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Case Study: Legal Planning

Mary Ann Kellam knows a will — which she has — isn’t enough. But what else does she need?

En español | Financial planner Mary Ann Kellam, 56, has her financial house in order for retirement, but her experience with her father's and mother's last days have her wondering if the same can be said for her own legal planning.

See also: Irma Almirall-Padamsee's profile on health planning.

With her five sisters, she helped her mother in her struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Their father died more suddenly at age 89. The family, of Spanish ancestry, is close, but Kellam learned during that time that a simple last will and testament is hardly enough.

She takes care of her health and her mind — she solves crossword puzzles and makes jewelry to keep sharp. She's completed a will and wants to prepare an advance directive for medical decisions.

Perhaps, like those who choose their clothes in the morning thinking they might be seen later in an emergency room, she'd like the comfort of knowing all her legal i's are fully dotted. She'd like a list of documents that will make it easier toward the end, not only on herself but on her husband and only son.

Her five sisters say they would help in her old age, but there's an 18-year span among them, with four sisters who are older and only one younger.

You may also like: 10 things you should know about writing a will.

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