We met with the Smiths last January in our Raynham office. Mr. Smith had just turned 70 and Mrs. Smith was 67. They were in great health and had both recently retired. The Smiths had met with a family attorney many years ago who prepared their estate plan. They knew that it was outdated but dreaded the idea of meeting with a lawyer to revisit the old plan. They saw their recent retirement as a good time to schedule an appointment to have their documents reviewed.
We sent them our client questionnaire and requested that they bring their old estate planning documents to our meeting. They had signed durable powers of attorney, health care proxies, wills and a revocable trust in the 1990s. After reviewing the documents, we informed the Smiths they had not appointed alternate agents on their durable powers of attorney and health care proxies. We explained that if one of them passed away or became incapacitated, the other would no longer have an agent to serve on their behalf. Additionally, their health care proxies did not contain a medical directive or a living will. We told the Smiths that it was a good idea to put their wishes in writing for their family and doctors. Their wills, although 20 years old, still reflected their wishes to leave their estates primarily to each other and then to their children in equal shares. The Smith’s were happy to learn that there was no need to change their wills at this time.
Finally, we reviewed Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s revocable trust. While it was well drafted and addressed their goal of avoiding probate, it did not offer any protection in the event that either spouse required nursing home care. We recommended that the Smith’s consider placing their home into an irrevocable trust in order to protect it from a MassHealth lien.
The Smith’s felt relieved after our meeting. Over the next few weeks we worked with the Smiths to prepare and execute their new estate planning documents. After the documents we signed in March, Mr. Smith told us that he finally had peace of mind that his family would be taken care of as he and his wife got older. Mr. Smith said that he was so glad that they finally picked up the phone to schedule the meeting.