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Difficult Discussions Become Easier with Frequency

08/30/2016

financial and legal documents

It is never easy when adult children are faced with becoming the caregivers for aging parents, even though it is an inevitable part of most people’s lives. If parents become incapacitated with dementia, they are not going to be able to tell their adult child where important financial and legal documents are—or what their wishes are for their care. This adds a great deal of stress and cost while taking up time that might be otherwise spent caring for an ill parent.

Have that tough conversation now and concentrate on the top areas of your parents’ well-being. It will help alleviate the administrative and emotional burden of caring for them. Parents should to be reassured that you’re not trying to take control of their lives or take advantage of them. Begin the conversation early—that’s best for the long-term interests of the whole family.

With that in mind, NASDAQ’s article, “Long-Term Care and Wealth Planning for Aging Parents,” points out some of the most important financial issues, decisions and plans to discuss with your parents:

  1. Consider a living trust. In addition to a will, your family may also benefit from creating a living trust to designate which beneficiaries will inherit the assets. The difference between a trust and a will is that assets included in a properly-executed living trust will not be part of the probate process. A living trust may be a bit more expensive to create than a will, but it will let your parents do wise tax and estate planning to protect their wealth. This definitely requires the expertise of an experienced estate planning attorney.
  2. Plan for possible long-term care. It’s not too early to start planning for long-term care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that there’s about a 70% chance that a 65-year-old will need some type of long-term care at some point. In fact, some will require long-term care for more than five years.
  3. Consider housing options. It’s critical to discuss housing options with your parents and what they would want to do in the event they can no longer live without aid in their own home.
  4. Figure out transportation needs. If your parents are having trouble with remembering things, they may no longer be able to drive safely. What’s the plan for when they can no longer drive themselves?
  5. Talk to your parents. Research shows that many adult children and their parents frequently are not on the same page with money issues. Some folks have difficulty talking about who’ll make financial decisions on behalf of parents if they no longer have the ability to handle their money safely, and others disagree on what role children should play in the care of their parents.

Most aging parents are aware that their role in the family is changing, but they may need some help getting comfortable with it. Always reinforce the idea that you are coming from a place of concern and love so that you can do the best job possible in taking care of them. Open communication is the best way to handle these difficult conversations.

Reference: NASDAQ (August 10, 2016) “Long-Term Care and Wealth Planning for Aging Parents”

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