As difficult as it may seem to plan for the loss of loved one, it can be even more fraught if plans are not made when everyone is healthy enough to have such discussions.
The time is now to talk to your mother about her estate — for both a time when she may need professional home care resources, such as a caregiver agency or home health care agency, and for after her death. Facing these uncomfortable topics sooner rather than later can bring comfort to everyone involved and likely save money in the future. Having plans in place means less stress when a crisis involving elderly home care does strike.
Amy Menezes of Denver, Colorado said that although she and her mother did talk in great detail about financial and legal plans, there were still challenges after her 77-year old mother passed away last August. “The thing I wished I had done differently is learn more about what exactly is involved after she passed away,” she said. “I was named as her personal representative in her will and I really had no idea what that meant.” Although it was a small estate, she now wishes she had contacted an estate planning lawyer.
When it comes to legal planning, consider these options:
- The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. provides services for seniors. Attorneys that specialize in Elder Law can help with estate planning issues, long-term care needs, and other issues unique to seniors. Elder Law practitioners can assist in coordinating the private and public resources to cover the cost of care, and work ensure quality care for an individual.
- There is more than one kind of will to consider: a testamentary will addresses how one’s property will be divided and minor children will be cared for after death of a parent; a living will or advanced directive is for determining what treatments are preferred if a person is in a state that prevents them from speaking their wishes.
- A durable power of attorney would allow you to make financial decisions for some who has become incapacitated both mentally and physically.
- A health care proxy allows someone to make decisions when individuals cannot speak for themselves.
- It is key to remember to make copies of these documents and make sure that others know about them as well. Click here to download Homewatch Caregivers’ Guide to Legal and Financial Planning for Seniors.
Beyond the Obvious
Putting off such necessary legal and financial planning may cost everyone more, and no one should assume that Medicare will cover the costs of long-term care. In addition to Medicare and Medicaid, look into long-term care insurance, the Veterans’ Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit and the Older Americans Act. Long-term care insurance is not available to everyone, so the earlier or younger when you investigate that option the better.
“I think the thing that was most helpful to me is that she and I talked about everything regarding her death,” Menezes said of her mother. For example, a car would go to Menezes brother, but this was not listed in the will.
Once you have a checklist of items to discuss with your mother about her legacy, get ready to have the conversation:
Set a time and place in a comfortable setting rather than surprising your parent with the topic.
Use a familiar example to your parent, such as a friend or family member who was not prepared for the legal and financial needs of long-term care, to begin the discussion.
It is best to ask your parent who they want to take care of them—a spouse, you, a friend, a professional caregiver agency or in home caregiver? And then how this choice would affect them financially.
Listen carefully and even take notes so that the conversation about financial planning, estate planning, and long-term care can accurately be continued at another time. Once they have shared their wishes for their legal and financial concerns, create a strategy.