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When You and Your Child are Incapacitated at the Same Time

Posted 5 years 220 days ago ago by Danielle Streed

When we think about  parents,  grandparents and children,  we think that we will all die in the traditional order -  oldest to youngest. Worse yet, we never think or imagine that we could be in a nursing home at the same time as our parents.  However, as our parents continue to live longer and longer this will  become more and more of an issue for all of us.  I have parents that are living well into their 90s and their 60 and 70 year old children are facing similar medical or mental issues themselves. I  have recently dealt with a family where the mother is in a nursing home and, as a result of a recent stroke, so is her 60 year old son. As you can imagine, this was never expected. Why is all of this important and what does it have to do with estate planning?  In this particular case, the son was designated as his mother’s medical and financial power of attorney and her successor trustee. Although the mother has named an alternate if her son cannot act, she did not put sufficient thought into the capability of the alternate. In fact, the mother named a back that is not even capable of handling her own finances. 

When you set up an estate plan, take the time to evaluate the abilities of the people you are appointing. Perhaps they are not qualified for the job and a corporate trustee or institution is better suited to take over at your incapacity or death. If there is no alternate (based on the idea that everyone thinks their child will outlive them) or if the  alternate is not capable of handling  day-to-day financial  matters, we may find ourselves petitioning the probate court for a backup.

When designating a successor administrator, you need to ask yourself, is that person capable of handling such things as the sale of your home, the management of your finances, the preparation of your tax returns or even securing the professionals to assist with these matters?   Although family or extended family may seem like a good idea, a thorough evaluation is important.

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