I received another one of those calls this week. The adult child of a former client called to tell me that mom was in the hospital and that things weren’t looking good. I was asked if I had copies of the estate plan. They thought it was a long shot but hoped that I had the plan in may file. I didn’t.
I represented mom in a different matter and, at the time at least, she didn’t want to set up an estate plan. Now mom is in the hospital and unable to sign anything.
The next question I was asked was what can be done now. Unfortunately, there aren’t any good options at this point. At least any that aren’t going to be costly.
Folks; this is why we plan. None of us know when something bad is going to happen and, if a plan isn’t in place, things can get complicated and expensive. Instead of discussing what likely would have been an inexpensive estate plan, we are talking about guardianships and judges.
Some of you may remember that I ended up in the hospital over Christmas because of COVID. While the nurse was helping me into bed and hooking up the oxygen, she literally asked me if I had a health care representative designation and a living will. My first thought was “dang, how sick am I?” My second thought was; "well yeah, I have both of those things."
Years before I got sick and ended up in the hospital, I put my affairs in order. I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt not having to worry about whether my things were in order during what was a pretty stressful time.
When most people think about estate planning, the first thing that comes to mind is the will. Who is going to get their stuff is the thing that people seem to worry about most.
Now don’t get me wrong, an orderly transfer of your wealth to your loved ones is extremely important, but preparing for the bad things that we encounter during our lifetimes are equally important.
Everyone should have a power of attorney and a health care representative designation in place. Everyone should give some thoughts about end or life decisions and decide if an advanced medical directive, such as a living will, should be signed. These are the things that we, as adults, need to consider.
I know that no one likes to think about getting sick and dying. However, that shouldn’t be an excuse not be prepared. All it takes is a little discomfort to keep from leaving a mess for your loved ones. Please plan.
Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.