living in your own home might be predictable, but what if you need long-term nursing care?

Considering the uncertainties, most experts stress the importance of lone seniors employing available legal tools and documents to ensure that assets are identified and all possible agents are directed as to how to handle them on your behalf. And the way to do that is by laying out plans now with an experienced elder law attorney's help.

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