What Happens When You Fail to Plan

For those of us caring for loved ones, we know what happens EVEN WHEN YOU PLAN REALLY WELL!

I have a personal mission to make sure every adult over the age of 18 is in the habit and knows the value of Power’s of Attorney. These are legal powers you should set up that will help you while you are living. Please visit with a local estate lawyer do this — since Consumer Reports found that several of the online tools would fail to work in several cases. It’s a few hundred dollars, but WORTH it.

John Oliver (HBO) recently covered the story of a couple that was impacted by Guardian proceedings and that bleed their retirement plan dry. For some hilarity … and scarity that will make you think more seriously about planning, check out this segment.  Stay to the end for some awesome cameo’s!



Sam Huff, NFL Hall of Fame Linebacker,Validates that Estate Planning is for the Living

Sam Huff in 2012 (John McDonnell/THE WASHINGTON POST)

In the story in The Washington Post titled Sam Huff needs help making life decisions; there is a fight over who should do it, he validates why every adult over 18 should set up and be very clear about whom they want to represent them by putting into place a durable power of attorney and an Advance Medical Directive (AMD).


His story is complicated because there is a disagreement between his daughter, who Huff granted durable power of attorney in 2011, and his domestic partner, who he named as his agent in his AMD. This case illustrates why it can be problematic to have one person in charge of your finances (the one with the durable power of attorney) and someone else that would make healthcare choices (the one named in the AMD).

When they don’t agree, the brunt of the conflict usually penalizes the individual that needs help. In this case it’s Sam Huff.

This story isn’t about dementia, but about the need for everyone to put into place estate planning tools. Good estate planning is for the living.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the lawyer that wrote up these two documents might not have been dedicated to the practice of estate planning. Quite possibly, he may have used a tool like Rocket Lawyer that might not educate on the issue of picking different individuals for these two roles. While there might have been a good reason it was done, right now we are seeing exactly why it’s a bad idea.

Even if they weren’t having this very public disagreement, there are many other ways this conflict plays out. For Sam, the person with his AMD might select a memory-care community they believe will best address his needs. However, the person who would be making the payments could refuse to complete the application or pay for the community.

Sadly, in this story everyone is losing. I hope you will use Sam Huff as an incentive to get to an estate lawyer and at least get a durable power of attorney and Advance Medical Directives in place. You never know when you might need them, and for a few hundred dollars, having them done right will serve you well. Advised.

Enter Adult Protective Services … Really

VA APSSeveral weeks ago the retirement community scheduled a meeting with my parents. We all sat down and the staff  shared their concerns about some things they have seen in my parent’s behavior. My parents refute each claim and dismiss each fact. At one point, my dad turns to me and asks if I have seen the things they are saying. I tell him “Yes”.

My parents are living in the “independent” section of the retirement community. The staff asks them if  they plan on moving into the “assisted” section or getting some help if they want to stay in the “independent” section. My parents are appalled by this suggestion.

The meeting ends and the director of the retirement community asks me to stay for a brief conversation. They ask if we are going to pursue guardianship.

My siblings and I were just short of filing the papers when we realized that having the legal right won’t make our parents any more agreeable to the changes that will need to be made. We agreed we would try some other options first — pursing this legal option will be our last resort. My parents will understand what is going on and we hope to figure out other ways to achieve the same ends.

My mom in particular seems to remember things that have a negative emotion — the loss of the cars, where the man lived she did not like. I don’t want to spend the rest of my time with her in a defensive crouch.

The director of the community calls me later to confirm they will be calling Adult Protective Services (APS). Bring it. Readied.