Years ago, my grandfather owned several rental properties, but as he aged, he decided to sell them. I don’t believe he was aware of certain tax strategies like providing heirs with a stepped-up basis, as he was a pipe-fitter by trade. After he passed away from a heart attack, he left his estate to my grandma.
Several years later, my uncle, also a pipe-fitter, who was single and had lived at home with my grandma for most of his life, passed away at the early age of 49 from cancer, and he too left my grandma his estate, which consisted of some vacation rentals.
Eventually, my grandma went to live with my aunt, as she was developing memory loss and could no longer live alone. Then, after a bad car accident, my grandma went to live in a nursing home for the next five years until she passed away in her early 90s.
The reason I’m telling you this is because the nursing home wiped out her entire estate in a relatively short time. I’m sure my grandpa and uncle had no idea that the assets they worked so hard for would be taken by the nursing home and the tax man.
It wasn’t until years later, when I was working as an insurance agent and financial planner, that I realized all of this was preventable, especially if I focused more on controlling assets, instead of simply owning them.
If you’re aging like I am, maybe it’s time to start moving assets out of your name (as many assisted living facilities have a five-year look back period) and see if long-term care and other insurances may make sense for you. It’s never too early to do some serious estate planning if you really care and want to give your heirs the greatest gift, a well-thought-out estate plan.
This article first appeared on BiggerPockets.com.