It is a lot later than you think

You have probably noticed a lot lately that most days we meet people who have left making decisions to downsize, relocate, retire, and strengthen their cash position far too late.

Their lives have been changed forever due to strokes, heart attacks, cancer and so on.

As a result, their opportunity to make some essential decisions has been left too late. In other words the decision making has gone into other people's hands.

I too am considering my options at the tender age of 68. In fact it was a depressing through on my birthday day to realise that in 12 years I would be 80 and in 22 years I could probably be dead!!

Fortunately it only lasted a day when I woke up to the fact I was actually still alive and had choices, as many do not. I stood beside my brother at the funeral of our last remaining uncle of the older generation and explained to him that we were next to die!! I nearly had to call an ambulance because of the look on my brother's face - just kidding, but you can see where I am going with this.

Like it or not, it is later than you think.

I recently sat with my daughter and her partner in the Hamilton birthing unit, with their brand new baby. She was telling me how neat it was to create the next generation. My response was that they needed to do that to replace us.

Relating this back to the farm decision making process, have we made the necessary changes to provide for our surviving partner?

  • Have we got a proper will in place? The worst thing we can do is die intestate or "will- less" as it is an absolute nightmare for the surviving beneficiaries.
  • Do we have power of attorney signed and in place?
  • Do we have enduring power of attorney signed and in place in case we cannot make a decision? Who will that be, and do they know what you really want? Scrapping over assets of the deceased, and those alive too, seems to be a new pastime for many not to mention Lawyers - who may be short of work. As a mate often says "were there is a will there is a way and where there is a will there is a relative ".
Recently a friend had a stroke while out running and is frozen all down one side but fortunately he can still think. Do we have our Trusts up to standard and do our Trustees really know what we want?

  • Is there some cash in the system or are you fully committed?
  • Do our children/beneficiaries understand what will happen, what we expect and how it may look?

I recently met a New Zealander who is very successful in Australia, the world in fact, only to be told she has a brain tumour.

A week later her new partner was advised he had prostate cancer. It was not a great week for them but they were really upbeat because they had a workable plan, enough money and the desire to start doing what they wanted when they wanted.

I asked her what the turning point of acceptance was. She said it was in the shower one morning and realising they still were alive and they had options. She decided to exit the corporate world and do what she wanted, when she wanted. The key point here seems to be that they had ability to make that choice.

I see many farmers hanging onto farms and properties too long to their own detriment.

There is life after farming; it just takes a while to adjust.

We were recently fortunate enough to talk to a Professor of Social Science who reminded me of how the age demographic is changing. With a bit more care and focus, our generation will live into their 80s and that is quite a few years of retirement or semi retirement that we need to plan for.

In summary, this article is about reminding you, (and myself) that it is later than we think.

  • We need to ensure that we have done everything we can around the future planning for everyone who is important to us.
  • We need to ensure we have got enough money for retirement.
  • But most importantly we need to focus on being in a position to do what we want, when we want.

There is a lot of detail required, and if like me you are not good at detail, my strongest recommendation is that you find someone to help you with the process.


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