Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Hassle of Cashing In U. S. Savings Bonds

It is a rare financial institution that will cash U. S. Savings bonds, at least in the Mahoning Valley. Once again, I have a client who is the attorney-in-fact for a person who is very likely legally incompetent, and my client wants to cash in bonds on behalf of the incompetent person. According to the instructions and forms on the Treasury Direct website, the incompetent person will have to appear before a bank office and have his/her signature "Medallion Guaranteed." Good luck.

There are other options. My client could file for a guardianship of the property of the incompetent person. I have written elsewhere on the disaster that process is, and I would not recommend it for my most hated enemy. My client could also wait until the incompetent person dies. However, the incompetent person likely will have to go on Medicaid to pay for his/her care and my client will end up hiring a lawyer to file a guardianship in any event in order to cash the bonds in order to qualify for Medicaid. Do yourself a favor--cash in your U. S. Savings bonds while you yourself are still able.

John C. Grundy, Esq.
Cortland, OH 44410


“I will get to it. I am just too busy right now, and when things slow down a bit I will do it.” Every estate planner has heard those words come of a client’s mouth who is now deceased and never “got to it.”

It happened just yesterday to the mother of a client. I spoke with my client, and he is in a rush to make sure that his father’s estate plan is in order. I reminded him of our continuing conversation about his own estate plan. “Yeah, my wife and I are still talking about it and have not made some decisions yet.”

It is a little hard to make a decision after you are dead.

The Pennsylvania Dutch have a saying: “Too soon old; too late smart.” True that!

If you are reading this, and the “I will get to it when things slow down” line has passed through your lips, stop what you are doing and call me or whoever your estate planner is. You will not be able to do so after you are dead, and you will leave your family spinning, just like my client and his father are spinning now.

3333 Niles Cortland Road
Cortland, OH 44410
April 7, 2018

Monday, August 25, 2014

Don't be my latest client. Mom had a stroke about ten years ago. She developed dementia about five years ago. Dad took care of mom at home, and had a stroke a few days ago. Dad's speech is affected, and his use of his right side has been affected. Dad has been moved to a long term care facility, and mom has been moved with him since she is not able to live alone. Dad is not improving since his stroke. They have no powers of attorney, no healthcare power of attorney, no living wills, and no Wills. There may be a rift in the family and I anticipate difficulty with children who do not live locally. A son does live locally and is trying to take care of mom and dad and their finances, but is very limited because of the lack of authority (i.e., no POAs and no healthcare POAs). Unfortunately, my prognosis is an eventual guardianship for mom.

If these clients had come to see me when mom had her stroke, or about the time mom's dementia was first diagnosed, we could have created POAs, healthcare POAs, living wills, and Wills for them; and perhaps a Medicaid Trust would have been indicated for them. Now, for mom certainly, none of that seems to be possible.

There is a house and it is very foreseeable the house may have to be sold to provide cash to pay for parents' care. Because the house is owned by mom and dad as "tenants in common" (i.e., each owns an undivided 1/2 interest), and because mom cannot sign and has no POA, it will be possible to sell the house only by creating a guardianship for mom and filing a statutory lawsuit commonly known as a "land sale proceeding." It will be expensive; the family will not be happy; and there is no opportunity to do any planning to preserve assets to maintain as high a standard of living as possible for parents.

Don't be these clients. Estate planning is for life issues as well as death, and should be undertaken early. Do not wait for the bad event that renders you incompetent. It will be too late.