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.
One day, a few years back, Nancy came to us to protect her mother, Betty’s, last $25,000. Betty, had been in a nursing home for three years and had used all of her savings except for that little bit. Nancy wanted to hold it back to use for Betty to buy clothes, a special chair and pay travel expenses so her disabled brother could visit Betty.