Were your holidays a time for being together and celebrating with family, including your aging parents? Were you able to spend time with your aging parents talking about their new year perspective. Did you discuss their future and their hopes for the new year as they approach their later years? Did you or they come to any conclusions about the need to plan to enable them to remain independent as long as possible? Did you ask how you could help in this process? This can be a tough topic and some parents really avoid the subject. Some will graciously cooperate and some parents will resist the reality that getting older is often not an easy road. In your observations of your parents during the holidays, did you notice any substantial issues or impairments that were not there in the previous year? Did your parents discuss any new diagnoses or changes to medications with you? Were you able to address concerns you, or they, may have surrounding long-term care planning?
Unfortunately, for many families with the same questions and observations during the holidays about aging parents, the answer is no. Many of us feel that these issues should not be tackled head on during the holidays. However, with the new year here, there may be important long-term care questions we all need to answer. . We want to share five questions and observations that we frequently encounter with our clients and their loved ones right here on our blog.
1. Have your parents completed any long-term care planning? If you are unsure or do not know, now is the time to ask. By asking this broad question, you will probably receive information about whether your loved ones have taken any steps to plan for long-term care. They may even have a complete plan already in place, but they may also have no planning at all. In addition, maybe they started long-term care planning years ago and they need to now review, update or activate their plan. .
2. Have your parents made any plans to have someone make medical decisions for them? You and your family need to know their wishes. If your loved ones become suddenly incapacitated, is there a family member or close friend who has been given the legal authority to act to make medical decisions? Your parents would have chosen this person because they would trust him or her to make medical decisions in line with their wishes. It is vital to know whether they have completed their estate plan. If they have executed documents appointing health care agents or living will with end of life instructions. You may be surprised to find you have been named. Yet these documents remain in the original folders given to them by their attorneys or advisors. Get them out, discuss them and distribute to their health care provider’s so they will know to contact you if needed. Add them to your own electronic notices on your phone and their smartphones for quick reference. These are working documents and they should be out there and available
3. Have your parents made any decisions about who they want to handle their finances if they cannot? This type of appointment is formalized in a legal document called a Power of Attorney Again, just as the medical decisions above, if they become mentally incapacitated, who would they want to pay their bills or hire a caregiver? Without the authority to access their assets, there could be ample funds to pay for care, but no ability to use these funds without the appointment of an agent to do so under a Power of Attorney. The answer then is a court appointed Guardian to access the funds. Recent tabloid headlines have given us strong evidence about why a Guardianship is time consuming, wasteful and often highly inappropriate.
. Using tools like the POA and Health Care agent can create an e plan that allows your parents to make the decisions about who can make decisions for them when they cannot. As a result, their thoughtful agents can make choices about how and where they want to live as they age if they suddenly cannot make decisions.
4. Do your parents prefer to stay in their home or are they interested in assisted living? Some people want to remain in their home at all costs, while others may prefer to live in an environment where assistance is available. If a parent wants to remain in his or her home, safety modifications to the home may be necessary to make or arrangements for a caregiver may be needed. If he or she prefers assisted living, facilities should be visited and a plan for covering the cost discussed. You can do this with your parents or as their duly appointed agents; you can do it for them if they become unable.
5. A very serious consideration is if a nursing home becomes necessary, how will your aging parents pay for it? For many families this last consideration is often one of the most difficult to discuss. Unfortunately, statistics show that more than half of Americans over 85 will require some version of long-term care including nursing home care with extraordinarily high costs.. You can assist your parents in their understanding and consideration of long-term care insurance. They could create a trust for asset protection. If done well in advance of their illness, may allow them to qualify for Medicaid, and may prevent them from losing their life savings to the cost of nursing home care. Exploring these long-term care planning options and understanding the cost of care needs to be explored in advance of the onset of many of the types of illnesses that come with old age.
Having conversations surrounding these questions will provide a great starting point to assist your loved ones in creating a solid long-term care plan to meet their future needs as the new year begins. Throughout New York City, clients turn to the experienced lawyers of the Grimaldi Yeung Law Group. We are a full service Elder Law firm, helping clients maximize their options in planning for the pre-and post-retirement years. Our peer-recognized attorneys provide the legal insight clients can depend on when considering their options for the future. We make sure our clients feel comfortable working with us to discuss their most cherished hopes and needs. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.