An August 5th article in the Appleton Post Crescent highlights what many estate planning attorneys already know, but is a lesson well worth repeating: namely, that your estate plan can provide essential assistance to your family long before you die, and that the time for estate planning is before you or your spouse encounter a problem, not after. By having a proper plan in place, you can provide for yourself and your family in the event you become mentally incapacitated.
The Post Crescent article tells the story of Bill and Carol Fenrich. Bill Fenrich began displaying symptoms of diminished memory. Even though Fenrich passed a memory test required for the couple’s long-term care insurance, they decided to move forward with planning their estates, including creating powers of attorney and living wills. Ultimately, Fenrich died as a result of complications from frontal temporal dementia.
Although Fenrich’s illness did not lead to a prolonged period in which his mental function was so diminished by his dementia that he was unable to make decisions for himself, the couple’s situation provides a clear warning. The husband’s condition clearly could have created a situation in which he was alive, but his mental capacity was so severely diminished by his illness that he could not make decisions for himself. Furthermore, this state could have existed for years. However, by ensuring they had an estate plan in place before problems arose, the Fenrichs had the peace of mind of knowing that they were prepared regardless of the direction the husband’s dementia took. “I am very grateful that all the necessary documents were in place at the time of Bill’s final illness,” Carol Fenrich told the Post Crescent.