Dealing with Aging Parents, 03/31/2006

Your parents were there when you took the first wobbly steps of being a toddler. They were there when you faced life’s challenges and the scary obstacles life put in your path.

Now, you watch your parents take their own unsteady steps. You want to be there to comfort them as they face the obstacles of aging. You want to help them, without depriving them of their independence. But, how do you do that? Of course, each situation is different, depending upon the needs, resources, and abilities of those involved. But, planning ahead is essential.

If your parents have substantial wealth, planning well in advance is necessary to implement strategies that will allow them to minimize estate taxes.

If your parents are of more modest means, planning in advance is necessary to qualify your parents for Medicaid. Without planning, almost all of your parents’ assets could go to paying for in-home care, an assisted living facility, or a skilled nursing facility, with nothing left to pay for the things in life they enjoy. Planning five or more years in advance can help your parents qualify for Medicaid while preserving resources to increase their quality of life.

Regardless of your parents’ wealth, planning in advance can help smooth the transition from independence to dependence. For example, if your parents’ assets are in a Revocable Living Trust, you, as trustee, could manage their assets when they become unable to do so. You could serve as trustee with them at first. Then, as they age, the logistics will already be in place for you to take over more responsibility. Your assumption of responsibility might be gradual, with your parents asking you to take care of paying the bills this month. Or your assumption might be more sudden due to changes in their health. Either way, you will be ready and able to handle things.

You and your parents have been there for each other through the years, sharing each other’s joys and challenges. Just as you relied on them in your early years, they are relying on you as they face new challenges. Morris Hall can help put plans in place far in advance, so they can have the greatest impact. This way, you will have the tools you need to help your parents age with the comfort of knowing they will be in your responsible hands when the time comes.