Understanding Legal Planning

Procrastinating can lead to a situation where it’s “too late.”

Meeting with a lawyer to discuss your legal needs can be compared to meeting with your doctor for a wellness exam. Your doctor evaluates your current health situation and recommends actions that you can take to ensure as healthy a future as possible. If, on the other hand, you procrastinate and don’t have regular wellness exams, sometimes when a problem is discovered it is too late to do anything about it. Early detection is always best.

When you have a “legal wellness” exam, your lawyer can advise you concerning what legal documents you need to have in place and what actions you need to take to be as prepared as possible for any eventuality that might occur. Sometimes, if you have a chronic illness, planning for long-term care should also be part of the conversation. In law as in medicine, if you wait too long, once the problem becomes evident, you may not be able to do anything about it.

For example, sometimes individuals set up a Trust to avoid probate. After the Trust is set up, they buy and sale property but some of the property is mistakenly not put into the Trust. When the grantors of the Trust pass away, their failure to transfer the property to the Trust is discovered. So, their heirs must probate the estate to transfer title to the property into the Trust. The goal of avoiding probate has been frustrated. Meeting with a lawyer to review the Trust could have avoided this.

Another example is when Mom and Dad are doing fine, so they aren’t thinking about their “legal wellness”. Then years go by and one of them unexpectedly becomes incapacitated. It’s now too late to put legal documents in place to appoint agents, who can act on their behalf. It makes sense to have regular “checkups”—medical and legal to take care of things while you still can.

Quality of life is important to each of us. Just as a wellness exam can catch physical problems while they are still treatable, legal exams can identify and solve problems while you are still able to do something about it.

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.

June 2019