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He Left It All To The Dogs!

The worst part of my business is that I sometimes have to say “Good-bye” to my favorite clients. In the past several weeks, I have had two favorite clients pass away, and one move out of state to be closer to her son. Today, I am going to share a story about one of my clients, whom I am going to call “M.”

“M” was in his early 70’s. He was a former states attorney, who was hired personally by the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. M was extremely eccentric and opinionated, and some of the things he said made me laugh so hard that I cried. He had opinions of politicians no matter which party they belonged to. He had been educated by Jesuits from high school through law school and hated everything that happened in the Catholic Church after Vatican II. He had never married, lived with his recently deceased mother, and cherished an overweight, 6 year old Dachshund that was not housebroken. (Therefore, the dog did its business anywhere in the house). He told me that if anything were to happen to him, the dog was to be taken to a woman who ran an animal shelter in her home up the street. He didn’t put this in writing. His estate was left to a charity. He had named a trust company as his Power of Attorney for Property. I was referred to this gentleman because he had very bad experiences with a non-medical home care agency. After a stroke in spring 2017, he amassed a bill for more than $200,000 in charges for 24-hour care provided by the agency. After reviewing the bill, I found some of the charges to be extremely excessive. I was hired in January of 2018 to help find a new home care agency for him and pay his bills. After bringing in 2 agencies for him to interview, he confided that he had hired some caregivers privately at a much lower rate.

As I put together M’s big financial picture, I found that his money was at a bank in a number of CDs valued over $500,000. He had checking accounts in two banks, an IRA, a pension, and a vacation property in Wisconsin. He had a habit of running down his checking accounts to the last penny, even though he had plenty of money. When I suggested that a financial advisor should be called to “pull everything together and maximize earning potential,” M replied, “No, because they will make me sell the property in Wisconsin.” Please note that M was not in any physical condition to be using a vacation home. Nevertheless, I backed off. However, when I would give him advice, he would acknowledge me with a traditional, “Yeah, I know.” As time went on, M trusted me more and more. Eventually, he asked me to attend his doctor appointments with him and become his advocate. He had signed a Power of Attorney for Health Care with another entity in 2017 that never had any contact with him, or knew anything about him. I was named, however, as Power of Attorney for Property at only one of the banks where his CDs were placed and came due. I would then cash them in. In other words, I was effectively the only person who knew what was going on in his life. Did he have relatives? Yes, but he wanted nothing to do with them!

In the last several weeks, M had a seizure and was taken to the hospital twice in one week. After the second trip to the hospital, M’s lawyer and I were called to meet with the doctor on a Sunday morning. M was bedridden and unable to hold his head up or conduct a conversation. The doctor drew aside M’s hospital gown and showed us a huge cancerous tumor on his chest that he chose not to treat. The physician said that because M had not sought treatment for the cancer, she was going to construe that as meaning those were his wishes and she was not going to treat him further.

The named Power of Attorney for Health Care did not become involved until the following Monday morning. When M needed to go to a nursing home, I was asked to make the skilled nursing home placement. Because I was the only person at that point who had access to his funds, I had to run to the bank and take out $5,000 for a deposit at the nursing home. When the trust company became involved, I had to fill them in on everything that had gone on with M from both a health care and property perspective. M’s lawyer and I were told that, given the way M’s trust was set up, they could not accept the case until the dog was given away. In the meantime, I found out that the unlicensed caregiver had left the dog in the house by itself and left the door unlocked. The caregiver was only going there to feed the dog every once in a while. When we found the dog, she was fine. M’s lawyer and I tried to get a hold of the neighbor who ran the nearby home-based shelter, but she wasn’t at home. M’s lawyer then found a dog motel and made arrangements to board the dog. Several days later, M passed away.

The bottom line was, the trust company said that taking the dog to a pooch motel didn’t constitute giving her away. It was revealed that a well known animal society in Chicago was to inherit 1 million dollars from M, and they agreed to take care of the dog for life. Now, the trust company would be satisfied.

So what’s the moral of the story? While it’s great that many puppies and kitties will be made happy by a big donation to an animal shelter, make sure that the individuals whom you name as your Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property are made aware of your wishes. You’ll avoid a big Keystone Kop comedy if you do! And, M, I will miss our Friday afternoon conversations dearly! Rest in peace!

Do you need a second opinion? Let Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors help. Call us at (708) 415-2934 or email us. Please visit our website. Please watch my video to learn how the process works and learn what some clients have to say.

Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors
1497 Shire Circle
Inverness, IL 60067
Phone: 847.934.5303
Cell: 708.415.2934