Everybody knows of the problems of aging adults, but many elders do nothing about preparing for aging. Following are the most common mistakes.
If you do nothing to deal with aging, you have a good chance of lifetime probate. That means the probate court must appoint a guardian or conservator to handle your affairs. One study found that the number one cause of probate guardianship was the need for emergency medical treatment when the patient cannot give consent.
The cost of probate over your lifetime can be enormous and you lose control over your life.
Only Planning for Death
Many people think they are "all set" if they have a will, but a will is only effective at death. We are talking about lifetime issues, not what happens after we die.
Joint property with children
Many seniors think they are all set if they have a daughter or son on their bank accounts with them. The thinking goes "that way they can pay the bills if cannot." There are many problems with joint accounts. The first is that it solves only one problem of aging - paying bills. Joint accounts give the child no ability to help the parent in any other way. If the child calls the insurance company they will ask, "Are you the insured?" The child will say, "No, but, I'm joint on the bank account." That goes nowhere.
The more serious problem is the risk of losing your life savings to a child who may not be financially responsible. The same can go for the house. If a child is a joint owner, if that child is sued, divorced or goes into bankruptcy, so does your property.
And finally, joint accounts can be the source of probate battles after the death. What if a parent makes an account joint with one child? After the parent dies, will the child share it with the other children? What if the parent's will says to share equally? Unfortunately, there are no absolute legal rules and questions like these are often answered after a bitter battle in probate court.
Paying employees under the table.
People who work for you in your home have rights as employees. You are responsible for collecting and paying income,
Suppose a lady falls down the stairs carrying laundry. She can file for workers compensation and have her medical bills and her wage loss paid by the employer-you. If you "let her go" because your daughter can now do it, the former employee could file for unemployment, and that opens you up to back taxes, interest and penalties.
Not getting legal advice for "means tested" government benefits.
Veterans "Aid and Attendance" and
It is really easy to do it right. For the average person a "life care" plan is no more difficult than preparing for "death and taxes." All you have to do is identify your trusted assistants and give them legal authority to do what they will need to do - everything. And then make sure they know when to get professional advice. Do that and you are 99 percent there to having aging go as smoothly as it can.