I could see the look of concern on Pam’s face as she sat with her stack of files lined neatly beside her.
She and Adam, both in their early 60’s, had been married for fifteen years and had recently relocated. This was a second marriage for both and Adam had children from his first marriage. They had built—and sold—a successful business together and had amassed a very respectable nest egg for their retirement. Their prospects for a great retirement were, well, golden. They had an array of pleasing choices and were looking forward to many years enjoying the fruits of their hard work.
And then Adam was diagnosed with a fairly aggressive case of Alzheimer’s.
His behavior and decision-making had become erratic and Pam was rightfully worried. Adam’s grown children from his first marriage weren’t particularly helpful and had been difficult since they married. Pam had way more on her plate than she could comfortably handle.
While they had saved a reasonable amount of assets for retirement, they didn’t consider the need for long-term care and how it would impact their wealth. Pam was anxious to ensure that her assets were properly managed and that became her clear and overriding goal, despite all of the issues put into motion by Adam’s diagnosis.
The most important first step in their case was a legal one.
That was a call for an Elder Care attorney who specializes in setting up a framework to protect her from what was most likely a financial nightmare of expense and legal difficulty. The job of an Elder Care attorney is to protect assets in a legal and appropriate manner. In this case, without this being properly tended to, Pam would be left nearly penniless to provide care for Adam. They didn’t work so hard for that to happen.
Pam was rightfully anxious—legal and financial issues were not her strength or areas of expertise. “We need to put this in the right order, Pam” I told her. “You cannot afford a ‘ready, fire, aim’ scenario. This needs to be by the numbers. Together, with your attorney and your CPA, we will see this through. I’ll be there at every meeting with you.”
Pam exhaled and knew that she had to put her impatience on the back burner while the Elder Care attorney did his job. Then we would do ours. Step-by-step. There was no better option.
Cases like this are heartbreakingly common—blended families bring with them challenges that need to be addressed while all parties are still healthy and able to make decisions.
Which is why you want to consider both estate and elder planning. Estate Planning allows each person to specify their wishes and desires for how their assets are to be distributed after their death(s). A good estate plan can make that dreadful time dealing with an estate somewhat easier. Elder planning deals with protecting assets while you’re still alive and perhaps unable to make good decisions. Having someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s and unable to make decisions is like a living death, for all parties.
Elder Care Planning costs money. But far less than the cost—financial and emotional—of not planning.
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