Estate Planning Procrastination - What Can Happen at Older Ages (III of III)

Posted By Jay Kaufman || 3-May-2011

For Community, Clients, Advisors

In the first installment of this blog series, I described how, for one family we recently represented, procrastination caused unnecessary delay, expense and worry that their objectives would not be achieved. In the second installment, I discussed a case currently in my office where delay and a reliance on joint tenancy property caused husband and wife’s estates to be court supervised.

The final installment in this series is simpler. It applies particularly to older folks, but really to anyone.

Betty is 91 years old. She is very proud that she has been living independently. In the last few months, however, her two sons have begun to notice that her short-term memory has been limited. She does not remember what happened earlier the same day and asks the same question several times within a 20-minute period. They are concerned about this.

Earlier this year, Betty fell and required surgery. Her sons were told that she might not be able to walk again. Betty made it very clear: She wanted to continue to live at home. She did not want to be admitted to a nursing home facility under any circumstance. However, an individual with early dementia who cannot ambulate requires round-the-clock care.

I met with her sons. We made a plan to create a new trust for Betty and use her assets to hire round-the-clock aides to care for her. (The objective was not to spend down her assets to qualify for Medicaid).

I drafted the trust and other instruments to implement the plan. Unfortunately, Betty did not return to her home for very long. She passed away a week later. The plan was never signed or implemented.

Lesson learned. It can, of course, happen to anyone. But after a serious illness or a fall, folks in their 80s and 90s can be subject to rapid decline. Sometimes, even with the best intentions, it’s not possible to implement a plan at the last minute.

The best course of action is not just to think about it “some day”, but to ensure that your estate plan is always up to date.

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