Elder Law with Frank and Mary: Have you planned for your last year?


As seniors, we understand that everyone eventually dies, and we know, for us, it may be sooner rather than later. Beyond that, it’s all speculation. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you get some sleep rather than staying awake worrying about all this.

  • Make sure you have a healthcare proxy. That’s an easy one. If you end up losing the capacity to make medical decisions, you need someone you can trust to make them for you.
  • Talk to your healthcare proxy about what’s important to you about living. This one is harder, and most people don’t have (or want to have) this conversation, which is fine until it isn’t. Don’t you want to know your agent will do what you want done if you can’t communicate your wishes? Don’t wait, communicate while you can still communicate.
  • Make sure you have a power-of-attorney agent. While you (and your healthcare proxy) are dealing with your medical problems, the world will go on. Someone will need to pay your credit card bills, utility bills, and all other bills, renew the house insurance, take care of all the little and big things that you do now. Without a power-of-attorney agent to handle your financial affairs, things can go south in a hurry.
  • Talk to your power-of-attorney agent about gifting before you die. One strategy to avoid probate and/or to avoid or reduce the Massachusetts estate tax is to give things away before you pass away. You will want to make sure your power-of-attorney agent understands your wishes so that your assets can be gifted to loved ones, thereby reducing your taxable estate, and maybe even allowing your children or other relatives to avoid the probate process entirely. That in itself would be a real gift.
  • Don’t leave things undone. If there are things that are important to you or that you might be able to resolve prior to passing away, do them now. Don’t wait. Perhaps you want to write your own obituary, or figure out where your remains should go. Maybe forgive some people, or ask for their forgiveness. Tell the people you love how you feel, or write a letter (to be opened after you die) telling them how special they are. The list of possibilities is endless.
  • Go out and live. Live each day as if it’s your last. Make the most of all you have.

For more information, visit Frank and Mary’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/elderlawfrankandmary. These programs also air on MVTV (Comcast 13), along with “Frank and Mary on Martha’s Vineyard,” where Sandie Corr-Dolby and I address common issues facing seniors and available resources. If you have any questions, please contact me at 508-860-1470, or abergeron@mirickoconnell.com.

Arthur Bergeron is an elder law attorney in the trusts and estates group at Mirick O’Connell.