Briefcase Study: Plan like you will live forever, live like you will die tomorrow

In Articles, Articles: Kansas City Office, Articles: Salt Lake City Office, Briefcase Studies, SLC Winter 2024, Winter 2024 by Scott Dougan

Plan like you will live forever, live like you will die tomorrow.

Retirement planning is one of the great balancing acts: you suspect you’re not going to live forever, but what if you do? And maybe forever isn’t really forever, but what if it’s to 112 years old? Are you ready for that, at least financially?

It turns out that there are believed to be between 300 and 450 people worldwide who are 110 or older right now. I share this to point out that while it’s rare, it’s definitely a number of people greater than zero. This begs the question then, “What would my financial planning look like if I was to plan to live forever?”

Before we set out to answer this question of extreme longevity, let’s consider the other side of this equation. What if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? It’s grim, but it’s a worthy exercise, nonetheless. How would you approach life if you knew your time was almost up? At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I’d wager that most of your thoughts would be anything but financial matters. Or maybe they’re precisely that; you may wish to have your affairs in order so you’re not leaving a mess behind. In fact, a lot of people who’ve had health scares have admitted to having financial concerns immediately enter their mind.

Whether you plan to live a very long time, or plan as if your remaining time is short, having a strategy for the handling of your financial assets and the financial needs of those whom you care about may be one of the highest priorities. So, have you considered this balancing act, and do you feel that you’ve taken the time to address the financial considerations either way?

Depending on which direction you choose to consider, here are some thoughts to ponder:

If I’m going to live forever, have I…

• Saved enough and invested it in such a way that I have a consistent and secure income to meet my normal expenses for the rest of my life?

• Considered the effects of inflation on the things I buy now and may buy in the future?

• Made a plan for my care should I need medical assistance or move to a nursing facility?

• Set aside money to have some fun while still able, maybe bucket list vacations or new hobbies that pique my curiosity?

• Shared with my family my lifestyle and care wishes if I’m not cognitively able to make sound decisions later on?

• Put together legal documents to ensure my wishes are carried out and my assets are protected?

If I’m going to die tomorrow, have I…

• Restored any strained relationships that are meaningful to me?

• Put together legal documents to ensure my wishes are carried out and my assets are protected?

• Opened that special occasion bottle of wine and had my favorite meal, with dessert?

While this balancing act can lead to some grim discussions and decisions, the result of either path can lead to the same question: have we taken the time to prioritize our needs and wants in such a way that we’re free to enjoy the time we have left, whether that’s 60 years or 24 hours? Either outcome shares the need for some thoughtful planning, so we hope you’ve taken the time to consider this. If you’re not sure if you’ve fully addressed your needs in either scenario, please reach out to us to talk further.

Planning like you will live forever, and living like you will die tomorrow sounds like solid life advice. We hope you’ll consider how this should drive your financial decisions, and also encourage you to get dessert with your next meal.