Estate plan

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I was visiting my client at her Assisted Living Center on a fabulous campus that includes an Independent Living Tower and a Nursing Home.  As I walked up to have my temperature checked there was an elderly but still-beautiful woman gently jerking continuously as she lay in her hospital bed outside.  The breeze fingered her hair and, at times, strands of it rested on her cheek.  There was an attendant on duty, but no one touched her, smoothed her hair from her face or kissed her forehead.  I wanted to go over and do all those things but, in the time of COVID, it’s not allowed.  I could only think that I could be her one day.

Overwhelming, devastating, breathless are a few of the adjectives that will describe how you feel on the day you learn that your wife, husband, father, mother, and/or loved one had a stroke, heart attack, crippling fall, or a Dementia or Parkinson’s diagnosis.  Your life changes.

I’ve discussed this scenario in this column for years, but I know (since I get the calls) that most of you are not prepared.  If you have an income of about $100,000 a year, assets of at least one million and no debts, you do not need what I call a necessary evil, Long Term Care Insurance.  (LTC).   Full time, in home help runs from $50,000 to $75,000 a year depending on the caretaker arrangement.  The assets are used to maintain your home, car, pay taxes, and groceries.  If a monetary legacy is in your plans, you might need more assets.  Your other option, LTC, which provides in-home assistance and protects your assets.

Almost 100% of us believed that COVID could kill us.  As it turns out, under 10% of our population has been infected and less than 1% of that group died.  Here’s what I can promise to the 99% (plus) that survived – you will grow old and your life will end.  Further, the longer you live, the longer you live. The million-dollar question:  How do you want to live?

I know I am going to die, most likely alone, and I’m prepared.  I have a long-term care policy that provides in-home care.  I live in a one-story home that I own, and I’ve chosen younger family members as my agents in case of a financial or health crisis.  I’ve paid to have a company come and take me to the crematorium wherever I am in the world.  I pray that it’s Venice, Nepal, Macchu Picchu. . . anywhere but a nursing home.  My nephew gets the ashes.  The trust will pay for any expenses incurred and after that there are a few bequests and one major beneficiary.  This is an estate plan.  As the Nike swoosh reminds us, “just do it.”