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Estate Planning

Properly Caring for Great Grannies

By April 19, 2018No Comments

Photo: Harli Marten, Unsplash

One of my most cherished childhood memories is of my great-grandmother sitting on her single, long braid, in her rocking chair, as I patted her hand. She would quietly rock in the sun room of my grandmother’s home, her soft brown eyes staring out the window. She never said a word, which was fine with me.

I was told that at one point during her life’s journey, she just stopped talking. Since my baby sister had just been born, I appreciated the solace of quiet and not speaking. So Great Granny and I would just sit in silence together and let the sun warm our faces until… I walked into the sun room one day and she was not there. Gone. Forever. In heaven.

Recalling that memory from an estate planning attorney’s perspective helps me realize how very fortunate our family was. Great Granny was only mentally incapacitated, and her incapacity did not present itself in aggressive or belligerent behavior. Equally important was the fact that our family had all the resources needed to care for Great Granny 24-7.

Many families who regularly reach out to our office are not so fortunate: Since those years long ago, our country has experienced economic peaks and valleys and the State of Illinois has entered an economic abyss. Thus, if an older parent becomes incapacitated today, in Illinois, and the family has limited means, the parent and, indirectly, the family will likely confront difficult circumstances, at best, unless a plan consisting of comprehensive Advanced Directives, at the very least, is in place.

Often, as parents age without a plan, children will download and prepare Powers of Attorney for healthcare or finance but these documents rarely provide the protections needed to establish the kind of care aging loved ones require, especially those who may be confronting incapacity. Additionally, the way mental incapacity presents may preclude loved ones from taking the most important initial step – obtaining a mental health assessment from a doctor.

So, if anyone wonders why estate planning is so critical, think of it in the following ways. Comprehensive plans, established before sundowning, prevent loved ones from: (1) starting fatal home fires; (2) causing family poverty; and (3) causing themselves and the family unnecessary trauma of other sorts.

In other words, proper planning protects parents, families, and grandchildren’s cherished memories.

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