It can be extremely difficult for adult children to accept the fact that their parents are experiencing the mental and/or physical deterioration that accompanies the natural aging process. A role reversal often occurs when a parent’s aging makes them vulnerable. The parent becomes the child, and the child becomes the caregiver. If you feel this is starting to happen, it is imperative that you discuss estate planning with your parents. Toward that end, a Phoenix elder law attorney at Morris Hall PLLC discusses how to talk about estate planning with your parents.
Have a Conversation As Soon As Possible
It may be difficult to plan the discussion; however, you never know when physical injuries or mental deterioration could render a parent incapacitated. Putting off the conversation could result in your parents missing out on 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. 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.
How to Prepare to Talk about Estate Planning
Take some time to decide what issues are most important to cover when you talk to your parents. Each situation is unique; however, some common topics that you might want to put on your list include:
- Long-term care planning. We all enter our retirement years with a 50 percent chance of needing long-term care at some point, and the odds increase the longer we live. The average cost of a year in long-term care (LTC) nationwide in 2022 was over $100,000. Have your facts and figures ready so you can impress upon your parents the need to plan in case LTC is needed. For many seniors, that means incorporating Medicaid planning into their overall estate plan.
- Power of attorney. A 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 parents have 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 regarding end-of-life medical care. The only way for your parents 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 parents may wish to execute another type of advance directive that gives someone the authority to make health care decisions for your parent if 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. Encouraging your parents to make plans now is the best way to ensure that his/her wishes are honored when the time comes. It can also take the stress off surviving loved ones if the cost of the funeral and burial services has already been arranged.
- Elder abuse. Sadly, elder abuse occurs far more often than most people realize. Most incidences of elder abuse are 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 One Of Our Phoenix Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law issues, contact one of our experienced Phoenix elder law attorneys at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 or 602-249-1328 to schedule your appointment today.
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