“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

 With so many scary headlines in recent weeks, it’s reminded our team that even if you have a plan, you should always have a plan B.

As we work with clients throughout their seasons of life, we’ve seen firsthand how having a plan B can be lifesaving. In honor of September’s National Preparedness Month, here are our top 5 tips for creating a solid contingency plan:

  1. Have a plan A. While this might seem obvious, many people let life get in the way of developing a solid plan for their future self. Let’s refer to this as the Scarlett O’Hara “Gone with the Wind” approach: “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Then your tomorrows turn into days, weeks, months, and years. And then something unexpected happens, and everyone is surprised, stressed, and overwhelmed.
  2. Review and secure your vital documents in one place. Make sure those who need to know are aware of where your documents are stored. Executing a plan B often hinges on loved ones having access to important documents to support your health and financial choices. For example: Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, etc.
  3. Start the conversation. Often, loved ones don’t want to discuss “what happens if…” scenarios, but avoiding these candid conversations can be disastrous in the long run. You might be surprised how open others are to having the conversation you dread about your future. You should consider discussing questions like: “Where shall I live?”; “When should I move?”; “Should I stop driving?” and more.
  4. Take a field trip or two. Visit local senior residences, take a tour and see what they have to offer. What’s the vibe? How do you feel about the layout? Bring a friend along and ask lots of questions. Knowledge is power! Having a bit of information under your belt about future options can be liberating.
  5. Feel free to change your mind. The beauty of having a plan, as well as a back-up plan, helps you to see that change is possible. If you find that what you thought you wanted just isn’t working out, for whatever reason, reset and begin again.

A very wise client of ours shared the following with me regarding her decision to downsize from her lovely New York City apartment to a beautiful Hudson Valley senior residence: “Better to be five years too early than 5 minutes too late!”

And that, my friends, is why we implore our clients to have a plan (x2)!