Between March and September, while the world struggled to deal with a pandemic, an economic shut down, protests, hurricanes, and now unprecedented fires throughout California, my client had his own personal struggle, not with any of these, but with aging.
He does not have any family. He had named me as his agent and trustee many years prior, just in case. Now, he is past the point of “just in case”. Over the past bit of time, he began to have treatable health issues, one on top of the other.
To help him, he invited a handyman to move into his home, because he needed some projects to make his home better suited to age in place. Unfortunately, he did not call me until some aspects of his situation had deteriorated significantly.
For example, the handyman is not a caregiver, but he was providing the only in-home care for the client. Now, it is becoming too much of a chore. Being the sweet man that he is, he wanted to provide for the handyman, who has declined much payment for services to avoid reporting income. When the client met with his attorney to update his estate plan, he wanted to remove a charity and name the caregiving handyman as a remainder beneficiary. This is a red flag to estate planning attorneys.
Because of the laws put in place to protect elders from caregivers and others, his attorney rightly advised that a Certificate of Independent Review is needed by another attorney. This is like a second opinion in estate planning. While the client still has mental capacity, he is very weak and dependent upon others to provide care.
There are crucial financial decisions to be made right now to make sure he has the care he needs. It may involve a reverse mortgage to pay for in-home care or it may require selling the home to move into a residential care home.
Each person’s situation is unique and requires the big picture perspective of understanding your values, along with understanding your needs and resources. Ideally, this will happen before urgent needs arise. Make sure you have the right person named as your trustee and agent to assist you in managing quality of life as you age, so they can step in seamlessly. Avoid giving your trust to caregivers. This will slow down the process of getting your trusted agent working.
Then, call your chosen fiduciary to talk over your needs. Your quality of life can depend upon someone being ready to bring in the “stage crew for your final act”. Even in a pandemic, we are still at work.
Once you have started to talk to your fiduciary or trusted agent about your values , look for our other blog, “It Takes a Stage Crew for Our Final Scene”, to think about who your stage crew will be when you reach the 5th Chapter of Life.