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Speaker addresses retirement

Megan O'Neil | Friday, April 1, 2005

In a presentation born out of the “Justice for All Ages” conference in the fall, Saint Mary’s alumna Jane Ann Schiltz spoke at the College Thursday about the importance of planning for old age and the benefits of long term care policies.

Schiltz works for Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee, Wis. and is the 2004-05 Shannon Scholar. The Shannon Scholar program was established in 1993 by business professor Bill Shannon in order to bring graduates to campus to share their professional experiences.

Schiltz referred to the current middle-aged generation as the “sandwich generation” and said those who fall into this group face challenges unlike any known before. She and other members of the “sandwich generation” are having children later in life and are then finding themselves stuck between their aging parents and young children, Schiltz said.

“We have to deal with issues with our parents … while at the same time we are dealing with issues with our children,” she said.

Current middle-aged people are burdened with paying for their parents’ care, Schiltz said, while saving for their children’s education and contributing to their own retirement fund.

Schiltz said individuals must think long term in order to sufficiently plan for their own care once they can no longer live independently. She emphasized the importance of having a “durable power of attorney” – someone to make critical decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

Schiltz also advised those in attendance to take inventory of their estates and maintain an updated will. People need to discuss and express their wishes explicitly in order to avoid later confusion and emotional distress, she said.

The Saint Mary’s alumna related a personal story in which her mother-in-law suffered a stroke. The only existing copy of her will was locked in a safety deposit box. Her children found the key, but because the will was inaccessible, they did not have legal power to open the box and retrieve it.

“Having these discussions early, rather than later, allows everyone to be more comfortable with the situation,” Schiltz said.

According to Schiltz, it is never too early to begin considering who to appoint as your power of attorney and to create a written document addressing any issues that might arise in times of crisis.

Schiltz said long term care insurance has been growing in both popularity and quality in recent years as the average life span lengthens.

She also advised the audience to consider details before making an investment in long-term care insurance, such as whether you want at home care or nursing home care and how much such care costs in your area. The earlier one buys a plan, she said, the better the financial deal they will be able to acquire.

“The sooner you do this, the better off you are,” Schiltz said.