Let’s take a look at a real world example of whether a Solo Ager’s estate plan worked towards the end of her life.
Ms.H’s Plan: DIY Will + Professional Executor
Ms. H is a solo ager (unmarried, no kids, over 60 years old) who’s been estranged from her closest relatives (siblings and nieces and nephews) for decades.
She made a do-it-yourself will leaving everything to charity. Thankfully, she hired a lawyer to supervise her will signing.
Ms. H named me her professional executor in her will, and over the past 10 years her wishes have remained largely the same.
Sadly, age has caught up with Ms. H, and she was recently hospitalized for lack of self-care. Her doctors agree they cannot discharge her to live alone anymore, so we’re making arrangements for Ms. H to move into assisted living.
She’s understandably anxious about all this, and even contacted her long-estranged niece and asked her to visit.
What Went Right with Her Plan?
Ms. H avoided a few problems by naming me her professional executor.
First, she won’t have to deal with any “court-appointed strangers,” such as a guardian. Instead, she can turn to me, someone she’s chosen and has a relationship with.
Second, she felt comfortable reaching out to estranged family, without fear they’d try to sneak into her inheritance. Since Ms. H already has a will and an attorney-executor standing by, her niece has focused solely on reconnecting with Ms. H emotional, not financially.
And lastly, Ms. H’s doctors, hospitals, and social worker have all been grateful to have me as a main point of contact for her care.
What Went Wrong with Her Plan?
Her plan does have a couple of weaknesses.
Since an executor steps in after death, I don’t have authority to help Ms. H now. For example, I can’t help make financial arrangements for her to access a better assisted living. She much choose among the options thru Medicare.
Also, if unscrupulous and aggressive family comes out of the woodwork, I have fewer tools to fend them off. We’d have to battle in court, which could waste Ms. H’s time and money, and cause her stress.
Why a Trust Could Have Been Better
If Ms. H had made me trustee, I’d be better to avoid any court-appointed strangers for her. And more ability to upgrade her care, and deter unwanted family, without having to go to court.