For most adult children, it is not easy to watch their parents age. The physical and/or mental deterioration that often comes with the aging process can cause a parent to become vulnerable in the eyes of an adult child. As a consequence of those changes, a role reversal of sorts often occurs. The adult child becomes the protector to the parent and the parent becomes dependent on the child. For some adult children, a parent may reach the point where those physical and mental changes make it unsafe for the parent to live alone, unsupervised. At that point, long-term care may become necessary. By talking about the reality of the aging process now, while your parent can still contribute to the conversation, it can make the aging process a little bit easier when the time comes. To help you get the conversation started, a Lincolnshire estate planning attorney at Hedeker Law. Ltd. .explains how to talk to your parents about some of the issues of aging.
Why Is It Important to Talk to Your Parents Now?
Although your natural inclination may be to put off talking to your parents, the old adage “Don’t putt off until tomorrow what you can do today” is applicable. Unfortunately, we never know when physical injuries or mental deterioration could render a parent incapacitated. Consequently, waiting to talk to your parent may mean your parent does not get the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the conservation. Furthermore, if your parent does reach the point of legal incapacitation, he/she will no longer be able to legally execute a Power of Attorney, a Living Will, or an advanced directive nor will your parent be able to legally consent to guardianship should it be necessary. Just as you would want your input to be considered when discussing who might make decisions for you and/or control your assets, your parent undoubtedly wants his/her input considered as well. Do not take that opportunity away by waiting too long to have a discussion.
Plan Ahead with Your Talking Points
Take some time to decide what issues are most important to cover when you talk to your parent. Each situation is unique; however, some common topics that you might want to put on your list include:
- Long-term care planning — as of 2018, the average cost of a year in long-term care (LTC) nationwide was just over $100,000. Residents of Illinois are fortunate in that they only spent, on average $70,000 for the same year of nursing home care. Nevertheless, the cost of LTC can deplete a retirement nest egg rapidly. Have your facts and figures ready so you can impress upon your parent the need to plan ahead in case LTC is needed. For many seniors, that means incorporating Medicaid planning into their overall estate plan.
- Power of attorney – your parent may wish to give an adult child a durable power of attorney so that someone else has the legal authority to manage the parent’s finances and assets. Make sure, however, that your parent has a clear understanding of the authority granted to an Agent under a general POA. Making the POA durable means it will survive your parent’s incapacity should that occur down the road.
- Advance directives – many people have very clear wishes with regard to end of life medical care. The only way for your parent to be certain those wishes will be honored is to execute the appropriate advance directive which will lay out those wishes in detail. In addition, your parent may wish to execute another type of advance directive that gives someone the authority to make health care decisions for your parent in the event that he/she cannot make them because of incapacity.
- Guardianship – guardianship is the most restrictive option available when an individual cannot safely make decisions and/or manage his/her own affairs. Discussing the possibility ahead of time, or even entering into a voluntary guardianship, prevents the possibility of someone not of your parent’s choosing petitioning for – and obtaining – guardianship over your parent at a later date when he/she is not able to effectively object.
- Funeral and burial planning – though it is never easy to discuss, encouraging your parent to make plans now is the best way to ensure that his/her wishes are honored when the time comes.
- Elder abuse – sadly, elder abuse occurs far more often than most people realize. The vast majority of elder abuse is not reported, often because the victim is embarrassed and does not speak out. Talking about the prevalence of elder abuse with a parent can encourage him/her to confide in you if it ever does occur.
Contact a Lincolnshire Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding how to talk to your parents about aging, contact the experienced Lincolnshire estate planning attorneys at Hedeker Law, Ltd. by calling (847) 913-5415 to schedule an appointment.