Recently, our solo ager client, Julie, moved into a long-term rehabilitation facility. Thankfully, her health is stable, but her bills are starting to fall behind.
No plan: What is Article 81 Guardianship?
An Article 81 guardian is someone that takes over your financial affairs when you have no prior plan. By walking you through this situation, we will show you what can happen if you fail to plan.
Unfortunately, Julie only had half a plan. She has a Last Will and in it, I’m named as her executor because she has no relatives nearby. But this is only half of a plan because a will only takes effect when Julie dies. Until then, I have no legal authority.
To help Julie manage her finances and pay her bills, I have to ask the court to name me as her Article 81 guardian. Any time you have to go to court, there are usually delays, costs, and uncertainty. While we are waiting at the mercy of the court process, Julie’s co-op payments are falling behind.
Better Plan: Guardianship vs Revocable Trust
What would have been a better, complete plan for Julie? In this case, with a revocable trust, I could step in and help Julie without the long court process. Besides avoiding probate, another benefit of a revocable trust is the end-of-life help with finances. For the same reasons you’d avoid probate, you’d want your end-of-life team to be able to help you without going to court.
If you worry that it’s too expensive to hire a lawyer for a trust, note that the cost of an Article 81 guardianship is between $5,000 to $10,000. A revocable trust costs about $2,000. I don’t recommend revocable trusts for everyone, but it is often a wise option for solo agers.
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