Proper planning is necessary to ensure the best possible life for your parents and to ensure that their wishes are respected. Let’s hope your parents began this planning long before it is needed, but even if you are scrambling to catch up, this is the place you need to start looking.
The best possible scenario is that your parents realize that they are starting to age and may need some help if they are suddenly or gradually incapacitated, so they have already begun preparing documentation of their desires. These documents, which should be the start of planning, are found in the Advance Care Planning section.
Next, you will want your parents to give serious consideration to their assets. When we use the word “asset” we mean possessions: money, property, belongings, insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts, etc. How can they ensure that these assets will last as long as possible for their benefit? Also, how do they want those assets disbursed after their death? These questions are discussed in the Wills and Trusts section.
Finally, God forbid you ever need the information we provide about Elder Abuse, but we would not be responsible if we didn’t give you some signs and symptoms to be aware of and how to report abuse if you discover it.
Your best resource for any of these documents, or strategies of how to use these plans, is to contact an Elder Care Lawyer. They are specialists in dealing with the situations and questions of older adults and may be a lifesaver to you as you struggle to negotiate some of these needed documents, particularly if you are trying to put plans into place after your parent has become incapacitated. Determining the best option can be a daunting task for those of us who are not lawyers. One of the best investments that can be made into the future of your parents is to seek out a lawyer that specializes in Senior/Elder Law. (See a list of lawyers near you.)
As you look at the various options available it is best to keep the following goals in mind. As adult children we want to:
- Ensure that our parents can live their remaining years as independent and healthy as possible, with dignity and comfort, and ensure that their desires and values are clearly expressed. This means assisting with the best planning and care possible.
- Be sure that our parents have a secure plan in place to finance their remaining years.
- As far as possible, preserve our parents’ assets so that they might leave a legacy for future generations.
With these priorities in mind let’s look at a few of the options available. The following pages are a basic introduction to the important legal documents involved in caring for your parents, but are NOT intended to substitute for professional legal advice. It is important that you look at these options and then discuss them with a lawyer who can make recommendations specific to your family needs.