12th May 2016
On one summer trip to Buffalo, New York, Grandpa Ted and I were given the task to fix the washing machine. The door had somehow come off the hinge. Surprisingly, the “hinge” was nothing more than two little marble balls. My grandfather joked with me that he was “losing his marbles” each and every time our attempts to seat the door failed and the marbles jumped to the floor! He was, of course, referring to the expression for losing your mind. Though it was a laughing matter at the time, he actually did “lose his marbles” a few years later.
Grandpa Ted was in a perfect state of mind on my summer trip to Buffalo, fully capable of making the necessary estate planning decisions. He was able to make wise and well-considered decisions about a will or trust. If he had chosen to do so at the time, he could have made responsible choices about who to nominate as his durable power of attorney and health care surrogate. His mind was clear and sharp.
Just a couple of years later, Grandpa Ted’s mind was no longer clear and sharp. His decisions became questionable and unreliable. This mental deterioration felt like it happened overnight, even though it took a couple of years.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
From this life lesson, I learned to encourage people to take advantage of a clear mind and sharp decision making. While you have the mental faculty to do so, take the time to designate who you want to handle your finances as a durable power of attorney. Choose who you want to make medical decisions in a health care surrogate designation. You may feel that you and your spouse are in perfect health, but delaying until you are no longer “doing well” is a huge mistake. By waiting, you or your loved one may become incapable of designating a person to fill these important roles. Either gradually with age or as the sudden result of a stroke, too many people wait too long and lose the ability to make a legally binding choice. As attorneys, we must be sure our client understands the power they grant to a third party. If they are unable to appreciate that power, then we are unable to assist them.
The Unfortunate Consequences
In that unfortunate circumstance, you must fall back on the courts getting involved. With a little planning, you can avoid court involvement by spending a couple of hours meeting with estate planning attorneys at Rooth & Rooth Elder Law Attorneys. Have our attorneys draft your legal documents, and you can rest assured that you have the proper paperwork in order. You’ll be prepared in case you become unable to care for yourself or make well-thought-out decisions.
Schedule your appointment today. Call 727-393-3471 and invest a couple of hours preparing your estate plan with the elder law attorneys at Rooth & Rooth.