Assisting Aging Loved Ones with Estate Planning
The health of your parents isn’t always an easy topic to deal with. It should, however, never be an afterthought. The last thing you want to do is make decisions under the stress and pressure of waiting until the last minute. It’s crucial that your entire family work together. Even with the help of an Orange County estate planning lawyer, planning for your parents’ needs is a massive task.
In order to be fully prepared, here are a few things you should consider:
Open Lines of Communication
It’s easy to avoid talking to your parents about topics like long-term care, death, meeting with an estate planning lawyer in Orange County to write a will, etc. Many families hope to altogether avoid the awkward conversation, only to delay it so long that they miss the opportunity. Being prepared means making sure that everyone is on the same page.
The best way to proceed is to schedule a family meeting. This should be a planned event with some preparation to help the flow of the conversation. You don’t want to bring it up casually, as it may end up being counterproductive.
It’s also not an intervention, so don’t make it a surprise meeting for your parents. Let everyone know what to expect. If the entire family can’t be in one-stop, arrange for a video chat.
The goal of the meeting is to discuss the care that your parents will need in the future. They may have specific wishes and requests in regard to their long-term care, estate plan, and assets. Make sure to consider your family dynamics and how that will impact this meeting.
You’ll want to anticipate any conflicts that could arise and make sure you have a plan to mitigate potential disagreements. Even if there is a family member who is likely to cause drama, you shouldn’t exclude anyone from this meeting. The key is to set expectations beforehand and stick to the plan.
It is not uncommon for elderly parents to resist having a conversation about their end-of-life care, estate plan, and so on. While it is essential that you have this conversation while they are still able, it doesn’t do anyone any good to force the discussion when they are not ready for it. This first meeting might be one of many discussions and compromises to come.
Understanding What Your Parents Need
Even the most involved children may not know every detail of their parents’ health, financial situation, and overall well-being. Your parents may already have strong opinions about what they want or what they will not accept. Even if you have a different opinion, make sure to fully listen to what they say.
It might be worth it to assign someone the duty of taking notes so that you’re not distracted from the conversation. Do your best to honor their wishes, when possible, and always offer choices as opposed to directives.
Your goal is to find out where they stand. If they haven’t already met with an orange county estate planning lawyer, you’ll want to encourage them to do so. It might even be beneficial to research options in your area and make a recommendation. You also want to ask questions about their wishes and preferences. When possible, do your research beforehand so that you can offer them options for areas they may not understand.
Senior Housing Options
Even if your parents are currently entirely independent, they may need to consider what kind of senior living options would be best if/when their needs change. There are a variety of options that they can consider.
Assisted Living is an excellent option for those with many health challenges, but do not need constant medical care. People in assisted living can often live in their own apartment but partake in meals and other activities alongside other residents.
Memory Care is a type of assisted living for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. These communities are typically more secure to protect residents with memory loss. The staff is also specially trained for residents dealing with these unique situations.
Nursing Homes are meant for those who need a high level of medical care. Licensed nurses are available around-the-clock.
In-Home Care is a flexible option if your parents want to stay in their own homes. In-home care can take place once a week, up to 24 hours a day, depending on their needs. In-home help can assist with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and preparing meals.
Living With Family is another option if you or another family member want to play the role of primary caregiver. This experience can be gratifying but can also involve a great deal of stress. Some children find the role reversal of personally caring for a parent to be difficult emotionally, physically, and financially.
Your parents’ financial situation may determine what kind of care is available to them. Take some time to review your parents’ assets, including savings, debt, social security, pensions, etc. Determine their monthly living expenses to calculate how long their money can last. You may also want to discuss who will have the power of attorney and financial oversight of your parents’ accounts and when they will step in to help.
Financial topics are another area where an estate planning attorney in Orange county can play a significant role. Estate planning attorneys have experience helping people plan for medical and long-term care. Ultimately, they can help stretch the money your parents have to cover more of their expenses down the road.
Find out if your parents already have a will and who they have named as their executor. A properly prepared estate plan is the best way to avoid conflict between family members after the funeral. Your parents should absolutely meet with an estate planning lawyer in orange county to discuss their assets and how they want to deal with their estate.
You should also discuss your parents’ medical wishes. They can prepare a living will or name someone as their medical power of attorney. Do your best to understand what they would want in a situation when they’re not able to speak for themselves.
Take some time to help your parents stay organized. There should be a master folder containing all their essential documents in case of an emergency. This folder can include everything from their marriage license to life insurance policies to military records and more. This folder should also be stored in a secure place, such as a safe.
Difficult, but Worth It
There is no question that this conversation will be emotionally taxing and challenging. At the same time, it’s crucial that your parents have a chance to express their wishes and understand their options. Under no circumstances should you dismiss their fears or argue against their wishes. Remind them that having this conversation is a way to be prepared, not a death sentence.
As difficult as this discussion will be, you are not alone. With the help of an experienced and professional estate planning attorney, your parents can adequately prepare for their future while providing everyone with a little peace of mine.