Don’t Put Off Planning

Don’t Put Off Planning

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, and hard things harder.” ~ Mason Cooley

By David Inabinett, Managing Member & member National Academy of Elder Lawyers (NAELA™)

I have had many painful client meetings where folks have waited until physical or mental infirmity make long term care planning and estate planning very hard. Even making simple decisions or letting your family members know your wishes can be a challenge. Here are some of my thoughts, put simply, which hopefully sum up why it is so very important not to put off estate and long term planning decisions.

Please don’t wait:

Please don’t wait until you are in such pain and discomfort that discussing anything of substance or importance feels overwhelming given all of the medical issues, doctor and hospital visits you have and will continue to endure…

Please don’t wait until caring for a disabled spouse is so burdensome that you neglect your own health and forego important planning decisions…

Please don’t wait until your mental capacity diminishes to the point that grasping anything beyond what occurred 25 years ago or “polite conversation” is unrealistic…

Please don’t hide symptoms of physical or mental deterioration until a crisis occurs and those who love you most are scrambling to unravel months, perhaps years, of hidden confusion and financial mismanagement without the information or legal documents necessary to help you…

Please be honest and tell loved ones what you want, even if it may hurt their feelings; tell them how you want to spend your final days, tell them what medical treatments you want – or don’t want – in order to maximize quality and not quantity of life; tell them how you want to be remembered; plan your own funeral and ask them if you would like their input…

Please don’t die without a Will or other legal documents spelling out how you want your property and money divided and who you want to be in charge of carrying out those directives…

Please let those who are likely to be disappointed with your decisions know a general overview of what you have planned, well in advance of your illness or death when those decisions would otherwise become known…

Please don’t assume that you will not need nursing home care. Your loved ones will do everything in their power to avoid that, but asking someone else to be in charge of your long-term care planning is unfair and unrealistic. Plan for long-term care and disability like you (hopefully) did for retirement…

Please do not wait until you are placed into a nursing facility where your surroundings are unfamiliar and those only add to your confusion and disorientation at a time when difficult planning decisions are still yet to be made…

Please consider purchasing some form of long-term care insurance. If not, please plan for how you would pay for in-home nursing care or placement in a nursing home if that became necessary…

And finally, please don’t assume you’re the only one going through this. Seek the advice of friends, family, senior services, department of social services, hospice, clergy, legal counsel, tax advisors. Don’t reinvent the wheel; you are in good company.