Dementia and Estate Planning, What You Need To Know

Maria Shriver knows the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease firsthand.  Her beloved father Sargent Shriver, founder of the Peace Corps and one-time candidate for Vice President of the United States, died of the disease in 2011 after being diagnosed in 2003.

Image result for maria shriver with father

Often called “the long goodbye,” Alzheimer’s disease affects more than five million Americans and its prevalence will continue to grow with the aging population.  Shriver recently reported for NBC.com on the five things Alzheimer’s or dementia victims should do once a diagnosis has been confirmed:

  1. Execute powers of attorney and advance medical directives. These allow for the designation of a trusted person or persons to make financial and medical decisions before cognitive impairments worsen.
  2. Create a will. If you do not have a will that designates how your assets will be distributed upon your death, you need to create one.  If one exists, check it over for any necessary updates to beneficiaries or the addition of any assets acquired after the original will was made.
  3. Create an estate plan. Asset preservation is usually critical for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.  An estate planning attorney can help preserve assets for future long-term care.
  4. Communicate. Once diagnosed, you should have a conversation with your family about your decisions for your care.  Let them know where important documents are stored.  As part of your legacy planning, we can help you capture and pass on your own story and wishes for your loved ones through a special recording we provide for each of our clients.
  5. Do it sooner rather than later. Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases are progressive illnesses, so prompt action is necessary to put these protections in place for you and your loved ones.

More information and inspiration on dealing with Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases can be found at MariaShriver.com. Call our office to schedule a time for us to sit down and go over what you and your family need to do to remain protected, no matter what you’re facing.

Estate Planning Tips for Business Owners

Many business owners are so focused on growing their business, that they overlook what could happen if they are hurt in an accident, suffer an illness or suddenly die. Without an estate plan that integrates your business, your family and employees will be left scrambling to manage the business assets. You also risk undermining your […]

Holidays and Estate Planning: A Winning Combination

The Holidays are the best time to discuss important family estate plans with your aging parents.

Hang in there with me. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Image result for lawyers christmas

It’s a winning combination: many of us take a break from work and we’ve carved out time to see our siblings, our parents and extended family. Estate planning is about helping our families navigate some of life’s toughest transitions, not just about death. Learn how to make the most of your opportunity this time of year to talk about things that will have lasting benefits.

Here are some tips:

  1. Treat this as a family meeting. Ban cell phones from the room, get someone to watch the kids and make sure any stragglers are included through a conference call or video conference.
  2. Start with the basics and work your way up. With aging parents, ask about their health and if they need help talking to the doctor or pharmacist.  How do they feel about driving?
  3. Ask them where they store their important documents? Their Will, Power of Attorney, life insurance, birth certificates, etc? Is there an inventory of personal information and financial records?
  4. Who will serve as the financial backup person to the parents? Will it be one of the children, or a trusted third party?
  5. Check in with your parents emotional well being. Are you visiting enough? How can you incorporate technology to stay close? For example, FaceTime or video chat?

These tips will help you and your siblings understand where your parents are in terms of estate planning, and what kind of help they, and you, need.

Blended Families, Avoid This $100,000 Mistake.

Picture this: At Thanksgiving, you have your eye on that last piece of pie. You can practically taste it. As you reach for it, someone else grabs it and there’s a tug of war. Do you share it? Does one of you give up and find another dessert? Does someone intervene and decide for you? Are you in a family that will laugh this off? Or is there some drama?

When the stakes are high and there’s money and property involved, the resulting conflict is enough to ruin anyone’s appetite.

Picture this: You’re in a blended family where there’s Mom, Step-Dad, and Mom’s kids from her first marriage. Mom dies without a Will. Step-Dad is distraught, but takes comfort in knowing that the house is almost paid off. There’s about $200,000 of equity. Mom always meant to put Step-Dad on the deed, but never got around to it. Unfortunately for Step-Dad, the “default setting” that is set by Florida law is for him to only inherit half of his wife’s estate. The step-kids inherit the other half.

Step-Dad has 3 options if he wants to keep living in the home.

Option 1: Take a life estate in the home and at his death, the house goes to the step-kids.
Option 2: Take a one half undivided interest in the home as a tenant in common with the step-kids. (The step-kids could force a sale if they wanted to.)
Option 3: Buy out the step-kids’ half share.

Everyone’s upset and relationships are strained. Will the step-kids sign over their interest to Step-Dad for free? Will it take $100,000 to buy out the step-kids? With a thoughtful estate plan, this blended family could have avoided this mess and saved $100,000, plus court costs and lawyers’ fees.

This article is a service of attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. Myrna doesn’t just draft documents. She can help you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and your loved ones. That’s why she offers a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling Myrna’s office today at (813) 514-2946 to schedule a Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $500 session at no charge.

When Duty Calls: Navigating the Sandwich Generation with Ease

The average age of parents raising children in the US continues to rise, leaving many middle-aged Americans in a category commonly referred to as the “sandwich” generation.

This growing population of adults are often still raising kids at home when they become responsible for the care of their own aging parents. The stress and financial strain of managing taking care of both your children and your parents can become overwhelming. The following tips can help make this challenging life stage easier to manage, and more enjoyable for everyone.

Image result for sandwich generation

 

 

 

 

Assess the Financial Situation

Taking time to thoroughly understand the complete financial picture of your home is important when you step into a role of responsibility for your aging parent. You can prepare for all possibilities, and avoid surprises, by working with a professional to consider how your role in the care of your parent will affect the plans you are making for your family’s financial future. Take advantage of our Life and Legacy Planning Sessions, a comprehensive planning process encompassing your concerns and needs.

Plan Ahead

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying that, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Planning for your family’s future means preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. As you navigate helping your aging parent with their own important Estate Planning decisions, take time to make sure your own estate wishes are taken care of too, so that you can focus on the present knowing the future is taken care of.

Be sure to include:

  • Medical power of attorney – appoints a person to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so
  • Durable power of attorney – designates a person to make financial decisions if you are unable to do so
  • Living will – expresses your wishes for end of life decisions
  • Will – carries out your wishes in the event of your death
  • Kids Protection Plan – designates a legal guardian for your minor children in the event of your incapacitation or death

Pay Attention to Red Flags

Image result for red flags

 

 

 

Even if your aging parent is still quite capable, work together to get a handle on their financial situation, and be on the lookout for signs that anything is falling through the cracks. Common red flags are:

  • Frequent calls from creditors
  • Forgetfulness when it comes to bills and deadlines
  • Unopened mail

Utilize professional legal and financial support when necessary and communicate clearly so everyone knows who is responsible for what.

Image result for self care

 

 

 

Practice Good Self Care

Stress is one of the most common consequences of caring for two generations at once. Balancing the responsibilities of raising children and caring for aging parents with good self-care and “me time” is vital over the long-haul. Remember that adequate rest and good nutrition will provide you with the extra energy you’ll need when times get tough. Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to do it alone! As your attorney, I am ready to assist you when duty calls.

Now is the perfect time to schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session, where we’ll review your current financial situation in light of your future responsibilities. With our assistance, you’ll gain the confidence of knowing you’re making the most empowered, informed and educated legal and financial decisions for yourself and the ones you love.