Growing old and cruising along!

In this episode, Lisa and John discuss several of the more common places for growing old and one not so common one. Ever wanted to see the world? Maybe it’s not too late!

Episode Transcript
Lisa
Yeah. John, this past week we had our eggs and issues, the fourth Thursday of every month, except for November and December. But over at Trinity Baptist Church on the Arkansas side for Thursday, 8:30 AM and this... I gave a little talk on Thursday about staying in your home. And John, with Aging Insight, we always are looking at surveys, and studies and statistics. And the AARP did a study, a survey, and they asked several thousand seniors, persons that are members of the AARP said, "Do you want to age in place and remain in your home as long as possible?" And John, believe it or not...
John
Was all of them?
Lisa
No, actually! [chuckle] Believe it or not 90% said that yes, they want to stay in their home, which...
John
The other 10% are gonna go on that cruise boat.
Lisa
Oh, you're jumping ahead. [chuckle] No, 4% said they were gonna move in with a relative.
John
Oh, okay. Well, there you go.
Lisa
Which I thought was kinda, "Did the relatives know that?" [chuckle] But I did think it was... To ask in a question, "Do you wanna stay home?" And of course, that's what Aging Insight's about is, whatever your goals are, we want to help you meet them, but we certainly know from visiting with seniors that one big goal is to remain in their home. And so, I was kinda looking at that, preparing for that talk, I did come across some seniors who instead of moving into assisted living have decided to just get on a cruise ship and to live there because think about it, a cruise, you have your cabin service each day with the sheets get washed and the beds get made. There's always meals that are available, prepared...
John
Yeah, at least three meals a day. Plus usually...
Lisa
At least three, and the midnight buffet. [chuckle]
John
Yeah, plus the midnight buffet. That's right.
Lisa
And there's entertainment that is included in the cost of your fare. You go see the musical at the theater or you go listen to the comedian. So, some seniors have decided that moving on to a cruise ship is a better alternative than assisted living. And they surveyed a lady who is 85, and who has spent the last 10 years living on a cruise ship.
John
Wow
Lisa
And she has spent the last seven years on the same cruise ship, and the staff refer to her as, "Mama Lee." So, she's everybody's grandma on the staff. And that sounds unusual and the boat that she was on, that Mama Lee lives on is a bit more of one of those smaller swankier cruise ships, so a little pricier.
John
Not a mega... Not one of these mega Disney boats but something in the middle.
Lisa
No. Yeah, and she said it was costing her about $150,000 a year to...
John
Okay, so that's pretty pricey.
Lisa
Yeah, that's pricey. But they also went and surveyed Carnival Cruise Lines, which is definitely a more modestly priced.
John
That's a budget outfit.
Lisa
It's a budget outfit. And Carnival said they have over 100 seniors that live on their boats full-time.
John
Wow
Lisa
And the seniors said, "Hey, we looked in our communities how much it was gonna cost us to get these same services and amenities and we picked the cruise ship that it was similar or even slightly less expensive to live full-time on a cruise ship. And you wake up in different places and see lovely scenery and it's... "
John
And there's things to do and... Yeah, no.
Lisa
And they say everytime the cruise ship docks and all the people get off, they do make special arrangements to where they do get to remain on the ship so that they don't have to get off every seven days or whatever. But they said, "You get a whole new group of people."
John
You make new friends.
Lisa
To make new friends with and to meet. For the listeners out there who's not ever considered their retirement living situation, a cruise ship might be something to put on the list.

John
Yeah. Well, that's certainly right. It's, like you said, you get many of the amenities that you would get at a, say an independent living community where they've got some meal preparation, they've got some social activities, they've got some housecleaning services.
Lisa
Right. Well, I've always said that a lot of our assisted livings and independent living facilities, they are like cruise ships on land.
John
True
Lisa
You go to the dining room and everybody has a nice meal, and you get served, or if you need it could be brought up to your room, so it's not a big leap. And apparently, the regular cruise lines that are already having these customers who are paying to be full-time residents, there's a company out of Australia that has taken this to the next level and they are called Retirement Cruise Lines, and they launched a ship in January of this year, and essentially you buy your cabin, just like you were buying a condo, or a patio home, or something like that. You buy your cabin. Just like if you were living in a retirement community where there was some sort of monthly neighborhood services fee, you pay that and you live on the ship, and it's with other retirees. They said they keep their ship about 80% full because they leave the other 20% of the cabins for family members of the seniors so that you could invite your family to come on and maybe do seven days or 14 days with you, but it seemed quite nice. So, they're just foregoing the whole tourist thing and saying, "Hey, we see where this is going and so we have a whole ship that is just for retirees."
John
Wow. And if there's a zombie apocalypse on land, you're safely afloat...
Lisa
On the ship.
John
Out there in the ocean. That's right. So yeah, no, interesting stuff. Alright, well, we've got a few other little pieces of lagniappe, as Lisa would say, to discuss. So stick around, we'll be back here in a little bit.
Lisa
Well, welcome back everyone to Aging Insight, back on the air and live in the studio. If you have question or comment give us a call at 903-793-1071. And John, I thought that cruising might not be everybody's possible retirement plan but hey.
John
Yeah, no, some folks don't care for the water so...
Lisa
Yeah, so it looks like we've got a caller on Aging Insight. So, caller, welcome. You're now on Aging Insight's.
Caller-1
Yeah. That just brings up a flurry of questions. Like he was talking about buying your cabin on the ship. I'm sure somebody has thought ahead of time about someone's drastically changing health condition perhaps or death. It would make a person wonder 'cause cruise ships... I've never even heard of such a thing about retiring on a ship. I didn't know people did that.
Lisa
See, we're opening minds. Opening minds to new options today. Go ahead.
Caller-1
Oh, no, I was just wondering, what do they do?
John
Well, I guess even on most... I think from some of the stuff that I've read that catastrophic injury or illness along with death is actually a relatively routine occurrence on many cruise lines, especially some of them that cater to older vacationers that they actually deal with those sort of things and they generally have arrangements with various ports of call for helicopter evacuations from the ship and things like that, including transportation of the remains. If somebody dies on the ship, they will store the body until you get back to your original port of call.
Lisa
Yeah, and from the financial standpoint, purchasing that cabin, that's not all that different than a lot of our retirement communities like we have in Florida or Del Webb or communities where you purchase that patio home or whatnot. There are often provisions in those type contracts that will waive or reduce certain fees if there's a change in health condition that that living environment's no longer suitable for the resident. But I know like in these Florida retirement communities, they have folks buy their homes, they retire there and they are able to age in place there. But when they pass away, a lot of times those communities are 55 and older, and so those homes pass to the family and nobody's 55 or older and nobody lives in Slowcala, Florida. [chuckle] So it can be an issue to make that financial commitment.
Caller-1
Well, that's something else I was curious about. You buy this cabin on the ship where you're gonna retire and you die, can you pass on the ownership of that... You see what I'm saying?
Lisa
Sure. Yeah, and I don't know the answer to that question. I know in the retirement communities in the Florida, Arizona you can pass on the ownership of that housing but to actually be a resident in those communities, you still have to meet criteria such as the 55 and older. And then of course, to lease it out or something, the management office has to approve your proposed renters and your deal and all that. So it can be quite a sticky asset to deal with for the family to keep and of course those assessments for all those amenities will often...
John
They keep rolling.
Lisa
They keep adding up. Those golf courses and swimming pools don't maintain themselves. And of course, a lot of times what happens is the housing goes up for sale because the family simply cannot... They don't live close, they don't meet criteria and so it goes up for sale and many times they're going to sell it for less than their parent purchased it for. But you know what? To get that good quality of life and those good years on the ship next to the Florida golf courses they love, hey, that's an intangible.
John
Yeah. No, that's right. And of course, particularly when you're talking about with ships, I think most people right now are just essentially renting the room.
Lisa
Right. Yeah, that's what's happening right now.
John
They're not actually buying into it but you do have this... Like this Australian company that... And maybe that sort of thing will catch on. I don't know but it's certainly an interesting thought.
Lisa
I say we go do a fact finding mission so caller we all need to go to find... Go take a sample cruise on the Australian ship.
John
Yeah, that sounds like a plan. Alright, well, we're going to take our break here at the bottom of the hour and catch up on the news a little bit, and we'll be back in just a second.
John
Welcome back to Aging Insight, everybody. You're listening to our show here live in the studio where you can call in if you have a question. Our phone number is 903-793-1071. That's 903-793-1071. And today would be a good day to call in with a question because otherwise, Lisa and I are just gonna talk about random stuff [chuckle] that sparks our interest.
Lisa
Yes. Sometimes we call that clearing our spindles. Just stuff that...
John
I've never called it that in my life.
Lisa
You never heard that?
John
No.
Lisa
Okay. Well, anyway now you have.
Lisa
Clearing our spindles.
John
Clearing... Okay, clearing our spindles. That sounds like a sewing reference.
Lisa
I was speaking to a client yesterday and I said something about, "Well, if so and so gets a bee in their bonnet"... And he just stopped and looked at me and said, "What does that mean?" [chuckle] So...
John
Yes
Lisa
Anyway, I'm gonna have to bother...
John
Some of those colloquialisms may be lost on some folks.
Lisa
Yeah, I'm gonna have to modernize my colloquialisms. [chuckle]
John
Maybe so. Alright, so Lisa and I decided this morning, since we were gonna be out running a 5K, we just wouldn't really prepare a good topic, we would just come in here and figure out some things to talk about. But when you visit with four, or five, or six, or sometimes eight or nine separate people in one day with seven or eight different problems, and you do that everyday of the week, you come across lots of interesting things. Now, I had an interesting question, and one question that I have not had before this week, Lisa.
Lisa
Well, that's pretty good, because at this point we've heard most questions.
John
Yeah
Lisa
At least once before.
John
Now this is not a problem that is unique, but it was the question that I got related to the problem that I thought was unique. So, we were talking about we've got a parent incapacitated, has Alzheimer's, gonna need some estate planning, gonna need some guardianship work probably. But I was visiting with one of the kids who's gonna be trying to take over all this, and her concern... She was like, "I actually heard one of your other radio programs when you were talking about the slayer laws," which I did a whole program on the slayer laws.
Lisa
Oh, yes the, "Can a criminal, a murderer inherit from the victim that they just murdered?"
John
That's right, yeah. Can a murderer inherit from the victim? And in her...
Lisa
I'm interested to see where this is going, 'cause I haven't heard this yet either.
John
Right. So her question was not related to the parent, but the parent supports one of the children.
Lisa
Yes?
John
Who probably doesn't need that support physically or mentally, but because of poor life choices has gotten some of that support.
Lisa
So we have a moocher.
John
We've got, yeah. Yeah, Minnie the Moocher, I guess. Dating. Anyway, so her question was, "Would the... " She wasn't worried about the family violence being against dad, she was more worried about the family violence being against her.
Lisa
Ah, for being the one who kinda takes the reigns and maybe cuts off, turns off the spigot, if you will, of financial support?
John
And so her question was, for example, "If dad has a will or a trust, and that trust has a no contest clause in it, that says that if anybody argues about this will, or if they challenge the authority of the executor, or if they challenge the authority of my power of attorney," or things like that then they're treated as not inheriting. They're treated as having pre-deceased the person. That's what these no-contest clauses are intended to do. They're also called in terrorem clauses. But it says, "Hey, I leave everything to my three kids, but if they fight about it... "
Lisa
Then whoever brings the fight is out.
John
Is out. Especially if they lose. But her question was, she was like, "Well look, he's so broke he wouldn't have the financial ability to hire a lawyer to contest a will, or contest a guardianship, or contest a probate case, or contest the trust. And since he doesn't have the money to hire a lawyer or something like that, he might just come over and shoot me." And so her question was, "Would the no contest clause be triggered in that circumstance?"
Lisa
Well, I would say no.
John
And I would too, that's what I said.
Lisa
Yeah. No, and one of the other questions is, if the responsible child is the successor trustee or agent under the power of attorney and then we have the moocher sibling who just loses their mind, a lot of times these documents are set up to have a second agent or a second successor trustee, and while that may not be the moocher... If the moocher were to perform some act of violence against the responsible child and then the second takes over, boy, you sort of have a bit of a target on your head.
John
Yeah, that's exactly right.
Lisa
But we certainly have seen emotions be high to where these are not concerns to be dismissed as crazy or unlikely. They had to be taken very seriously.
John
Well, I guess that was kind of my original point, which is why I said, "I haven't had somebody ask that question before." But the circumstances I have had a lot, a surprisingly large amount. Now you spread that out over the course of say, a 10 or 15-year practice, and maybe it's once a year or twice a year. Maybe...
Lisa
But it's still shocking. When we have sibling on sibling violence, and that happens all the time, or it feels like it does. When we have that sibling who can see that mom and dad have supported their whole adult lives in some way or another and enabled, and now that that parent is facing their own aging issues and incapacity issues, and others are having to step in, and the responsible child is stepping up to the plate, and the moocher sees that gravy train coming to an end, and like you say, a couple times a year we've just had very shocking incidents: Physical confrontations, brandishing gun type confrontations, landing a sibling in the hospital type confrontations.
John
Yeah, to actual murder.
Lisa
Yes
John
There's somebody listening right now Lisa, and here's what they're saying to themselves, and so I want you to respond to this person who's listening.
Lisa
Alright, I'm gonna be their voice. Okay.
John
You're gonna be the voice because right now they're sitting at home and they're listening to the show and they're saying, "Well, that's interesting and all, but luckily I don't have enough to worry about."
Lisa
Yes, and that is a big misconception because I tell people all the time it doesn't matter if it's $30, $300,000, $3 million or $3. It just doesn't matter. People will fight and oftentimes it's even the smaller resource type estates that we get the most vicious, vicious conflicts over.
John
Yeah, and the fist fight over the deer meat in the freezer? A brawl including assault with a deadly weapon over the deceased mother's undergarments, and others. So yeah, no, don't think you don't have enough to fight about. It can happen. So, I guess we're gonna have to take a break here in just a second, but I guess the question I wanna come back with, which was the same question this person asked is, "Well, could you write that in?" The normal no-contest clause says, "If somebody makes a legal challenge to my estate planning then they're treated as having pre-deceased me... "
Lisa
And they don't get anything.
John
"And they don't get anything." My client was, "Well, why wouldn't you add to that, well if there's a inter-family violent episode that the same thing triggers?" And so I'm curious about the validity of such a claim or something. Anyway, we're gonna take a break and we'll answer that when we come back, so stick around.
Lisa
Well, welcome back everyone to Aging Insight. I'm Lisa Shoalmire, I'm an elder law attorney and I'm here with John Ross, also an elder law attorney. And if you have a question or a comment, just give us a call at 903-793-1071. And before the break, we were talking about some of the more close encounters that we as elder law attorney's, which we have with some frightening and violent things on occasion. You know John, when I talk to my old high school buddies, nobody thinks elder law sounds too exciting. [chuckle]
John
They don't, but it certainly can be. Well, it looks like we've got a caller calling in. Let's see if we can get them on the phone. Caller, you're on Aging Insight, what can we do for you?
Caller-2
Yes. I believe I've heard something about this before but I wasn't really sure what was said 'cause I wasn't ready to listen.
Lisa
Okay.
Caller-2
But my wife passed in 2010, we have property that we acquired and... Well, we got married in '99 so we were married a little over 10 years. She had four kids, I have three and they're all grown. And I thought I heard you say something about, if I ever wanted to sell my property, which... You know what I did is, I had property prior to the marriage. I cleared... Well, I put off two acres and we put in a nice double-wire. I refurbished it and things from last year and now I'm thinking about relocating and if I do that I think I might have to get them to sign some sort of waiver that they don't want any part of the property.
John
First question is, are you on the Texas side or the Arkansan side?
Caller-2
Texas
John
Okay. Yeah, and so this was property that at least was at one point in you and your deceased wife's name?
Caller-2
Well, the property and half of it is still in my name and not Glenda's, but when we cut off the two acres and we took out a loan to refurbish this thing and purchase this piece of... Well, the buildings that's on it then it went into both of our names. Yes.
John
Okay, so yeah, it was actually deeded so that her name comes up on the two acres?
Caller-2
Correct
John
Gotcha. Yeah, so essentially that piece of property, she had an interest in that piece of property it sounds like, whether that was received as a gift or would be considered community property, but it's either her separate property or half of it's her's separate property or half of it was her community property, but either way did she have a will at the time of her death?
Caller-2
No, we didn't
John
Okay
Caller-2
And this was purchased probably... We did this the last, I'd say three years of her life.
John
Okay. Yeah, and so when a person dies in the State of Texas and they have children from outside their current marriage, like in y'all situation, then their one-half of any community property passes to their children and their separate property passes in part to their children.
Lisa
Yeah, and now you as her spouse and since that was the land you were using for your homestead, you as her spouse would continue to have a life estate in her half of the property so that way you could continue to live there and her children could never force you to move or move off the property, but if you intend to sell the property then yes at this point, her children will need to consent to that sale and waive their interest in that property either by quitclaiming it to you, which is probably the simplest solution. If they're of a mind to do that, there's no requirement that they do that. And we have had occasions where children have just dug their feet in and regardless of the circumstances, they wanna get paid for their interest. But if they'll sign some quitclaim and waive their interest in the property, then you'd be ready to sell.
Caller-2
And it wouldn't matter that there was really... I would say since we acquired the place up to the point that she passed, that there was hardly any money put into that from her side.
John
Well, it would be very difficult. Essentially, what you would have to do, and I've got a case that's going right now which is somewhat similar, but what you would probably if you wanted to make that sort of claim, you would have to go back and first, step one would be to open an administration of her estate, which is the legal proceeding where somebody gets appointed as the administrator and all of that. The second step then would be to identify what property she owned and you would be able to say at that point you say, "Okay, well, here's this piece of property that's worth X number of dollars. But on the date of her death, there was Y amount of debt." So the actual value on the date of death was very low because of the debt.
Lisa
What was the equity? What was the true value of the actual property?
Caller-2
Yeah, and that's what I'm getting at because we only had like three years' worth of payments.
John
Right, and then you would have to... Once you showed what the date of death value was, what the date of death debts against the property were, then you could look back at the interest payments and the principal payments and the insurance and the property taxes and all of the things that you've paid in the ensuing years...
Lisa
And capital improvements, any monies for capital improvements...
John
And improvements and say, "I've been paying for all of that, so I wanna sell this house and here's what the value was on the date of death. This is the only little piece that belongs to her kids and so I wanna be able to sell it and just give them this little tiny bit as opposed to half."
Lisa
Well, and oppose as to half the value as it is now, that's not their claim. Their claim is only to their mother's portion at the time, on the date of her death. So sometimes when you run those numbers, it doesn't add up to very much because the equity is just not there.

Caller-2
Right.
John
The problem is that if you don't go through all of that process first though, you're stuck with the general assumption that it's 50/50, because nobody knows any different. You know it, but nobody else knows it. And the only way you can get that to be official typically is to go through that court process, which is gonna take a little time, is gonna cost a little money in the process, but when you do the balance it may, in fact, then save you a whole lot of money if it ends up being that you don't have to pay the kids off.
Caller-2
Yeah. So my best bet would be to see if they were willing to do the quitclaim thing, they just sign an affidavit?
John
Yeah. That might be the first thing is you talk to them and say, "Hey, look, this thing was mortgaged out at the day of death, there's no value to it for it to y'all. Would y'all be willing to just sign that stuff back over to me so that I can maybe get a loan or move or whatever?"
Caller-2
Right, okay,.
Lisa
And then based on their reaction, if they're cooperative or a couple of them are cooperative, great, have them sign something. If somebody digs their feet in, well then you know that you're gonna have to go through this administration direction.
Caller-2
And I guess I'd have to get an official form for that?
John
This is something that's gonna be technical enough that if you're going through the court process, you're going to have to have an attorney to guide you through it.
Caller-2
Okay,
John
So yeah, it's just the probate code is a land mine, and it's easy to blow yourself up if you don't know what you're stepping on.
Caller-2
Right.
John
So yeah, definitely the opportunity to get a little advice on that. Either way you do it, yeah, I'd start by talking to them. If they buck you and say, "Nope, I ain't gonna do it," then go visit with an attorney that's experienced in this kind of work and let them guide you through it.
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