Estate planning, Elder Law and the Bible

In this episode, John Ross and Lisa Shoalmire discuss a handful of stories from the bible that resonates still in today’s world of elder law and estate planning.

Episode Transcript
John
Welcome to Aging Insight everybody. This is your host John Ross here live in the studio with Lisa Shoalmire. We’re here live. It’s Easter weekend.
Lisa
Yes, it is.
John
And yet here we are in the studio because you know what, we believe in this information.
Lisa
And we're here.
John
And we’re here, that's right. So we are here, we’re live in the studio. Of course it's a live call in show, so if you’ve got a question or comment, you feel free to give us a call. The phone number is 903-793-1071, that’s 903-793-1071 and we're going to have some good stuff to talk about today. We hope you're enjoying your weekend. It's beautiful out there. It should be a nice day.
John
I didn’t actually but that doesn’t surprise me.
Lisa
But don’t tell our staff that.
John
Right. I know I did have to call … I tried to return a few phone calls to a few folks in other industries like financial services and things and I got a lot of voicemails yesterday.
Lisa
What happened I think was that so many people had off of work and so they wanted to make appointments when they were off of work because when you're trying to care for an aging parent or you’re going to be in town for a holiday and you need to get some business done, you just got to get it done. We were open so we could visit with those folks and make sure that they could get some guidance and direction.
John
That’s right.
Lisa
But anyways.
John
That's the thing is the job of elder law attorney it really never stops because people are going to have health crisis, they're going to have financial crisis, they're going to have legal crisis and all of these things are going to happen at once and you don't get to pick when they happen. This is kind of like when water heaters break. You don't really have any choice on when that water heater is going to break and you can be relatively sure that if it is going to break and it's going to spill water all over the place, it's going to do it at the most inopportune time.
Lisa
A weekend.
John
Yeah, weekend, at night, that sort of stuff. We end up trying to be available quite a bit for those sort of situations and of course that's because really Lisa and I, we do believe in this information. That's why we work on Good Friday and--
Lisa
And here on Holy Saturday, is what’s they call it.
John
And here on Holy Saturday. That’s exactly right.
Lisa
I want to give a special thanks to our sponsors that make sure that we have these lovely facilities and the equipment that's needed so that you can hear us out there on the radio. So I want to say a special thanks to Edgewood Manor and the Barnette Agency, Dukes Memorial Hospice, Riverview Behavioral in Calhoun Creek state. Also to Carlton Green and Company and St. Michael’s Hospital. Also Red River Federal Credit Union, Twin City Rehab and Inspirations Health and Rehabilitation out in Boston, Texas.
John
Yeah. That's right and thanks to all of them. Like you said they make the radio show possible and of course we also are broadcasting this live on Facebook. So you can go to the Ross and Shoalmire page on Facebook, R-O-S-S. and S-H-O-A-L-M-I-R-E., Ross and Shoalmire you can go to the Facebook page and click on the link there and you can see us make radio happen, if you’re so inclined. But if you do, be sure and give us a like on there. Feel free to share the post so that your friends and other folks will be able to enjoy it as well.
Lisa
John I always like to kind of… some of our listeners say, I don’t know, its like, “Where's John? Where's Lisa for the week?”
John
That’s right.
Lisa
This past week I had the privilege of speaking to the Lion’s Club out in Mineola. Texas.
John
Yeah, a Metroplex.
Lisa
Yes, the Metroplex in Mineola. For those folks who may not exactly where Mineola is, it’s kind of near the Tyler Big Sandy area. What was great though was while I was there visiting with the Lions Club in Mineola, I got to meet Mr. Dodd who is a World War two veteran and he is still serving his community because he was there part of the Lions Club meeting and I think they having some signups for some charity table they were doing shortly and Mr. Dodd was signed up. It’s great to see folks that just continue to use the resources that they have and time on their hands to give back to their communities. It was great time.
John
Pretty awesome stuff. I was at several different places running around this week. It’s just… it’s just a busy week. We do a lot of speaking and a lot of these presentations and speaking and things like that. I know Lisa said somebody with our eggs and issues that we do every month here in Tex Akin.
Lisa
Right, the fourth Thursday every month, eggs and issues.
John
The one we do over at Trinity Church somebody said, “Well, it depends on whether John or Lisa is speaking because if you want to hear some stories, come listen to John and if you want to get some nuts and bolts... basically if you want to learn come listen to Lisa. If you want to be entertained to come listen to John, I think we both mix it up because the thing is this we've got lots of stories in all of this and we can usually relate some relatively complicated issues with some stories out there and some of those stories come from our own practice.
Lisa
Yeah. I would say most of them do.
John
The vast majority of them come from our own experiences or the experiences that we've had as clients. Sometimes, and even here on the radio show, sometimes we like to tell stories that we have seen out there in the community or that we've read about but there's all kinds of stories out there. I know when I do a speech or when we both do speeches, one particular that we call the five big mistakes.
Lisa
The five big mistakes that we see people or seniors make when it comes to legal issues.
John
That's right and with this, there's a few… like for example paying too much focus on the will as opposed to not concentrating on things like powers of attorney and stuff like that. Relying on Medicare to pay for long term care expenses because it’s not-
Lisa
It doesn't.
John
It doesn’t. Giving assets away and thinking that's going to protect them, that's mistake number three. Number four is getting bad advice. Relying on the wrong people out there who unfortunately don't know what they're talking about but still like to run their mouths as if they do. But the fifth one, the fifth mistake-
Lisa
I hear you revving up right here.
John
Yeah. I’m revving up here. The fifth mistake is the mistake of doing absolutely nothing and this is the one that most people do and we're all guilty of it.
Lisa
Absolutely. You know John, when I do visit with folks and they come into the office and they come in and they say they want a will and they need to get some guidance, whatever it is that they're needing, I always ask them, what has motivated them to finally come in and address this because John, what I found is folks are… they’re always willing to plan their next vacation.
John
Sure.
Lisa
To do the research, to figure out where it is they want to go and make sure they get everything in the time that they're going to be there and they will spend months and months and weeks and… if you're planning a Disney vacation, you could spend two years planning for that big vacation. Folks always want to plan for the fun things, the happy things, the celebration things of life. When I have someone in my office and I ask them, what finally brought them in to maybe plan and seek some guidance in the estate planning or elder law area, John most of the time it's because of an event in their life. It’s not just that they thought, “Wow, we were kicking it around and we finally realized we need to do some planning.” It’s not how it goes because, John, when people come in to deal with elder law and estate planning issues, they are really facing their own mortality.
John
Absolutely.
Lisa
They are facing the idea that they could be in capacity in their future and most of us, all of us would rather avoid that topic I'm sure.
John
It's not fun to talk about. Nobody wants to talk about that stuff, sure.
Lisa
There is a facet that you are in fact dealing with the issue that you won’t be here forever.
John
That’s right. When we get to this part of it in our speech, we're talking about people just failing to plan and we see this… essentially, our whole practice you can break down into two halves. The people who are like Lisa was saying they're coming in to plan ahead, that’s about half the people but then the other half are those that didn't and in one's way shape or form of that failure to plan has caused a problem. When we speak on this, we like to tell a particular story but this is not a story that you and I have experienced personally.
Lisa
No, it's definitely not a story that you and I have experienced and our listeners and our viewers will figure that out real quick.
Lisa
To Genesis?
John
-To Genesis. That’s exactly right. Here's what we're going to do, we're going to take a break, we’re going to come back and we're going to talk about this story and we're going to talk about a couple of other situations kind of in the sense that it is Easter weekend and so what does the Bible say about estate planning, elder law. Are there some tools and some tips that we can glean out there? Some lessons to be learned.
Lisa
Some wisdom.
John
Some wisdom to be gained, that's exactly right. We're going to take a quick break, stick around, we'll be right back.
John
All right. For those of you who are still out there live, it’s weird we got a everybody else thinks we're on the break but you're not on the break here, you're still going.
Lisa
The radio folks are getting commercials. John, the story that we're going to talk about, I never really thought about it from AN estate planning standpoint and then just one day it just hit me that of course that’s what it’s about.
John
Yeah. Of course it's an estate planning concept. You can actually see several things and we'll talk about a few of them but there's lots of stuff about doing the right things and so often whether you're talking about taking care of yourself, taking care of the people around you, that wisdom to be gained can be … It does apply. It’s kind of odd that you wouldn’t think about it. What does estate planning have to do with anything? It really does, let’s see, we’ve got about two minutes worth of commercials. You know what we need? We need a Facebook Live sponsor.
Lisa
That our Facebook live viewers can-
John
They can click on somebody and that would be a pretty good idea. If anybody out there if you're watching the Facebook Live and some point you say, “Hey, I like that. I'd like to be the sponsor.” We could probably make that happen. The other thing is you don't have much time to take a break and take a drink of water when you're live on the radio so you got to rest that up during the break. Let’s see. I think about 30 seconds to a minute left and then we'll be back live and we got a comment, a Happy Easter comment on there.
Lisa
Alice will tell us I didn't really think about it being Good Friday so we just kept our schedule and what we always do and seeing all those folks not working and enjoying the day off my plan.
John
We might still be seeing some of that on Monday too because I think a lot of people have Monday off also. Schools are close. I don’t know, if schools are closed, banks are probably closed. Banks are always closed.
Lisa
On Monday is a… I know it’s a holiday in Washington D.C. because of the tax deadline.
John
Yeah. That's right. Speaking of which, tax deadlines you have all the way till Tuesday to file even though tomorrow is the 15th. All right, we’re going back live here.
Lisa
Welcome back everyone to Aging Insight. This is Lisa Shoalmire and I’m here in the studio with John Ross. We’re enjoying a beautiful picture-perfect Easter weekend, if you’re listening to us live today. That has really… John and I were talking about it before we were on air and Easter is… It's such a religious holiday as Christmas is a little more commercialized these days.
John
It has gotten a bit commercialized.
Lisa
For the most part. It made us think about some of the stories in that you can actually find in the Bible that talk about estate planning issues. Who knew?
John
In our practice, we see people get into a stage of their life that we call frail, vulnerable but not incompetent. You’ve reached… because of your age, your health that you've become sort of weak and unable to tend to many of your needs, you may mentally still know what's going on. You may be able to express your desires and things like that but because of the slowing down of everything, it does create this vulnerable position.
Lisa
There's a certain insecurity I think that comes with that but when your physical health fails you and you do have to rely on others and I think there's just some anxiety and insecurity that can come with that, and that can lead to some poor judgments and decision making.
John
Yeah, and you could easily be... this is the same period of time where we see people… when you hear about somebody giving all their money to a Nigerian scam artist you say, “How could anybody fall for that?” Yet people fall for it every day and many times it's because of this position in life. We have an example of this position in life that goes all the way back because Inheritance is not a new concept.
Lisa
No. It’s been going on since the beginning of mankind, I would say.
John
Yeah. I would say and you go all the way back to… we usually tell the story of Isaac. Of course at the time, the Jewish tradition at the time was essentially you didn’t have a lot of possessions necessarily.
Lisa
Right. You may have land that you were farming or grazing your herds of goats or cattle or whatnot on and you had some tools and such but these things were acquired by pretty hard scrabble.
John
Absolutely.
Lisa
Under the Jewish tradition, and John you may correct me if I don’t get this quite right, but this where the idea that the oldest child-
John
Yes, the oldest male child.
Lisa
-The oldest male child would receive a double portion of inheritance from the father and that was a way to keep some wealth concentrated in the family. Not only did this oldest male child receive a double portion of inheritance from the father, they also became be the patriarch of the family upon the death of their father. They became the boss of the family clan.
John
Yeah. They didn't call it an inheritance, they referred to this is as the blessing. Isaac would bestow the blessing on the oldest child. Now, that was the Jewish law but as with any time you have laws but then you also have families and family dynamics is a whole another ballgame. I bet almost everybody that's out there listening in some way can relate to the idea that Isaac he's married, he's got Rebecca there and then they've got their two kids.
Lisa
That’s right. They have their two children, Jacob and Esau.
John
Jacob he’s the man's man. I'm sorry, Esau he's the man's man.
Lisa
That’s right.
John
He's the older one, he's the tough guy, he's the hunter, big kid too, big manly thing.
Lisa
I just imagine Isaac and Esau going to hockey games together, if they … Not in the desert, of course.
John
Probably not in the desert.
Lisa
They were bonded, they were father and son. Isaac clearly respected Esau’s manliness, taming the wild and all that.
John
That’s right, and he's hairy kid too apparently. I always joke like maybe like the 70's Burt Reynolds, the man’s man right there.
Lisa
The other thing I don't know is that the legend is that Esau was a red head.
John
Is that right?
Lisa
That's right.
John
I guess that's the first time I’ve heard of that. You learn something new every day.
Lisa
That whole fiery person.
John
I’ve got some of that hair tip right there. Then of course we’ve got the other kid, we’ve got Jacob.
Lisa
We have Jacob and now folks you know… we’ve had plenty of folks in our office come and tell us about their sisters and brothers and they will say, “Well, my brother is really mama's favorite and even though mama would never say that he was the favorite--
John
I know a child of a mama who would say the same thing.
Lisa
Hash. The Bible makes clear that Jacob was his mother’s favorite child.
John
That’s right.
Lisa
And there's no question that Isaac loved Jacob and Esau. There’s no discussion that that’s not the case but sometimes you just click with a parent and here, Esau clicked with Isaac and Jacob clicked with his mother.
John
That’s right and everything's rocking a wall. Again everybody knows what the deal is. There's no question about it. This is the Jewish tradition. Everybody knows what the deal is. You’re older, you’re patriarch, in this Isaac he’s going to bestow it at some point his blessing on his oldest child but he doesn’t have to. Ultimately it’s his to bestow.
Lisa
It was definitely the tradition--
John
That’s the tradition and I don’t think there’s any question that that’s what he was intending to do.
Lisa
No. No question that that was what he was intending to do. Why don’t we take a break, John and we’ll come back and-
John
Yeah. We’re going to have to take a break before we get to the real meat and bones of it here. We’re going to have to wait… we’re going to have to get in because that’s the thing about live radio. We got to take that break right at the bottom of the hour and we’ve only got about a minute left before we can get to that. Lisa, in our practice have you ever seen where maybe some family members scheme against some other members?
Lisa
Yeah, particularly when the patriarch, senior of the family was not at the highest and their best.
John
Or when death is imminent.
Lisa
I’ve seen or I’ve cleaned up the mess where people have put deeds and life insurance policy beneficiaries at the hospital bedside.
John
Yap. We’ve do run into this, we actually hear these conversations almost every day and so what we’re going to do is when we come back from the news break, we’re going to talk about what exactly happened in this particular situation and maybe what it is that you can learn from it, and we have a little time after that, we’re going to talk about a few other places in the Bible that get into some estate planning and some elder law issues. Stick around, we’ll be right back. All right.
Lisa
Our timer got me a little off there.
John
Yeah. We took a break a little bit early on the first one so that threw us off but we’re all good now that we’re at the bottom of the air. Let the news do its thing while we sit here and visit with our people on Facebook Live. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this on Facebook Live. It’s a little weird for us to get on here and stare at the camera as opposed to just staring at the microphones. We’ve been doing this program for almost four years?
Lisa
It’ll be four years this August.
John
Two and a half at this point, a little more and all of that has been private. We’ve been here hiding behind microphones.
Lisa
Yes, in the studio, in the downtown Texarkana studio.
John
Technology has caught up with us though and now we get to do it live and fill in the commercial breaks with some additional stories and stuff. It’s funny because I’ve told this particular story in speeches. It’s got to be a few hundred times at least. Maybe several hundred but you could always look out into the audience and you can see who knows the story.
Lisa
I would think around these parts that would be… most of the audience I think would know the story. I think that most of them probably have never thought about it in the terms that we’re talking about it.
John
That’s right. It’s funny. You could always see the ones who have heard the story but then there are always some folks in the audience that I think it’s all new to them. There’s a few out there that say this is a new story to them and of course it’s a big world out there-
Lisa
I was about to say those folks were not at Ms. Anderson’s class in vacation Bible school in the fourth grade or they would know this story.
John
That’s probably right. That’s probably right.
Lisa
Certainly not thought about Jacob and Esau and Isaac in the sense of… I know we’re get into it after the break about how aged and how decrepit Isaac really was when he’s making these big sweeping decisions and didn’t go as he intended.
John
Yeah. Unfortunately that’s something that we also see pretty regularly.
Lisa
I find John dealing within the state right now where there’s no doubt that the lady who’s deceased have a very close relationship with a special nephew but she didn’t make any plans and she was well into her 80s. When she passed away, I think the family, most of the family realizes the special relationship but some other family members who stand to gain certainly have pushed in and it's a mess.
John
That's exactly right. You've got to take care of your business and particularly before it's too late. It's so funny though. I don't Lisa, we've got 30 seconds before we're back on but I always get people that'll ask me… they'll come in, they've put off for 70 years, they've put off doing any estate planning and we come up with a plan in the office and then they say, "What if something happens before I come back to sign?" You hadn't worried about it for 70 years and now you're worried about something happening in the next ten days? All right, we're going back live.
John
Welcome back to aging insight everybody. This is John Ross here in the studio with Lisa Shoalmire and of course if you have any questions or comments, you can give us a call at 903-793-1071, that's 903-793-1071. Before the break, Lisa and I were talking about the story of Isaac and how he… his plan ultimately was to leave everything or bestow his blessing which essentially was a double share to his favorite boy, his big hairy manly kid, Esau. That's what he was going to do but he made zero, zero preparations.
Lisa
Basically, Isaac he's reached a point where… I just imagine him essentially being housebound at this point.
John
Right, he's blind.
Lisa
Yeah so he's blind, he has a lot of trouble getting around; he can't hear very well, our bodies do fail us. We use them for all the decades and decades but at some point, those senses begin to fail us. Isaac it looks recognized that that's where he was and he knew that he wasn't going to be around a whole lot longer. It was time to bestow that blessing.
John
He's basically decided you know what; the end is knocking at the door here.
Lisa
He's calling for Esau to make him a meal. He's going to make a ceremony out of this right?
John
That's right. You know, when you have a ceremony, what do you have to have? You've got to have some food.
Lisa
Well, I know every church I've ever been to certainly believes that we all need some… the dessert table is piled high.
John
That's exactly right. Unlike a banana pudding, Isaac he wanted Esau to go out and hunt him some game, his favorite game and of course being a manly man and a hunter man, he says, "Dad, I'm out of here." He heads out.
Lisa
Yeah and I just think that... he heads out in… here's the situation, when we have the spouse, we have Isaac's spouse kind of thinking, "You know, I want my son, my favorite son to receive the blessing."
John
She knows what's about to happen, she knows what's coming.
Lisa
Yes so I want my favorite son to receive that blessing. She comes up with a plan. She hatches a plan. I think that's kind of interesting that in the big picture of things, it wasn't Jacob's plan. It was his mother's plan and we certainly can see that around in our time as well. She comes up with this plan and they make the stew that Isaac loves. You know John, I could just imagine this fragrant, Middle Eastern spicy stew because as you get older, your smell isn't quite as good, your taste buds don't taste good but you know you just savor that meal. They strap on some goat fur sorts of things-
John
Of course Rebecca grabs Jacob and says, "Look, you're going to need to go in there and pretend like you're Esau." Jacob, he's a smart kid. He looks at her and he's like, "Mom, you're crazy. You're out of your mind. There's no way, no way whatsoever that dad is going to believe that my little skinny self is that big hairy boy Esau."-
Lisa
I'm my brother, that's right.
John
-Esau my brother, not going to happen. She says no I got this. She obviously had been thinking through this one and so yeah she's wrapped him up in some animal furs. She says, "Yeah you go in there wrapped up in these animal furs." Here we get Isaac and like so many of the clients that we have dealt with; frail, vulnerable but you know, he's not incompetent.
Lisa
No he is not.
John
He is not incompetent but he is so frail and vulnerable that at this point in his life, really all he could do was reach out and touch. When he reaches out and touches and he feels that animal fur and he thinks he's talking to his big hairy boy Esau, ultimately, he gives his blessing to the wrong person.
Lisa
Right. Like you said, he wasn’t incompetent but because of his frailness, he was easily mislead and that is something we see so often is someone being easily mislead. That's what happened here. The blessing was bestowed on Jacob. Esau returns from the hunt and this blessing now has already been bestowed. John, I can't say that I understand exactly how this Jewish tradition worked. I can't understand necessarily why he couldn't have taken the blessing back and said, "Wait a minute, I made a mistake, but something about the tradition, about the legal aspects of making that blessing, it was done.
John
That's right but you know, you can see this in… about two years ago, we talked about a situation where a daughter had talked to her dad and told her dad, "Look, you're going to need somebody to care for you and I'm willing to do it. You just need to deed your house over to me. That way, I'll have the house and I can… that'll essentially be my payment. You go ahead and deed that thing over to me now." Then in this case, the dad was vulnerable, he was needy, he was weak, he was worried, he was concerned and so he trusted this girl and he deeded the house. So he made a competent decision to deed her his home. Ultimately, things soured. The relationship soured and it soured so bad that it got to the point where the daughter actually evicted him from his own house. With the story of Isaac here, again, he is competent to make decisions. I can't tell you how many competent decisions I have seen that ended in a deed, a will, a power of attorney in some way shape or form and yet the circumstances surrounding that execution were at best suspect.
Lisa
Right, just like this one.

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