In this episode of The Agent of Wealth Podcast, host Marc Bautis is joined by John K. Ross, Founder of Ross & Shoalmire Elder Law Attorneys. John is a nationally recognized expert in estate planning, asset protection and taxation with over twenty years of law practice. Together, they discuss the process of estate planning, including the elements of a proper plan and considerations to make along the way.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The basic elements of an estate plan.
- If you should self-fund for long-term care or get long-term care insurance.
- The uses of a will and a trust, and how to determine if you need one or the other (or both).
- How frequently you should review and update your estate planning documents.
- How to talk to your parents about estate planning.
- And more!
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Disclosure: The transcript below has been lightly edited for clarity and content. It is not a direct transcription of the full conversation, which can be listened to above.
Welcome back to The Agent of Wealth Podcast, this is your host Marc Bautis. On today’s show, I brought on a special guest, John K. Ross. John is the founder of Ross & Shoalmire Elder Law Attorneys, the largest boutique estate planning and asset protection law firm in Texas. He’s a nationally recognized expert in estate planning, asset protection and taxation, with over 20 years of law practice. He’s also published multiple articles for organizations like the University of Texas Law School and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and is the publisher of Aging Insight Magazine. Plus, he’s a co-host of the Big Picture Retirement Podcast. John, welcome to the show.
Thank you, I’m glad to be here.
I’m looking forward to talking about estate planning today. As a financial planner, I find that the two things people put off the most are:
- Figuring out where their money is going (or creating a budget), and
- Estate planning.
No question about it. It’s really easy to just work, work, work… putting off those two things. Nobody wants to talk about getting old and dying because it’s not fun stuff, but it’s super important.
Of course. To get started, what are the main elements of an estate plan?
The Basic Elements of an Estate Plan
That’s a good question because this is probably a pretty common misunderstanding. When I first started, when I was a little baby lawyer and started out doing this sort of thing, I noticed that people would go in, they would visit with their financial advisor for example, and they would get them a financial plan to get from retirement to the grave, and then they would come over to me and they would say, “Okay, John, we need to plan for what happens when we die.” They want to get a will or they want to do something. They’ve got the financial, their retirement income, they’ve got the social security picked out and all of that sort of stuff, but the first element of a good estate plan is going to be a plan for incapacity. If you hit age 80, 85, your statistical likelihood of being incapacitated prior to death is about 90%, so it’s going to happen. And from a very basic standpoint, if you’ve ever tried to call the phone company and your name’s not the one on the account.
It can be difficult.
Yeah. I mean, I have to drag my wife to Verizon if I want to get an upgraded cell phone, because she’s the one that set up the account. And while that may be annoying right now, if my wife has a stroke and she’s never going to speak again, I’m stuck with a Samsung Galaxy S10 forever at that point. So having powers of attorney, so a durable power of attorney for financial, a medical power of attorney, so somebody can make medical decisions, HIPAA authorizations so that people can access your medical information if they need to, find out how you’re doing, and a living will or directive to physicians that says what you want for end of life care. Do you want to be kept on machines if you’re never coming back off of them, that sort of thing.
People will often ask me, they’ll say, “John, how old do I need to be to see an elder law attorney?” Well, you need to be 18. I make my kids sign those four documents the day they turn 18. You don’t get to pick when you become incapacitated. And given the way my kids drove their cars when they were teenagers, the risk of incapacity was seriously high. So yeah, those four things, that’s kind of the basics. But then the bigger issue is the cost of care, that can take a real gut punch to your financial plan if you were not calculating how you’re going to pay six to $10,000 a month for in-home care providers or nursing home providers. And I think most financial advisors would be saying, “Yeah, okay, when you’re in that pre-retirement age, 55, 60, let’s talk about long-term care insurance. Let’s look at the different options, traditional versus hybrid plans, and let’s have that conversation.”
You’re in the financial advisory business, you’ve probably had those conversations. Well, there’s a reason why only 5% of the population has long-term care insurance. I mean, you just can’t hardly get people to want to insure themselves for that sort of thing.
Yeah. Going back to that original, if people just delay the whole estate planning concept, that’s one part of it too is people don’t like thinking about it, and there’s, I think, problems with the long-term care insurance industry, in terms of pricing, pricing rises, what does it cover?
When you combine all that type of stuff, then yeah, it becomes difficult to get people to move forward on it.
Right. And so at that point then if you don’t have long-term care insurance, then you really only have two options. You’re either going to private pay for care, which if you’re blessed with a lot of resources, great, but you figure the average length of stay in a nursing home, if you’re a man, two and a half years, if you’re a woman, it’s three and a half years. So for a married couple, you’re talking five to six years potentially, and I’m talking Texas rates at $200 a day, give or take, for nursing home type care, that’s $6,000 a month, that’s a lot of money. You’re in New Jersey, I mean, you could probably come close to doubling that cost if you’re in a major metropolitan area, if you’re in a Seattle or a Los Angeles or a New York or something like that. So private pay, that’s one option.
And then the only other option would be the need-based care, something like Medicaid. And the problem is those rules are terribly complicated, they’re very restrictive, and yet you can have people that maybe there’s some planning they could do on the front end that would preserve some of their assets so that maybe they don’t have to go all the way down to broke before they’re eligible for something like long-term care. Obviously I’m in a very rural area, primarily, I see a lot of farmers, and so they may not have a lot of cash money, and yet they may still have a net worth in the three, four, $5 million range, but it’s pasture land and half grown pine trees. Well, here they can’t qualify for Medicaid because of the value of these assets, and yet they have no cash to pay for their care. That’s a real pickle.
You start looking in the bigger cities and you’ll see almost the same thing because of the highly appreciated real estate. You bought that little town home on Staten Island in 1968, what’s that thing worth today? And so maybe you need to look at those assets and say, “Okay, we need a plan for incapacity. How are we going to pay for it?” First element is you need to be able to answer that question, how am I going to pay for the long-term care? And there can be a significant estate planning element to that for most people.
Self-Fund for Long-Term Care vs. Long-Term Care Insurance
Is there a certain threshold where someone would make that decision to get long-term care insurance versus self-insure?
Yes, but it depends on a couple of things.
One is geographic location. A million dollars in an IRA in Texas is going to be more than enough money to get you through your years, from a long-term care standpoint. Whereas if you’re in Boston, you can burn that million dollars in no time.
Two is the nature of the assets. If we’re talking about a million dollars worth of IRA money, you can spend that. If you’re talking about a million dollars worth of rental properties, you can’t spend that. In the second case, if you’re not kicking out enough rental income to cover the cost of your care, then you’ll have a problem because you don’t want to have to do a fire sale of your rental properties to generate cash to pay for long-term care. That’s going to be a disaster.
So, what would someone do in that case? Because they’re balancing a couple things:
- Doing what’s best for themself,
- Preparing for the potential future, and
- Still trying to leave assets to their intended heirs.
Do any of the decisions conflict with each other?
Yeah, they do. Generally speaking, I’ve found that people have one of three major concerns:
- They don’t want to be a burden on their friends and family.
- They don’t want to go to a nursing home.
- They don’t want to go broke trying to do the first two things.
But each individual often prioritizes one of those three concerns.
I’ve had some folks say, “Look, I don’t care if I spend every penny of my own money on my care, just as long as I’m getting the kind of care I want.” We would look at that person differently than the person that’s focus is on leaving behind money/assets for the next generation.
And that’s going to dictate some of the ways that I’m looking at the estate planning, because I may be saying, “Okay, well look, we need to shield this farm or these rental properties. Let’s put those in a trust where the assets would not count towards your eligibility for Medicaid, if and when we get to that period of life.” And we’re doing that so that at least Medicaid would be an option to pay for their care and we can preserve the value of those assets, if that’s an important factor for them.
Would they still have access to those assets?
Generally yes, they would have access to it either directly or indirectly. So for example, one of the types of trust that we’ll use is, for example, I create the trust and I’m entitled to as much or all of the income from the trust, but not the principle. The example being like if there’s a CD in the trust, I can get the interest off the CD, but I’m not permitted to distribute the CD itself back to myself. What that does is that shields the value of the CD, but it still gives me the access to the interest that’s kicking off of it. But here’s the thing, let’s say that I say, “Okay, well I’m creating this trust and I’m entitled to the income, but not the principle, but you, I’m going to make you the beneficiary of the principle.” So we get to a point and I say, “You know what, the income off of this trust is just not going to be sufficient, I would like some of that principle.”
Well, I can’t distribute it to myself, that violates the terms of the trust, but there’s nothing stopping me from distributing it to you. And then of course, there’s nothing stopping you from giving it back to me. And so even there, I can create almost a back door to accessing the principal. And again, usually this would be the parent and their two kids or something like that, where we’ve got this kind of unified family dynamic, everybody knows what’s going on and this is the plan. And that’s just one example. There are certainly lots of others out there. But yeah, so again, you’re trying to figure out what’s best for that particular person, what are their circumstances? Sometimes people say, “Look, I don’t want control over these assets. I saw how my mother got Alzheimer’s and as her mental health declined, she gave everything off to scammers and was tricked into doing things. And so I don’t want to put myself in that position, so I’m going to try to protect myself from myself.” So again, it just kind of depends on everybody.
And what about the taxation aspect of it? I know it depends on where someone is in their financial plan or their financial standing, but I do see that as another concern of people is whatever they do, they want to do it in the most tax efficient way possible.
Absolutely, and I would say that anybody that you’re looking at doing estate planning, much like it’s hard to judge financial advisors when you first meet them, does this person really have my best interests in mind, takes a little while to kind of get to know them, the same thing when it comes to attorneys. But a good attorney in a estate planning is also going to have a pretty deep knowledge of taxation. You can’t do one without the other or you’re going to screw it up for the people. When it comes to things like trusts, there’s actually several different ways that a trust could be taxed and there are pros and cons to all of those. But for example, for the average middle class type person, if they’re using a trust, they’re going to want this trust to be taxed as what we would call a grantor trust, meaning that it’s taxed as if they still own the assets.
Even if they don’t have a beneficial interest in the trust, it could still be taxed as if they own the assets. That’s seniors in the lower tax bracket typically, they want those assets to be taxed as if they still own it, avoid even having a separate tax return. They can use their social security number for the trust and all of that sort of stuff. So that’s going to be a very simple and easy and efficient form of taxation. On the other hand, I have clients, for example, let’s say they live in California, their investment income alone puts them in the highest tax bracket. California has a 14% state income tax.
New Jersey is not that far behind, but yeah.
Right. So one of the things that a lot of them are doing is they’re going to create a trust that is taxed as a trust, so the trust is a taxable entity, but then they’re going to base that trust out of Nevada. Then they move their income producing investment assets into this trust that’s governed under the laws of Nevada, it’s out of California now, it’s now in Nevada. And because of that they’re still paying the federal tax, the trust is paying federal tax on that income, but Nevada doesn’t have a state income tax. And so just by changing the way the trust was structured, using different states laws, they’ve just gotten themselves out of 14% California income tax. Now obviously that’s going to be typically a very wealthy person, they’re going to have a lot of investment income from that sort of thing. So again, like you said, you’re looking at that person’s situation, but you do absolutely want to make sure you’re covering the tax issues in all of this.
Two questions about trusts and taxes. Now you mentioned the grantor trust. I know a lot of people like the concept of the step-up in basis on an asset when someone passes away, do they give that up, some people have these real estate or even stock holdings that they’ve had for years and have a big gain inside it, do they give that up once it goes into a grantor or other types of trust? Or is it something that the beneficiary can basically take advantage of, that step-up in basis when whoever they’re inheriting it from passes away?
Yeah, so when you’re designing the trust, that is one of the issues that you want to be very careful about. Again, depending on the terminology of the trust and the language in the trust, the assets in the trust can either be included in the gross estate of the deceased person, in which case they get a step-up in basis or not, in which case they would not get a step-up in basis. And it often depends, mostly with what I see, I have people that do not have a taxable estate, so the value of their total estate is less than the $12.9 million under the current law, and yet they have homes or farms or rental properties. They have these appreciated assets and so the most tax benefit to them is going to be get that step-up in basis at the date of death.
So we’re making sure that the provisions in that trust are going to get that step-up in basis, so that when they die, kids inherit the house, they can turn around, sell that house, that’s a tax-free sale because they got the step-up in basis at the date of death. But on the other hand, I may have clients that do have a taxable estate and we’re trying to put assets in trust so that they will not be included in their gross estate, to get those assets out of the death tax. So it’s all about the structure.
We’re talking about trusts here, but a lot of people’s thinking of estate planning is they center it around the will. How does someone decide their estate is simple enough and a will do or they may need something more complicated and may need to go the trust route?
Yeah, I would say probably one of the most common questions that I get is, “John, do I do a will or do I do a trust?” And most people are surprised by my answer. My answer is typically both or neither. And then they’re looking at me and they’re totally confused. They’re like, “Okay, that doesn’t make any sense at all.” The first thing is you have to understand that when you die, some assets could go through the probate process and some assets would pass automatically. And often the best example would be if I were to name you as the beneficiary on my life insurance, on the policy, you’re named as the beneficiary, I die, all you’ve got to do is call the insurance company up, show them my death certificate and your driver’s license, they’re going to write you a check and off you go.
That’s a good example of a non probate transfer, pass to you according to the contract. Same thing with my IRA, for example, in many states, you can name a beneficiary on real estate, for example, what they call beneficiary deeds or transfer on death deeds. There’s various names depending on which state you live in. And so I could have somebody that they come to me and they say, “John, I think I need a will.” Well, we look at it, they’ve got a small house, they’ve got an IRA, they’ve got a bank account. Well name pay on death beneficiaries on the bank account, name beneficiaries on the IRA, let’s do a transfer on death deed, so that that passes automatically at death. Well, at that point, what is there to will to anybody? Your big brown furniture that nobody wants anyway, and your collection of Hummel figurines.
Well, if that stuff matters to you, just get a piece of paper and write out who you want to get it. But that’s kind of the case of neither, that person didn’t need either a will or a trust. What they needed was to create non probate transfers on each individual asset. But often people have more complex estates, maybe they have larger assets, larger in value or just more. Often with those, I still want to create a non probate transfer, but I want to do it in almost a universal way, without having to go name every single bank, and I want to be able to provide for contingencies. Because it’s one thing if I name you as the beneficiary on my life insurance, but then what happens if you die before me? I need to go back to that life insurance company and name a new one, which is all fine and dandy unless I have Alzheimer’s and now we’ve got a whole nother problem.
So the alternative, but still creating a non probate transfer, would be to use something like a trust, assets that are in a trust pass according to the terms of the trust. So I usually use the example, it’s kind of like a bucket and now we can put all your stuff in the bucket. We can deed your home to the trust, your real estate to the trust, we can change your bank accounts to the trust, we can designate that trust is the beneficiary on life insurance and things like that. And assets that are in the trust are going to pass according to the trust. So I die, the trust just keeps going for my wife, when she dies, the trust splits between our four ungrateful children and they get to go party like rock stars.
On that, if someone came and said, “Well, I have these assets and I have my children, I don’t want them just inheriting a lump sum of everything,” and I know a trust, you can specify the terms or conditions that they have access to those assets. Is there any way to do that in a will or is that something that you would need a trust for?
Pretty much anything you could do in a trust, you could do in a will. So for example, tax planning, you can provide for your beneficiaries including protecting those beneficiaries. So pretty much anything you can do in a trust, you could probably do in a will, at least as far as the beneficiaries. The biggest difference between the two is with the will, you’re putting what you want to happen in writing, which is quite easy on the front end, but no will is valid in any state in the United States until that will has been admitted to a court after your death. And there’s going to be a process involved there, you’re going to die, somebody’s going to have to take that will, they’re going to hire an attorney, that attorney’s going to file the will with the court, depending on your court system and where you live, maybe a couple of weeks later, maybe a couple of months later, you’re going to get appointed as the executor, you’re going to have duties from that point, file an inventory of the estate, publish notice to creditors.
There’s typically a waiting period where you have to wait for creditors to file claims against the estate. Then you pay off the creditors, you pay the lawyer, you pay the court costs. And once you’re done with all of that, you can now start following the terms of the will as far as setting up trusts for beneficiaries or things like that. But that’s a lot of process on the backend and it’s typically quite a bit of cost on the backend. And again, depending on where you live, that’s going to vary. California and New York, for example, both kind of notorious for their probate processes being quite a pain in the rear, Florida as well. I think that may just be because of all the New York people that moved to Florida.
But Texas and Arkansas both have a relatively simple probate process, but it’s still a process and it’s still something that I tell people, “Look, this is going to take four to six months and we’re going to go through the motions.” But yeah, to your question, yes, you could do most of the same stuff in one or the other, but doing it in the trust, you’re setting everything up while you’re alive, while you have the time and the convenience, you can get all of these things in place on the front end and then that trust is just going to govern at your death. There’s no going to court, there’s no delay in time, if it says everything goes to the kids, it goes to the kids.
And so back to it, we started saying step one was have a plan for incapacity. Step two, to me, of any good estate plan, is having a plan for a non probate transfer of your assets, whether that’s a trust or whether that’s just individually designating beneficiaries on everything, but one way or the other, usually passing assets by will is going to be the most cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive way to do it.
Is there any reason to actually have something go through probate that you can think of, or is it you want to avoid probate when you can?
Well, I met a lady here a while back, and she’s what we would call a senior orphan. She’s single, she has no kids, she never had any children. She’s leaving most of her estate to charity. And honestly, she really doesn’t care what the process is after her death. And she would frankly rather the executor be the one that does the work. If that costs some money, if it takes some time, who really cares, it’s all ultimately going to charity. And so for her, it actually did make sense that the primary vehicle was a will. And she wasn’t creating anything complicated, these were just outright bequests in the will to various charities, that works out real good. So there are some of those situations.
And I will say even in my own family, I did some estate planning for my grandfather. And at the time he was already either in his late 80s or early 90s, I don’t recall which, exactly when we did the will, but I did a will for him. But part of my reasoning at that time was frankly, it was going to be easier on him for my dad and me to do the work after he died, than it was for this 90 year old man to try to do the work now. So there are some circumstances where the will may be the appropriate vehicle, but I think for most people, creating that non-probate transfer is going to be the way to go.
Now I’ll have some people come and they’ll say, “I want a will,” because they have minor children, they want to name a guardian of their minor children. Is there someplace outside a will that they can do that?
Yeah. And in fact, I would generally recommend against designating a guardian in a will and instead doing that as a standalone document, a designation of guardian for minor children. And the reason being is that the will in and of itself is not a valid document until it’s been admitted to a court. So that also means that your designation of guardian within that will is not a valid document until it’s been admitted to a court. Well, we don’t really want a delay in time between your death and people being able to step in and take care of little Timmy. So doing a Declaration of Guardian as a standalone document, to me, usually makes a lot more sense. It’s very clear, it’s right there, bam, you’ve got it.
That is going to vary somewhat from state to state, there may be a particular law in Idaho, for example, I don’t know, I’m just throwing that out there, that says, “Oh, it needs to be in the will.” Okay, fine. But I prefer doing it as a standalone document for that very reason. What happens if you’ve put that in the will, now somebody’s contesting the will based on a financial reason. They’re saying, “Oh, well, I thought I was supposed to get the house and so I’m going to contest this will and say that you were incompetent when you made the will or that somebody unduly influenced you.” Well, now you’re going to have a 12 month contested probate case over the validity of the will. Meanwhile, that declaration of guardian in the will is still also now being litigated indirectly, because if the will’s invalid, well then that provision in the will is invalid. So yeah, I like them as a separate standalone document.
We talked about a lot of different documents, everything from healthcare directors,, power of attorneys, trusts, wills, the guardian director, is an attorney needed for all these, some of these, none of these? How should someone approach, should it just be a bundle, let’s go to an attorney and take care of all these at once, or is it okay, I can put my will or power of attorney or even trust together without an attorney?
So I would say if you’re talking about some relatively basic stuff, so for example, your kids turning 18, you’re sending them off to Vanderbilt or wherever you want them to go to college, and you’re thinking, well, you know what, now that they’re 18, you no longer have the legal authority to make medical decisions for them. So you should probably have them do a medical power of attorney. Well, there’s actually a federal law that says every hospital in the United States is required to provide you a form for a medical power of attorney free of charge. So you walk into the hospital, you say, “Hey, I would like to get a copy of a form for a medical power of attorney.” They’re going to hand you one, you get your kid to sign it, you get it either witnessed or notarized as required by your state, and now you’ve got a document that’s going to allow you to make medical decisions if your kid gets into a bad accident when they’re down there in Vanderbilt, you didn’t need an attorney for that.
On the other hand, if you’re talking about yourself and you’re planning for this incapacity and you’re looking at maybe doing a trust, maybe even doing a will, doing some powers of attorney, I would highly suggest the guidance of somebody that actually does this all the time. Here’s my best example, I have an attorney that works for me, and he was a personal injury attorney for the first 10 years of his law practice. So he was an ambulance chaser out there. And then I finally brought him over to the good side and he had worked with me for about six months, I had him following me around and kind of working with my clients and showing him how to do things. And I remember at one point he said, “I just looked back at the will I had done for myself, and I am shocked at how bad it is.”
So this is a practicing attorney with 10 years of experience, just not in this field. But I mean, he still went to law school, he’s got a law license, and he would be the first one to tell you that he screwed up his own planning based on his lack of knowledge. Well, if that’s the case, think about the person that they’re an engineer, they’re an account executive, they’re just an average Joe out there. You don’t have 20 years of dealing with families and all of their intricacies and the knowledge of all the rules and regulations and stuff that are out there, you’re likely to screw it up if you try to DIY this.
Yeah, no, that makes sense. On that topic of the attorney looking at his plan, is there something that should trigger, okay, I need to go and update my estate plan?
Certainly any major change in the family dynamics. And by that I would mean if there’s a death, if there’s a catastrophic illness, if there are divorces or maybe you’ve got a child that’s gotten into some criminal trouble or they’re in a bad marriage or they’ve got a bunch of creditors or these kind of big family issues that they’re stressing everybody out, that may be a good time to go back and visit with somebody and say, “Hey, you know what? I’ve left everything to my three kids, but my son, him and his wife, they’re just not getting along. That’s likely to end in divorce. Is there anything we need to think about?” And you don’t have to know the answer to it, you’re not walking into the attorney’s office to say, “I want you to do this because of my son.” You’re saying, “Is there an issue that we need to address? Is there a way we can address this issue?” And again, they should have an answer to that because that’s something we see all the time, are these sort of issues.
So certainly if there’s any major change. Beyond that, how often you should go back, some of that is age age and stage. Obviously if you’re 30, the difference between the plan you did at 30 and the plan you did at 35, unlikely to need any changing, but the plan you did at 70 and 75, well, that’s a bigger deal. At that point, you probably have a lot more in assets, you’ve got a much more diverse situation and your age and health are probably changing at a much more rapid pace. And there’s going to be laws, I mean, what are we, we’re two years into the Secure Act and the change in inherited IRA. I mean, that was the biggest change to inherited IRA law that we’ve seen in decades.
And yet I’m still, the first one, I just talked to somebody yesterday and I said, “Well, you’ve got this IRA and you know your kids are going to have to pay taxes on that within 10 years after your death.” And they were like, “Really? I thought they can roll that over. That’s what I did when my parents died. I just rolled their IRA over.” I’m like, “Yeah, well, they took that away from you three years ago.” That’s the kind of thing that if you’re not keeping up with all of the, how could you really, keep up with all the law changes that impact this, that’s one of those things where if you’re checking back in with that attorney, even if it’s something as simple as an email, that’s what I tell my clients, I’m like, “Just shoot me an email once a year.”
I can look back, I can look at my notes and I can say, “Oh, this person, they have a big IRA.” I email them back and say, “Hey, you know what? We may need to readdress some issues because of the Secure Act. Let’s see if we can mitigate the tax consequences to your kids when they inherit this big IRA.” And again, those are going to be typically your people that are in that 65 and plus range, they probably need to be checking in, much like you would with your health. You go in, you get a physical, they poke you, they make you run on the treadmill, they do the things. The doctor comes back says, “You’re healthy.” That doesn’t mean you’re healthy next year. And so what do you do? The doctor would tell you, “Come back next year and get another physical.” And if you do that regularly, you might just catch something before it becomes such a big problem that it can’t be fixed.
We started this off by talking about the resistance people have to doing estate planning. How do you enhance the chance of success when a lot of times it’s driven by the child who’s looking out for the parent and wants to push it, and maybe there’s some resistance on the parent’s side?
How to Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning
Most of the time, I think it’s a problem with the kids’ approach. I mentioned earlier I’ve got four kids. They’re all adults, but from my perspective, they’re all still kind of morons. I’m not terribly interested in their opinions.
I think a lot of times as the child, when we’re talking to our parents, we see ourselves as the mature one. We don’t understand that our parents don’t – they still see us as a child.
So I think approach is important. If you’re saying, “Mom and dad, I think y’all need to do this because I’m mature and smart and I know what’s best for you,” you’re going to get nowhere with that. Everybody has seen these situations go bad in other people’s families. You have a friend, a neighbor, somebody in church, somewhere, and they’ve told you, “Oh yeah, when my mom died, brothers and sisters, they got into a big fight or they had this lawyer and it cost a whole bunch of money and it was all of this, blah, blah, blah.”
And also, I would go back to those three things that I mentioned earlier, the desire not to be a burden on others, the desire not to be in a nursing home and the desire to not go broke paying for the first two. Say, “Hey, do y’all remember Sally, that girl I went to high school with? I was talking to her the other day and she was telling me, me about, man, this train wreck with her mom, and mom got Alzheimer’s and man, she spent all of her money and then ended up in a nursing home. What would y’all want in that situation?” And maybe try to feel them out a little bit. Are they saying, “Well, I dang sure don’t want to go to a nursing home.” “Okay, well if that’s the case, mom, I wonder if maybe we should go talk to somebody and see if we could get a plan together to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
You’ve identified their concern and now you’re providing a solution to their concern. You’re not telling them what to do.
Yeah, that makes sense. People always relate to stories or experiences. Well, John, we’re just about out of time. Thank you for joining us today. You gave some great information on estate and elder law planning. How best can someone reach out to you to find out more about what you do?
We talk about this a lot on my Big Picture Retirement Podcast. If your listeners have individual questions, they can reach out to me through my firm’s website, rossandshoalmire.com. On the website, you’ll find all kinds of articles about estate planning – there’s lots of information on there.
Great. We’ll link to all that in the show notes. Thank you to everyone who tuned into today’s episode. Don’t forget to follow The Agent of Wealth on the platform you listen from and leave us a review of the show. We are currently accepting new clients, if you’d like to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with our advisors, please do so below.