Advancements in medical science and care may enable us to live fuller, longer lives. The flip side is that more of us are likely to suffer from a diminished mental state - a harsh reality that’s difficult to accept.
It has been an unfortunate past few weeks for celebrity deaths. Recently both Dick Clark and Mike Wallace passed away. It is in the life and death of Mike Wallace, however, that there is a lesson to learn for all those planning for old age and, perhaps more so, for those planning for their estates.
The estate planning lesson of Mike Wallace’s life was the subject of a recent article in Forbes by Deborah Jacobs. Titled “Mike Wallace Death Underlines Need To Prepare Financially For Risk Of Dementia,” the article is a wakeup call for making proper estate plans while you are physically and mentally able.
Apparently, Wallace suffered from dementia late in life. In fact, developing that condition will be an increasingly prevalent fact of life for baby boomers. According to recent projections, one in eight baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s after they turn 65.
The problem, as pointed out in the Forbes article, is that once dementia or Alzheimer’s strikes, it is too late to make plans. Simply put, you are no longer, “of sound body and mind” as per the classic Last Will and Testament language. Furthermore, even if you are in control “most of the time,” any legal document or change you may make to a legal document will become suspect or outright inadmissible. This is a fact of life and a fact of law.
Just as old age is not the time to be planning your retirement finances, it is not the best time to make your estate plans either. The lesson learned is to engage appropriate financial and legal counsel sooner rather than later.
Reference: Forbes (April 8, 2012) “Mike Wallace Death Underlines Need To Prepare Financially For Risk Of Dementia”