How a sudden illness can wreck your estate plans
April 30, 2022
Most people do not want to think about living wills until confronted with the possibility of death. According to a Caring.com survey, the delay in handling one’s affairs leaves many families’ assets vulnerable, as two-thirds of Americans have no estate plan.
The end of life is often accompanied by serious illnesses, harming a person’s ability to leave property to the intended heirs.
Questions about mental capacity
Older individuals often experience diseases that deteriorate their mental capabilities. When a person waits to make a will after advancing far into an illness like Alzheimer’s or dementia, others may raise legitimate concerns about the document’s validity. By creating and continually updating an estate plan with proper documentation, a person may limit future challenges to a will.
Perception of undue influence
A disease may require a caregiver or the assistance of a home health aide. The time spent can lead to a warm and trusting relationship. If a person decides to leave property to a caregiver, other heirs may take offense, leading to a protracted battle. Outsiders may claim the helper had undue influence, which is why a person needs to take steps to affirm they made wishes with a sound mind and not under duress.
Loss of funds
Any affliction comes with costs that can deplete a bank account. When someone makes an estate plan before getting sick, they can protect assets for heirs. Creditors or medical facilities may come after savings and property without protections like a trust, leaving little to give as an inheritance.
No one enjoys preparing for sickness and death, but delaying the process until health issues are imminent only creates more difficulties. Planning well before terminal illness comes on the horizon can alleviate many estate planning struggles.