When I had previously thought of ‘Gift Planning’ I was only considering the Will component, the gift left to a particular charity, once the person had died. I had not fully appreciated all of the challenges that might be experienced when working with the older person while they are still alive. One is always concerned and the donor’s capacity, and the challenges posed when large amounts of money are being gifted and bequeathed to a charity especially when the donor might exclude family from their will. Ethical practices and how to do the ‘right thing’ are certainly critical considerations.
My perspective on this topic is in regards to the vulnerability of many seniors and those that find themselves alone in their later years. Their vulnerability isn’t necessarily in direct relation to their capacity but rather their need for friendship and assistance when the cost for this interaction might be naming this ‘friend’ in their will as a beneficiary. I had previously blogged about this thorny topic in ‘Sharing the Caring’ .
I understand that it is very hard to be and feel old and to find oneself alone. The exchange of ‘I will assist you now and you don’t have to pay me BUT you do have to leave me your house…. or your money may not seem very fair. It is an equation that we may see in family but it is also an equation we may see between the older person and their neighbours and/or their caregivers. In some cases, it might be a fair exchange and there capacity and genuine care and concern but in other times, it can be highly suspect. Perhaps the best scenario would be if there is a separate bone fide attorney for property (either a person or a trust company) who has been named who can work to ensure the older person’s money is being appropriately spent- on them- the older person but even so, the issue and need to have someone trustworthy appointed as attorney for personal care is absolute. As seniors find themselves alone and let’s only hope, not again in isolation, we need to pay attention to potential risks.