Most often it is the children who have to step up and take care of their parents when the parents get older and settle their affairs when they pass away. Most often, people do not think about getting old, needing help or passing away, and therefore, have no plan! Who wants to think about these things! Yet, when emergencies happen or one of the parents has passed away and the surviving parent ends up in the hospital or a nursing home (cost ranges $7,000 to $12,000/month) or in need of home care (at a whopping ~$500/day, that's $15,000/month), the children are the ones who get the call and go into a tailspin because they have no access to information, they do not know what Mom or Dad had in place, what their wishes are, and, perhaps, the surreal realization that they have no legal power to act on behalf of Mom or Dad.
When parents do plan, they may have named their children to be in charge of handling the finances and winding down affairs upon the passing of the parents. Yet, many parents never share the information with the children and the children have no idea what they are in for when they need to act. Some children are not equipped to act because of their own personal obligations, financial responsibilities, and health issues. That's why in doing planning, it is not about printing a form off of the internet and filling it out! In doing planning, you account for many factors to make sure the plan will work when the time comes.
Our parents getting old is a process for which we are not prepared. We have not trained for, have not gone to school for, and have no idea what will happen. Because you will likely be the son or daughter who needs to go the hospital to make medical decisions for your Mom or Dad, or start paying bills, selling vehicles or real property, you need to have these powers granted in writing. Your Mom or Dad may be able to execute an emergency estate plan, bu,t if not, because your parent has lost capacity, you will have no option but to seek guardianship (an expensive and lengthy process) through the court system.
So, what do you do?
- Consider how you will start the conversation with your parents
- Be gentle on how you present the information. Most people do not want to talk about death and disability
- Start the conversation with your parents
- If they do not want to talk about it, stop. Start the conversation again another time using a different approach
- Consider the setting, the timing, who is around and the health of your parents
- Share stories that you have read or that have happened to your friends and the difficulties they encountered
- Remind them of stories they know if they happened within your family or their circle of friends
- Encourage them to attend workshops where estate planning and long-term care is discussed
- Suggest they meet with an attorney
- Ask if they have thought about making sure their legal and health directives are in place
- Ask if they do have an attorney and financial advisor and get their names, so you know who to contact when the times come
- Encourage them to schedule an appointment with an attorney and offer to accompany them
- If you have done your own plan, share this with your parents. It can prompt them to do theirs in seeing how responsible you are as a parent for your own children
- Do not give up in talking to them! You will be glad you did not and they will be grateful when they get their plan done
If your parents plan, not only will it greatly benefit them, it will greatly help you and your siblings who will be the ones taking care of everything when Mom or Dad need your help. You won't know how sad and stressful it is until you are knee-deep in the process. If your parents are not open to idea to planning, continue the conversation slowly. For some people, it takes a long time to make a decision. Sadly, for some people, it ends up being too late because they pass away or lose capacity before putting a plan in place making it harder and more expensive for everyone.
We are here to help you and your parents. Please reach out or attend one of our free, no obligation workshops. Or call us at 239-529-8731