Imagine that you die after a long series of illnesses. Because you've been successful in your field and leave a considerable estate. You might expect a will challenge - sure. But from your former lawyer? Now, that's one weird situation.
Say there's an older adult - let's call her Judy - who has difficulty caring for herself. Judy's son, Charles, is her primary caretaker, but he abuses her, pinching her and refusing to give her dinner if she doesn't stay quiet during his favorite TV show. Judy's doctor notices that she has bruises on her arms and is rapidly losing weight; she reports Charles to family services, and Charles is eventually convicted of felony abuse.
Most of us don't have $300 million to leave behind when we pass on. But for those who do, it's no surprise when there's a fight over their wills. And when they leave most of their estate to charities and caretakers instead of family members? Bring on the trusts and estates lawyers.
Most lawyers say, emphatically, that all older Americans - heck, all Americans, period - should have a will. But let's face it: Even by the time they die, most people haven't accumulated much in terms of an estate.
I was recently interviewed for a New York Times article, The Talk You Didn't Have With Your Parents Could Cost You, about handling parents' financial and legal affairs after they die. The article is an important one - both for adult children who may be dealing with these issues, and for parents who may be reluctant to share personal and financial information with their kids.
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