Mary was concerned that she would soon need nursing home care. She did not want her funds used up in long term care expenses so she gave her only son, Joe, her life savings of $100,000. One year after giving Joe the money Mary experienced a major health crisis and needed to move into a nursing home.
I’d like to tell you a story about Tom, an imaginary middle aged man. Tom passed away after a long illness. Anticipating his demise, Tom planned his estate by himself and made sure everything was “in order.” He prepared his own will from one he found online.
In my years of working with elders, and I shudder to think how many that has added up to, I’ve had the privilege of working with many elders. Some were people born before 1900, who invented things like plastic wrap and lunch bags, who participated in the creation of the first nuclear power plant, and who grew up during the great depression. Others told me they remembered the first television shows watched on a neighborhood black and white television.
One day, when I was a teenager living with my mother, a single parent, she said, “Promise me you will never put me in a nursing home!” She said this immediately after reading a news story about a bad nursing home. I thought she was being a little over dramatic but, of course made the promise.
In my profession as an elder law attorney I have the opportunity to speak with people about their final wishes almost every day. We then craft legal documents such as wills and trusts that comply with the law so that the individual’s assets are passed along as smoothly as possible.