I once had a client who appeared to have fine mental faculties. You could sit and have a conversation with him about recent events, his health, and what he had for breakfast that day. He had been a savvy, successful businessman who retired to his large suburban home with a seven-figure nest egg.
Despite appearances, he had apparently developed enough of an impairment to be taken in by offers that most people would recognize as scams. He bought into them, though, and began sending money to “associates” in foreign countries. Over time, he gave away his entire fortune and maxed out his home equity line of credit. His unsuspecting wife let him handle all their finances as he had always competently done. No one in his family had any reason to think anything was wrong until it was too late and his fortune had vanished.
Here’s another example. Did you know that one alleged side effect of a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease is compulsive gambling? A colleague of mine told me how surprised the judge was when he sought guardianship for a client who was spending his life savings on Internet gambling sites after he began taking the drug. But after hearing expert testimony on the issue, the judge granted the guardianship so that someone in the man’s family could take over his finances and make sure his bills got paid.
By having some portion of your estate in a trust, managed by a trustee (perhaps with the added safeguard of a trust protector), you have some protection against yourself and your own bad decisions if your judgment should wane in the years ahead. This is one of a number of reasons to consider a trust that offers asset protection when doing estate planning.