Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life

[This article was originally published on February 24, 2010.  The links were updated on June 20, 2018.]

Jan Warner and Jan Collins. Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life. Quill Driver Books. Fresno, CA. 2009. 255 pages.

Available on Amazon (click to order)

Aging endangers many things we take for granted when we're younger: health, assets, family harmony and personal autonomy. In order to avoid threats to any of these, it is important to develop a plan for the future now. Next Steps offers practical advice to help Baby Boomers or older Americans prepare for whatever may come their way.

The book's title may sound familiar to newspaper readers. For more than a decade, the authors, Jan Warner, an elder law attorney who passed away before the book was published, and Jan Collins, a journalist, were coauthors of a nationally syndicated elder law column of the same name. Drawing on their years of experience and reader questions, in their book Warner and Collins stress the importance of creating a team to help develop a plan for the future. They say the team should include a lawyer, certified public accountant, geriatric care manager, financial advisor, and physician. The book explains the role of each team member as well as how to find them.

Next Steps also discusses how to create an estate plan, emphasizing the importance of flexibility. There are chapters on potential pitfalls, asset management, and health care planning, including Medicaid and nursing home rights. In addition, the book explains the effect of divorce on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, among other issues. There is also a discussion of second marriages as well as domestic partnerships. Other chapters cover burial disputes, organ donations, and planning for pets.

Each chapter ends with sample questions and answers, illustrating how the information provided in the chapter works in real-life situations. Filled with practical information, Next Steps is a helpful resource for the estimated 5,000 people who are turning 65 every day, as well as their slightly younger contemporaries.