What Are The Needs of Aging Parents?
It is hard for many people to recognize that their parents are aging. For some, health problems may make it more apparent earlier on, but many adult children still do not want to think about the type of planning that covers the needs of aging parents. While parents can often address their own needs and plan for the future, adult children need to recognize that needs can be overlooked. The following are a few of the legal needs that should be addressed as a family.
Powers of Attorney
Individuals need both a Medical and Financial Power of Attorney. These can be the same person or two different people. The Medical Power of Attorney grants power to a designated person, often one of their children, to make medical decisions should they become unable to. This is essential in order to avoid conservatorship, where a court hearing is used to appoint people to make these types of decisions. A Medical Power of Attorney is especially helpful to have on file in case of a diagnosis such as Dementia, where the individual may quickly become legally unable to make decisions. The Financial Power of Attorney makes decisions regarding the finances of the individual, including paying bills and distributing funds where they are needed.
Long Term Care and Medi-Cal
Another need that should be considered is what will happen if and when a long term care facility is needed. In California, these facilities can range in cost from $90,000 to $120,000 per year. Therefore, this major medical and financial decision should be discussed among the family and with an experienced attorney. If Medi-Cal may be applied for, more decisions may need to be made, such as spending down assets and placing property in trust. While it seems difficult to discuss long term care with aging parents, especially if they are currently healthy or very against nursing home care, this discussion will be beneficial in the long run both financially and emotionally.
Estate Planning and Trusts
One of the biggest things parents should want to avoid for their children is sending their estate into probate after their death. This can cost children both a long amount of time and money if there are questions about the will and estate. Estate planning with an experienced attorney is need of aging parents that again may be difficult to bring up. It is hard to discuss death with parents, but if they want to protect the inheritances of their children and grandchildren, estate planning is a must. Trusts may also be set up to protect real estate and family property, placing it in the hands of a trustee after death. Trusts also remove all property within the trust from any potential probate hearing.
Ideally, all of these issues should be decided upon when parents are still healthy and of sound mind. Planning ahead for the future will relieve the family of stress later on. Also, many of these issues are better dealt with ahead of time then waiting and adding additional court proceedings that are unnecessary and an additional burden to loved ones. One of the greatest gifts aging parents can give their children is to address the needs of designating Powers of Attorney, planning for long term care, and estate planning. Seek a trusted and experienced attorney to guide you through the paperwork and