We Get Too Soon Old and Too Late Smart


This is an old Pennsylvania Dutch proverb that many times sums up estate planning for older couples. The planning comes upon the heels of a health emergency or a reality that there will not be enough funds for later years. I am not referring to the documents necessary but rather the discussion while competent and together as husband and wife to determine the end of life issues. The joint rational and prudent decisions as to the right course of action for both husband and wife and for the survivor should be made together. Don’t make your wife have to ask, “What would my husband have done?”

Subjects of concern are:

1. Do I sell the home? Where do I move?

2. What about my liquid assets? What liquid assets do I live on and what assets do I protect for the children?

3. What about my health coverage and do I need long-term care insurance?

4. Which child should actually assist in health care decisions?

5. Which child is best suited to assist in financial and business decisions?

6. What shall I do to maintain my current standard of living?

7. How can I reduce or eliminate income and or estate taxes?

8. Do I need to take aggressive actions to protect my assets against nursing home expense?

9. Have I made correct decisions relating to pensions, government benefits or any other monthly payment that will provide partial security during the second half of my life?

10. Have I taken care of all the legal and financial issues and do I have all the documents in place that are necessary to meet these issues?

11. Have I taken every proactive step to answer and secure all of the above?

Avoid crisis mode with calm and deliberate decision making around the kitchen table and in the office of a professional who will ask the questions you do not want to discuss. I consider that to be my most important job, to look at the worst-case scenario and make you both consider and decide. I hope that none of what is discussed and planned will ever come to fruition (except death, sorry). Everyone should start this exercise in middle age but at least with the receipt of a Medicare card. We can’t prevent sickness and death but we can be prepared with advanced decisions and the paperwork to activate the plan.

Jeff Roth is a partner with David Bacon and Jessica Moon of the firm Roth and Bacon with offices in Port Clinton, Upper Sandusky, Marion and Fort Myers, Fla. All members of the firm are licensed in Ohio and Florida. Roth’s practice is limited to wealth strategy planning and elder law in both states. Nothing in this article is intended for, nor should be relied upon as individual legal advice. The purpose of this article is to provide information to the public on concepts of law as they pertain to estate and business planning. Roth can be reached at or 419-732-9994.