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Lack of estate planning leads to family mess and legal action

Estate planning is something that many people think of only as making a will. However, it is far more complex—and important—than that. With a large number of people in our society eventually getting dementia, Alzheimers or other such conditions that affect memory and cognitive ability, the early identification of guardianships, power of attorney and other such factors are vital to wealth protection, estate administration and proper care of an aging family member.

Such estate planning was clearly not done in a case recently reported on where a wife has been denied guardianship as well as access to her infirmed husband. The couple’s 42-year relationship, including 30 years of marriage, has a unique history, including each spouse living in a separate residence. As the husband’s dementia set in, the wife reports that she was planning on taking care of him yet claims that her ex son-in-law essentially swindled her out of that position. Today, a professional guardian manages the husband’s multi-million dollar estate.

In 2010, after the husband’s dementia had set in, the couple had an argument one morning. Since that argument, the couple has barely spoken and the wife is only allowed to see her husband with permission. She is currently seeking a way to prevent her husband’s assets and personal property from being liquidated.

Such a story illustrates the importance of early will planning to ensure that one’s estate administration does not have to be managed by the state or be the subject of an unpleasant family feud. No matter your personal worth, it could be useful for you to learn more about estate planning by talking with an experienced attorney. It could be the best way for you to prevent future problems.

Source: ctpost.com, “Wife not allowed to care for wealthy husband,” Barbara Peters Smith, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 27, 2013

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