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estate planning and elder law

Having No Estate Plan Is Scary!

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Think using Pay on Death (POD) and Transfer on Death (TOD) designations is a good alternative to creating an estate plan? Think again! Here are some of real life scenarios Beck, Lenox & Stolzer estate planning attorneys have witnessed in their years of practice. For those of you who may have little or no plan in place, we hope you will agree that having no estate plan is scary!

Estate Plan True Stories

POD/TOD disaster

A married couple who used POD and TOD designations rather than a will or trust were in a bad car accident with their adult child and sole heir. Tragically, the husband and their son died at the hospital. Even more tragically, the wife passed away months later from complications. Because she had not yet designated a new heir, the probate court ended up deciding who inherited the couple’s assets and property.

No Living Will/Advance Directives

You may remember the story in the news years ago about Terry Schiavo who lived in a persistent vegetative state for 15 years while her spouse and her parents fought over what she would have wanted. She had no living will or advance directives that would have made the decision for them.

Nancy Cruzan and Christine Busalacchi were also famous court cases in the News about parental rights to make decisions for their brain-damaged daughters vs. what the hospital or other interested parties believed to be true.

No Power of Attorney (POA) documents

“Mary”  never married and always chose to do things her way. Unfortunately, that way did not include selecting someone as her Power of Attorney for Healthcare or for Finances.  When Mary was diagnosed with dementia and yet still refused to let her family help her with care decisions, the situation became so bad that the family had to go to court to get a Guardianship over her. A Conservator was assigned at the same time. Thousands of dollars and lots of time could have been saved if she had taken the important step to get POAs done.

If you are dealing with a family member or other loved one with Alzheimer’s, click here to access the Alzheimer’s Association for support and resources.

No Will in place

Another married couple who worked and lived on the farmland that had been in the wife’s family for several generations, had never gotten around to creating a will. They were always just too busy. Their plan was that, upon their deaths, her only surviving sibling and the couple’s son would share the land and any profits that came from farming it. They were the only relatives who ever had any interest in doing that. Unfortunately, after the married couple’s deaths, the probate court had to decide who got what. A lawsuit brought by other family members resulted in the farmland having to be sold, something the farmers would have never wanted.

The Cost of Delaying Action

As you can see, the cost of delaying action or taking no action was significant and could have been avoided. Having no estate plan is scary and very sad in all of the above cases. Avoid an unplanned nightmare with proper estate planning. Contact us online to get started by scheduling a call or call our office at 636-946-7899.

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