Several years ago, in my second decade of practicing law, I learned a lot about estate disasters. My mother's aunt had substantial financial resources - resources saved and invested over the many decades of her life. She and her now-deceased husband had saved for old age - for security in their retirement years. She owned her own San Francisco home, had a secure pension and a large stock portfolio. Then, in her early 90s, she had a caregiver to assist her at a time of her decreased mobility, limited hearing, other sensory deficits and lost driving privileges.
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An unexpectedly large number of people open safe deposit boxes, leave them alone for several years, and forget the box ever existed. According to the Sacramento Bee, the California State Controller's Office had the contents of more than 138,000 safe deposit boxes under its control in 2017, including more than 75,000 US Savings Bonds worth more than $30 Million. Sometimes banks move, and sometimes box holders move, but the usual way in which boxes get forgotten is when someone dies.
Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60% to 80% of dementia.
I listen to hundreds of stories every year. There are dozens of cases for every element of vulnerability. The stories surrounding each element often provide a foundation for the failure of an estate plan that someone tried to make bulletproof.
California estate, trust and elder financial abuse litigation involves fights - it's that simple. These cases are contested - the lawsuits are emotional and hard fought. Wrongdoers don't give up ill-gotten gains easily. I know this because the vast majority of our law practice involves the representation of aggrieved heirs, beneficiaries and victims of elder financial abuse. We're currently litigating in more than twenty California counties.
When it comes to estate planning, a settlor, the maker of a trust, or testator, the maker of a will, seek certainty over uncertainty. They take the time to make an estate plan to diminish risks. Once this is accomplished is the estate plan impervious to challenge? In more colloquial terms - is their will and trust bulletproof. And, if not bulletproof, what will it take to make it bulletproof?
Michael Hackard was a recent guest on Keep It Juicy!, journalist Helen Mitternight's podcast about leading a healthy, vibrant lifestyle in your 50's and beyond. Helen is a well-known writer and blogger out of Charleston, South Carolina, and she's dedicated to spreading knowledge on topics that are important to today's Baby Boomers. One of the critical issues today's seniors face is elder financial abuse.
A parent's dementia and attendant short-term memory loss can be heartbreaking. It is common for children to have feelings of loss and grief as they see their family life changed by Alzheimer's. Children may go through the grieving process while their parent is alive - a process that may be hard to describe to those who have not encountered it themselves.
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America trains healthcare professionals in dementia-specific care, provides free and confidential memory screenings to over 3 million people and provides support, counseling, and education to thousands of people.