Many of us have an aging male friend or family member who is unmarried and has no children. This man, also known as your “Uncle Marvin”, is getting older, lives alone, and is probably financially prepared for the remainder of his life. But he may be completely unprepared for the legal consequences of his aging.
Unlike his female counterparts, such as your Aunt May, Uncle Marvin and his male contemporaries are more likely to be emotionally isolated from other family members and socially separated from his community. In addition, our society still erroneously views men as competent, stoic loners who don’t require or desire our involvement with their lives. Even our health care and aging mechanisms are geared toward aging women due to their longer life expectancies. Everyone, including the elder care industry, loves and cares for Aunt May, but no one likes your Uncle Marvin.
Statistics tell us (and my wife fondly reminds me) that single males live markedly shorter lives than coupled men. In addition, gay couples live at least as long as men in opposite-sex couples. And the depression and loneliness felt by single men is not lost upon them – many more aged men remarry than aged women – but not all men are able to find a partner to grow old with. These men may need help with health care, finances, and personal maintenance as they age.
If you are a single, aging man with family:
- Attempt to maintain consistent contact with any trusted family members. Show up at family holidays, schedule a semi-monthly phone call with each close relative, meet up in person at least once a year, even if you must travel.
Whether or not you have family members that you trust:
- Continue to maintain friendships, and try to find one or two younger individuals you can trust and expect to outlive you.
- Work with an attorney to find you an independent Health Care Proxy and possible Agent under a Power of Attorney.
- Hire an accountant, attorney, and financial planner, all of whom will be on the lookout for financial sycophants and absconders.
- Build a close working relationship with your bank’s branch manager.
- Create lists of your financial and health care professionals and keep the list someplace apparent in your house, such as on your refrigerator.
If you are Uncle Marvin’s Niece or Nephew:
- Do your best to stay in contact with your Uncle Marvin. Single men tend to leave fewer charitable bequests (I.e. they leave more of their estate to family)
- Contact his attorney whenever he is hospitalized or when you fear he is being unduly influenced regarding his estate.
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