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Planning in the Absence of a Crystal Ball

For many, the idea of contemplating one’s mortality and health prospects is as appealing as writing a “living will”. Nevertheless, what would you really want to happen to your family, should you become permanently incapacitated or terminally ill?

Trying to second-guess the key outcomes in life, the ‘What if?’ questions, we all know is a fruitless task   even though the temptation to do so overtakes our sense of reality at times. There are no guarantees, no absolute certainties beyond, perhaps, Benjamin Franklin’s view: “The only things certain in life are death and taxes”.

Do We Dodge the Issues?

Few people wish to micromanage their lives   besides which, trying to anticipate whether one might succumb to illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or dementia, for many remains a subject too uncomfortable to contemplate. However, failing to make provisions, such as investing in life insurance over 50, can cause greater difficulties for families left behind. Whilst one cannot second guess the course one’s life will take, available statistics give some perspective on the matter.

The Bottom Line for our Health Prospects

The UK Alzheimer’s Society has published some sobering figures: 800,000 people in the UK are currently diagnosed as having dementia; this will rise to over a million people by 2021; there are over 670,000 carers of dementia sufferers. Given that life insurance over 50 policies may payout on diagnosis of serious or terminal illnesses, such financial support could significantly assist both the sufferer and carers in such circumstances.

Cancer Research UK provides the following statistics on mortality: 77% of cancer deaths occur in those of 65 years and over; the four most common causes of death, between the ages of 50 and 74 (2007-2009) were: cancer (for both men and women 40%); coronary heart disease (men 20%, women 10%); respiratory diseases (men 10%, women 11%); and digestive disorders (for both men and women 6%).

What about Wills?

In 2010, Unbiased.co published the results of a UK survey indicating that over 30 million adults have not made a will, including more than a third of those aged over 55. This is contrary to the fact that 92% of people expressed a firm view as to who should inherit their money. Dying intestate could lead to demands for inheritance tax payments, before the estate has been released, forcing relatives to take out costly loans to free the assets. 70% of adults with children under 18 have no will at all.

This appears to suggest that apparent apathy towards planning for old age is connected to avoidance of contemplating one’s mortality and one’s health prospects.

What Provisions Are Available?

Aside from drafting a will, life insurance can make provision for a range of eventualities: cover of funeral costs; policies can be designed to settle outstanding mortgages and loans; provide a gift to family members; cover educational costs for grandchildren or make a charitable donation. Consider the amount of insurance required, if you are contemplating a gift or in relation to any potential debts that you might leave behind. Is Term Insurance more relevant to your circumstances or a Whole Life policy?

Psychologist and palliative care expert, Marie de Hennezel, observes: ‘Medicine and science will help us, but the strength of our vitality and our joie de vivre as we age will depend upon how we have worked at growing old.’ Perhaps part of this process of maturation is to be courageous enough to contemplate difficulties, through intelligent use of wills and life insurance.

Autor Bio: Julia Guthrie is a journalist with more than twenty years’ experience in writing for a wide variety of finance and business sites, including Engage Mutual. She has extensive experience in commercial and business risk assessment and in the provision of life insurance over 50 cover. Julia lives in the east of England and has three sons; both of her parents suffered from dementia.

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