During the holiday season many of us are able to come together as families to celebrate. Your family gathering may include visiting extended relatives, traveling to different destinations, and spending extra time with parents and grandparents. It is important to remember that during the festivities you need to try to make time to check in as a family to assess how your aging loved ones are doing and what support they may need now and in the new year.
It can be hard during this time of year to find time to talk about any concerns your aging loved ones may have. For example, your aging parents may not want to burden you with the fact that they need a little help cleaning the house or have a new health diagnosis that is impacting their daily life. You are busy, just as they are busy, and for most of us there is very little time to sit back and discuss topics such as estate plans and long-term care planning.
While you spend time with your loved ones over the holidays make sure it includes discussions about how they are doing now as well as what the future may hold. We know how difficult it can be to have this conversation. Let us share with you a few ideas to get you started that we give our friends, family, clients, and advisers.
1. Is their estate planning up-to-date? Estate planning is important for all of us. As we age, however, it serves as the foundation in making long-term care decisions in the future. Unfortunately, when it comes to estate planning, many people believe that once they make their plan they never have to update it, but this is not true. Often, there are changes in the laws and in the circumstances of your parents which could impact their estate plan. It is important to check-in and make sure your parents have updated their estate plan to reflect all changes that could potentially impact them later on.
2. Who are their decision makers? It is important to know who your parents have chosen as their decision-makers. The agent under a durable power of attorney or healthcare document will be in charge should the need arise. If possible, you do not want to wait until your parent is incapacitated to learn who has this responsibility. Ask them to share this critical information with you now so that the person who will be in charge can ask questions about how your parents want to be provided for in the event of incapacity or in different long-term care scenarios.
3. Who is their attorney? It is also important to talk to your parents to determine who their attorney is. Knowing who the attorney is can be critical in a time of crisis. The attorney may be able to guide you through the estate planning or elder law planning that needs to be completed for your parents. Without knowing who this person is in advance, you may lose valuable time to make decisions trying to find an expert who can help you.
4. What is the condition of the home? While you are together in your parents home, take the time to look around. Is it well-kept? Is it messy? Is it dirty? What is the condition of the food in the refrigerator? Watch your parents to determine it if they have a hard time moving around the house or performing regular activities of daily living. A simple visit to the home during the holiday season may provide you with much needed insight into your parents well-being.
5. Have they started to plan for the costs of long-term care? Long-term care today is expensive. The earlier you can plan for how you will pay for it, the better.. Ask them if they have access to public benefits at this time or if they are engaging in strategies with an elder law attorney that may help them in the future. If your parents have not thought about these costs or how they will afford it, suggest to them that it may be time to meet with an elder law attorney together.
These are just a few ideas for ways you can talk to your parents about long-term care during the holidays. Be sure to learn as much as you can about long-term care options before this conversation and be prepared that it may not be an easy subject for your parents to talk about. If you have questions on this or any estate planning or elder law topic, do not wait to contact our office. We are here for you and your loved ones both now and in the new year to help you with the legal representation that you need.